New Mom Survival Guide

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You think you have everything covered for Baby’s arrival? Good. Now double check your knowledge with our guide to assure yourself of smooth sailing at home.

The sound of “oohs” and “ahhs” can quickly change to whimpers and cries when suddenly everything you expected with your newborn flies right out the proverbial window.

Nothing can prepare you for the real thing once Baby arrives, but we have a few pointers that may be most helpful to you as a new parent.

FOR YOU

PREP FOR HELP
You know your household routine better than anyone. So, prepare something that pretty much explains what you do each and every day. That way, when the husband or someone who wants to help asks what needs to be done, all you have to do is hand them the list or delegate an item from that list. You might even include some chores. Don’t fret over the small stuff, allow those that are willing to help.

SET VISITATION TIMES
The last thing you need once you come home is to put on a happy face for visitor after visitor. So, set a time and stick to it. Don’t allow just one more visitor, either. You’ll find yourself needing even more sleep once they’re all gone. Baby needs you to be well rested, too.

CREATE A SHOPPING LIST
You’re home with your newborn and you really shouldn’t be worrying about grocery shopping … besides, you can’t drive just yet! Create a list of items that you stock regularly and include some that you think you may need once you get home — extra feminine products for you, diapers, wipes, items for other family members, etc. Add some extra healthy snacks for you, too, because keeping yourself well fed and hydrated helps promote good breastmilk production.

ACCEPT BREASTFEEDING HELP
You thought you’d had “latch on” at the hospital, but once you got home, Baby didn’t seem to latch so well. Stress caused by the hospital to home transition could be complicating things. Reach out to the lactation consultant from your hospital or try the La Leche League (llli.org). Sometimes, just a little support and encouragement is all you need. An important thing to remember is to KEEP CALM! The more relaxed you are, the better your let down will be.

LET DAD HELP
He may have seemed a little helpless at the hospital, but once you get home, allow Dad to help with anything that Baby needs so you can share the new parent duties. Don’t believe that only YOU know how to do things; encourage your husband’s involvement and trust him to find his own way or ask advice if he needs it. If it’s your first child, you’re both probably learning at the same speed.

FOR BABY

NEWBORN CARE
Be sure you know all about any birth marks or other features on your newborn before you leave the hospital. That way, it won’t surprise you and stress you out. You can also keep an eye on them and make sure nothing changes. Know the proper way to clean his umbilical cord, circumcision, nose, etc. You can read up on all that in the article “A-to-Z of Newborn Care” by Susan Day. Ask your doctor before you leave the hospital just to make sure you know you’re doing it right. I had changed diapers many times, but when it was time to leave the hospital with my second child, I had to ask a nurse if I was folding his diaper down the right way to allow room for the umbilical cord. Just a little reassurance is nothing to be fearful of asking for.

DO LAUNDRY PREP
If you have all your laundry done and all the new clothes for Baby pre-washed in a detergent like Dreft, then you may not have to worry about laundry for the first few days you’re home. The more you have preprepped the better. Babies make messes no matter their age, and it’s better to have him clothed and comfy instead. Make sure you have plenty of swaddle blankets ready, and of course, bibs and burp cloths — you’ll go through them quickly.

BE READY FOR RESTLESS NIGHTS
Newborns don’t have a switch that tells them it’s time to sleep. They need to eat every three hours or so and will probably sleep in two- to three-hour increments for the first few months of their lives. So, if he’s up a lot during the night, don’t worry about it. He’s more than likely hungry or needing a change of diaper. Give him that and he just might fall back to sleep instantly.

PREP BABY’S SLEEPING AREA
Whether you decide to allow Baby to sleep in a bassinet or crib, be sure to keep all loose items out. Keep in mind that it’s best for him to sleep on his back, too, to help prevent against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Also, those fancy bumpers, yeah, not so great when it comes to Baby needing to breath once he’s somehow rolled over to face them.

OUT & ABOUT
Your newborn will soon have to visit the doctor, and you probably already scheduled that appointment while you were at the hospital. If not, be sure to call once you’re home with Baby to set his first appointment. Schedule all your other things to be done around that time and plan your route. That way, you’re only out of the house once and can make all your stops — which will be less stressful on both you and Baby. Also, if Baby’s getting shots, give him a dose of pain medicine before you leave for the doctor’s office.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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