Hey. All you first time moms out there. I’m talking to YOU.
I’m sure you’ve read a million different articles, lists, and books by now. We’ve all been there - the need to binge on as much information as possible for a situation you will never ever be fully able to comprehend or prepare for (spoiler alert - whoops!) until AFTER you have the baby. There is so much information available about childbirth, feeding, diapering, vaccinations, babywearing, circumcision, SIDS, sleeping (or lack thereof), and parenting styles. What makes things supremely more difficult is that you have no idea how any of these things will apply specifically to you and your baby. That’s right - one size does NOT fit all, and the sooner you come to terms with that, the better your adjustment period will be.
I recently spent some time with a friend and her first newborn son, which led me to compile a list of tips/cheats to really help you during the emotional, exhausting, and AMAZING 4th trimester.
1) Do your best to research the pros and cons of everything. It sounds extremely daunting, but the more tools you have ready to go in your proverbial toolbox after baby, the easier things will be. If “everything” sounds overwhelming, just thoroughly vet the biggies: cosleeping/bedsharing, breastfeeding, and natural childbirth. Some people would put circumcision on this list, so you can consider that if you’re having a boy.
2) Gather intel from experienced mothers of THIS generation. I know, I know - your parents raised you, and you turned out just fine, right? You can, of course, ask for your parents’ and grandparents’ advice, but in many cases, you’ll need to take it with a grain of salt. Materials, science, and overall education has improved significantly since you or your parents were born.
3) Be prepared. Pack your bag, your support partner’s bag, and your diaper bag around the 36th or 37th week, at the very latest. You do NOT want to be scrambling around for things, when it’s D-Day.
4) Have support. You need someone in the room with you who will support your birth plan, whatever it may be. This person can a spouse/partner, a birthing doula, or even your labor & delivery nurse. Regardless, you need a support team in place because you’ll be . . . busy.
5) Utilize the hospital staff! The next 2 nights and 2 days-ish will be an experience unlike any other because highly trained medical staff will be at your beck and call. Ask for a lactation consultant whenever you’re unsure about your breastfeeding - it’ll be much more difficult to get her assistance at home. Learn the mysteries of baby swaddling - these nurses are the experts!
6) Kick out the visitors! Baby needs to eat around the clock when he first comes home, so don’t worry about being rude here. It’s your duty as a parent to put the needs of your child first, now, and besides, YOU have to deal with the angry, inconsolable baby, not the guest who caused it. If you can’t be the bad guy, give the task to your partner, postpartum doula, good friend, or mom/mother in law.
7) Chores can wait. At least they can you while you’re bonding, resting, and healing from the drastic trauma done to your nether regions. Your partner should really pick up the slack on this, especially if having clean clothes is important to him. Your dear friends and close family should also offer to do these chores, run errands, or cook, so have a list ready for them. Do not feel like it’s a burden on them - they truly want to help you, I promise!
8) Trust yourself. The hardest part about all of the information is hearing your own maternal instincts. This is why it’s ESSENTIAL for you to rest and bond with baby whenever possible. It’s the only way to learn and internalize your baby’s cues, sounds, and smells to develop your “instincts.” Do this, and do this OFTEN!
- You cannot sleep train a newborn. Please do not try this and do not believe anyone who says otherwise. A newborn’s stomach is simply to small to last 5+ hours at night without a feeding.
- “Sleeping through the night” is roughly 5 hours for babies. This means, that you should expect to get up a feed/change baby in order for him to go back to sleep. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong!
- New safety guidelines for car seats state that children should rear-face in the back seat of a car until at least age 2, but preferably longer. Please strive for this goal for the safety of your child!
When it all comes down to it, you will be fine. You might not feel fine at first, but the best mother for your child is you, and you will do a great job. Really.
**I have done my best to pull articles that are impartial as possible, but in many instances, Dr. Sears seemed to be the only reliable and trusted source for some topics, and because, well, he knows his ish!**