Your first week with a newborn can be a daunting experience..
From sleepless nights to unending feeding sessions, the first week with a newborn is sure to take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally.
But the good news is that you can make this phase much easier on yourself with a couple of easy to follow tips and tricks.
After all, the newborn stage is not going to last for long. And although they can be overwhelming, it is such a precious time you won’t get back. You might as well find a way to enjoy the process while your baby is still tiny.
You are sure to miss those precious days once they have passed.
Why Is The First Week With A Newborn So Hard For The Mother?
Having a baby is an altogether new (and exciting!) experience for first-time mothers. You are facing a momentous occasion that you have never encountered before no amount of reading could have prepared you for it. It is both physically and mentally draining and you feel exhausted very fast.
Here are the main reasons why the first week after giving birth is tough for you and why it’s completely normal to feel this way..
Your body has not adjusted to the post-pregnancy stage
Whether you had a normal delivery or a C-section, your body is yet to adjust to the post-pregnancy stage. If you had a normal delivery, you might still have unhealed tears that can cause pain while sitting.
On the other hand, if you had a C-section, then it would take weeks before the incision is completely healed. This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Overall, your body needs some time to heal and get ‘back to normal,’ so it’s completely natural to not feel like yourself.
You are sleep deprived
If you had a long labor, you’re already going into the first week with your newborn in a sleep deficit.
Plus, a majority of the newborns take at least three months to settle to a new sleep pattern. Till that time, your sleep will be thoroughly disturbed and you’re unlikely to get more than 2-3 hours naps at a time.
Lack of sleep can affect you both physically and mentally.
You have problems with feeding
New mothers need some time to get a grasp of breastfeeding the baby. The newborn also requires some time to latch and feed properly.
Improper latching can cause pain in the nipple and can also result in mastitis. This can cause a lot of discomfort to the new mother.
Don’t feel bad if breastfeeding doesn’t come easily to you. A lot of new moms struggle with the process at first, but getting down on yourself will just make matters worse for your emotional wellbeing.
There are ways to prepare for breastfeeding before the baby arrives if you want to get a head-start .
Best Tips For Surviving Your First Week With A Newborn
Spread Out Your Baby Supplies
You wouldn’t think this makes much of a difference, but it does!
You’re going to be so exhausted that the last thing you’ll want to do is get up constantly to get baby supplies.
In every room of the house, make sure you have the essentials within arms reach so you don’t have to go out of your way.
The items I keep in every room are:
It might seem arbitrary, but when you’re sitting on the couch and starting to breastfeed, the last thing you’ll want to do is get up for nipple cream or burp clothes.
Spread out your baby supplies in the locations you visit most often.
Wear Your Baby
Using a baby wrap is a complete game changer.
Especially if you have older children, you’re going to be moving around a lot and want to have your hands available.
Plus, taking your baby with you everywhere is a good way to
Swaddle, Swaddle, Swaddle!
By the time you leave the hospital, it’s likely a nurse will teach you how to swaddle your baby.
Why should you swaddle your baby? Your baby is also in an adjustment period and a swaddle resembles the womb, making it easier on him.
A swaddle prevents the baby from failing their arms and legs which can startle them, causing a lot of crying and disturbed sleep.
It is also a great way of keeping your baby nice and warm.
If you find swaddling difficult or can’t seem to get the hang of it, you can always buy swaddles which take all the guesswork out of it.
Get Help When Needed
It’s likely you have family and friends who have told you to ‘let them know ‘if you need anything.’ Don’t be shy and genuinely take them up on their offer.
The first week can be exhausting and if your mom, sister, whoever is offering to lend a hand, let them!
Spending an afternoon with you will be an enormous help and it’s likely they will love to help you and spend time with the baby.
Even if it’s just to bring you leftovers so you don’t have to worry about cooking, every little bit helps.
Go Easy On Yourself
This is where so many new moms struggle.
No, you won’t have the cleanest house and your baby will be crying often, but that doesn’t mean you’re failing as a new mom.
