Not everybody gets the 101 when they have their first baby. Advice from moms who’ve done it before can be very helpful and save a lot of time, stress, and worry but if you don’t have an active mother figure in your life to give you advice, this can put you at a disadvantage. When I had my first child, I wasn’t exactly informed on what to do so I had to learn a lot on my own. Now I’m here writing this for any new momma’s (or even experienced momma’s…there is always more to learn!) who might be expected a new little blessing and would like to hear some tips I have learned along the way that helped make life much less stressful for me.
I’ll start off by saying that the most crucial part of having a newborn is the first few weeks and, secondly, the first three months. During the first few weeks I believe many mothers struggle with utter exhaustion which is not exactly ideal while trying to take care of your new little one and keep them safe. Exhaustion usually comes from the often intense labor that the mother just went through which can result in hours of no sleep. If you didn’t lose much sleep during your labor, you can know that most mothers will often lose this sleep later simply because of the sleep pattern of the baby. Either way, exhaustion can be a problem so I address ways to help you overcome this and still take care of your little one safely in many of the tips below. I hope you can use some of these tips I have learned to help you in your new exciting adventure!
Tip #1. Take your mattress off your bed frame and put it on the floor
Some of the best advice I ever received from someone was to take my mattress off my bed frame and put it on the floor. This relieved a huge amount of worry and stress about whether or not the baby would ever fall off the bed. I didn’t have to worry so much about them falling off any longer, since the drop was only about 8 inches to a soft carpet below. Of course, you still need to keep them from falling off a mattress lying on the floor, but if they do, it is not near as big of a deal as it would be if they fell four feet to the ground. Once the mattress was on the floor, if I wanted to put my baby on the bed for a little while it was not so worrisome. With no bed frame and only a soft, low-to-the-ground mattress, you’re worries are much more relieved with little ones around!
Tip #2. Get a wide recliner
I recently bought a wide, soft, recliner about two years ago which was AMAZING for me to say the least. In the first week of having my first baby I found myself up, as most new mother’s do, at night breastfeeding for long hours in a rigid wooden rocking chair. Being totally exhausted from losing so much sleep during labor, I realized that if I accidentally fell asleep while breastfeeding, the baby was not resting on a soft, wide, pillowed arm rest (which is on my recliner) but only on my arm which was only supported by a slim wooden arm rest. To prevent the situation of ever dropping the baby, I bought the recliner which almost guaranteed that the baby would rest safely against a soft cushion in such cases. Buying a recliner also encouraged me to avoid the temptation of lying in bed and breastfeed since the wooden chair was uncomfortable and made the soft bed look very appealing. With the recliner, I was more apt to make myself sit in the recliner and breastfeed until the baby was asleep and I could put the baby in the crib.
Tip #3. Set an alarm
The name of the game is to breastfeed in a chair or recliner and stay awake until the baby goes asleep so you can put them in their crib for a safer sleeping place. However, when you’re exhausted from lost sleep, this can be a toughy. If you have a phone or alarm, you can set the alarm for 30-45 minutes (or however long your infant usually breastfeeds) so that, if you do happen to fall asleep, it will wake you back up so you can put the baby in the crib!
Tip #4. Ask your hubby to help
This is a big one but may not work for everyone. It depends on your husband and his spiritual state. I advice that, about 2-4 weeks before your due date, you approach your husband and ask him nicely for his help once the baby arrives. Doing this right before the baby arrives keeps it fresh in his mind. Letting him know you would like and expect his help with the baby (specifically helping you take some naps so you can retain some level of sanity) will help him be clear on what your expectations are before the baby arrives. Waiting until the day you have the baby or three weeks later when you are fighting mad because you had no sleep and he didn’t help is too late to inform your husband you need his help! Do this before you have the baby and do it nicely. Not with a scolding finger. You are asking for his help, be kind. Now, putting your man in sole charge of the baby I do not recommend. Men are not necessarily hardwired for this. This is your job. But…your man can certainly help you get some 1-2 hour naps here and there by keeping an eye on the sleeping infant and other children you might have while you try to catch some shut-eye. Your husband can also help keep you awake while you breastfeed by chatting or keeping you company. Or, perhaps he can help do the dishes or a few extra chores that you normally do so you can get some rest. Remember, the goal is for you to catch up on that lost sleep as quick as possible. The more rested you are, the more able you are to think clearly, take care of the baby better, and not totally snap! (some of us turn into green monsters when we have no sleep…its true!)
