Having a baby is nothing short of a miracle, and I can guarantee it will be one of the happiest days of your entire life! However, let’s be real… adjusting to parenthood can be exhausting at times. So I’ve put together some of the things that I learned along the way, in hopes that rather than learning these simple little things the hard way, you’ll be much more prepared than I was! 🙂
Warning: I plan to be extremely real and thorough in some of these, so if you don’t want all the lovely details of giving birth, breastfeeding, etc. feel free to read only the bold phrases 😉
1. Get your house professionally cleaned 1-2 weeks before your due date. When you’re 38+ weeks pregnant, chances are you’ll be exhausted, with an aching back and feet and just ready to get that baby out! The tiredness is not going away any time soon, so my advice is to get your house deep cleaned so that you won’t have to worry about it for a while. If that’s simply not in the budget, ask a friend or family member to help you clean!
2. Buy velcro swaddles. Okay, so as cute as all the swaddling blankets are, make sure you buy the “cheater” swaddles!!! I can’t stress this enough. Honestly I spent way too many nights frustrated & awake because I couldn’t get Lilly’s blanket to stay on during the night. The tighter and cozier the baby, the better sleep they’ll get, which means better sleep for you!!
3. Have freezer meals stocked and ready. Unless you know that people will be bringing you food for at least the first week, I highly suggest preparing dishes that you or your hubby can quickly get out from the freezer and stick in the oven! Believe me, cooking dinner for your fam will not be on your to-do list for the week, and you probably won’t want to be going out much either.
4. Buy paper plates and plastic utensils. This goes along with the previous one, pretty self-explanatory. Dishes are never fun, especially with a new baby to take care of 🙂
5. Pack pacifiers in your hospital bag. This may seem super obvious to some, but being a first time parent, I over-researched every detail I possibly could. From all the Google searching my conclusion was that pacifiers were bad because she would have nipple confusion. I ended up trying to nurse her in the hospital for TWO HOURS because every time I took her off, she would search for me looking hungry. Turns out, Lilly is a very cuddly, sweet baby, and she needed the extra comfort that the sucking motion provides. The nurse assured us that as long as baby is nursing well the first couple hours, it’s perfectly fine to introduce a pacifier.
6. Bring a pillow/blanket for your spouse. The hospital we were at was so great; however, the sleeping area for Kyle was horrible. He barely fit on the tiny chair pull-out bed contraption, and I thought a pillow/blanket from home would seem a bit more comfy.
7. Take it easy eating after giving birth. Ok, so if you have your baby naturally I don’t think you have to worry about this. But I had an epidural, and couldn’t eat for a certain amount of time before giving birth (I can’t remember exactly but I think it was once I got the epidural) Needless to say, I was pretty hungry after giving birth. I ate pretty much everything in site…. I won’t go in to detail, but my advice? Take it slow. Hahahaha :p
8. Ask to see a lactation nurse ASAP. Ok, this may be my most important piece of advice to mama’s who want to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is no joke! I thought it would come naturally, and let me tell ya, it takes practice!! There are SO many different techniques and tips & tricks that my lactation nurse provided. My only regret about seeing her was not seeing her soon enough! I waited until the second day because I didn’t know, and by then I was so sore I was desperate! The regular nurses help some, however the lactation nurse I had came in multiple times and helped a tremendous amount. It’s normal to be tender but nursing should not be horribly painful! So ask for the lactation nurse as soon as possible, and as many times as you want until you feel 100% comfortable and confident. Once your home, you won’t have her at the push of a button, so take advantage!!!!
P.S. Use Lanolin after every single nursing session!!! This will eliminate any cracking/irritation/blisters and is completely safe for baby!
9. Ask one of the delivery nurses to take pictures. I remember during our hospital tour, the nurse saying to feel free to ask them anything (she actually gave the example of taking pictures). We didn’t have the money to hire a birth photographer, and quite frankly I’m not sure I would have wanted someone I didn’t know snapping pics during all of that. However, by the time you’re about to give birth, you are so comfortable with your nurses/doctor that you don’t care at all! So I asked if she would take pics, and I am SO glad she did. It may sound gross right now, but it really is the most beautiful moment in the world, and the pictures are irreplaceable!
10. Snap a video with baby & parents in the hospital. I just absolutely love videos, and wish I would have remembered this when we were there!
