Congratulations! You did it! You birthed a small human! Whether your little nugget was delivered after a grueling 36-hour labor, or you had a breezy scheduled c-section, you’ve put your body through something only us ladies can do.
I wish I could say that the hard work is over, but it’s only just beginning. Comparatively, the first night in the hospital is a breeze, you’re exhausted and the baby is exhausted. The endorphins are still flowing and guests keep things interesting.
The second night is a little rocky, but there’s still help. Wonderful nurses are coming in every few hours to change diapers for baby, and to bring food and water for mommy. Ladies, I’m sorry to say that the first night you get home from the hospital is when the whole crazy motherhood thing starts.
After bringing 3 kiddos home from the hospital in a time span of just 3 years, I’ve developed a foolproof strategy for those first few weeks at home. Ready to rock it?
Get your ZZZs
I know it’s the first thing everyone tells you… that’s because it’s the best advice seasoned moms can give newbies. Sleep. Sleep is the secret sauce. Sleep is the thing that makes it all okay. Sleep will keep you from screeching at your husband like a banshee when he complains about something tiny like the traffic or the weather or heaven forbid… how tired he is.
When I said sleep, don’t get the impression that it’s going to be a glorious 8-hour affair. I’ll be honest with you, those days are gone for a while. They’ll come back eventually, but you’re going to miss them, hard. You’re going to pray for sleep, and will do the mommy version of a rain dance to make that kind of sleep magically appear again.
Until your rain dance produces a flood, sleep when the baby sleeps. Work your entire day around her schedule. The second she falls asleep run, don’t walk, to your bed. Close your eyes and grab a few hours of zzz’s. Most newborns will sleep 8-10 times a day, if you can match your sleep schedule with 5 of hers you’ll be so far ahead of the curve.
Mother of 3 Tip: If you have help at home, either your husband, a parent, an in-law, hand the baby off the second she’s finished eating and go lay down. Grandma would be more than happy to burp the baby and put her back in bed so you can get a head start on sleep.
Remember when you were in the hospital and the nurses kept filling up that awesome water jug? There was a reason, it’s because water is so important! You’re home now and the nurses are gone, but the water jug is still with you.
First of all, whether you went through labor or had a c-section, your body is healing and it needs hydration. Labor is incredibly draining and a c-section is major abdominal surgery; each has serious risks if you don’t give your body what it needs to heal properly. I won’t even mention how necessary hydration is for breastfeeding, but it’s a basic foundation for success.
Secondly, those jugs are fantastic for mothers of newborns. They are perfect for multitasking with a baby. The handle allows you to stretch over and reach the mug with your fingertips. The lid ensures you won’t spill anything on baby. The straw makes the most impossible drinking positions possible. I love those mugs. Find a mug that you love and never let it leave your side.
Mother of 3 Tip: Recruit someone in your house to always make sure your jug is full of water.
I can’t pretend that I took a shower every day during those early days after the birth of our 3 kiddos, but I can say that I never went more than two days without showering. I can say this because I know that during one of the 8+ nap times my newborns took, I made it a point to take a 5-minute shower.
Here’s the reality: your newborn baby sleeps a lot. We’re talking like 8+ naps a day. Let’s say 4 of those naps occur at night and after you feed baby you go right back to sleep (remember tip #1). There are 4+ naps left. Let’s say for 2 of those naps you take a tiny midday snooze yourself, do a little tidying up, and eat a legit meal that didn’t come from a box or bag. You still have 2+ naps left for a shower. Time for yourself during those early days can happen. You just have to make it a priority and make it part of your daily schedule.
Ladies, we all see the funny quotes on Instagram and Facebook about how us moms of newborns or toddlers don’t even have time to shower. While funny and some days true, it’s more correct to call that image of motherhood like it is, a flat out lie. Motherhood shouldn’t conjure up an image of a haggard, helpless and aimless woman who doesn’t even have 10 minutes to shower and dress herself. It does however mean that you have to make sacrifices. Let’s stop allowing ourselves to perpetuate this image of motherhood. Instead, let’s show off the strong women we are, who are owning our experiences while being realistic about the things we can get done in a 24 hour period
Mother of 3 Tip: Always showcase honesty, yes. Feed into an image of motherhood that screams weak, helpless, and out of control… No.
Let people help you
Did I ever tell you about the time my mother in law washed and folded my panties? How about the time my father in law walked the dog twice a day every day for 2 weeks? Did I tell you how my mother changed almost every newborn diaper for a week?
They did these things to help out after the birth of our kiddos. More importantly, they did these things because we asked. After the birth of each of our kids, we’ve found that friends and family mean it when they offer to help. They mean it, but they need a direction on what and how.
It may be easier to do something yourself, but mamma your time is limited. Would you rather take a nap or fold the laundry? Would you prefer to interact with baby when they’re awake and smiling for the first time or do the dishes? You get the picture. When your mother in law asks if she can help, say yes and give her direction.
Mother of 3 Tip: In advance of company coming over make a list. Get everything out of your head and onto a piece of paper. With an actual list, you remove the guesswork. Your husband may tick a few things off the list himself, and at the very least he will be able to tell your guests what exactly they can do to help you.
Develop an ‘On Point Schedule’
Have local parents, in-laws, or other family/friends that offer to help out? Have friends who want to spend an afternoon with you? Schedule them in! But be strategic.
We were fortunate to have one set of parents who are retired, another set who were able to take a week off work, and friends who were happy to come over for a few hours. To make the most out of everyone’s various availability, we created an ‘On Point Schedule’. I know what you’re thinking, babies arrive on their own schedule, and I’ll admit that I had various scenarios worked out, but it felt good knowing that someone would be here for the arrival of our little one.
Since my in-laws are retired and live out of state, we had them slated first because they could be more flexible with their time and could stay the longest. My in-laws came in a week before the birth of the baby and stayed for 4 weeks. (Okay I know what you’re thinking… in-laws for 4 weeks! I love them dearly and will give an honest review of what worked and what didn’t in a future post.)
My Mom and Step Mom both work and need to be more planful with the exact dates they would take off. We asked them each to take a week of vacation, one following the other.
In total, we had 5 weeks of additional help, plus the friends who visited on the weekends or after the parentals left. We were able to have so many weeks of help because we were strategic with the time everyone could give and because we had a schedule.
Without these 5 strategies, I can honestly say that my maternity leave experience would not have been the same. I was able to keep myself mentally healthy with sleep and daily showers, physically capable of healing with hydration, and had the tactical support for daily tasks by allowing people to actually help and asking for family to give whatever time they could.
Ladies, what things worked well for you during those first few weeks at home with baby? What are your biggest challenges to solve as you prepare for the arrival of your baby? Let our community help tackle your fears!