Those first few months of motherhood are not for the light of heart. Here are my twenty top tips to survive the incredible highs, lows, and physical demands of life with a newborn.
1. Lower your expectations
Babies are unpredictable; your experience will be a lot easier if you don’t expect everything is going to be perfect.
2. Take care of yourself. The more you care for yourself, the better you will care for others.
This is my absolute favorite piece of advice for all new mothers, even though it’s HARD to do because all you care about is caring for your small baby. But you will be the best caretaker you can be when you have eaten, slept, showered, and cared for yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential to being a good mom.
3. The yellow poop is highly projectile!
Stay on your toes when changing those diapers because the yellow poop can be explosive!
4. Have baby-changing “stations” around the house.
We created a changing station in our bedroom and in our living room that contained all of the baby’s hygiene essentials. Diapers, wipes, Vaseline and gauze (for circumcision care), extra changes of clothes, and burp cloths. It was nice to have everything on-hand and nearby.
5. Keep snacks and extra water nearby where you nurse your baby.
It is really shocking how hungry and thirsty you become WHILE you are nursing your child. I kept a half-gallon sippy cup with me, as well as mixed nuts.
6. Know that your hormones are on a rollercoaster ride right now, which is probably why you’re crying (that, or sleep deprivation).
A very wise friend explained this to me and it helped me to catch myself in moments of complete despair and recognize that all of these emotions were mostly due to hormones. Observing the feelings rather than being dragged around by them is a real game-changer.
7. Try to get four hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
My husband was told this in a “Daddy boot camp” before we had our first child, and man was it true! Whenever I wasn’t able to get those four hours a night consecutively, I got loopy.
8. List things you are grateful for when you’re too anxious to sleep.
I would have trouble sleeping at first unless I could actually hear my baby breathing. Listing things I was grateful for helped me fall asleep on those extra anxious nights.
9. Be an opportunistic showerer!
Personal hygiene is one of the first things to fall by the wayside when you first have your baby. Take a shower whenever you get the chance! You never know when your next opportunity will present itself.
10. You are not imagining it: You are way hungrier than when you were pregnant—eat!
Don’t forget to eat. Your brain is so focused on caring for your child that you can forget to eat. You need extra nutrients, so always make sure you have eaten.
11. Invest in a really nice nighttime nursing bra.
I waited WAY too long to buy myself good bras while I was nursing my first baby and that was a mistake. For my second, I invested in myself and was so happy I did. You basically live in your nighttime nursing bra those first couple of months.
12. Listen to your body.
Childbirth can be a pretty traumatic event on your body and it is very important to listen to it in those postpartum weeks. Something could be wrong and it’s always good to reach out to your doctor, just in case, if anything doesn’t feel right.
13. Get out on your own. Even grocery store visits can be extremely restorative.
I think that when you are with your newborn, every single one of your senses are on high alert; it is such a relief to get away for a moment and let your nervous system relax a bit.
Friends are so important postpartum. It can feel really isolating and alone, but you are not. It is okay to ask for help!
15. Reach out to lactation consultants.
Breastfeeding can be a real challenge, but there are many experts out there. Reach out and find someone you really connect with.
16. Buy yourself some really nice pajamas; you will be living in them.
17. Get a baby tracker app on your phone.
You will be shocked by how much your memory sucks after having a baby. Baby trackers help you keep track of all the things you need to track, like how much milk your baby has had, how many times they peed and pooped; you know, all the important stuff.
18. Write down questions for your next doctor’s visit on your phone.
Same idea as the app. When a question pops in your head, write it down on your phone. When you go to your baby’s check-up appointment, you can get all your lingering questions answered.
19. Learn about an pay attention to sleep and hunger cues.
Babies really do have some distinct ways of communicating their needs before they start crying. Once you get your baby’s unique “tells” down, you will have a lot less crying and be able to respond to your baby’s needs quicker.
20. Don’t Google. Get a good book; if it doesn’t have the answers, talk to your doctor.
Crazy, insane, anxiety-triggering things can pop up on Google in answer to the most benign search. I highly recommend you avoid Google at all costs. This amazing bit of advice came from our pediatrician and I share it with all new or expectant mothers.
Liz Swenson lives in the sunny beach town of San Clemente, California, with her handsome hubs, three crazy boys, and big dog, Harper. She relishes momming, teaching math to high schoolers, making art, and living life to the fullest. Her newest book You Got This, Mama! is available now!