I wish I had the survival guide to manage the brutal first weeks with a newborn when I had my first child. Yes, I spent most of my waking hours researching about fetal development, pregnancy, labor and delivery, and I even signed up to practically every pregnancy website I stumbled upon.
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However, nothing is as helpful when you talk to people that have done motherhood firsthand. Motherhood is hard and it is even harder when you’re doing it for the first time.
[Before we proceed, I would like to recommend this FREE (normally $5) online prenatal class by Hilary at Pulling Curls. Hilary is a labor and delivery nurse so she really knows what she’s talking about. After this class, I promise that you will feel confident enough to give birth to your precious baby.]
Anyway, let’s go back to the newborn survival guide now.
As first-time moms, we tend to overthink everything leaving us all overwhelmed and drained day after day. I was that mom and I still am at times. So I decided to jot down every encounter I had to lessen the exhaustion that comes with the most fulfilling job ever that is motherhood! (I also asked a few of my mommy friends to throw in some of their most powerful recommendations to help you survive the first weeks with a newborn and you can read them later down below.)
[By the way, you’re probably not sleeping well anymore. I know it isn’t easy carrying a baby in the tummy (I was there twice myself.) and it gets really uncomfortable at bedtime – so, you might want to grab yourself a pregnancy pillow to hopefully help with sleep. It sure was a life-saver for me when I was pregnant. I am certain it will do wonders for you too.]
First Weeks with a Newborn Issues
Breastfeeding is not as easy as you think it is
Breastfeeding may be a natural thing, but it takes time and practice for you and your newborn baby to get the hang of it. No need to worry though, as experts like breastfeeding specialists and lactation consultants are always around to offer further support when it gets too overwhelming for the first time mom. The following are some of the breastfeeding concerns a lactating mom can encounter:
Not producing enough milk
Know that producing milk doesn’t happen right away. It took 3 days for my milk to really start coming in, but that was because I lost a lot of blood while giving birth. Trauma can delay your milk supply. Medela tells us more on how to increase milk supply here.
Baby not latching properly
Latching on is not an issue for a newborn baby as it is as natural as breathing is to him. However, he will need a little assistance especially when he’s overtired or sleepy. He also won’t latch on properly if your nipple is too big, or flat, or inverted. There are a lot of reasons why. Reach out to the experts to learn more about it. You can read more about how to get a good latch on Women’s Health too.
Nursing can hurt at times
Yes, I said it. Everyone says that nursing, if done properly, doesn’t hurt. However, there is a lot of moms out there that experience this. It can be a little uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you can’t fix it though. As what I have mentioned previously, it takes practice. You will be on your way to becoming an expert at it before you know it.
Tip: Invest in a great nursing bra that can help alleviate the discomfort you experience. I bought a pricey bra when I had my first born and it is my go-to bra even up to this day and I am not even pregnant.
Breasts are hard and full
It is important to set a schedule for breastfeeding. If in any case “life” happens (I’m talking to you, working mom!) and you can’t breastfeed on time, try pumping your milk out and save it. If you don’t, you’ll be suffering from an engorgement and that is not fun at all. Having hard and full breasts can be so uncomfortable and painful at times.
Tip: Check with your insurance if they can cover the cost of your breast pump. You can also check Target’s Breast Pump Program and see if it works for you.
I encountered this article on how milk production really works. It’s from Kelly Mom. Go ahead and check it out.
On that note, while there are moms who suffer from low milk supply, there are also a lot of moms who suffer the opposite.
Producing too much milk
Take note: A breast that is drained often, produces milk faster. Thus, leading to oversupply. A newborn baby normally feeds around 8-12 times in a day. That is every 2-3 hours a day. If you breastfeed your newborn baby, do it on demand. Breastfeeding USA can explain oversupply to you further.
Most of the time, milk production doesn’t happen immediately. However, you still have to breastfeed your baby so he can take full advantage of the benefits of colostrum.
When you have an abundance of milk supply, it is customary that a leaky breast will follow. Don’t worry though as it is completely normal. You may find it embarrassing at times, but just bear in mind that it is a natural thing. You gave birth to a human being. That is a miracle on its own.
However, when talking yourself into not being embarrassed doesn’t work, you can always find ways to take care of it. Great nursing pads are available in the market to help you stay dry. I was a big Lansinoh nursing pads user. They kept my scrubs dry the whole breastfeeding phase (except on days I was too tired to remember putting them on).
A newborn communicates through crying
Your newborn baby will communicate through crying during his first few weeks up until he learns to express himself. Learn his cues so you can save your sanity. No mother likes to hear her baby crying.
“Your newborn [baby] will nurse about 8 to 12 times per day during the first weeks of life.” It will decrease gradually when he gets older.
