How to Survive the First 30 Days after Having a New Baby
There are so many great articles and posts out there with tips on motherhood and parenting in general. But not many talk specifically about how to get through the first 30 days after having a new baby — especially when you already have older children who also need to be clothed, fed and cared for. Whether you are a first-time mom or a seasoned mom of multiples, the first month is especially critical to getting a new mother's health and wellness back on the right track for a smooth, long-term recovery. I wish someone had given me the specific tools and wisdom to get through the first 30 days after my first baby. Read on for my top 10 tips on how to survive the first month after having a new baby.
It's okay to not be okay. Say this out loud, mommas. I was fortunate to never experience postpartum depression or anxiety, but with my third baby I had a bit of the baby blues. The baby blues are common and not entirely worrisome on its own, but if not acknowledged (and my self-care not prioritized), I believe it definitely could have escalated. It's so important to address any hard emotions you may be having by talking to your healthcare provider, your partner, or your friends.
Figure out your baby's different cries. The sooner you crack the code to whether baby is crying for milk or diaper change, the better this will serve you in the long run.
Don't dress up your newborn. Just the hospital shirts will do, and forget the pants. With so many diaper changes and blowouts, trust me, you'll thank me later.
Patent your signature dance move. Do you sway, bounce, rock? Do you hush, shush, or cluck? (Yea, that's right, my third liked it when I clucked at him like a chicken.) Girlfriend, when I tell you to master this move, it's because you will soon find yourself doing it all day, all night the first 30 days. And then after that, you'll catch yourself doing it even when you don't have baby in your arms, like say when you're in line at the grocery store.
Talk to your baby a lot. For a first-time mom, it can feel awkward chatting up a sleepy little lump. No need to discuss current events with baby, just simply label and describe what it is you are doing with them. All the time. "You just had a poop explosion. Now we are going to have a diaper change." or "I'm sniffing your sweet, newborn baby head again. Nope, not a crazy person at all." It becomes a lifestyle shift once you start considering your newborn as a whole person, and not some inaminate object – and will have long-term benefits in the future in how you interact with your baby as she grows into a toddler.
Breastfeeding? Perfect your Resting Bitch Face for unwanted onlookers. It will make it so much easier for you to nurse in public. It took three children for me to feel totally comfortable about NIP – in part because I have mastered my death stare and now I happily nurse anywhere, everywhere.
You don't have to schedule playdates the first 30 days – or even the first couple months. Everyone says, get out of the house for your sanity. But the truth is, for some new moms getting out of the house is actually more of a burden, especially if you have older children to schlep around. Playdates in the early newborn days actually stressed me out at having to commit to leaving the house at a certain time. Plus, your older kids will have to adapt to life with a new baby and sometimes this means playing at home quietly while momma lays on a couch. Because if momma ain't taken care of, then no one is taken care of.
Eliminate the toxic from your life. Um, probably should have done this awhile ago, but it's never too late to make a change. During such a delicate, stressful time in your life, it's never been more important to surround yourself with those who always see your glow, and good energy will come your way. It’s said that the 5 people you spend the most time with is who you will become. You get to decide whether this is positive or negative. So get rid of the toxic – and respect yourself enough to walk away from anything or anyone that no longer grows you or makes you happy.
Stash healthy snacks around the house. Things that you can destroy in one bite, with one hand while nursing baby or pumping milk. Fave go-to snacks: homemade trail mix, spiced nuts, sea salt Triscuits, peanut butter crackers, veggie chips, yogurt pretzels.
Your girlfriends are your savior, especially the ones who are moms because they really get it. The next time my lil sis says she's tired, I'm gonna try not to facepunch her. (Sorry, sis, but really!) They are the 3am feeding club, Facebookers, Instagrammers, lunch droppers-off, babysitting in a pinch lifeline. Go ahead, don't be afraid to ask for help.
Photos by Brit Godish.