Congratulations, Momma! You did it! You've made it through the major life-altering event you have been both over the moon excited for and also somewhat dreading.
Whether things went according to your birth plan or not; the baby is finally here and everyone's surely gushing all over her. With all the excitement a new little life brings, it can also be super overwhelming. There is a whole lot of information to take in those first few hours and days as a new mom. You might even find yourself wondering if you've bitten off a bit more than you can chew. But don't worry, those feelings are completely normal and will definitely dissipate with time. Being a mom comes naturally and you will slowly start to come into your own without even realizing it. Still, with that said, there are things that you can do to make your transition to super mom go as smoothly as possible. Here is a list of ways to start your journey of motherhood off on the right foot.
Order a High-Fiber Breakfast
Wait, what? So you are probably thinking, "Is this lady really telling me the key to getting through the first day as a mom is by starting your day with a healthy meal?" Not exactly. See a little-known fact that no one seems to mention to you during the entire course of pregnancy is that going to the bathroom post-delivery can feel quite like childbirth again. Take it from a three-time mom, you may be craving some bacon and eggs but order the yogurt and high fiber cereal option on the hospital's menu. Also, pack some non-stimulant stool softeners, they are perfectly safe to take if you are breastfeeding and won't interfere with any other medications. Being afraid to go to the bathroom is NOT how you want to spend your morning. So if you do nothing else, do this, you will be so happy you did, trust me
Enjoy Skin-To-Skin Time
Nothing calms a newborn baby like being close to their mother. Skin to skin is a practice where after a normal vaginal delivery, the baby is placed onto your bare chest. They will usually instantly stop crying and fall asleep. Skin to skin helps to encourage breastfeeding and helps maintain your baby's body temperature and allows them to regulate their breathing. Even after a cesarean section, skin to skin is doable though you may have to wait a bit. Just be sure to let your doctor or midwife know that you want to do it as soon as possible. You can have skin-to-skin time as many times with baby as you like, there are nothing but benefits which come from it, and who doesn't want to snuggle a semi-naked newborn all day?
The following video completely explains the benefits of the skin-to-skin practice.
Learn to Swaddle
Newborns love to be tight and snuggled. They have been so warm and cozy in mommy's body for the past nine months that it's not a feeling they are eager to give up. So when they are not skin to skin to you they need to still feel secure. The nurses in the hospital swaddle like magicians. I kid you not, you will be in awe (and a bit horrified, they can seem rough!) as they confidently twist and tuck those blue and pink blankets around your teeny little human instantly putting them at ease. They will show you how to do it, but if you don't get it at first ask again. It takes a bit of practice and you will definitely want to be sure daddy gets a lesson too.
Some of the benefits of swaddling are:
- Babies sleep longer and sounder.
- Prevents sudden wake-ups due to the startle reflex
- Babies have less anxiety.
- No need for dangerous loose blankets in the crib.
I'll be honest though, despite my best efforts, I never quite became a master swaddler. Either my babies are mini-Houdinis or I just didn't have the knack for it I don't know. In either case, if it doesn't work for you either, don't panic, SwaddleMe sleep sacks are life-savers. They worked amazingly for me and I also felt they were safer than a traditional baby blanket. I learned about these through trial and error with my first and then I had them already packed in my hospital bag for my other new babies ready to go. They come in small/medium and medium/large so no worries, they will carry you through the whole swaddling period.
Ask for a Lactation Consultant
Most hospitals have them, and even if they don't have one on staff, they can surely recommend you one. Lactation consultants are professional breastfeeding specialists trained to teach mothers how to feed their baby. One of the biggest shocks for me after having my first baby was how difficult those first few days of breastfeeding were. Breastfeeding is not for everyone and that's fine because I'm totally from the camp of a fed baby is best no matter the way; but, if breastfeeding is something you want to do and be successful at, chances are it's going to take a bit more effort than just placing baby to your chest and hoping for the best. The better your training and support when you first begin your breastfeeding relationship with your baby the stronger the likelihood of you continuing for as long as the two of you want. They can also show you how to properly use a breast pump, advise you on storing milk and can help you treat any cracking or bleeding you may have.
I used a lactation consultant at the hospital with all three of my babies. It's funny even though I breastfed my first for 2 years, by the time number 2 came along I had forgotten so much and it was no different with number 3 either. For me, it was like starting over again each time. With my first, she helped me find the best position to hold my little one. He preferred something called the "football hold" and it was an adjustment I would never have thought of had it not been for her. For my second and third she helped me to correct their latch. Her simple advice gave me immediate relief from excruciating pain every time they attempted to feed. A properly trained lactation consultant's advice and packing breastfeeding essentials can save you a lot of stress so if they don't offer one, be sure to ask!
Take the Time to Rest
Throughout those first few weeks everyone will tell you, sleep when baby sleeps. If this is your first, there is a chance you may actually forego the cleaning, cooking and even mail opening that needs to be done and do that. If you have other children it's highly unlikely you will ever be able to even if you want to (which you really will.) So your time in the hospital is best spent recuperating. While visitors mean well and it's wonderful to share the joy with family and friends, don't be afraid to ask for some privacy and quiet time. You just went through a major ordeal. You have earned the right to recuperate. If you feel uncomfortable asking guests to leave, then have your husband speak up for you.
Before you know it, you will be checking out of the hospital and doing this whole momma thing all on your own. So while it isn't the four seasons by any means, try to enjoy that time in there with baby and give your body the rest it deserves.
When all is said and done remember that to be the best mom you can be you have to take care of yourself. Throughout your journey of motherhood, you will undoubtedly find that putting your wants and needs behind everyone else's comes naturally. While this will be fine most of the time eventually everyone burns out. So from the very first day in the hospital, hand your baby over to your husband, take a long shower, and carve out a few moments for self-care. You will feel so much better once you do and you will, in the long run, be a much better mom for it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.