Surviving the newborn stage is so rough. If it’s not difficult for you then you are either a Rockstar or your baby is an angel.
Most of us are not as blessed. During the newborn stage for me I’m would get overwhelmed and not like my baby then in the next moment my heart is so full of love for him. It’s crazy how quickly my emotions change, but that is the life of a sleep deprived and crazy hormonal mom.
I love my baby so much, but I feel like I’m in survival mode right now. These tips below have kept me sane and I’m grateful that many of my mommy friends gave them to me before our son came.
If you have any other tips that helped you survive the newborn stage comment them below for other mammas.
Prepare While You’re Pregnant
Prepare every possible thing you can while you are pregnant! I made sure the house was spotless, laundry was done, people bringing us meals, and each station set up for when we came home from the hospital.
I had to have an emergency C-section and I felt so relieved that I got everything taken care of before hand. Recovery was so hard and it was difficult to even walk around. So having everything done and prepared made my recovery go way smoother.
We also had help come, but I will talk more about that later!
If you have no clue where to start on preparing I have another post of things you should do before your baby comes.
Keep Baby Supplies in Every Room
We have a changing table in our room and I have used it maybe once with our baby. The place we change him the most is on our living room floor because that is where I’m always at.
We also have sleeping areas in our living room and our bedroom.
It has been extremely helpful to have baby supplies in every room because when the baby is screaming its overwhelming to try to find the thing he needs quickly.
Use Easy Access Baby Clothes
Zippers, Zippers, Zippers! I cannot express this enough! In the middle of the night having zippers instead of snaps when you are sleep deprived is helpful.
We also love using the little sleepers that have an open bottom. When you have like 50 snaps on their clothes it always gets messed up in the middle of the night. Especially if your little one is squirmy during diaper changes.
Or they can live in onesies because they have just 3 snaps.
Easy access baby clothes is really helpful when there are blowouts and when you are sleep deprived, which is most of the time when you have a newborn.
Get Some Help
Every new mom needs help after they come home from the hospital.
We had my mother in law help us the day after we came home from the hospital. This was a lifesaver, especially after having surgery.
I joked in the hospital with the nurses that I wanted to take them home with me because they were extremely helpful. It was so nice being taken care of because it was hard to move around and I had to take care of a newborn on top of that.
Having my mother in law for a week was fantastic! She stayed with us, cleaned, cooked, made freezer meals, and took care of the baby overnight in between feedings.
We also had people bring us meals the following week after she left. I did not have to cook for a while!
I strongly suggest every new mom to get some help. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a cesarean having help makes recovery so much easier.
If you don’t want someone to stay with you have people bring you meals or ask a friend to come a clean your house. Don’t be afraid to ask for help you don’t need to be “do it all yourself mom” right away doing everything on your own.
You are being a super mom asking for help because that is a difficult thing to do. Bottom line getting help makes life with a newborn so much better for your recovery.
Share Your Feelings
Postpartum depression is a real thing. I have moments when I feel depressed and I am so grateful that I feel comfortable sharing my feelings with my husband.
The first night we came home after my c-section I balled my eyes out. I couldn’t move very well and I was nursing my baby. Our baby wouldn’t stop crying, I was crying and my husband came up and hugged me.
I told him how hard it was and that I felt like I couldn’t do this. He encouraged me and just let me cry on his shoulder.
I have had other moments where I just feel overwhelmed and extremely sad. He is always very aware of my emotions and encourages me the way that I need it.
Sometimes its also very relieving to talk to other moms who know what you are going through. Having a baby is hard and when you don’t have a person you can talk to and feel safe it will get very overwhelming very quickly.
So find that safe person you can talk to even if you think you won’t have depression after having your baby.
Take Time for Yourself
You need some self care time. Whether thats taking a nice hot shower ALONE, going on a walk, reading a book, taking a nap, or eating food ALONE in the closet.
You need to find something that you can do alone as often as you need it. When you are a mom it feels like your life is consumed by your newborn. Even if you plan on going back to work after maternity leave your life is consumed by your newborn.
Those first few weeks you are up every couple hours taking care of the baby. Lets just say sleep is not a thing after you have a baby.
So you need to find something that you can do alone and that would relieve some stress. A healthy mama makes it easier to enjoy the newborn stage. Your health is important too!
Lower Your Expectations
My husband and I were talking the other day about how we are so not put together. When I go out and about and see moms who have their hair and makeup done and the baby in super cute outfits I wonder why I can’t seem to do that.
Im lucky if I had time to brush my teeth in the morning and remember to put deodorant on. I literally have a stick of deodorant in my diaper bag because I forget so often.
