Nikki's Newborn Survival Guide: How to survive the first few weeks of infancy
Motherhood or "Mommyhood" as I like to refer to it, is a milestone in many women's lives. We spend nine months prepping and thinking about what kind of mom will we be? What will our babies look like? Will they be healthy & happy? And how will we survive mommyhood? I had a rather challenging pregnancy so I didn't think about what my *first few days, weeks, and months of being a new mom would be like because I was more focused on our health (Josiah & I). To be completely honest, before having Josiah I hadn’t even held a baby in over three years so I didn’t know what I was going to do with one of my own. I was optimistic none the less, of what mommyhood would bring. The moment I began to push it all hit me. I’m having a baby! I’m really having a baby! Lol I definitely wasn’t ready, I had no idea what to expect or what to do.
They say that your mothering instincts kick in naturally once your baby is out of the womb. I guess that’s kind of true. A survival guide would’ve still came in handy for me, it could’ve possibly saved me a few breakdowns along the way. So, here’s my version of a Newborn Survival Guide! We’ll be focusing on the mommy mental/emotional and a few little tricks to get you through the newbie stage stress free (hopefully lol).
1. Get as much rest as you can before delivery and while in the hospital!
Now, resting prior to delivery is a little easier when you're being induced (I'll get into my induction at a later date) because when your body labors naturally you really don't know when your baby is coming. From what I’ve been told it’s kind of like you're just going about your day and then BAM your water breaks and the nightmarish contractions start. By the way, yes contractions hurt as bad people make them seem. My contractions were so bad I had to get my epidural early and I think I subconsciously blocked out the pain, because I honestly can't remember exactly how the contractions felt! I was fortunate enough to be on paid leave my entire pregnancy which allowed me to get plenty of rest. I mean I rested all day everyday. I was also a high risk pregnancy so resting was how I kept my stress levels as low as possible. Rest is key! Because once baby comes, rest comes few and far between.
Speaking of few and far between, resting in the hospital is highly recommended even though its challenging with nurses and whatnots in and out of the room. My advice is to set clear boundaries for your experience at the hospital. I personally didn't want any visitors in the hospital simply because I knew it would be hard to rest as is without adding the pressure of having to entertain people. AND I honestly didn't want anyone around my newborn other than my immediate family. (yes I am picky) & completely unapologetic for it. Having a baby is an intimate experience; you don't have to feel bad or rude for setting clear boundaries both in the hospital and in your child's life. At the end of the day that's YOUR baby. Which brings me to #2 on my list:
2. Be vocal about what you need
This is something I learned after a series of breakdowns in my newborns early days. Our bodies go through trauma when we give life. The last thing you need to do is hold in what you're feeling and what you need. I personally felt after birth that my husband was lacking in certain things I needed from him, however I didn't voice those concerns in a positive or constructive way nor did I voice them immediately. Sleep deprived, tired, and in immense pain; the last thing I felt like doing was explaining to him anything that I felt should've been common sense. So instead I went to my mom. A woman whose birthed two children and would know exactly what I needed when I needed it and how I needed it without me even saying a word.
I revisited issues with my husband and how I felt about things after the fact but unless we have another baby what good was that conversation? I should've and I advise being very vocal about what you need because being a newborn momma is stressful as is.
3. Have a support system in place
I can't stress to you how important a support system is! It's so important! From the moment you find out that you’re pregnant to the moment you enter the hospital room to the moment you settle back into the house with your newborn you absolutely must have people around you who are not just there for baby but there for you as well. With the excess hormones inhabiting our bodies it’s really beneficial to have people you trust that you can call on for emotional support as well as help with baby. It’s super easy to slip into postpartum depression, so having a support system can alleviate a lot things.
I was incredibly blessed with an extremely supportive family who gave me "nights off" to just simply SLEEP! God bless my mom for taking Josiah off my hands some Friday nights so I could catch up on rest! Man those Z's are so precious when you have a newborn. Since my husband is a military man and we are currently in two separate states and his time here in Dallas since Josiah's arrival has been limited, I pretty much handle everything by myself (with the help of my family). So my support system is EVERYTHING to me, seriously.
