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You did it! You made it through 40 (or so) weeks, labored with and delivered a beautiful baby and got the green light to take baby home. I remember this day well with my first child and the nerves that accompanied it. We were away from the hospital now, no nurses or doctors around to help. Here’s the good news—we figured it out and it all worked out! And, it will for you too.
As a new mom, when you head home from the hospital, remember these tips to survive the first three days at home with your new baby:
Tip #1: Be OK doing “nothing.”
And by “nothing,” I mean snuggling up on that baby of yours, and feeding him or her, and changing diapers (newborns go through around 12 diapers a DAY!).
But - just focus on the baby and you. Get over any preconceived notions you have about all of the things you want to do when baby gets home. You can still do those, but first—rest.
The housework can wait. Don’t even think about setting foot in the kitchen (see #4 below). Throw your hair into a top knot. Having a baby is a big thing—you need to take time to rest and recover and give your body a break. Your baby needs you, so get some rest. You will do more harm than good by pushing your body too hard too soon. You’ll find yourself being OK with doing “nothing” through some of the tips below.
Tip #2: Nap when baby naps.
Newborns sleep 16 to 17 (some even more) hours a day, but that sleep is broken up into shorter sessions to accommodate for eating every 2-3 hours, plus some awake periods, etc. Some newborns may have their days and nights switched. The point is, newborn babies sleep, but not in six- or eight-hour chunks like we do as adults.
As hard as it may be, you need to sleep when the baby sleeps. You may feel like you need to get things done or visit with guests, but no! You need to rest. It’s imperative to your recovery, and your ability to give your baby everything he or she needs.
Extra Tip: When people call or text, asking to come see the baby, let them know you’re asking visitors stay no longer than 30 minutes so that baby and mom can get some rest. Everyone will understand, and it helps to let them all know that in advance.
Tip #3: Ask for—and accept—help.
People LOVE helping new mamas out. Family members, friends, neighbors—you name it. People will offer to help, so do yourself a favor and accept the offer! I struggle with this. I hate asking for help, but with both of my babies, I let myself ask for help and accepted it when offered and it made a world of difference!
Extra Tip: Many people will ask what you need. Don’t be afraid to tell them exactly what you need—dinner on Thursday? Someone to come hold the baby for 15 minutes while you shower? Take the dog for a walk because Fido is going stir-crazy? Don’t let them guess! They’re asking so they can actually help!
Tip #4: Plan meals ahead or order out.
If you have time ahead of when the baby arrives, prepare freezer meals to make for easy day-of cooking. This board on Pinterest has more than 400 pins and is full of delicious recipes! Many freezer meals can be made in the crockpot, too, saving even more time and simplifying the process that much more.
You may want to order out—pizza, Chinese, sandwiches (love those freaky fast sandwiches from Jimmy Johns!), etc. Thank goodness for the iPhone and Siri, finding places close by to feed my post-baby cravings!
Friends or family members may bring you meals (yum!). To keep things organized, especially if you have multiple people bringing meals over the first few days, consider using something like Volunteer Spot, a free online calendaring system where people can see when you need meals and sign up for a day that works best for them.
Tip #5: Drink lots of water and keep snacks at arm’s reach.
If you’re breastfeeding, keep taking in those fluids. Tip: Keep that water cup from the hospital and use that as your cup. Mine is 32-ounces, so it helps me keep track of how much I am drinking.
One of the best baby shower gifts I received was a “fuel kit” of sorts—a basket stuffed full with fruit, snacks and even water bottles that I could keep next to the couch or on the coffee table. This was amazing, because I didn’t move a whole lot from the couch the first few days I was home, and having snacks and liquids easily accessible made it so much more comfortable.
Extra Tip: Also keep burp cloths, diapers and wipes handy! Makes spit-up and diaper changes much easier if you can do it all from where you’re “stationed.”
Tip #6: Let yourself cry.
Child birth brings on a whole lot of hormones and feelings.
If you need to cry, cry! It’s very normal to be emotional in the days and weeks following the arrival of your little one. Know that you are not alone in these emotions and feeling this way. It’s helpful to talk to someone—your mom, a friend or your husband or partner—and let them know how you feel and that you just want to talk through it. Try stepping outside and getting some fresh air. Don’t be afraid to speak with your doctor, either.
While the first three days with baby can feel long and exhausting, rest assured that you’ll establish a routine soon enough and get everything down. Enjoy those new baby snuggles and cherish this time spent with your little one.