When your baby gulps down air during feeding, it will cause some digestive discomfort. Imagine being uncomfortable and helpless, that is not fun at all! A breastfed baby requires less burping than his formula-fed counterpart as he is “often fed in a more upright position and are more in control of the flow of milk”.
There are many factors to watch out for and one common factor is gas. Lightly massage his tummy to give him comfort. Mama Baby Bliss demonstrates how to do it the right way on the following video.
Diaper needs changed
It is not necessary to change your baby’s diaper every after he soils it as it will get really expensive if you do that. However, your newborn baby will need his diaper changed soon after he poops. The acid content of the bowel movement can irritate your baby’s skin. Your baby’s skin is so delicate and wearing a dirty diaper can be so uncomfortable. If you need a guide to changing diapers, here is a video from Pampers.
Diapers are just some of the biggest expenses you will ever encounter when you’re baby arrives. That’s why it is always wise to find ways to make it a little less costly. Check out Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Store. When you order through that, you can save up to 15% and they always ship for free. What’s good about it too is the fact that there is no commitment. Amazon will email you a reminder telling you about the order. You can either skip the deliveries or cancel the subscription any time.
Your baby needs sleep. Lots of it! Jot down his sleeping pattern to know when he wakes up for feeding. A newborn baby normally sleeps 16-17 hours. So let him. Just don’t forget to wake him up to nurse. That is if he doesn’t wake up on his own.
You have to avoid stimulating your newborn baby excessively. Yes,
showering him with hugs and kisses is indeed necessary. However, your baby will need breaks from all the stimulation. He gets tired pretty easily. He will need a routine at first to help him get used to everything. You can gradually introduce him to a light activity, but don’t overdo it.
I don’t blame him for crying. It sucks to be sick. You and I know that! When your newborn baby is sick, he must see the doctor at once!
“Colic is a bit of a mystery.” Experts still don’t know the reason behind it. All we know is it is a real thing. Prepare yourself for this mystery. It usually starts around the second week (or later) and will last for 6-8 weeks. Both my kids had colic. My little girl had it worse.
Tip:Gerber Soothe may help with colic. Just remember to consult your doctor before giving it to your baby though.
A newborn baby sleeps a lot
In the first weeks with a newborn, you will notice how much he sleeps. Don’t be alarmed. It is recommended that a newborn baby takes 16 – 17 hours of sleep a day, waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse.
A newborn poops after practically every feeding
Newborns tend to poop after almost every feeding, so don’t fret. The following are considered healthy and normal depending on your newborn’s feeding system:
Newborn Baby Poop
Your newborn baby’s poop will be greenish-black, tarry and sticky on the first few days. This is called meconium. It is “jam-packed with materials your baby ingested in utero, like skin cells that have been shed, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, water, and lanugo, which is the fine, soft hair that covers baby’s body“. You should notice this changing after around 2-4 days.
Breastfed Baby Poop
When you decide to breastfeed your newborn baby, expect his poop to be yellowish or greenish brown in color. It will have a seedy texture and will be watery enough to resemble diarrhea. Breastfed baby poop has a sweet scent to it as well.
Formula-fed Baby Poop
A formula-fed newborn baby will pass fewer and firmer stools. Expect the poop to have a peanut butter like consistency and appearance when your baby is formula-fed.
Expect a lot of sleepless nights
Losing the much needed sleep is inevitable during the first weeks with a newborn. It is understandable if you don’t get enough sleep at night. Your newborn baby is accustomed to life in your tummy and is still getting used to the new environment. He also doesn’t know the difference of night and day at this point yet. Plus, he has to eat!
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Seasoned mothers’ advice that will make your first weeks with a newborn easier
To be more of help, I asked several seasoned mothers to share their most valuable tips and tricks to survive the first weeks with a newborn. You can find absolutely great value on here. Here they are in no particular order:
Reach out to friends, schedule lunch dates–try to socialize as much as possible.
~ Sandra of SandraEbejer.Com
Let go of the mom guilt! Having a newborn is a special (and fleeting) season, so don’t feel bad for doing whatever you need to do to survive it (even if that means staying in your PJs all day or letting the breakfast dishes pile up in the sink. We’ve all done it!).
~ Rigel of Holes in your Socks
I don’t think I was very sane with either set of twins but in hindsight I think precooked frozen meals, splurge on a cleaner for the first couple of weeks (especially when recovering from birth), accept help from friends and family but on the flip side don’t overdo it on the visitors. Only have people over who are willing to make their own cup of tea & one for you at the same time! The most important thing is that there is no such thing as a perfect mum; you’re doing a great job. If breastfeeding isn’t working out, don’t get down on yourself either.
~ Michelle of The Perfectly Imperfect Mummy
Try to have at least a few minutes to yourself each day. When you finally get the baby down for a nap, have a short rest, a hot cup of tea or coffee or do whatever you enjoy. Take those few minutes to get your head back together, and then do whatever else you need to get done. It can make a huge difference.
