The weeks leading up to bringing my newborn home were full of advice from experienced mothers. Most of the time, they would say things such as, “Sleep when the baby sleeps,” or “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” Although I appreciated their words of wisdom, it wasn’t useful.
If I slept when the baby slept, I would have never had time to take a shower, make the phone calls to work out the mounting medical bills or just have a few minutes of peace and quiet to help me feel like a human again.
Asking for help would have been great if there was someone who could help. My mom was a big help the first week, but eventually she had to go home. After that, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for help and to be honest, I didn’t know how anybody could help.
I learned a few things on my own and received some advice that was actually useful. I hope you find these useful as well!
1. It gets better!
I don’t think anything prepares you for the life change of having a baby. I thought the first few days and weeks would be filled with unparalleled bliss as I fell in love with my child. While I did love my baby, the first few weeks were anything but blissful. My hormones were out of control, I was sleep deprived and the overwhelming reality of the responsibility needed to take care of a newborn was in full swing. I felt like a terrible mother because I wasn’t enjoying motherhood as much as I expected to enjoy it.
If you feel like this, just know it gets better! Your baby will sleep more and cry less. Smiles will warm your heart and give you the satisfaction of knowing that your hard work is paying off.
2. Onesies are designed for diaper blowouts.
Your little one is pretty much guaranteed to have bowel movements of epic proportions. When this happens, pull the onesie down over your baby’s shoulders rather than pulling it over her head. The shoulders in onesies are designed to expand when needed in situations like this!
3. Use a larger diaper size when traveling.
Diaper blowouts are gross, but are 10 times worse when you’re in an inconvenient situation. Use a larger diaper size if you are driving a long distance, flying in a plane or will be at a location where it’s difficult to change your baby’s diaper. If your baby has a large bowel movement, it will still be messy to clean up, but at least it won’t get all over your baby’s clothes, car seat and anything else outside of the diaper.
4. Position your son’s penis down in the diaper.
When we first brought our son home, every diaper seemed to leak. When we finally figured out to position his penis down in the diaper, the leaks stopped. Also, when you’re in the hospital or birthing center, watch how the nurses put on diapers. The diapers should be tight — without being constricting — to help prevent diaper leaks.
5. Use the perineal bottle for your baby’s bath time.
The perineal bottle you receive from the hospital works well to rinse your baby’s hair during bath time. It will give you better aim and water pressure when rinsing the soap off of your infant.
6. When shopping, park your car next to the car corral.
Although parking close to a store’s entrance is convenient, it is more practical to park next to the cart corral. You can grab a cart, place your baby’s car seat in the large basket area (never in the upper part of the cart!) and walk to the stores entrance. When you are done shopping, you can walk back to your car, place the car seat securely in the back seat and return the cart without letting your baby out of your sight.
7. Coconut oil is helpful for diaper rash and cradle cap.
Talk to your pediatrician before using coconut oil to see if it will work for you. In my experience, coconut oil got rid of my son’s mild case of cradle cap. I put a small amount of coconut oil on his head before his bath and left it on for 10 minutes. I washed it off with Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for babies and the cradle cap disappeared by the next day!
8. When in doubt, burp it out.
Babies need to burp a lot and gas can be painful for your little one! Sometimes it takes more than 10 minutes to get a burp out, but it’s worth the extra time. Learn different burping positions to move the gas around and get it out.
9. Find a support group.
A supportive mom network can be extremely beneficial for new moms. If you don’t have any friends or family members who are new moms, there are a wide variety of online communities where women share challenges, experiences and tips. At some point some new moms need additional support. If you are experiencing depression, get professional help. It will benefit you and the baby.
10. Respond to your baby’s cries. Always.
Your newborn has only one way of communicating her needs to you: crying. Even the most patient mom in the world can get frazzled and irritated from a crying baby, but never take it out on her. If she needs to be fed, feed her and if she just wants to be cuddled, cuddle her. Your little one is building a trusting relationship with you. She can’t do anything for herself, so she needs and needs to know that she can depend on you. You can’t spoil a baby. If at any time you feel too frustrated to deal with your child, stop what you are doing, make sure your baby is safe and step away. Take a few deep breaths to collect yourself and return to caring for your baby.