These are some tips that I gleaned from some of the women of my home church, Blackberry Creek, in Aurora, Illinois.
Spiritual & Emotional:
First things first – you won’t find time to spend with God. You will need to make time – do it. His patience, love and strength will help in transforming you to be the mother you (and He) want you to be. Risking sounding like a cliché, this time will not last forever. Begin training your mind and heart to freeze these special moments so you can bring them back to your memory when this baby gets bigger. Time flies when you’re in love. Trust me. When you feel a little resentful that your husband’s life hasn’t seemed to be affected by the new bundle, realize that you are only jealous that you can’t do what he still can (i.e. get up and read the Sunday paper – if you can get up, it will be to nurse the baby!). Go ahead and grieve the loss of freedom that you once had. Go ahead and get it over with so that you can willingly embrace the “bond”-age of the little life before you. Don’t let her steal your time, sleep, space – give it to her willingly! It will make you feel like a life-giver (which is what or who you are) instead of a life-saver (which is not as much fun, and much more draining).
Rest. I mean, really rest. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your baby. Put your feet up during feedings. Take some deep breaths. When the baby sleeps, take a nap or lie down. The first few weeks is a huge time of healing for your body. Don’t push it. Allow other people to pamper you. And if someone offers to help, actually give them something little to do. Do something nice for yourself everyday - take a bubble bath, order take-out, read your favorite magazine or book for 15 minutes or so, and of course, sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t get dressed to go anywhere until AFTER you've fed, burped and changed baby. I'm sure you're carrying an extra outfit or two for baby, but why don't you pack one for yourself to keep in the car? I was sitting in the middle of a children's museum when my baby, who I was trying to nurse discreetly, had a blowout poop and leaked through his diaper, outfit, and right onto me!
When baby poops from head to toe (and they will!), don’t freak out – grab the camera and laugh it away. One thing I did that worked – gave my baby a bath and baby lotion massage at night. It relaxed both of us and she smelled wonderful. Get a babysitter very soon! You need to get out either alone, with your husband, or with a friend. And the earlier you begin with this, the easier the baby will adjust to other caregivers. Don’t worry about the cost – a) you can’t afford not to take care of yourself and your marriage (you were a woman, wife and friend before the baby came and you will be long after they leave…) and b) there are PLENTY of women who would love to hold and cuddle a baby for a couple hours while you get a much-needed break…so use them!
If your hubby offers to do anything – let him, let him, let him. True, it may not get done exactly as you would like (diapering, feeding, bathing, trips to the store, etc.) but it will be one less thing for you to do.
Be patient with breastfeeding – it gets easier. Don’t be surprised if you…get pregnant while nursing. It happens a lot… (this was worth repeating!) If you’re nursing - drink, drink, drink. If you notice frequent headaches, you could be dehydrated and in need of more fluid. Good rule of thumb: each time you sit down to a feeding, grab a glass of water.
Start off right! If you want your child to eat veggies, give him veggies, from the beginning. If you want him to drink lots of water, give him water, from the beginning. It is easy to do anything "right" from the beginning. Your young child only knows and experiences what you present him. It is difficult changing set habits or customs when he is older. Introduce a bottle ASAP. Use expressed breast milk. It will give you more freedom later. Change newborn diapers often – there is nothing worse than diaper rash. Carry an extra pacifier on you at ALL TIMES. Always carry a changing pad…most changing stations in malls, etc., do not have disposable ones. Be flexible- not everything goes as planned. More important than the event is our attitude when things don't turn out.