Coming home with a new baby, everything is different. It’s going to be wonderful and it’s going to be hard no matter how many clever parenting hacks you found on Pinterest when you were pregnant and had blissful dreams of having it all together when you swapped your baby bump for a tiny person. I wish I could snap my fingers and tell you the magic 5 steps that will make everything blisfully perfect for you, but every baby and every family is different. So, here are my things I learned through experience, some the hard way. Learn from my mistakes, please! Someone should. 😉
Use heat instead of cold packs.
Only if it feels better for you, of course. But when I came home with Autumn I really didn’t get a lot of relief from the ice packs they tell you to use on your lady bits. I read in some article that some people use heating pads, so even though none of the literature the hospital sent home recommended it, I tried it and it made a world of difference. Seriously, a heating pad on low for 15 minutes was better than anything else.
Take a warm bath.
When I was being discharged from the hospital, I remember a flurry of activity as my family helped pack up my things and little Autumn’s things. The nurse talked and talked, telling me everything I needed to do to take care of myself and I didn’t hear a word of it. To this day I don’t remember her telling me to soak for 15 minutes three times a day, but several days postpatrum I was lamenting about my discomfort to my mom and she asked how long I was soaking. Much to my surprise, after I started soaking I immediately felt relief and began to heal much faster. My advice to all new mommas: set a timer and take the time to let your bod heal a couple of times a day. I know you’re tired, but you’ll feel better faster if you take a couple of minutes at a time to help your body heal!
I have very sensitive skin when it comes to my lady parts and whenever I used the Tucks pads or the Dermaplast, I felt like my poor hoo-ha was more irritated instead of less. I kept using them because ‘that’s what the doctor said’ and told myself I needed it to heal. My ever-so-wise mother told me to stop using them and I ended up trying just plain cotton rounds with some lavendar essential oil and that helped way more. This time I ended up buying a natural spray* and even have it packed in my hospital bag for this delivery. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to try something different even if you’re just doing what should be ‘normal’ and always ask your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. Of course, I just asked my mom but she’s had 6 kids which practically makes her a doctor when it comes to baby things… but I had to say it.
Eat nutrient-dense foods.
One of the reasons why I am so enthusiastic about stockpiling household items is that when Autumn was born we had eaten through our stockpile and I spent a lot of time eating Cheerios and Zone bars because I was just too overwhemed with being a new mommy all alone to do much else. With this pregnancy with Logan, I feel a lot better because I have a lot of things that I can use to throw together a meal that’s a lot healthier than cereal and processed bars. I also have lots of foods in the freezer and the pantry I can add to my breastfeeding smoothies, including some milk supply-boosting supplement mix to keep my milk supply up if I need it.
Rest, rest, rest. You have earned it momma!
I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. I find it hard to keep just about any area of my life balanced, especially housework. If I know I can’t make it perfect I have a hard time motivating myself to get started at all. In these last days of my pregnancy, I’m working really hard to make an effort to just do one thing, or to just spend 15 minutes cleaning then stop. Can I tell you a secret? There aren’t any awards for the moms who somehow keep their houses spotless after they have a baby, so don’t worry. As long as the basics get done, people get fed and reasonably cleaned then it will all be okay.
Follow your instincts and have someone to call.
If you’re worried about something, then don’t worry about feeling silly. Call your doctor, pediatrician or a trusted mom if something is bothering you. If you don’t have someone you can call who you can trust to be kind and understanding, then find someone. More specificially: don’t call that one snarky person that has a way of making you feel half an inch tall when you ask them something. Every family has one, and just mark that person off your call list. My person has been my mother, but for it may be
Have some resoures you’re confident in to reference.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to reassure yourself that the weird breathing thing your newborn is doing is in fact normal, or to have some tried-and-true mommy hacks on your side. I really liked having the What to Expect books (even the pregnancy one has useful info for after you have your baby!) but the one I’m really glad I have on hand this time is Gentle Babies. It includes remedies for just about everything using essential oils, I like it because it takes a very sensible and safe approach and doesn’t just take the route I feel like some people take which is “slather some oils on them! they cure everything!” becasue I don’t believe that’s the safest option, especailly for newborns and little bodies that are so sensitive.
Say no to social engagements when you want to.
Yes, that includes holidays and family events. Yes, it also might disapoint people or irritate them and it does not matter. I know from experience how hard it is to say no when people are pressuring you with their own desires for your family, Aunt Martha was just so looking forward to seeing her baby and she’s so old, blah blah blah. Seriously, do what’s best for you and your little immediate family. The rest of the adults in your life are responsible for themselves and their own feelings and you do have the right to respectfully, but firmly, say no to things if you just aren’t okay with them.
Clearly communicate what you want, and don’t want.
This goes right along with the whole saying no to social engagements, but it’s just as important to clearly communicate about things like familiy visits. For example, when Logan comes we’ve had conversations with all of the family members about when we would prefer to have visitors come in to stay. I didn’t demand it like a horrible Mommyzilla, because that’s just not the way we do things. When people mentioned plans, Ian and I simply told them that we prefer that everyone come to see the new member of the family once we were home from the hospital. That meant that we could have some exclusive baby and parents time (since he is our baby, afterall) and then we could minimize some of the chaos of family visits by having them in an environment we controlled. Instead of having no place to go in a hospital room, if I need to I can go to the nursery to nurse or just have a quiet moment. I was surprised with how talking to family members made things easier.
Say yes to help.
I hate accepting other people’s help. I think it’s the firstborn in me, I just have this innate desire to do everything myself and I am terrified of people judging me or holding things over my head when they help me. I was so against accepting help that I had to sit down and make myself a list of things I could force myself to be okay with other people doing. I think Ian’s eyes about fell out of his head when I agreed to let his mom cook us dinner when his parents came to visit one evening when my not-just-morning sickness was really bad this pregnancy. People are really funny about helping, so don’t be afraid to be honest even if a request isn’t something you would expect to ask for. I can’t tell you how thrilled one of the grandmothers was when she asked if I needed anything for Autumn and I told her what I really needed warm, snuggly blankets. The next day she arrived at my house with 5 beautiful blankets that were exactly what I needed, and then some. I had a family member with Logan who wanted to know what I really wanted, since I had everything I needed and I told her I needed help doing some deep cleaning in my bathrooms because my enormous self wasn’t really comfortable doing anything beyond wiping down the easily accessible areas of the countertops. We had something scheduled the next week and she was glad to be able to help, I was just glad I didn’t have to get on my hands and knees scrub the floor…. who wants to do that when they’re enormous with child anyway?
The bottom line here is, just get through it and do your best. After you have a baby can be a beautiful time, but it’s also hard. It doesn’t have to be wonderful all the time, but it doesn’t have to be terrible either. I promise, you can do this!