There’s nothing like the feeling of holding your newborn babe in your arms for the first time. After weeks and months of feeling his kicks and turns and wiggles and hiccups in your womb, he becomes a reality. You have literally been inseparable for nine months, even though the only picture you have of him is a grainy, black and white ultrasound.
In an instant your world changes. Your heart explodes with love for this tiny human. Carefully, you examine his tiny fingers and toes, counting each one, and marveling at their detail. You gaze into his foggy eyes and find it hard to remember a time when he wasn’t here. You carefully inspect his face and search for family resemblance. You try on the name you so carefully chose, finally able to introduce your son or daughter to the world. Your family grows and stretches to make room for this new life.
Over the next weeks and months, you slowly start to learn each other’s rhythms. Life with a newborn is a series of slow dance moves that ebb and flow throughout the day. You discover the things you can and can’t eat if you want a happy, gas-free baby (broccoli and beans have never been good to my babies). You learn to discern his cries until you know when he’s gassy, hungry, wet, or just cranky.
You hear a lot about surviving pregnancy (I shared my tips for getting through your first and third trimesters), but it’s easy to forget that adjusting to having a new baby can be just as hard! I like to call the first 10-12 weeks of a baby’s life the fourth trimester.
Friends are quick to tell you what you need for your baby when you come home from the hospital, but moms need things, too!
Here are the things I think are essential for new moms.
Some of these are repeats from surviving your third trimester, but they are important! If you don’t have a newborn, consider picking up something on this list for a friend who just had a baby. They will probably appreciate it even more than another cute outfit or blanket for the babe!
After you have the baby it’s still important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re breastfeeding! I feel like I have water bottles scattered throughout the house, but my go-to is a CamelBak. Any cup with a lid and a straw (so you can easily drink with one hand) will work!
For the first few days and weeks after giving birth, I am hungry around the clock! I’m sure part of it is from nursing, but also from being awake at all hours of the day and night! If the baby needs to eat, so does mom! Some of my favorite high-protein snacks that are easy to grab and eat are
- trail mix,
- energy bites, and
- granola bars.
You have to sleep whenever you can because you never know when baby will decide to be awake for hours on end in the middle of the night. If sleeping during the day is a struggle, try a sleep mask!
As sick as you are of your maternity clothes, chances are it will still be a few weeks or months until you’re back in your pre-pregnancy outfits. Treat yourself to a new comfy shirt or pair of pants even if it’s in a size that’s bigger than your “goal weight.” And nursing tanks are a must if you’re breastfeeding!
Hopefully you are blessed with a community of friends and family who will bring you meals for the first couple days you’re home. But when those meals end, you still have to eat! And frozen pizza and take out get old pretty quickly. Plan ahead and have some easy meals ready to go in the freezer. Chili, lasagna, and enchiladas are all good things to reheat.
When you think about what your body has been through in the last nine months, you definitely deserve a little pampering! Treat yourself, mama!
Be patient with your baby, your husband, your kids, and yourself! Whether this is your first baby or your third, adding a new little life to your family is a huge transition for everyone. You will be exhausted and emotional and feel like your world has been turned upside down, but hang in there. Soon you will settle into your new normal, and you won’t be able to remember what life was like before this little one was part of it!