Being pregnant with your first child is such an exciting time. Decorating the nursery. Registering for all the adorable baby items. Savoring every little kick and every ultrasound photo. While pregnant for the first time, you know a baby is on its way… but it feels so foreign. The biggest question: what to expect with a newborn?
What will life really be like once the baby arrives? What can I really expect? I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed when we first arrived home from the hospital with our son. I had a baby in my arms but no clue where to go from there!
Here is what to expect during those early newborn days when you first get home with your baby:
*Guest post from Emily at The Journey of Parenthood.
What to Expect With a Newborn
People don’t often talk about the postpartum phase for mothers but childbirth? It ain’t easy on the body.
Be prepared for soreness. I remember waking up the first morning I was home and feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. I wasn’t just sore “down there” I was sore everywhere. Depending on the details of your delivery you may be sore or have other postpartum pains.
The doctor will prescribe high strength ibuprofen – take it. Don’t wait until you hurt. Take it from the start so you won’t start hurting!
Also, be prepared to have some pretty hardcore bleeding. Purchase some thick pads in advance. Be sure to bring home the squirt bottle from the hospital as it’s very comforting.
It’s also wise to purchase some Epsom salt prior to delivery to have on hand. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath has so many benefits and will help in the healing process and allow some relaxation. Make these baths a priority!
With breastfeeding it’s also common to have a lot of pain and discomfort when your milk comes in. The more you nurse, the more relief you will have. It’s important to massage the breast while nursing to help avoid any clogged ducts (Think you may have some plugged ducts? Here’s how to cure it!)
While you may be SUPER pumped to have an empty belly so you can sleep on your stomach again, it’s actually not wise to sleep on your stomach while nursing as your breasts will be tender and sore and the pressure from belly sleeping can cause heavy leakage and even more discomfort.
Your body just went through a MAJOR event. You birthed a child! It’s wonderful and amazing and you should be very proud of yourself for this achievement.
However, you’re not superwoman. You can’t do it all. It’s crucial to put yourself first even during the newborn days.
The more you take care of yourself the better parent you will be able to be to your baby!
So SLEEP, SLEEP, SLEEP. Ask for help! Don’t shy away from saying you need a nap!
Your Baby During the Newborn Days
When it comes to what to expect with a newborn, infant babies eat and sleep on repeat. To get things started on a good routine from the start be sure to read this post on Babywise in the early days.
Truly there should be little to no awake time for your baby during the first couple of weeks. Typically a newborn will eat then go straight back to bed.
The biggest struggle with a newborn is usually either trying to keep them awake during feeding time or issues with gas.
You can read about how to keep a sleepy newborn awake here and how to deal with a gassy baby here!
Let your baby set the pace for the first couple of weeks. If you focus on a full feeding (meaning keeping them awake and actively eating during the times when they eat) then most babies typically fall into a natural 3-hour eating cycle pretty quickly.
Oh and that’s three hours from the start of the feeding time. So yes that means usually it’s about 2 hours of sleep followed by a good 45 min of eating. Over and over all day, all night.
Newborns need very little. It’s important to have a notebook to track the last feeding time, which breast was the starter so you can alternate each feeding, and to count wet and poopy diapers.
If you are breastfeeding then your job as a new mom should only be to feed the baby. Call in the troops. Get as many hands on deck as possible.
You need to be sleeping, bathing, resting at all times that you aren’t feeding. It may sound extreme, but if you take the first week or so to truly just REST you will be feeling so much better so much faster and truly be able to ENJOY the baby you just gave birth to!
It’s super common for new moms to push themselves too far and do too much (trust me, I was one of them) and then you hit this wall and it’s a nightmare. Taking care of yourself from the start will allow you to be able to take care of your baby so much better!
Related –> New Parents Q & A
What to Expect With a Newborn: Everything Else
Bringing a new baby home is very exciting but it can also be intense for a married couple to experience.
Both of you will be running on little to no sleep. Both of you are experiencing being a parent for the first time.
It’s so crucial to discuss expectations before the baby is born. Work out a game plan for who will manage what during that newborn stage.
Ideally, the mother should be only in charge of feedings. The father should handle putting the baby to bed, any diaper changes, etc.
But Daddy will be tired too! And often men just don’t handle exhaustion as well as women do. And quite frequently men have to return to work soon after the birth of the baby. My husband is self-employed and he was back working within a couple of days after each of our babies were born.
Again, this is the time to use every resource you can come up with. Family, friends, neighbors, church family. Anyone and everyone you can think up to take turns coming over and helping – now is the time!
It’s especially wise to set it up prior to the baby’s arrival. Ask a friend to set up a meal train so you will have meals ready, get people to sign up for shifts to come and let you both rest.
We typically had one of our moms stay the night for a few nights and handle night duty which allowed us for more full sleep (or at least allowed my husband for a full night sleep since I had to still feed the baby!).
Yes, having company to come help can be stressful. You want to have a clean house. You want to look presentable. Often I would hide in the bedroom when guests came by and my husband would handle visiting with them so I could just SLEEP.
Anyone who has been a parent knows what you are going through and truly WANTS to help. Let them. My mother in law came and cleaned our home from top to bottom before my dad came to visit when my first baby was born and it was such a huge blessing to me.
Get paper plates. Toss away cups. Start a load of laundry when the baby is ready to feed, then by the time the baby is finished you can stick it in the dryer before going back to bed.
Keep things simple. Don’t overthink anything and just allow helpers to handle everything and anything they offer to do!
The early days with a newborn are exhausting but they are also some of the most cherished memories to look back on.
While it feels like you’ll never get into a groove, you will. And you will always remember those first days with your new baby. Those snuggles and funny moments. The learning each other and creating that unbreakable bond.
Want more tips on being a new mom? Here are 10 goals for a new mom!
By knowing what to expect with a newborn, you will be better able to truly ENJOY it!
Emily is a mother of four who blogs over at The Journey of Parenthood. She is obsessed with all things Disney and firmly believes in being transparent and keeping things real regarding her experiences in parenting. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook!