Your baby has arrived! Welcome to the fourth trimester, the phrase commonly used for the three months after delivery.
While this is a joyous time filled with oh-so-many baby snuggles, if this is your first child, you may also be thinking, “Why did the nurses let me leave the hospital with this tiny human? I can’t even make mac and cheese without double-checking the instructions (after digging the box out of the trash).”
As a mom of three, I hope the following tips allow you to rest, enjoy your newborn, and rock this new mom thing! You were made for this!
1. Order takeout or let friends treat you.
If you weren’t able to stock your freezer before delivering your baby, there are other options for easy, hassle-free meals, including some great meal-delivery apps right at your fingertips. (One of my friends even put a Postmates gift card on her registry; it ended up being one of her favorite gifts!) You can also have your groceries delivered.
Allow your friends to set up a meal train or order you a meal from your favorite restaurant.
2. Take as much maternity leave as you can.
All jobs offer different amounts of maternity leave, and states (and countries) have a wide range of disability and paid family leave programs. If possible, consider saving up as much paid time off as you can and use it to extend your maternity leave.
If you have a partner, check with their job as well; many companies offer spouses leave after the birth or adoption of a child. If you aren’t able to take as much leave as you’d like, consider going back to work part-time, if possible, to help with the transition.
3. Ask for help.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for support. One of the most helpful things for me was when a friend picked up my oldest child for a playdate a couple of weeks after my baby was born. My son had a blast playing at a friend’s house while I was able to bond with my newborn and give my middle child some one-on-one time.
I am a huge advocate for babywearing. Ring slings, wraps, soft structured carriers -- I have used them all. They allow you to be hands-free while walking, doing things around the house, or playing with your other children. They also provide a safe space for your baby to snuggle, nap, and nurse while you tackle your day-to-day activities. Most carriers can be used with healthy newborns seven pounds and up.
Need this dreamy robe? Click the photo!
5. Get plenty of rest and fuel your body.
Women are urged to get back “into the game” as soon as possible, but take all the time you need. A human being just exited your body, and you need ample time to rest and recharge. When you’re with someone you trust, allow them to keep an eye on your baby while you nap. Keep a large water bottle and snacks nearby to stay hydrated and energized. Do your best to remember just how critical self-care is for moms.
6. Have newborn photos taken.
The early days are hazy, and newborns grow rapidly. Newborn baby photos help capture those memories; plus, they’re basically cuteness overload. If a newborn photographer isn’t in the budget, try capturing some cute shots yourself or ask a friend who’s amazing at Instagram to take some for you. Don’t forget to put yourself in some of the shots (our leggings and nursing tanks will help you feel cute – and comfy)!
7. Get breastfeeding help early on.
It’s never too early to reach out for breastfeeding help -- in fact, the sooner the better to help prevent any difficulties. Breastfeeding support groups, in-home lactation consultant visits (even virtual visits!), and private appointments at your pediatrician’s office are great ways to receive breastfeeding support. Even if you aren’t having challenges, you may want to meet with a lactation consultant or breastfeeding group for support and guidance as your baby grows.
8. Rest when your baby rests.
It’s normal for your baby to sleep 1-3 hour stretches only. Newborns wake often to feed because they’re rapidly growing. If you’re nursing, waking often at night to feed helps keep your supply up!
During the day, rocking or snuggling with your baby is a great way to bond and rest. Get comfy, place your baby skin-to-skin with you, and close your eyes (always follow safe-sleeping practices). Listen to their breathing and take in the warmth of their skin next to yours.
9. Know fussing and frequent feedings are normal.
Try several different methods for calming your baby. The 5 S’s from Harvey Karp were a lifesaver for our family. If your baby is crying all through the day or seems in pain, talk to your pediatrician.
10. Be patient and don’t get discouraged.
Having a newborn can be a rollercoaster of emotions. You are overjoyed with the new addition to your family but exhausted from delivery and late-night feeds. The fourth trimester is a huge adjustment for your baby, you, and your family. Ask for help when you need it, sleep when you need it, and shower when you need it.
Your baby will learn to sleep longer stretches, you both will conquer breastfeeding, and while motherhood may not necessarily get easier in the foreseeable future, you’ll adapt and adjust, as will your baby -- with plenty of laughs and smiles along the way.
I hope these tips help you gain more confidence in your mothering abilities so you can conquer the early days. We’re all in this together, so leave a comment below with any other tips you have for moms with newborns and join our supportive Facebook community, KindredMamas.