Surviving The Newborn Stage

Caring for a newborn is an experience that truly tests your mental and emotional well being. On one hand you are beyond ecstatic about your brand new bundle of joy and over the moon happy that they are finally here. On the other hand you have no idea what you are doing and just trying to figure it out as you go; maybe trying to remember some helpful tips you read, although your sleep-deprived brain is making it hard to remember anything (like what day it is). You have just been through hours of very physically demanding labor and trying to recover all while your new baby needs you and wants to eat every two hours. You are trying to rest and recuperate while also getting to know your little one and bond with him/her. Needless to say you may be a little frazzled! So how do you survive the newborn stage without losing your wits?

Just remember the number 2… Just keep reminding yourself that each stage is only temporary, and it will be over soon enough. Don’t panic. Just when you think ‘I can’t take any more of this‘, remember that your baby will soon develop into another stage and his/her behavior and habits will evolve. It all boils down to focusing on getting to the next thing (the next feeding, nap, shower, day). I found that I was just focusing on one feeding at a time, which for me was every two hours. For those first two weeks, just think about getting to the next feeding which means only worrying about two hours at a time. You can make it through two hours right? Of course! That seems much more manageable right?

Now, just when you start to think how long will this last, just when you wonder if you can keep this up, remember that the next step is to take everything 2 weeks at a time. It seemed like every two weeks, my son would grow and develop into new patterns, habits, and abilities. The first big one was sleep; after two weeks he started sleeping for longer stretches of time at night and I felt like I was regaining some of my sanity back. Then the next two weeks were actually really tough. My son turned from a quiet, peaceful angel into a very fussy, loud, crying baby that seemed inconsolable. I wondered if I watered him by accident and he turned into a gremlin… But again just when I thought that I could not survive the crying anymore, he began to have more calm moments without me rocking him in the bathroom with the exhaust fan on (praise my husband for finding that trick!).

The last and most important ‘2’ is people; you are not alone, you have help! There is (hopefully) another person with you and baby 24/7 to lean on and help. This person may be your spouse, partner, parent, or even friend, but you will have at least one person to go through this with. I was lucky enough to not only have my husband home, but my mom flew out for the first two weeks as well. With two people you can take “shifts” with baby. You can take turns sleeping, showering, eating, etc. You may even ask to have someone else take a few shifts in a row and only call on you when baby is hungry (unless you are bottle feeding). My husband was amazing with our son, he truly should win a medal for how much he helped and took charge of everything so that I didn’t have to think about it. Remember that it took two of you to make a baby, so it makes sense that two of you equally care for the baby too! I know some dads are hesitant and maybe a bit scared, but ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT!

I hope this helps any expecting moms feel a little more at ease about bringing a newborn home. Just remember to take it two hours at a time, two weeks at a time, with two people to do it together! Nothing lasts forever so don’t get too overwhelmed. You will look back on this time like it was a blink of an eye.

Breastfeeding Survival Kit

I am not going to sugar coat this for you- breastfeeding is a lot of work and it is not the most pleasant experience for your nipples in the beginning. It takes a little bit of time and patience before you and your baby have this whole thing figured out.  To help make this an easy transition, there are some things that you will find quite handy to keep close by in a “survival kit”.

As a first time mom and breastfeeder, I learned a lot about what to expect and what you need to make your breastfeeding endeavor a success. In all of my reading and preparing for my new baby, I never heard this advice so want to pass it on! Without trying to, I ended up hoarding certain things around me that I needed or wanted for breastfeeding (or comfort), creating a breastfeeding “survival kit” of sorts. You may be thinking what I was at first; “what could you possibly need a whole kit for if you are breastfeeding?”. Well, let me assure you that while your body is providing the milk and you don’t have the hassle of bottles, there are some things that you want to have close access to. Here is my list of must haves for mom to help you succeed in your breastfeeding goals with a newborn.

  • Nipple Cream: Let’s just say that having a newborn suck on your nipple every few hours takes some getting used to. And most of the time, they need some practice latching. Needless to say, you will be very tender and sore which is completely normal! Nipple cream will be your best friend; bring this buddy to the hospital with you and never let it leave your sight!
  • Bulb Aspirator: This is important to always keep close to baby in the beginning in case they start to choke. I always kept this close to me during feeding time in case baby started to spit up or choke.
  • Nursing Pillow: No matter what pillow you use (nursing pillow or regular pillow you have at home) you will want something to help support baby and/or your arm. Your newborn is still so tiny that it is very helpful to prop them up closer to your breast so that your arm is not doing all the work. It will help you get them into the correct position, which means a better latch, which means a happier nipple.
  • Burp Cloths: Between baby and boobs, there are lots of leaks. Burp cloths help keep any leaks under control. I felt like I constantly had one in hand or within arm’s reach.
  • Breast Pads: You will want these handy to stop your leaky milk faucets. If no one told you yet, you will leak! You will leak from one side while baby is eating from the other, you will leak when your milk lets down, you will leak for no reason sometimes.
  • Water bottle: Breastfeeding makes you very thirsty, and you will need to drink a lot of water for your milk supply. Having a nice water bottle right next to you will be so convenient, and will also remind you to drink your water!
  • Chapstick: It might just be me, but my lips are always dry, and having chapstick handy was very soothing.
  • Hair ties: If you have long hair like me, it gets in the way quite easily. I was always reaching for a hair tie to pull my hair back.
  • Pen and Paper: The first week or two in particular, it is important to keep track of feedings and diaper changes to make sure that baby is getting enough to eat. My doctor had me keep track of what time I started to feed, how long a feeding lasted, which side I started and ended with, and track wet and dirty diapers. I had a pen and pad of paper next to me while feeding so I could quickly jot down this info. *You may think you will remember, but once you turn into a sleep deprived zombie, you will be lucky if you remember anything*
  • Medication: Any medication your doctor prescribed from the hospital, or any general pain medication, is handy to have close by. You will also still need to take your prenatal vitamin. Having your medicine right next to you will be a good reminder to take it. For general pain medication, my doctor told me that Motrin was safe but you may want to ask your doctor what to have at home so you are already prepared. *I also wrote down what time I took any medication, because again, you won’t remember a whole lot in that first week or two*
  • Hand sanitizer: I felt like I had this all over the house. With a newborn I wanted to sanitize all the time and so it was just natural to have it in my breastfeeding kit too!
  • Mints: I loved having mints to eat because it was a little pick-me-up when I was trying my hardest to stay awake for a feeding.

These are my recommendations to create a breastfeeding survival kit! Just remember, that breastfeeding is challenging in the beginning while you and baby get into the swing of things, but if it is what you want then just hang in there because it gets so much better, I promise!!!

To any breastfeeding mamas out there, was there something that you loved having in close reach for feeding with your newborn?