Keep Baby Equally as Close.
Your newborn was previously housed in the warmth and comfort of your womb for nine blissful months (or more), and she’s likely still the most content when in your arms and cuddling next to you. A baby carrier is a great way to slowly transition from womb to the real world in the first month. It allows new moms to comfort their babes through skin contact while also remaining hands-free. It can be overwhelming to always feel on-call when you first arrive home with a brand new baby, so a carrier is a must-have! Bonus: Not only will baby sleep well in the wrap, but contact with baby’s skin ups oxytocin, which helps promote milk supply and strengthen breastfeeding.
Comfort Goes a Long Way.
Yes, we’re all happy to eventually be reunited with our previous wardrobe after months of maternity wear, but even more importantly during this time, you’ll want to be comfortable. You’re tired, hormonal and possibly a good bit overwhelmed—the last thing you need is trouble trying to find something to wear.
It’s a worthy investment of your time to think about what basic pieces you’d like to have on-hand after delivery. Consider high-waisted leggings, matching sweatsuits, quality nursing bras and tanks, a few cozy sweaters or cardigans that can be thrown over anything … whatever feels a step up from your jammies but isn’t actually jammies—unless you want it to be. This inventory will give you enough to mix and match and with other pieces in your closet to throw something together for visitors in a pinch, or just to feel a bit more human when you’re ready.
Take Care of Yourself.
We know, we know. Self-care and new parents sounds like an oxymoron and can be frustrating advice to receive when you’re feeling so spent after bringing baby home. But in the midst of mastering dirty diaper changes, monitoring baby’s birth weight and figuring out how to perfect the swaddle, you have to check in with yourself and see that your basic needs (not only baby’s needs) are being met.
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Getting a few good meals (which can come in the form of Uber Eats or an easy-peasy meal subscription for as long as necessary), a quality nap and some sunshine on your skin can do wonders in the first week. A hot shower may feel like a luxury, and you’re likely to have conflicting feelings on asking—or accepting—help with baby care, but you have to start somewhere in figuring out how you fit into the equation of being a new mother.
Keep Your Head Up.
True story: Three days after I gave birth to my son, my 5-year old daughter had a softball game, and it was her turn to be team captain—an honor that rotated between players at each game. And of course, there was no way I could miss that game. So I mustered up all my energy, and I limped my way to the bleachers (which were complete agony three days postpartum, but that’s another story).
Not surprisingly, I was leaky, emotional and uncomfortable. While happy to be there for my daughter, I felt out of place where I used to feel at home, but no one seemed to mind. The truth is, most everyone understands pregnancy is a process that continues its effects beyond the birth of the baby, and people generally want to be supportive. We should offer ourselves the same love and grace.
Give yourself time and don’t let it get you down—you’re just like every other mom in the world, adjusting to the massive change that your mind and body has just gone through. You may not recognize yourself right now, but by showing up every day to offer what you have, you’re doing your absolute best.
Be Mindful of Baby Blues.
It can be alarming to a new mom to feel emotionally unpredictable post-delivery. Not only are you healing physically, but your feelings and your fears can really get the best of you from the first day you become a mother.
You may feel reactive and unable to control outbursts of joy and sadness. You may also start to wonder if something is wrong with you, but try to find assurance in the fact that immediately following childbirth, it’s normal to experience baby blues. (A diagnosis for true postpartum depression comes later on in the fourth trimester, usually around your six-week checkup.)
Know that welcoming a new baby into the world comes with a lot of concern and consideration that can really drain you. From finding the perfect pediatrician to breast milk issues to dealing with jaundice to deciding on what vaccinations your little one will receive, there’s no shortage of things to obsess over.
Don’t look to those first few weeks as a true measure of how you’re handing motherhood and what type of experience you will have overall. There’s so much waiting for you after this initial period stepping into your new role. Try to take things one day at a time and be a friend to yourself—the time really does fly by.