Or you will see on facebook all of these cute pictures of a family and they look like everything is taken care of.
I just want you to know this is not the norm. Its okay to not have the laundry done, dishes in the sink from a couple days ago, day 4 of unwashed hair, no make up on, or even unbrushed teeth.
This stage won’t last forever. You will figure it out and learn the best way to manage your time.
Lower the expectations of what you think you should be doing, and then lower them again.
Right after you have a baby you will need time to figure out your new norm. It will take time to get everything put back together, so don’t stress about having to be this perfect mom instantly.
As long as the baby is taken care of and your family has food, clothes, and a place to sleep that is enough in the moment.
You can start adding little things at a time to get done or you can ask for some help if its too overwhelming.
Just lower the expectations of what you think the “perfect mom” should be. Give yourself some slack and love yourself for where you are at in the moment.
Have Healthy Snacks
Health is such a huge part in surviving the newborn stage. When you are of good health it makes taking care of everything much smoother. Also as you eat healthier it helps you to drop the baby weight much quicker.
I wasn’t able to workout for the first 6 weeks, like majority of moms, but I was able to lose all of the weight because of eating healthy. I dropped all 23 pounds by 4 weeks from nutritional eating.
You will also need healthy snacks especially when you are starving during those nighttime feeds. It is also beneficial to help you have more nutritious breastmilk for your baby.
Here is a long list of snacks that are great for you and your baby:
- Fruit or veggies
- Yogurt with fruit and granola (this is my lunch everyday because it’s so good!)
- Apples with cheese or peanut butter
- Trail mix
- Crackers or veggies with hummus
- Homemade smoothies
- Banana and peanut butter
- Peanut butter and banana slices on toast
- Fiber bars, they help you poop!
- Tortilla chips with guacamole
- Half of a tuna sandwich
- Protein bars
- Lara Bars
- Cliff Bars
- Ants on a log (celery with peanuts butter and raisins)
- Eggs with spinach on an English muffin or toast
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Grapes and Cheddar cheese cubes
- Fruit salad (cut up fruit then add a dash of lime juice and honey)
- Cucumber sandwiches (cucumbers, dill, and cream cheese)
- Frozen grapes with string cheese
- Real fruit popsicles
- Hardboiled egg or half of an egg sandwich
- Toast with avocado
- Toasted English muffin or bagel
- Dried fruit
- Beef jerky
- Kind bars (they are the nut bars in the granola bar section)
As soon as your doctor gives you the okay start a workout routine. There are some moves that you can do during the six week wait to help in your postpartum recovery. I also would walk about a mile every day to stay active before I was able to start lifting weights again.
Always consult with your doctor about when you should start certain workout routines.
Make sure to listen to your body and rest when needed. If you overwork yourself then it can actually hinder your postpartum recovery.
Walks will be perfectly fine till you get the okay from your doctor which honestly sometimes it sucks to wait.
Nap When the Baby Sleeps
Napping when the baby sleeps keeps you sane! I always heard sleep when the baby sleeps and it’s because you’re getting rest in 2-4 hour intervals.
Which is way less than the 6-8 hours of sleep you used to get. I used to get 9-10 hours of sleep every night.
It was so hard adjusting and I would have ripped my husband head off if I didn’t nap when the baby slept. I’m a whole different person when I have a lack of sleep.
I probably would have snapped at my husband for just looking at me.
So please for everyone’s sanity sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t worry about that load of laundry or pile of dishes. You can always do that later. Or have someone help you with those things.
Sleep is more important for your postpartum recovery than that load of laundry that more likely will never get folded.
Use the 5 S’s
Dr. Harvey Karp wrote a post about what the 5 S’s are with soothing a baby.
With swaddling it is supposed to feel like they are in the womb, which makes them feel calm and secure.
You will want to make sure that their hands are by their side and feet are loose. Only swaddle when they are sleeping or when they are fussy. The rest of the day they should be unswaddled and able to move around.
This helps with the startle reflex that they have till they are about 3-6 months old, when they have more control over their movements.
This is usually the first thing that we try with our baby and if he is still fussy we will leave him swaddled and try to burp him, he usually has gas as well.
When you do swaddle make sure to not let them overheat. If its summer use a thin blanket or we love using the SwaddleMe swaddles because it makes life so much easier during nighttime feeds. If its winter you can use a flannel blanket to keep them a little warmer.
When your baby is sleeping only have them sleep on their back, but if they are fussy you can hold them on their side or lay them on their stomach till they fall asleep. Then lay them on their back when you put them in bed.
After I’m done nursing I usually will continue to hold our son on his side then pat his back till he falls asleep. I have no idea why this works, but it does and he will quickly fall asleep.
