The first month at home caring for your newborn baby is one of the most nerve wracking times for all new moms.
There are some things that you can do to make sure that the transition to motherhood is as smooth and effortless as it can be.
The birth of any baby is totally life changing, this is even more so when you have your first baby.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the change and lack of sleep, but here are some things that can help make your first month with your newborn enjoyable.
The first month with a newborn is special, and it is a time that you will never be able to repeat and there is no way to be totally prepared for it.
But if you can reduce the overwhelm, you can relax and enjoy each moment for what it is.
The Secrets to Enjoying the First Month with a Newborn Baby
The secret is to get as prepared as you can, and then let go of the rest. It is actually that simple. You have to give yourself space to ignore expectations and simply live in the moment.
1 Get you Home Ready for a New Baby
Before your baby arrives, you need to be ready. Fill your (or someone elses) freezer to the top with freezer meals. Make sure you allow the portions to be big enough to cater for your much larger appetite and the desire for big lunches as well as big dinners.
Fill your cupboards with snacks as well. DO NOT underestimate how hungry a breastfeeding new mother can get.
Not sure what to cook? Birth Eat Love have a super affordable Freezer Meals Cookbook where you get 17 delicious recipes that actually freeze well, a bunch of tips on bulk cooking and freezing food and a pre-made grocery list! Pretty amazing for under $10!!
Set up baby’s items
Make sure you have all the newborn essentials ready and washed. Set up the bed, I love having a side-carred cot for my babies to sleep on, I get so much more sleep that way!
Get ready for breastfeeding
If you want to give breastfeeding a go, I suggest you set up a breastfeeding box full of all the things you will need. Also you will need a few cushions or pillows and a comfortable chair where you will be spending a lot of your first month with your newborn.
Prepare to heal well
Get some help on board
The aim of the game in the first month with a newborn is to focus on you and your bonding with baby. Try and enlist as much help as possible from your friends, family, support groups, church or anyone that is offering.
Consider getting a cleaner, meal service and/or gardener for the first 4-6 weeks while you focus on other things. Encourage any older kids to have plenty of play-dates and time with the grandparents.
2 Give you and baby some grace
You are not the only person whose world has been turned upside down. Your brand new baby is learning to adjust to life outside the womb as well.
You need to understand that baby has never known what is feels like to be cold, hungry, alone, naked, vulnerable, tired, gassy and all the other things we take for granted.
Before birth baby was surrounded by constant and loud white noise from your body, near constant swaying and a firm, warm enclosure.
Every baby is different. Our personalities start right from the beginning, and just because you have parented before, does not mean you have parented this baby before.
Crying is one of the few ways a newborn has to express that they are not feeling quite right. It could be anything that is setting them off. Wrapping them firmly, shushing them loudly and swaying them constantly is a great way to sooth a fed and dry baby that is just overwhelmed with life.
Skin to skin time in a bath or warm bed is also lovely and soothing for you both.
The difference in newborn baby care in the 1st month
Caring for a newborn in the first month is a little different, as you both are adjusting to this new life.
Crying is normal in the 1st month
Your baby will probably cry.
And you probably will too.
And that is OK.
You need to know your limits, if baby is pushing you too far, it is time to call in reinforcements before it gets out of control. To avoid shaking your baby out of frustration, place them somewhere safe and walk away to take some deep breaths and gain your composure.
3 Prepare to work on Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is hard for the first few weeks. It doesn’t matter if you have breastfed past babies, you haven’t fed this one, and she is just learning too.
Newborns have tiny mouths, sleepy faces and tiny tummies.
No sooner have you settled your baby and decided to go for a shower, then they wake up and want fed AGAIN. It is not unusual for a baby in the first few weeks to feed every 1-3 hours, with each feed taking up to an hour at a time.
That doesn’t leave much down time. But do you know what it does leave? A perfect excuse to snuggle your baby, rest, relax, catch up on your favorite TV shows and generally try and enjoy your time together.
Breastfeeding does usually hurt in that first week while your nipple get used to it. Apply lashings of lanolin on after every feed to help prevent cracks and speed up healing.
It’s normal to feel a sharp pain when baby first latches, but the pain should subside once baby gets sucking, if it doesn’t you will need to adjust your latch. It’s also normal to have chapped or sensitive nipples for the first week or so.
I really struggled with breastfeeding my eldest, and by the time I saw a lactation consultant my baby was very unwell due to dehydration.
If I had known what to look out for and how to troubleshoot myself, I am sure we would have done better. I wish I had access to the Breastfeeding Course from Milkology back then. It is super affordable and has lots of really helpful videos and a troubleshooting guide.
4 Bonding with baby after birth in the first few weeks with a newborn
Not all mothers experience the overwhelming ‘love at first sight’ that you hear about and expect to happen. Traumatic births, long labors, surprise c-sections and all sorts of other factors can come in to play with that initial bonding.
If your baby is moved to an incubator immediately it can be particularly hard to feel that initial bonding happen.
But all is not lost! Oxytocin is the magical hormonal chemical that gives that feeling of euphoria and love. It is released in mega quantities in a natural, uninterrupted labor, but if you miss out on that there are other ways to encourage it to release too.
Skin to skin time, laughing, smiling, and breastfeeding all release oxytocin. Women that are struggling with severe postnatal depression have helped their baby and their body bond even when their mind and mood are feeling other things by engaging in lots of skin to skin time, breastfeeding and babywearing.
Allow yourself time to bond. It may not be instantaneous, and that is OK. This first month together with your new baby is the perfect time to focus on that attachment.
5 RELAX in the first few weeks with a newborn
Baby and you have had a big day (or two or more!) and what you both need is sleep, food, cuddles and love. Give yourself permission to just let go and relax for the first month.
Spend a month in your PJ’s or a comfy robe, or at least in yoga pants and a tank top. Avoid things like housework and dishes or exercise. There will be plenty of time for all that nonsense later!
Know that your baby is stronger than you probably give it credit for, and while her head is wobbly, it won’t fall off. We have all bonked a baby’s head on a door frame once on the way through, and we have all worried endlessly about baby breathing at night. This is the normal burden of being a new parent.
When you are awake at night for a millionth night feed, don’t forget to breathe deep that newborn smell and nuzzle that soft little head. They truly grow up so fast, and you can only have this moment once, don’t waste it.