~ Candice of Written in Waikiki
My son is 19 months now but what I had to do was ignore the endless suggestions of how to raise him and go with my mommy intuition.
~ Krystal of The Loveable Queen
It is a must to keep to a schedule- I also have calendar reminders to make sure I’m keeping up with feedings and remembering to feed my toddler on a good schedule as well. Sounds basic to remember food but with two babies under two it can be overwhelming!
~ Taylor of Accomplished Family
Anytime anyone offers help of any kind – take them up on it. You do not have to do this alone. Most people actually want to help, so don’t feel guilty for accepting help or like everyone else has it under control so you should too. It is more important for your baby to have a happy, healthy, calm mama than one who is just trying to stay afloat!
~ Aimee of Mommy Baby Life
As a new mama, it’s important to take care of your mental health once your baby arrives. It can get stressful (or) overwhelming. One thing I do is just ask for help. I’m the kind of person that hates asking for help, especially when it comes to my son, but it’s important that I do that so I can have a few minutes or hours to myself during the week. It’s just enough for me to recharge and continue being the best mama to my son.
~ Melissa of The Dulcet Mama
If at all possible, have someone at home with you. If it can be your husband, that’s great. Or else, (you can ask) your mom or sister. Just someone (you can) share the work with. I had my husband home with me, and between two of us, it made the first couple weeks completely manageable. It’s important to try and get out of the house. You can quickly lose track of time and start going crazy if you never leave the house because you have a newborn. My husband, mom and I made some outings with my son when he was only a couple weeks old. We didn’t let people near him, so I was okay with him leaving the house. However, if you are concerned with baby catching a bug, then have someone to watch him for an hour or so to allow you to go out and do something. Get a coffee, or run to the store. Anything to leave the house for a bit and remember the outside world exists. Also, understand that your baby will cry and there will be times when you don’t know why he’s crying. That’s okay. You are still a good mom.
~ Lauren of My Favorite Job Title is Mom
I have started taking scheduled me time when my husband comes home, so I can gather my sanity and feel a little refreshed. It has been huge to go somewhere I’m not needed for even 5 minutes and just clear my thoughts. I have learned to live (with) organized chaos. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. It has taken almost a year to be ok with this.
~ Valerie of A Peach in the Queen City
Do not EVER feel guilty for spending too much time alone with your newborn. The grandparents and extended family can wait. In fact, don’t let anyone ever make you feel guilty for any parenting decision. Your baby – Your rules!
~ Kelsey of Motherhood in May
I make exercise a priority whether it’s a 30 minute walk during those first few weeks, or a weight lifting session in the later months. Exercise is so important for our body, mind and spirit!
~ Tori of Mom Box
Remember that no stage lasts forever! This can be so hard to do in the challenging moments, but remembering that it is all fleeting and temporary – both the hard moments and the magical ones – helps me to soak in each moment. Also, take time for yourself everyday! Whether it’s 15 minutes of fresh air, a hot shower, or quiet time with your journal, every little bit counts. Taking care of yourself is vital as you adjust to this major new life stage. Finally, find some other new mom friends to support you on your journey. Find a local support group or go to a mommy and me class. Being with other women who understand you is so helpful and valuable in letting you know that you are not alone.
~ Ambar of Mama Bird Well Nest
TRY to get some rest and try to take some time to take care of yourself. Get a mani/pedi, have lunch with friends, go out alone. Just something that is familiar to you and helps remind you of who you were before baby came.
~ Jo of So Very Jo
~ Veniece of Innate Motherhood
I try to have some “Me” time whether it’s a nice long bath or just going to the store by myself.
~ Mariela of More Than Blessed
One of the best things I did during my pregnancy was planning to have meals and household chores handled by someone else for the first few weeks postpartum. I highly recommend this! You’re so weak postpartum (I could barely walk!). You need to conserve your strength and focus on your recovery and your baby!
~ Jacqueline of Mom Money Map
As a new mom, I’ve learned when to take a few minutes for myself throughout the day to avoid getting overwhelmed. If I’ve been tending to a crying or cranky baby all day and need a moment, I’ve learned it’s okay to step away for a few minutes. As long as baby is safely in his crib, it’s okay and better for everyone for mama to catch her breath.
~ Ana of Mommy’s Bundle
My Final Say about the First Weeks with A Newborn
The first weeks with a newborn can be nerve-racking. Taking care of a little human being is daunting. It will take a little stress away if you try to be prepared for it though. What’s written above are just a few of the things you can experience during the first weeks and a few things that can help.
Let’s thank the moms that contributed to the First Weeks with a Newborn Survival Guide. It won’t be possible without them, guys!
Don’t forget to share it with your friends. This will really help them in more ways than one.
Talk to you soon,