Shushing mimics the sounds that are in the womb. The sounds that they hear in the womb are almost louder than a vacuum cleaner. I have heard many moms that will run a vacuum cleaner just to help their baby to sleep.
There are many white noise makers out there that you can put in the babies room to help them stay calm. We just use our Amazon Alexa to play the white noise and it has worked wonders with helping him sleep better.
Swinging motions help mimic the life inside the womb, but Dr. Harvey discusses doing fast tiny motions if the baby is fussy. If they are not fussy then rocking is perfectly fine.
To do the fast tiny motions properly make sure to support the head of your baby and move no more than an inch back and forth. Make sure to not shake the baby EVER if you are mad or frustrated just set them down and leave the situation till you feel more calm.
To understand the difference between shaking and the fast swinging motion Dr. Harvey has a video tutorial on the difference of both. I highly recommend watching the video so you can understand the difference and do it properly.
Sucking can calm your baby quickly and effectively. If you plan on using a pacifier this is a great way for them to have something to suck on. If you don’t want to use a pacifier you can always use your finger.
We use the pacifier often and lay him on his side snuggled up to me or my husband. This seems to soothe him pretty quickly.
It will take time to master all of these different S’s, but it doesn’t hurt to try different things to help soothe your baby.
Change the Environment
We have tried other things to soothe our baby that I feel are worth mentioning.
Changing the environment can also be a great way to soothe your baby.
We will take our son outside and 99% of the time he calms down right away. Another great thing to try is give them a bath if that is something that they love.
I know a lot of moms will also take their baby on a car ride because the motions will soothe them and help them sleep. My mom always would tell me that when I was fussy in the middle of the night she would take me out in the car and I would fall asleep so quickly.
Try many different things with changing your baby’s environment. You will be able to figure out what will soothe you baby as you try different things.
Establish a Routine Early
“Routines give infants and toddlers a sense of security and stability. Routines help infants and toddlers feel safe and secure in their environment. Young children gain an understanding of everyday events and procedures and learn what is expected of them as routines make their environment more predictable.” (Source)
You can start a routine as early as you can with your baby. I know in the hospital we had a feeding schedule, but as he grew we had to adapt his routine.
He used to sleep a lot and now that he is older he is more active. Routines should be adaptable to their age and as they hit new milestones in their development.
Establish Day and Night
Establishing day and night will help you and the baby to get more sleep at night, who doesn’t want that?
With the nighttime make sure to have a nighttime routine. We sing to our baby while he is in bed in his dark room. You can read a book, give them a bath, give them a little massage.
Also at night make sure to keep things dark and quiet, or use white noise. When I do my nursing sessions I leave all the lights off and use a nightlight when I need to have him latch or change his diaper. Then I will put him in the bed right after his nursing session.
With daytime we make noises, take him outside and go out and about. Change their clothes and interact with your baby as often as you can during the day.
They need to know the difference between day and night because once they get them all mixed up they will be up all night and sleeping during the day.
Learn to Put the Baby Down
This was such a hard thing for me to learn. I love baby snuggles and I would literally hold him all day long.
This came to bite me in the butt as he got older. He had a tough time sleeping if he wasn’t in my arms. Mainly when it came to nap time. Bedtime he was always tired and would nurse to sleep so luckily that wasn’t a problem.
I also had a lot of things I needed to do, like work on this blog and the daily household chores. The first month I got nothing done because I was holding him all of the time. When I finally put him down in the swing to fall asleep I was able to balance life so much easier!
Its okay to snuggle the baby a lot, but also learn to put your baby down because you need your alone time and time to get things done.
I had no idea about growth spurts till he actually had one. It was about week 3 for the first one and he was eating every hour for a full 24 hours. He was also super fussy, I felt exhausted and I was so overwhelmed.
At the end of this growth spurt I decided to google why my baby was so fussy and constantly feeding.
Come to find out they have a growth spurt at around 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 9 months. They feed very often to increase your milk supply and they body is also growing very rapidly during this phase.
A growth spurt could happen for 2-4 days and it feels like you are on the brink of death. At least I felt like I was going insane during his growth spurts. It felt like just as I got a good routine down he would have a growth spurt.
The best advice I could give here is to just push through it and know it won’t last forever.
Take One Day at a Time
Last, but not least you need to take one day at a time. Being a mom can be very overwhelming and if you are stressing about what you need to do the next day or even next week you will get overwhelmed super quickly.
If you stress easily just take what you need to do next step by step. There are plenty of things that you can get done, but don’t worry about that. Take everything one day at a time. Focus on the most important things and do those first.