When I found out I was pregnant I was also being offered a promotion. Fearing being reconsidered due to pregnancy (however illegal that may be), I dove head first into the new position. Instead of reading about all things newborn, I was reading the latest United States Pharmacopeia.
I knew about taking care of children because I babysat from a young age, but I didn’t know what to expect with my very own newborn. So if I had a do-over, here are a few things I’d do differently:
1) I Would Read the Darn Baby Books
I thought I’d be fine taking care of my newborn once he arrived home. I was, except I was slapped in the face with my Type A personality and found I needed to know every minute detail about everything newborn. I found myself trying to catch up on things I wanted to know about, and frantically researching the latest studies on everything newborn while up nursing during the night.
If I had to do it over again, I’d read the darn baby books from start to finish. I’d research anything I thought I might want to know more about. That way I’d know what to expect immediately and won’t be surprised down the road.
For instance, I’d know that newborns usually get a rash on their face that resembles measles (or the plague as the hormonal mom brain sees it), but it’s just the mother’s hormones leaving the baby causing the rash. And I’d know that blow out poops are normal and pretty much all poops are normal unless they’re black or obviously bloody. I’d know that many newborns have clogged eye duct(s) (not pink eye like it appears), and breastmilk does wonders for it.
I’d know that I’m not a fan of flame retardants on my newborn’s skin. So I wouldn’t have to buy a new car seat only to realize I didn’t buy the wool, flame retardant free one and have to buy yet another one.
I’d also know that babies do not sleep soundly AT ALL. They’re louder than snoring husbands.
2) Sleep When the Baby Sleeps . . . For Real
Everyone told me to sleep when the baby sleeps. Well, as I mentioned, I’m very Type A. So, guess who decided to do laundry, clean her house, mop the floors, take a shower, anything other than sleep when the baby slept. Yup, this girl. Dumb idea.
Seriously, sleep when your baby sleeps. Because you’re gonna be up all night with that newborn, and he/she is going to be well rested and wide awake and you’re not. Your body NEEDS the rest and sleep. WHO CARES if your house is dirty, your clothes are dirty, your floors are dirty, or you’re dirty. Sleep! You just made and birthed a human for crying out loud. Rest woman!
3) Sterilize and Read the Directions to the Breast Pump
I breastfed and pumped, which I also thought would be a piece of cake. It turned out that I was wrong about that too.
I wish I had already sterilized and knew how to use my breast pump when I was sitting there recovering from an unexpected C-section, raging mastitis, and a screaming newborn. The pump would have helped the clogged ducts, which would’ve helped my newborn get the milk he was screaming for. I couldn’t think clearly because of the pain meds, the hormones, the antibiotics, the pain, and the screaming baby. Reading breast pump directions, even using the sterilizer, seemed overwhelming.
If you plan to breastfeed, do yourself a favor and figure out that breast pump BEFORE the baby arrives. Also splurge and get a decent pumping bra.
4) Get Some Comfy Nursing Bras
Nursing bras are not cute, but neither is mastitis. Since your boobs are about three times their normal size when nursing, bras become tight fast. Tight bras can contribute to mastitis, which equals no fun for anyone.
So ditch your pregnancy bras, even if you splurged on some super cute ones, and get some good ole’, comfy, nursing bras. Typically the uglier are comfier. No one sees them besides your newborn who can’t see that well anyway.
5) Consider a Postpartum Party Instead of Baby Shower
Last thing I’d redo is getting more postpartum support.
I don’t think that the U.S. has enough postpartum support. I know I didn’t. And when you’re knee deep in being a brand new mom, you could use a hand or hands.
Since our healthcare/insurance system doesn’t provide for professional postpartum support without asking for your first born as payment, consider having a postpartum party.
Your friends and/or family (only the ones who will truly help and won’t over stay their welcome) come to do some dishes, fold some laundry, make some food, and let you sleep or shower. You could trade out the baby shower for the postpartum party so your friends/family won’t feel like you’re a real entitled piece of work. Or maybe some friends/family throw you a baby shower, AND other friends/family throw you a postpartum party. Don’t be too afraid or too stubborn to ask for help.
As a very wise, very good friend of mine told me, “You have to put YOUR oxygen mask on first.” So make sure you take care of yourself so you can take care of that beautiful being God blessed you with.