I’ve learned a lot in the two weeks I’ve had baby C. Here’s my tips to mom-to-bes:
1. Learn about breastfeeding now. Seriously, read up on it. You might be thinking, “What’s to learn? Put baby on the tit and he/she drinks.” But it’s not that simple. Breastfeeding is HARD, y’all. I had no idea. Of course, I’m dealing with a low milk supply, and we’re supplementing with bottles of formula, therefor we’ve got extra difficulties to overcome. But I wish I had read The Breastfeeding Book before baby got here. I’m reading it now and learning about all that I did wrong in the first two weeks, and trying to correct those mistakes now is a bitch. For example, I assumed my milk would just “arrive” when it was time. I didn’t have the engorgement after 3 days (and didn’t know that I should have – missing that warning sign) so it wasn’t until our first pediatrician appointment after we came home from the hospital that I learned that those horrible nights where C couldn’t be soothed wasn’t about gas, it was because she was hungry. (Cue first of many mom meltdowns here.) I didn’t know that I didn’t have much milk, and I was starving my child. She lost too much weight, so we had to add formula to the mix. It still breaks my heart.
2. This goes with #1. Make sure you get that baby on your boob as soon as he/she makes her way into the world. Do not deny your baby and yourself this time. It’s prime teaching/bonding time and can set the stage for the days/weeks ahead. Also, room in with your baby if you can and breastfeed him/her as often as you can. Get a lactation consultant to show you how – there should be one available at the hospital. There are all sorts of tips and tricks, as well as no-nos, and it’s worth having a stranger man-handle your knockers to learn proper technique. In just one of many regrets that I have about baby C’s birthday, I didn’t take that initial bonding time. I also didn’t room in, even though it was in our birth plan to do so. I messed up, and now we struggle to get it right.
3. Your ability to eat and rest often is just as important as your child’s. It’s very difficult to take time to do it, but try to ignore stuff like housecleaning and phone calls and instead, eat a burger and go lay down, preferably with your baby. Think of this time as a gift that you earned for what you just accomplished. If anyone gives you attitude, say something like, “I birthed a human a few days ago. I’m going to chill out if that’s OK with you.” It was just me and my husband for the first two weeks, and now that he’s back at work, it’s just me. So, I find that whole “sleep when she sleeps” thing to be virtually impossible. But I’m trying. The laundry is piling up. The floors are filthy. But I took a nap today, and I’m proud of that.
4. Limit visitors to less than 30 minutes, and only allow them if they bring you food. They will always overstay their visit. Try to enforce it. It’s exhausting and can really mess up you and your baby’s schedule. I thought I wouldn’t want any visitors for weeks (germs from the outside – gah!) but as it turns out, I really wanted to share my gorgeous little creature with trusted friends. I make sure to have just one visitor at a time, ask them to bring me stuff and make them wash their hands. Still, someone has dropped in just about every day since we’ve been home, and it pushes back the breastfeeding/formula feeding/pumping schedule and causes me more stress. It’s hard to say no, but if your sanity needs it, try.
5. Find a support group. I’m part of a moms group on Facebook, and I go to them with all my questions and complaints, and the support and advice I receive in return is invaluable. Sometimes, just hearing, “Don’t beat yourself up. You’re doing great!” is all you need.
6. Expect to cry – a lot. I’m not an emotional person. I went years without crying. In fact, my DH saw me cry for the first time during labor. But since baby C’s arrival, I have at least one breakdown a day. Sometimes for no reason. I can be looking at our beautiful baby one minute, thinking “God, she’s so fucking cute, I can’t stand it,” and then boom – Waaaaahhhh… damn you, hormones.
That’s really the gist of my tips, but I really wanted to give 10 of them. Let’s see…
7. Smelly baby farts are hilarious. Be prepared to laugh and be delighted when you hear them.
8. Log all feedings, wet/poopy diapers and comments about baby’s demeanor. You’re going to want to know if he/she has gone 30 hours without pooping, or that she was super gassy after you ate those nachos. I’m not sure why they recommend that you record the color of the doo-doo, but they do, and so I do. Man, is there anxiety when baby hasn’t pooped in a long time…
9. Be prepared to still look pregant and to have all sorts of weird pee/poop issues yourself. Try not to freak out. I’ve been told things down there will go back to normal. It’s disconcerting, but I’m patiently waiting and doing my Kegals.
10. Take lots of pictures. Don’t let your child grow an ounce without you documenting it. Trust me, if you don’t, when she’s older, she’ll have all sorts of questions as to why there are no photos of her until first grade. Don’t do that to her.