It’s all a big adjustment period and you need to take it as it comes. You will slowly get into your new role as a mother but some people claim ‘when the baby is born, you’ll just know’ and that isn’t true for A LOT of new moms. Everything doesn’t just click.
It takes time to learn and is different for everyone.
Important Things to Know About A Newborn Baby
A new baby feeds every two to three hours. A lot of new moms are concerned that their baby isn’t getting enough milk, but don’t be.
You will have a lot of doctors appointments in the early days and they will always be weighing the baby, so you will know whether or not they are eating enough.
However, if you are really concerned, you can purchase a baby scale to track it yourself.
If the baby gains weight as per the growth milestone, then you know that the baby is getting enough milk.
Baby Poop 💩
Newborn babies poop a lot. And since the baby is exclusively breastfed, the poop will be watery and less smelly.
A newborn baby will poop on average 3 times per day. Typically you’ll find your baby will poop once on the first day, twice on the second day and so on. Stopping at about five poops a day (by day five).
A baby’s bowel movements will often be mustard-like in color and consistency, so don’t be alarmed.
Crying is the only way babies express their feelings. Crying can be a sign that the baby is hungry, sleepy, wet or feeling cold.
Sometimes babies even cry for no reason. Initially, crying can be frustrating for new mothers. But as the weeks go by, you will be able to easily make out exactly why your baby is crying.
Newborn babies sleep for around 16-17 hours a day. But they do not sleep for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch.
They wake up either for a feeding or when they get wet, even during the night.
Try and get some sleep yourself when the baby naps or else you’ll be chronically exhausted.
A newborn baby cannot see beyond 20-30 cm. This is the distance between the baby’s face and your face while feeding.
That’s why sometimes it seems to be impossible to soothe a newborn without carrying him
How to Survive Newborn Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation is very common when you have a newborn. This can affect your energy level and mood. Here are some tips for coping with sleep deprivation during the initial few weeks.
Sleep Along With The Baby
New mothers usually do all pending household work when the baby sleeps. This provides them very little time to rest and take care of yourself.
Instead, you should try to sleep when the baby is sleeping. When the baby is awake, you can carry him around and do your household chores.
Create The Right Sleeping Environment
Having the right sleeping environment helps you to sleep faster and more peacefully.
That can look different for everyone, but I personally get some blackout curtains and a white-noise machine.
I also keep my baby in the same room as me so I can make sure I wake up with him, plus newborns seem to really appreciate white-noise machines as well.
Take Turns In Attending To The Baby
When the baby wakes up at night, you and your partner can take turns attending the baby.
You can wake up when there is a need to feed. If the baby cries because of a wet diaper at night, your partner can lend you a helping hand.
If you have a support system, it is best to seek their help while you catch up on sleep.
You can ask your friend or a relative to babysit for some time so that you can get some me-time.
You can even ask your partner to opt to “work from home” so that someone is there with the baby when you sleep.
Keep Work Away
If you are a working mother, make sure that you do not mix work with baby caring.
You can either stay away from work till the baby settles down or complete the work in the office itself.
Do not bring work home which can rob you of your precious sleep.
If you are on maternity leave, don’t check your emails constantly! Your coworkers can handle anything and everything. Just make sure your ‘out-of-office’ auto-responder is working.
Try To Eat Right
Having a nutritious diet not only keeps you fit but also helps you to fight fatigue.
This is particularly important if you are breastfeeding, as it can completely drain you out.
Make sure that your diet is rich in carbohydrate, iron, calcium and all other nutrients essential for your overall health.
If you feel hungry quite often, then you can snack on nutritious food like nuts, banana, and whole-wheat toast. You should also restrict your caffeine intake as it can affect your sound sleep.
Keep Away Things That Distract You
If you are a night owl and like catching up on some late-night movies, you should keep this habit aside till the baby is sleep trained. Your rest and sleep should be the primary consideration.
Other forms of entertainment can wait until the baby is slightly older.
If small naps do not help you much and you feel tired most of the time, there is nothing wrong with consulting a doctor.
This way you can rule out any underlying medical condition that can affect your overall health.
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