After 3 nights in the hospital, we decided we were ready to bring baby home. That was the biggest mistake. Everyone advised us to stay in the hospital as long as they would let us, especially because baby E had come early and all of our help happened to be out of town. But by the 3rd day, my husband was done with sleeping on an uncomfortable hospital couch and I was pretty uncomfortable in the hospital bed. I wish I had known that it wouldn’t even compare to how uncomfortable I was the first night we spent home welcoming our new baby. My fourth trimester with baby had a steep learning curve and I’d like to share with you some things I learned since having a baby. Here are 10 things that I wish I had known sooner.
1. Make sure everyone knows how to put a diaper on properly
While we were in the hospital, I asked one of the nurses to teach my husband how to change a diaper and how to swaddle. I assumed that he had mastered these skills while we were in the hospital because he literally changed all the diapers while we were there. For some reason, once we had gotten home with baby E, almost every single diaper that my husband changed ended up LEAKING! We were going through so many clothes, we had to do laundry every day. To this day, I still need to remind my husband that all the absorbency needs to be in the FRONT for a boy, otherwise, I might wake up to a leaking diaper in the middle of the night.
2. Take pictures with you in them
When I look back on those newborn days, I’m sad to say that there are a lot of photos I wish I had, that were never taken. I mistakenly thought that I didn’t want birth pictures, thank goodness my doula took some anyway, and I thought that having a newborn session would be enough, but now, I wish I had more pictures capturing those first few months with E.
3. Ask for help with household chores
Remember all those loads of laundry I mentioned we did in those first few weeks? My husband did them. My brother-in-law was sweet enough to send over a house keeping service to clean our house, which we desperately needed. We were showered with food by our family. And we always took advantage of anyone who offered to hold the baby, so we could sleep. We were lucky that we had so much support and love from our family and friends. It made a world of difference to be able to focus on baby E and not worry too much about anything else.
4. If you are nursing, you will buy a lot of bras
Thankfully, my best friend prepared my husband for this fact. At the time, I assumed it would be no big deal and I could get away with just buying a few, but I was wrong. Turns out the bras I need at 6 months are a bit different from what was functional at 1 month and 2 weeks.
5. Can’t find a bra that works? Consider having bras converted
In my quest to find comfortable bras, I decided to get a bra fitting done at Nordstrom, because I just did not known what size I needed to be wearing anymore. The selection of nursing bras is awful. Turns out that you can convert regular bras to nursing bras! Nordstrom does this for a fee of $17, and if you have a Norstrom credit card, you have $100 in alterations credit that you can use to convert your bras for free! I recently converted a couple of bras to nursing bras and LOVE them.
6. Make sure visitors known the ground rules ahead of time
Don’t want people kissing baby? Make sure you tell them ahead of time along with any other ground rules you would like people to follow. This was my husband’s job and he did it well. Having visitors over who knew what to expect reduced a lot of stress about keeping the baby safe.
7. Take extra care of yourself
Your body just went through so much growing a human! Not to mention, birth! Taking care of yourself in the fourth trimester is critical for your physical and psychological health. Replenish your nutrient stores with bone broths and other essential vitamins. Need to get out of the house to save your sanity? Try going for a walk wearing your baby in a baby carrier. Most of all, be gentle with yourself and allow your body to recover.
8. Having a baby doesn’t mean that you should be in pain
6 weeks postpartum and I was still experiencing a lot of pain, I thought it was related to having gone through a c section. 10 weeks postpartum I started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist and it changed my life. Maybe the pain is normal and will heal on its own over time, but it never hurts to get a thorough assessment so you can address issues that need attention. Turns out I have a lot more going on than I would have realized and physical therapy has helped me tremendously.
9. Don’t be afraid to speak up about depression and anxiety
With all the hormonal changes and the life changes going on, it is not uncommon to have the baby blues, or sometimes a more serious case of postpartum depression or anxiety. Check in with yourself every once in a while. Check in with your partner every once in a while. Don’t be afraid to check in with your doctor if you or your partner have any concerns. I have a history of depression and I scheduled a check up with my psychiatrist a month after baby’s due date and continue to check in with her every 3 months.
10. Find a support group and go socialize with other moms
There are a surprising number of support groups, moms groups or even parenting classes out there for moms. Check with your hospital or birthing center, they probably have something or known where you can find a group. I’ve found it to be very beneficial to have made new mom friends who have littles close in age. It gives me a chance to socialize, compare notes, and even just a reason to get out of the house every once in a while.
What would you add to this list?
I am constantly learning new things and this list only covers a small portion of what I’ve learned in my new role as a mother. Leave me a comment to let me known what you would add to my list. I’d love to hear what you have learned in your early days of motherhood.