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The first time is the most shocking. The second time you go through it is a bit better. Each time is different, but it’s never easy. I’m talking about those crazy postpartum weeks. Life with a newborn sometimes feels like pure chaos. Or maybe an alternate dimension? There will be days where you’re not sure if it’s AM or PM. But as crazy as these days are, it’s possible to make life easier with a newborn.
Now obviously, everyone’s gonna have a different experience. But no matter what happens, you’re never quite prepared for life with a newborn. After all, you’ve never met this little person before, and you don’t speak the same language.
Yet you’re responsible for providing all his needs – and that happens around the clock. Even with help, it’s exhausting.
Fortunately, there are things you can do right now to make the postpartum life easier. The best time to prepare is before your baby is born, but if he’s already here, you can still start simplifying life with your new baby today.
1. Rest as much as possible
Please don’t roll your eyes when I say sleep when the baby sleeps. I know you need to pay bills and take a shower. And you probably want to do something frivolous too, like eating. Amiright? But stay with me here, because I’m about to say something profound.
Sleep is more important.
A tired brain is more forgetful, more anxious, less rational, and makes worse decisions compared to a rested brain. That’s because while you’re sleeping, your brain floods with chemicals that clear out toxins and dead cells, and revitalize those tissues that keep you functioning. Even a
As for those chores you need to do, you can find ways to get them done when your little one is awake. (Hint: I have a few suggestions to help you there)
2. Embrace babywearing
Babywearing will rock your postpartum life. It calms your baby like nobody’s business but leaves your hands free to do those chores you’re worried about.
My personal favorite way to wear a baby is with a wrap because it pulls your baby in snug and tight – k
You can also use a baby carrier that snaps on like a
3. Set up a nursing station
The cool thing about breastfeeding is that it gives you a solid chunk of time when there’s nothing else you need to be doing. Just being still and feeding your sweet baby is priority number one. It’s very liberating to know you can sit still and still accomplish your most important task.
What’s not liberating is that you’re confined to that one spot for a while. Perhaps only 20 minutes or so, but sometimes it feels like an eternity!
That’s why having a nursing station is a lifesaver! Setting it up will ensure you have everything you need (and want) at your fingertips while you’re breastfeeding.
Related Post: 10 Breastfeeding products to make nursing a breeze
The location of your nursing station is totally up to you. It could be a glider rocker in the nursery, a recliner in the living room, or your own bed. I suggest a place with a tv – just in case. You also need a side table where you can set things down and a basket full of nursing essentials. Here’s what you want in your nursing station basket:
- a bag with ponytail holders, hair clips, chapstick, and lotion
- extra diaper
- pack of baby wipes
- burp cloth
- receiving blanket
- tv remote
- 2 or 3 magazines
- ink pens
- nursing log
- breastfeeding pillow
- nipple balm
- phone charger (already plugged in and waiting)
- bottled water
- easy snacks
The cool thing about having all this in a basket is that it’s portable, so if you’re about to nurse somewhere else, you can just grab your basket real quick and still have everything you need.
4. Stop grocery shopping
The number one way to make life easier with a newborn is to forget all about going to the grocery store. Don’t even think about it! Either send somebody with a list, order groceries from a delivery service, or us a grocery pickup service. Walmart and Kroger offer grocery pickups, and so do several smaller chains of grocery stores.
With fresh groceries available for pickup or delivery, there’s no need to drag your tired self through a store. These services are available, use them!
5. Cook two meals at a time
Whenever you cook, double your recipes. This way, you end up with two cooked meals in half the time. Serve one meal and freeze the other for another night.
If you start this method 4-6 weeks before your due date, you won’t have to cook at all after your baby arrives. But if he’s already here, then using this method now will cut your cooking in half. Win-win!
6. Lower a few expectations to make life easier with a newborn
Nobody’s harder on a new mom than herself. We try to be superhuman. It’s like we have to prove that we can still do it all. As if having a baby changes nothing. So let me say this plainly.
You can NOT sustain the same household or personal care routines you had before the baby was born. You’ll get back to it, but don’t even try to do it right now. Embrace bare minimums.
There will be days when you feel successful for just getting a shower. That’s okay.
It’s also smart to give yourself permission to use disposable cups, plates, and flatware for a while. Who cares? That stuff is cheap, it’s only for a little while, and it’s an awesome way to make life easier with a newborn around.
7. Don’t stress over your baby’s crying
Repeat after me: Babies. Cry.
