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Those first three months of a baby’s life can be rough for both baby and parents. Your baby has just come out of a warm, safe place, and all they want is to be in your arms. You haven’t figured out their cries yet. They’re sleeping during the day and awake all night, which isn’t great for your sleep schedule. It’s hard! How do you get through the newborn stage?
Wear your baby as much as you can
Babies just want to be close to you. They need your warmth and your comfort. But you can’t carry them all the time. The solution is wearing your baby using a carrier or sling. Newborns especially will sleep if you carry them, and you can get more done. If they’re crying, walking them around in a carrier might help calm them down and save your arms from the weight of having to actively carry them.
Pump if you’re breastfeeding
It’s going to take time for your milk to come in, but once it does, we recommend occasionally pumping. If you’ve got extra milk, you can put it in the fridge or freeze it and put it in a bottle at feeding time. This way you can hopefully share feeding duties with your partner or helper. It’s not completely on you to feed them every two to three hours. Trust us when we say this can do wonders for your mental health and sleep schedule.
Rely on your partner or helper as much as you can
Especially if you’re not able to share feeding duties, your partner or helper needs to step up as much as possible. Sometimes this can be difficult if they’re still working and have demanding jobs, but it’s still important that they support you when they can. They can help by taking care of you as you recover from the trauma of birth, doing all diaper changes whenever possible, and cleaning any bottles or pump parts. If you don’t have a partner, try to enlist someone to help temporarily, like your mother or best friend.
Get as much sleep as possible
Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps doesn’t remember the newborn stage. When the baby sleeps, you need to find ways to sleep, eat, do endless laundry, and clean bottles, among other things. Not to mention, odds are you’re going to spend a lot of time worrying and watching them breathe. This means you need to work out a schedule with your partner or helper, so everyone is getting adequate sleep. One way to do this is you sleep from 6 PM to midnight, and your partner sleeps from midnight to 6 AM. This way, you’re getting at least a solid six hours every night if possible.
Organize your home in a way that makes sense
When you first bring your newborn home, you’re probably not going to be using that nursery much. Create caddies with everything you need for the baby and keep one in your living room. This is especially true if you’ve got multiple floors because when you first give birth, you’re supposed to use stairs as little as possible. You’ll also need to create space in the kitchen for your baby items and figure out where you’re going to put things like the baby swing and the bassinet. You might reorganize as you go along and learn more about how you function with your little one.
Ask for help
This goes for so many things. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, there are specialists to help you. Post-partum depression is also real and serious, and there is help out there for you if you need it. Remember: feeling tired and frustrated is normal – feeling miserable and like there’s no joy in your life is not. But there are also the basics. Let someone change a diaper or do laundry or make dinner. Rely on your support network if you can and be vocal about how people can help you.
The newborn stage lasts for those first three months. It’s hard, but it’s survivable. In reality, it’s such a short period of time, and you’ll miss the days when you can spend so much time cuddling with your little one. But that doesn’t make it any less difficult. You’ve got this, though. Just one day at a time.
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).
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