11. Take your time at the hospital. Originally, I only had wanted to stay 24 hours at the hospital. However, my contractions had started at 8:30pm on Friday, and then I had her at 1:39pm on Saturday. Which yes, meant that I did not sleep at all that entire time! Within 48 hours I got maybe 3 1/2 hours of sleep. I wanted to go home so badly, but I was well aware that I needed the extra help because of how little sleep I had. Not only that, but once you go home, you no longer have nurses at your fingertips seeing if you need anything, answering questions, room service, etc. This may not be for everyone, but I would highly recommend it, especially if you had/have a similar situation as mine.
12. Accept help/Ignore To-Do Lists. The first week at home is so special, you don’t want to miss a thing! Accept ALL the help you get, don’t deny anyone’s willingness to do something for you! You just gave birth for goodness sakes, you deserve a week to hold that little treasure in your arms and do nothing else! Also, that first week, sleep when your baby is sleeping and throw the to-do list out the window!!! You’ll need it.
13. Don’t be quiet around baby. This may seem a little un-natural, but I would encourage you to go about your daily business as usual and encourage everyone else around you to do the same. We were told this by many parents. If you’re super quiet and have the house silent while your baby naps, it’s going to be super tricky to get them to sleep with noise around! Get them used to it first thing. We did with Lilly and she’ll sleep through anything!
14. Set reminders on your phone. You may be surprised at how much your memory tanks when you’ve had minimal sleep. I know I was!! This is when your phone comes in handy. In my notes I would write when Lilly last ate, and on which side. Also I set reminders of when to take my pain medication. You’ll still be contracting and sore, so forgetting the pain medication is NOT FUN. It’s super easy to forget if you don’t write it down somewhere and/or have an alarm.
15. Use a small bassinet at first. May be self-explanatory, but Kyle and I had a beautiful big bassinet, and Lilly would absolutely not sleep in it for the first month or so! Like I mentioned before, she’s very cuddly and so having too much space around her scared her. So just get a small bassinet and you should be good to go 🙂
16. Don’t get discouraged with pumping. To me, the pump was SO intimidating and if I’m being perfectly honest, quite freakish at first. I really, really struggled with it. It’s a hormonal thing, and your body only gives out milk when it thinks your baby is eating. So when I was super mad, frustrated, freaked out, etc. by the pump, there was no way I could get anything out. Things that really helped me were: relaxing, taking a hot shower then pumping immediately after, putting a warm washcloth on my chest, or holding Lilly or having her near. Don’t give up, just relax and it will happen!
17. Take your baby’s socks off during diaper changes. This is simple, but unless you want to wash poopy socks, I would reccomend it 😉
18. Take it easy. Don’t try to do laundry, take out the trash, make dinner, etc. Your body just went through A LOT and it is SO important to take care of yourself so you can heal quickly and properly. If you try to do too much, it can cause some major cramping which is not fun at all.
19. Take TONS of pictures. It’s true, the time will slip between your fingers if you’re not careful to cherish every second! I was super swollen from my epidural and wish I would’ve taken more pictures in the hospital and the following week with her. Don’t let low self-esteem get the better of you, you are BEAUTIFUL beyond words and just produced a miracle, capture it!
20. Take time for yourself. Ok, this is crucial. I never was one of those people who needed alone time, but when you are responsible for another human being 24/7 with no breaks, you NEED this! The first two weeks, my alone time was showering. I had my mother-in-law or mom watch Lilly at my house and I took my sweet time showering and putting on makeup (if I felt like it). Then, I sort of forgot to take time for myself and after a couple months was feeling super burnt out and just not myself. I realized I hadn’t had any time to be alone and process my thoughts, or spend time just me and Jesus. I honestly had mommy-guilt (the worst) whenever I felt like I wanted just 30 minutes to myself. DON’T go through that, and know it’s perfectly normal and needed to ask for help, step away, and rejuvenate yourself!!! Being a mom is a full-time, selfless, and giving job. But you can’t give much when you’re not replenishing yourself. Even if you just go for a drive, grab a coffee, or go for a walk, it is so needed!
21. Remember, YOU are the mom. Everyone loves to give advice, which is amazing. But at the end of the day, you have to remember that God chose YOU to be your baby’s mother. And when you hear all sorts of different ways to parent your child, you need to know that YOU and only YOU will make the best decisions for your baby. Trust your gut, and know that The Lord has and will equip to you raise up the warrior he/she is supposed to be!
Thanks so much for reading! If you can think of any more to add, feel free to leave them in the comments 🙂 Also, please share/pin if you or anyone you may know could benefit from this list! xoxoo