Whether it's family, friends, or co-workers make sure you establish a support system because being a newborn momma is a lot of work. There are things you can do to cut that workload down a bit like:
4.Being prepared & having a schedule in place
When you have a newborn preparation is key! I'm sure you're thinking "how prepared can you really be with a newborn?” the answer is very! Just a little preparation is better than none at all right? I quickly realized that being prepared and having a routine was vital in order for me to get any amount of sleep and to make my days run a little smoother. Since it's hard to put newborn babies on a schedule you have to adapt to theirs. Simple things like prepping the bottles so all you have to do is heat them (if you're like me & opted for the scoop and shake option) can save a ton of time. Each night before bed I would tidy the room, I'd set enough diapers to get me through the night next to the wipe warmer( THANK GOD FOR WIPE WARMERS). So that at night everything was easily accessible without me having to hit the light switch because operation keep baby as sleep as possible would be in full affect.
I also set my alarm to wake me up 30 minutes before I knew Josiah would wake. He would wake up about every two & a half to three hours, so by waking up before him I could get his bottle put in the warmer, change his diaper while the bottle was warming, get his bottle out of the warmer, feed & burp him before he even knew what hit him. This allowed me to lessen the amount of crying he did and practically keep him sleep throughout the night.
I wash his clothes and blankets (he had/has a ton of each) about 2-3 times a week while Josiah is either napping or doing anything other than crying (which thankfully he doesn’t even cry a lot!) A key to washing baby clothes is to use the Dreft system as I call it. Which includes using the Dreft Spray & Wash first by spraying any stains on Josiah’s clothes and taking a wet towel to rub out the stains a bit (that way when you wash you don’t have to worry about any milk stains left in the clothes). I always separate Josiah’s clothes darks from lights during my spray and wash step, then I let them sit about 30 minutes to make sure the spray penetrates any stains that didn’t rub out. Then I wash the clothes using the Dreft Newborn detergent and the Dreft Blissfuls In-Wash Scent Boosters (which leave his clothes smelling so good!). Finally I toss them in the dryer and repeat the steps until I’ve finished washing.
5. Breathe. Relax. It's going to be okay.
The first time most people become parents they have no clue what they are doing just like I didn't. It’s kind of a learn as you go experience all while hoping both you and baby make it to the next day. One of the keys to parenting a newborn is to just relax. Accept the fact that there are a lot of things that can go wrong in the process but each of those things can be overcome in the long run. Being a newborn parent is tiring, it's exhausting, it can be stressful, but it can also be extremely rewarding.
There were days and nights that I was so overwhelmed that all I could do was cry. I could blame that on the fact that my hormones were readjusting but I can also blame it on the fact that I was being way too hard on myself. I hadn't taken the time to really comprehend that he was a baby and that it was natural for me to not fully know what I was doing. He was going to cry that was and is the way he communicates his needs because he can't speak yet. I didn’t know little things about taking care of a newborn such as how often should they poop? How in the world do I know what cry means what? Is it normal for him not to burp? What’s colic & how am I suppose to deal with it? There were tons of things I didn’t know that I had to learn. Hindsight is really 20/20 because thinking back I was way too hard on myself. Once I relaxed, began to bond with Josiah, and established a routine it was pretty much smooth sailing to the point we are at today. We still have a few bumps along the way but it's much better now.
6. Ask Questions!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or accept help! I take all the help I can get when it comes to Josiah because in the newbie days it really takes a village! Like seriously, I tip my hat to all the women out there that are doing it and have done this on their own! It’s a ton of work. Don’t be too proud or too independent to ask for help or to ask questions! Find a good pediatrician and ask all the questions you need to ask! Ask your mom, your aunt, your cousin, your girlfriend, ask someone for help!
The Light at The End of The Tunnel
Josiah is three months now, and I am happy to say that I survived the newborn stage. I made it through jaundice in the hospital, colic filled nights, and irregular sleeping patterns. Was it a breeze? No. But I wouldn't change those experiences for the world. Mothering is such a beautiful and rewarding experience.
Remember, your baby feels what you feel because they spent nine months with you. You're the closest thing they know. So even if you don't know what you're doing, if you relax they will relax as well. You will survive!
Peace & Blessings
Have any mommyhood tips and tricks? Drop them in the comment section!