What a month! Actually, it’s been 40 days today since we brought home our little Bowie but the days are all a bit of blur so who’s counting? While the info is still fresh on my mind, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the last month and answer some of the questions I’m often asked by friends. We’d love to hear your first month stories and any advice or tips for new moms in the comment box below.
Are you sleeping?
In short, not really but it’s amazing how your body adjusts. B is currently waking up every 2-3 hours to feed, really 1.5-2 hours because you count the time he’s feeding. At first, this new sleep routine plus breastfeeding was exhausting. I could sleep standing up, in the bath, while rocking his bassinet, hunched over while breastfeeding, even with my eyes open. Breastfeeding was physically exhausting in the beginning but once my body adjusted, I was okay. Lack of sleep is still a struggle, mostly between the hours of 3am and 4am when he most fussy and my brain is most fuzzy, but naps during the day are a lifesaver. NAP all the time. It won’t mess up your sleep patterns because you won’t have one. And maybe reconsider making your partner get up with you in the middle of the night. My sweet husband tried to in the beginning but I found it to be more helpful for him to be alert the next day to help run errands, make breakfast, and watch baby if I want to run an errand or nap.
Does breastfeeding hurt?
Yes, but only in the beginning. The first few days are okay but the next week hurts. Like really hurts and no amount of lanolin or gel pads can help but stick with it. At some point in the second week, and seemingly overnight, the pain just goes away. Baby B latched right away but I still made two appointments with the lactation consultant while at the hospital to help with positions, answer questions, etc. If you can, get your consultant’s name and phone number. I called her after I left the hospital with a follow up question.
Are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight?
It’s been 40 days so no. In those 40 days I have eaten whatever food is put in front of me by whoever is kind enough to bring us food. But, birthing a baby does equal weight loss and I did lose roughly 20 of the 30 pounds I gained in the first week without doing a thing. Fluids, placenta, baby, etc. Once I get the ok by the doctor, I’ll start exercising again and keeping a better eye on what I’m eating.
How was your labor and delivery?
I’ll spare you the details. It’s hard work and no one can prepare you for the experience. I didn’t realize I was in labor until I was almost 5 cm dilated and called the doctor who said, it’s time! I would highly recommend laboring at home as long as you can. We watched movies, went to lunch, and had visitors (again, didn’t realize I was in labor) until it was obvious I wasn’t just having cramps but contractions 5 minutes apart! Once you check in to the hospital, your partner is your best advocate so make sure they are up to date on your plan if you have one and how you can be the most comfortable. They will also be in charge of who to call and what visitors are allowed so think that through before the big day.
Did you have an epidural?
I chose not to have an epidural but to each their own. If you are thinking of going the unmedicated route, I highly suggest starting yoga now for breathing practice. It saved me during labor as did the medicine ball, which the hospital provided.
Did you or are you experiencing any baby blues or PPD?
It’s hard to say. Maybe? You are so overwhelmed with emotions and hormones, it’s possible. It’s hard to differentiate the types of tears you are experiencing throughout the first few weeks. I cried equal amounts while staring at my newborn and thinking of him already walking into kindergarten (true story) as I did over the lack of sleep in the middle of the night when your mind is not clear. A walk around the block or a visit from a friend always cheered me up. Pay attention to your body, feelings, and thoughts and don’t hesitate to talk to someone if you are feeling a little blue. It’s a lot, especially in the first weeks.
Is your baby on a schedule?
At 5 weeks, no. But we are starting to put routines in place which will hopefully help establish one soon. Study up on newborn schedules. I bought a ton of books but never got around to finishing a single one. We are attempting to follow the EASY sleep method, which follows On Becoming Baby Wise. I’ve also heard good things about Moms On Call. I highly recommend reading them before the baby comes with your partner. I would also share your schedule with anyone who will be babysitting.
Do you ever leave the house?
Yes! And if you haven’t, you should. With and without the baby. It does wonders to clear your mind and you return home feeling refreshed. We went on our first date night when the baby was 5 weeks old but if you are ready earlier, go! When we did go out, we would try and do it after a feeding and we’d leave the baby in the carrier with a cover over him. We avoided crowded places and places with a lot of children if possible, until he got his shots.
Can I bring you food?
Always yes and you don’t even have to ask! Just drop the food off on the front porch and send a text that says, I left some food outside. You have no idea how much it is appreciated. And while we are talking visitors, leave visiting the hospital to immediate family unless you’ve been asked. It’s an incredibly special time for the new family to bond but also for the new parents to sleep. Keep your visits on the shorter side for now. The new parents are exhausted.
Do you have bad days?
Absolutely. Baby isn’t feeling well, he’s screaming and you don’t know why, you aren’t feeling well, the list goes on and on. Cry it out, go for a walk, have a friend come over so you can nap, and know every parent experiences days like this. Sometimes many in a row. Acknowledge these days, embrace them, and know they will pass.
And a few unsolicited tips I’ve learned along the way.
Practice packing and unpacking your stroller and carrier, before baby comes. Put it in the car, take it out at Target, get into habit of turning the car on before you put your baby in and stock your diaper bag.
Unpack and assemble your breast pump. Clean and sanitize everything ahead of time. You may have to use it right away or not for a few months but it’s better to be familiar with it. Look on facebook for breastfeeding groups in your area. They are full of resources.
Find the humor. In all of it. Being a mom, especially a first time mom is a trip. Laugh with your partner, journal the funny, stressful and sweet moments, but keep an open mind and know you are doing the best you can. Seriously, this will keep those middle of night feedings tolerable.
Take pictures and videos every day starting at the hospital. Make sure you, the mama are in some of them. They change daily and you will want to remember everything.
Download the app Total Baby or something similar. It’s helpful to track diapers, naps, and feeds-info your doctor will want at the first appointment. We also used the app Full Term to track contractions.
Registry items we use the most. Footed pajamas, wipe warmer, changing pad covers, pacifiers, swaddle blankets (for swaddling before bed and naps but also as burp cloths and blankets for the car), playmat, carseat cover to block the sun and cancel noise when we’re out, white noise machine, humidifier, and breastfeeding pillow. I use both the boppy and my breast friend.
We’d love to hear your first month stories and any advice or tips for new moms in the comment box below. Thanks for sharing!
Featured Image via Aria Photography