Tip #5. Buy Lanolin
If you are breastfeeding, which I recommend you do (it is so good and best for baby), you most likely will have sore nipples for at least 2 weeks after having the baby. This is normal but, have hope, the soreness and even extreme(!) pain will go away and your nipples will not hurt anymore after a few weeks, even when the baby breastfeeds. Keeping this fact in mind can help you persevere until that moment when the pain subsides. There are purple tubes of a vaseline-like solution that they sell at most Walmarts called Lanolin. Put the Lanolin on your nipples as often as you can and it will help keep them from feeling so sore and it will likely relieve a lot of pain.
Tip #6. Buy a small baby bath with a sling and keep it on the ground
When bathing the baby you want them to have a soft place to rest. Buying a nice tub with a sling has been a great option for me. As the lady at the hospital advised to me and the other patients, make sure you keep the tub on the floor and not on a table or other higher surface. The lady told us a story of how her grand baby fell to the floor (since she had set the tub on a table) while she was picking up something she had dropped off the floor. So, keep the smaller baby tub on the floor or on the floor of the tub while you bath. Use a small squirt bottle filled with lukewarm water to get the baby wet and use your soap accordingly.
Tip #7. Get a shower head with a nozzle
Buying one of those shower heads with a long hose has made life so much easier when bathing babies (particularly you use this once the baby gets a little bigger). As long as you’re careful to not let it fall on the baby in any way, these are great because you can move the water supply wherever you want.
Tip #8. Chew gum
Once, again…the name of the game is to stay awake until your baby falls asleep and you can move the baby to its crib! Chewing gum has been known to stimulate your senses and keep you awake. This is why truck drivers use it to stay awake. Buy yourself some bulk packs of gum…and chew away while breastfeeding!
Tip #9. Drink “Mother’s Milk” tea
If you are worried about your breastmilk production (which I find a lot of mother’s are), you can drink a special tea called “Mother’s Milk” which you can find at your local Martin’s, Kroger, or other grocery store. The tea is suppose to increase your milk supply. You don’t need to be too anxious, however, as it might not feel like milk is coming out for quite a while after your baby is born (even more than a month) even though it really is.
Tip #10. Get as much sleep as possible in the first week
This is so important. When you have sufficient sleep, you will feel better, be able to take care of your baby better, make safer decisions for your baby, be much more relaxed, be able to enjoy the experience of taking care of a newborn more, and not turn into a green sleep-deprived monster! I recommend that every time your newborn takes a nap (they nap a lot)…that you do also. I realize this isn’t always possible, especially if you have other children but you can try to do the best you can do with what you have to work with. When momma sleeps, it makes the environment in the home with the rest of the family much better also because momma is not a total ball of stress. Sleep = important.
Tip #11. When they cry, feed them!
A lot of moms say, “oh the baby’s crying because it’s diaper is dirty” or “they are crying because they are tired” but, in my own personal experience, it seemed that about 90% of the time my baby was crying was because it wanted to eat! This solved the problem almost every time. When it doubt, feed the baby. Newborns usually go on a cycle. The cycle usually goes like this: baby breastfeeds, baby sleeps 1-2 hours, baby wakes up (now is a good time to change the diaper), baby breastfeeds, baby sleeps 1-2 hours, baby wakes up…and so on. Pretty simple!
Tip #12. Put the baby in the crib as soon as they fall asleep
I noticed that, if I put the baby in the crib as soon as they fell asleep, instead of waiting until they had been sleeping on my lap for 20 minutes, that they would stay asleep better once I put them in the crib. If I waited until the baby had slept on my lap a while and then tried to move them into the crib they usually would wake up again…causing me to have to start the breastfeeding process all over again. So, as soon as the baby falls asleep you can try putting them in the crib. I had much better results this way in keeping the baby asleep which allowed me to catch up on my sleep as well!
I hope these tips helped you in some way! If you have your own tips, please list them below!