We officially have the first week with a newborn under our belts, and so I thought it would be super helpful for other first time mamas to round up all the things that helped us survive our first week with Keldon! 🙂
A little background on my experience the first few days…
First things first, the first few days are the HARDEST. Having a newborn, breastfeeding, and the lack of sleep was way harder of an adjustment that I was mentally prepared for. I cried a lot, had baby blues and a learning curve those first few days, but I can honestly say now that we have found a groove, nursing is a million times easier once your milk lets down, you adjust to a new sleep schedule (especially after you get home), and it gets better. I was so fortunate to have the support of my mama followers on Instagram, because you guys were SO motivating and made me feel so much better when I was down. This season is short and does not last forever, and like you guys mentioned, it gets easier each and every day!
For me, the days in the hospital compared to being at home was a night and day difference for my mood. Don’t get me wrong, the nurses, doctors and lactation consultants were phenomenal and taught us so much. But since you and your baby get constant check ins, it made it hard to get any sleep since there was someone popping into your room what seemed to be every 15 minutes! I think I got a total of 3 hours of sleep the whole 72+ hours we were at the hospital… less than ideal when you are trying to take care and learn about your newborn while also taking care of your high-maintenance healing post delivery.
I also felt a lot of pressure to make breastfeeding work; breastfeeding was always my plan, but I thought hey, if it doesn’t work out, fed is best! At the hospital, Keldon had trouble latching and I was only making a very small amount of colostrum (which is totally normal), but I had the hardest time trying to get him that small amount, and it was really frustrating and painful. Keldon did not sleep very long stretches (about 20 minute stretches maybe each night at the hospital), and it was stressful trying to make it work, especially when your nips are in so much pain. 🙁
On top of that, when we had a visit from one of the lactation consultants, she noticed that Keldon had a little bit of a tongue tie, which we really didn’t know anything about. Being that she wasn’t a doctor, she couldn’t diagnose it, but she didn’t tell us in the most comforting way and Tom and I basically were thinking the worst since she was talking about long term effects on a major tongue tie (which Keldon didn’t end up having – his is minor, and you can do a very minor and painless surgery to cut the tongue tie if needed). She was very kind, but it wasn’t an easy thing to hear and may have blown it out of proportion a bit. At that point, I wanted to give up! I remember crying so much and trying to regroup before a nurse would come back in the room… so sad, haha! But I want to be completely transparent with you guys, since this is all normal and you aren’t alone!
Also, Tom was super supportive and helped whenever he could, but there’s only so much he could do. And I made him get some more sleep at night so that I could try and nap during the day. But he was so comforting and though he had zero experience with babies, he was patient and eager to learn. He’s the best and gave me so much emotional support!!
The light at the end of this dark tunnel was going home and my milk coming in. Since then, I’ve been able to catch up on sleep and really get into the routine (and enjoy the routine!) of breastfeeding and taking care of Keldon. I think my milk came in on day 5 postpartum – so the first couple of days at home were still hard, but it was so much more peaceful at home. We actually had a little bit of a scare because Keldon had gone about 8 hours without having any wet or dirty diapers, which was a sign of dehydration. After consulting the nurse hotline, we ended up giving Keldon 1 oz of formula after feedings so that he got enough until my milk came in. That worked like a charm, and he started sleeping so much better. After my milk was in, we stopped the formula and it was an easy transition to exclusively breastfeeding.
Now that you have a little background (or a lotta background – I’m an oversharer, haha!), here are some tips and must-haves for surviving your first week with a newborn!
- Sleep when the baby sleeps! I know a lot of people say this, but it’s important, especially when you are sleep deprived. Keldon is sleeping long stretches at night now so I don’t always take a nap during the day, but when you aren’t sleeping much at night, naps will be your saving grace!
- Accept help and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Whether that be your parents/in-laws coming over for a visit while you and your significant other catch up on a little sleep, or asking for advice. I hate asking for help, but the help is sometimes so needed for you and your well-being.
- Have lots of snacks on hand and prep frozen meals (even better if you have someone offering to bring you meals!). Cooking and grocery shopping will be the last thing you want to worry about during this transition.
- If you are nursing, try to drink a full bottle of water at each feeding. It helps with milk supply, and nursing makes you PARCHED! I actually purchased this smart water bottle recently that works with an app to track how much water you’re getting and also gives you notification reminders to drink more water (and the water bottle flashes red as a reminder if you haven’t drank any for a while as well)! Nursing or not, this is a really good way to help yourself drink more water.
