How To Survive The First Month With A Newborn
So you are home sweet home. You have your baby and you are finding it hard to believe how you can be so lucky that you have given birth to undoubtable the best looking baby you have ever seen. You are in an oxytocin filled cloud and life is great. Everyone keeps dropping over to dote on your miracle and she is spending her days dreaming blissfully in all the visitors’ arms. She is returned to you for feeds and the occasional nappy change depending on the company. Your tea cup is like a bottomless pit constantly being toped up and there is always some sort of slice, cake or biscuit on a serving plate on your coffee table. All thanks to the hospitable friends and family that pop over. Usually for the first week at least.
Night time is different. Your baby is awake on an off and you feel like there is no way she will wake again this night. 7 times already has got to be it right? So far she is settling quite easily, after all she is always being cuddled or fed. So what happens when the endless cuddles from your visitors dry up? The kitchen and laundry now have to actually be cleaned by you? The food everyone has baked had all been eaten? I guess it’s now up to you?
With any luck you will have a great partner (or mother) who has time off work or is at least around in the mornings and afternoon/night to help out with the hard times. This will allow you to shower once a day, possibly eat 3 meals and if you’re lucky change out of your pyjamas before lunch (don’t get too used to this).
One of the easiest ways to survive this period is by just relaxing about everything. Don’t stress yourself about the housework. Trust me your house wont implode if the dishes don’t get done for a day or the washing hasn’t been done for 2 (sure you will most likely have to catch up but hopefully someone else gets to it before you do, like your family or your partner).
If you can afford it hire a cleaner. I found 2 hours a week enough that your house will always be clean. Maybe not tidy but at least you won’t walk worry about the cleanliness of your toilet or bathroom when someone is visiting (not that the visitor would care but I know I stressed about it being clean). You can generally find a cleaner for $25 an hour so $50 a week is a good investment for your sanity. *By the way this makes an excellent baby shower gift from family or friends*
I lived in the most basic clothes. $5 singlets from Kmart and $20 house pants from Cotton On Body. When I went out I put jeans on and a nice $10 scarf (probably from Kmart as well). I was once commented on the fact I was one of those mums that always looks nice and trendy (I have to say I haven’t stopped laughing about that comment since!). If you can quickly spare 2 extra minutes to put on some powder or foundation and mascara you will feel a million dollars (definitely not needed but it always made me feel like I had life under control).
Having pre prepared meals in the freezer was literally a God send for me. I think we would have lived on cereal and toast if I hadn’t had a huge cook up when I was 36 weeks pregnant. Having lots of healthy snacks to munch on between meals because breastfeeding makes you hungry all the time is very handy.
Being organised with things like a nappy change area. I know a lot of parents think the change table was the most useless piece of furniture they purchased however I had mine totally set up with everything and made it look a bit nice by pouring my coconut oil (for a red bum) into a nice crystal pot with a lid, a colourful rag quilt I made a few years earlier (when I had all the time in the world to be creative) and a colourful terry towel nappy folded in half on top so after an accident I only needed to wash that. Having it always neat and tidy made me feel relaxed and happy to look at it. I also had a change table fully set up in my bedroom for the night time nappy changes. This meant I didn’t have to go far at night when all I wanted to do was get back into bed as soon as possible. Both of my change tables have 3 draws under them so everything is contained and there is lots of storage space.
My Change table, nice and tidy.
Have a baby carrier! I can’t stress the importance of this enough! I have 4 carriers now. 3 wraps and one ergo. The wraps were the best thing in the world when Stella was little. I could tie the wrap place Stella in it and vacuum, mop, hang the washing out (I recommend getting a washing trolley to hold your washing basket in so you’re not having to lean down), cook (being mindful of hot liquids and splashes) and walk to the shops for a bit of fresh air and to pick up a few bits and bobs. I did all my grocery shopping with Stella in a wrap. It makes pushing a trolley so much nicer and she mostly slept when she was in her wrap so it also made it nice and peaceful.
My first wrap. She should be wrapped much higher on my chest.
Try and not look at the clock. Because I was breastfeeding, Stella was demand feeding. Basically this means when she told me she was hungry and wanting something to eat I fed her. It didn’t matter how long it had been since her last feed. Sometimes this would be 20 min and others 4 hours. Sometimes she would fall asleep feeding but I would just let her sleep. She will wake up to feed again when she was hungry. Some days I would feel like I had spent the entire day on the lounge while she fed on and off but this wasn’t every day and it just meant I could catch up on a movie or trashy TV show (I’m a huge B&B fan, terrible I know). The hardest part about this whole feeding/sleeping thing is to remember ‘this too shall pass’. I felt completely overwhelmed and stressed so many times in the first few months when it came to Stella’s feeding and sleeping. Now a year on I would give anything to go back to one of those days and just spend the whole time cuddling her and not stressing about where she slept and when.
Find a friend or family member that you are comfortable with and is happy for you to call for some advice or back up any time of the day and night. I was so lucky to have had my baby the same week one of my best friends had her baby and another friend from work had her 3rd baby. This meant we could text or phone one another to ask advice or suggestions. Sometimes it was just nice to hear them say ‘my baby does that too’ just so you know it’s totally normal! My brother and sister in Law were like my knight in shining armour. They don’t have kids so had the ability to come over to help at the drop of a hat. They spent a lot of afternoons/evenings at my place holding my daughter as she screamed (she was so unsettled for the first 4 months) while I jumped in the shower and refreshed while my brother would quickly whip something up for dinner (my husband has his own business so worked late most nights of the week). I honestly couldn’t have gotten through the first few months without their support.
If you don’t have family around or know someone with a baby a similar age join a mummies group through the local child and family health centre. They are so helpful and it will give you a nice set time every week to get out of the house and chat to other mums who are going through the same thing you are experiencing.
Try and get out for a walk every couple of days. Fresh air will help you feel centred and refreshed. Saying you should try and get out every day is just unrealistic in those first few weeks so aim for 2-3 times a week. Even just a walk around the block.
Stella and I at Currumbin Beach when she was 10 days old
Take lots of photos! I absolutely love looking back through the thousands of photos I took of Stella in those first few weeks. I have an app on my phone called ‘Time Hop’ and it shows me every photo and video I took on this day in the previous years. Stella and I love watching her fresh baby photos and videos.
Write simple but important things down somewhere. I have my appointment diary that I have written things like first smile, slept for 4.5 hours in a row, grew out of newborn nappies… etc. It’s great to flick back through.
Last but not least… try to enjoy it as much as you can. It goes so fast!!!!
(This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional. All information is written from the experience and knowledge of the person writing the post).