The sound of your little one’s pitiful cries can be heartbreaking. As a new mom, your body physically reacts to the sound. We’re created to be caretakers of these little ones, so we respond on a basic, primal level to their needs.
But that doesn’t mean we have to stress about it. Because a crying baby isn’t necessarily distressed, or suffering, or emotionally taxed. Your baby’s crying does not mean you’re doing something wrong.
Related Post: 4 Things all newborns want
It’s especially stressful when we’re in public. Because we want people to think we’re doing everything right – but it seems like a crying baby is saying something else entirely. Or we think “Oh crap, my baby’s bothering all these people!” Trust me, unless you’re in a movie theater, 99.99% of people who hear a newborn cry think the same thing: “Awwwww listen to that tiny cry! So sweet.”
Babies cry for many reasons, but the important thing to remember is that for a baby, crying = talking. He’s just letting you know (in the only way he has to communicate) that he has a need. Try not to stress about his communication, just do your best to meet his needs.
Of course, I’m talking about normal crying here. If you think your baby is in pain, or if the crying is excessive, call your pediatrician right away. Seriously.
8. Stash extra necessities
It’s a sweet idea to have a diaper changing station. I absolutely recommend one. But you also want to keep a few diapers and wipes close by in other frequently-used rooms of the house. After one poopy-diaper blowout, you’ll understand why.
Also, keep an extra diaper and a change of clothes for your baby in your purse. This way, even if you deplete the contents of your diaper bag, you can still change him in case of an emergency.
And speaking of diaper bags, have at least two. You really ought to keep a packed diaper bag in every vehicle you use. Because the one time you forget to bring a diaper bag will be the time you desperately need it. One day, I may tell you the story of the time I had to bring my little guy home naked. Don’t let that happen to you.
9. Use a co-sleeper
Since newborns need to eat frequently, night wakings are inevitable in the early weeks. To make them a little less traumatic for everyone, consider using a co-sleeper that attaches to your bed. I LOVED this co-sleeper! It lets you be right next to your baby, but still gives them their own safe space to sleep.
When your baby wakes at night, you won’t even have to get out of bed to feed him. Once he’s done, you can scooch him right back to his spot. Easy peasy.
10. Limit your online time
Seriously though, it’s really easy to get caught up watching videos, reading comments, or scanning your friends’ posts. Two hours can go by in a flash, and you’ve done nothing.
Related Post: 4 Reasons to put away the phone while breastfeeding
Besides the time wasted, studies have shown that time spent online can make you anxious, hurt your sleep, and is linked to depression. You don’t need that right now.
11. Give visitors a chore
Everyone is a sucker for a new baby, so you might have a lot of people coming by to meet this newest addition to your family. While it’s nice to have visitors, they can seriously impinge upon your precious time.
So don’t be shy about asking visitors to do a quick chore for you. People who really care about you won’t mind a politely-phrased request for a little help. In fact, most people would LOVE to help you out, but don’t know how
A fantastic way to accomplish the delicate task of getting help without pushing people away is by posting a sign at the door. People tend to obey signs, and a well-worded or funny request will take away any sting a person might feel about being asked to work.
Check out this pack of printable signs:
Bonus tip: Don’t give up on breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can be hard. It can be painful (but it shouldn’t be!). Sometimes it’s grueling and sometimes it’s wonderful. Don’t give up on it.
Mama, breastfeeding does so much good for your baby – and it does so much good for you! It regulates hormones, stabilizes weight, and prevents diseases. For your baby AND for you. Don’t give up on it.
If you need to call a lactation consultant, do it. If you need to pump and bottle feed your baby, do it. If you need to supplement, do it. Even a little bit of breastmilk is better than none. Don’t give up on it!
The postpartum period isn’t easy. You have a messed up sleep schedule, wacky hormones, a new little stranger to care for, and bodily fluids that seem to seep out from nowhere. Sorry, there’s no changing that last bit.
But you CAN make life easier with a newborn by following these tips. Get as much rest as you can, use a baby carrier to free up your hands, have groceries delivered, adjust your expectations, ask for help, stash extra necessities in case of emergency, and most importantly – don’t give up on breastfeeding.
This time with your baby will pass quickly. As challenging as it may be, it’s also rewarding. As you help your baby grow and develop, you’ll grow as a person too. Embrace this time, mama. It only happens once in
Do you have a favorite postpartum hack? Please share it in the comments!