- Nursing also makes you super hungry. You should be getting 500 more calories in each day if you are nursing since it burns so many calories! So keep a snack stash next to your nursing station, too. I highly recommend lactation snacks, like these booby bites! One of my best friends made these for me, and they are delicious, somewhat healthy and help with milk supply. Perfect for snacking on!
- Sign up for emails from The Bump and/or What To Expect. I have read so many informational articles both during pregnancy and after that have been great and answered many of my own questions. When you sign up, they ask you when you are due so that the newsletters that get sent to you are relevant to the stage you’re in.
- It’s okay to cry! Sometimes with all those raging hormones, all you need is to cry for a little bit. Sometimes after I cry I feel like a new human again and like I got something off my chest, lol!
- Set up a meeting with a lactation consultant at your hospital after you get home if you are still having trouble breastfeeding. We had a meeting set up, but ended up canceling it since we ended up getting the hang of it prior to the meeting.
- Learn how to use your carseat before you go to the hospital to have your baby. Tom and I literally spent 1 hour trying to figure out his car seat to make sure it was set up correctly when we were about to leave the hospital to go home, and we were so anxious about going home at that point which didn’t help! We thought the hospital was going to be able to help us, but they didn’t help due to liability reasons. So we literally were YouTubing car seat videos and FaceTimed our parent friends to ask for help, lol!
- Take a shower or bath, wash your hair, shave your legs – you’ll feel so refreshed!
- Get ready for the day/put on makeup when you feel ready. My mood is much happier and I feel like I am much more productive when I get ready for the day! I don’t get ready every day by any means, but even doing so 2-3 days out of the week helps.
- Netflix – watch a good show. 🙂 We have been playing The Office reruns all week long. Definite mood booster!
- Remember that this is a very short season that will go by so fast. I can’t count on two hands how many of my readers told me this, and how much they missed the stage of late night feedings & snuggles, and the bond that grew from them. Listen to the song “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” by Darius Rucker (and have tissues ready) to lift your spirits and cope. You got this, mama!
MUST HAVES FOR MOM:
- Peri bottle
- Motherlove Nipple Cream (couldn’t nurse without this stuff!)
- Depends Silouettes
- Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray
- Nipple Shield (if you are having latching issues or have really painful nipples due to nursing, this has helped us a ton! I use it off and on now and there is no “nipple confusion”.
- My Brest Friend nursing pillow: Game changer! Works much better than the Boppy for me.
- Nursing friendly gowns and/or bras and robe
- Nursing bras (love these and these)
- Nursing tanks (love this one, this one and this one)
- These sweatpants 🙂 Comfiest ever – wore them pre-pregnacy and all through my pregnancy and now postpartum. I get my true size small and they are the softest and comfiest sweats in the world! I have 3 colors!
- Pumping bra
- Water bottle
MUST HAVES FOR NEWBORN:
- Babybum Diaper Cream Brush
- Baby shampoo/bath wash & lotion
- Baby bath
- Burp cloths: Love these and these
- Car seat: Obviously 🙂
- Car seat cover: If you live in a cold climate!
- Drying Rack: News flash if you didn’t know, newborn clothes shrink! I shrunk some of Keldon’s clothes by putting them in the dryer… woops. We now have this handy drying rack for line drying his clothes!
- DockATot: Multi-functional lounger that we have been having Keldon lounge in and sleep in (you can use code STYLEDPRESS10 for 10% off!)
- Love to Dream Swaddle: If you have a baby that likes to keep his arms up like Keldon (he did this in the womb, so it’s natural for him!), you need this sleep swaddle! It’s awesome, and they have different sizes as they grow. Keldon currently uses the small size.
- Halo SleepSack Swaddle: Another swaddle we love to use, but the Love to Dream one takes the cake for being the favorite.
- Motherlove Diaper Balm
- Owlet Sleep Sock: For peace of mind!
- White noise machine: Love this portable one
- White noise/soother and night light: We keep this one in our room
- Wipe dispenser: This is soo handy! Has a weight thing in it so you only pull out 1 wipe at a time
- WubbaNub: This guy has been great soother for Keldon, and he isn’t interested in any other nuk!
I hope that this is helpful to any nervous first time mamas out there!! If you made it through this whole blog post, thank you and way to stick through it! 😛 I know it was a long one!