Simple New Mom Tips:
1. Your baby doesn't need as much as you think. The market is full of gadgets and gizmos and it can be so daunting! Keep in mind as you welcome your baby that newborns don't need toys or much gear. Don't crowd your home, as that will quickly become a source of stress. A few things that I found came in handy with Rennie in those early days were Boppies or firm pillows (they save your arms while nursing), baby gowns/sacks, simple onesies, socks (for hands and feet... newborns can scratch their faces something crazy!), coconut oil (you don't need soap for newborn baths, warm water is enough and then coconut oil is a gentle moisturizer), and puppy pads for diaper changes (more on another use for them in my next point!). Plus the obvious diapers and wipes!
Remember that if you find yourself needing more, you can always slowly collect those things.
2. Don't forget you! This part of the post will get a bit personal, so hang in there! If you are hoping to breastfeed, maybe consider a few nursing-friendly clothes (nursing nightgowns/house dresses, tops, bras, and soft pads for inside the bras) as well as cream for any soreness. For the first few weeks after birth (if you give birth vaginally), you will want pads or depends (no shame in using the latter if it ends up being easier!), puppy training pads (yes, just spread them under you in bed or wherever you may sit to catch any leaking), and ask your care provider about a soothing spray for your privates (especially good to have if you end up needing stitches). Also I found that sitting on a boppy can really help in those first couple days so there's not as much pressure on any sore areas. Collect some soft pajamas and lots of hair barrettes. Coffee, water, and protein-packed meals and snacks are also very good ideas! And on that note:
3. Ask for/stock up on food; especially freezer meals! If your friends want to know how to bless you, meals are always a good choice! Not having to worry about what you'll be eating takes a load off your already exhausted mind. If you feel up to it, make yourself some high protein snacks (pinterest has great ideas for breastfeeding cookies/no bake bars) that can be eaten fresh or frozen!
4. Be aware of how your environment and self care can affect your mental state. Expose yourself and baby to lots of natural light. This is especially good for babies struggling with jaundice and helps you to fight off depression on those days you feel down. Sit outside and open windows whenever the weather permits! If the season doesn't permit this, pull back the curtains and blinds to make sure your spaces are bright during the day. In the evenings, try soft lamplight or light some non-toxic candles to bring a measure of warmth and joy. Maybe consider adding fresh flowers or indoor plants to your home (fittonia, jade, hens and chicks, snake plant, boston fern, baby rubber, Christmas cactus, prayer plants, aloe vera, and bromeliads should all be safe if ingested by little ones). Make your home as comforting as possible (staying true to your personal style) to keep your mood lifted. I have found that lessening the amount of items in a room means it looks less cluttered (even with a bit of mess) and lowers my stress levels. Also, if it helps, take a moment each day to make yourself feel put together. Take a hot shower or bath while someone else watches baby (smelling good really can help your mental state plus the water is relaxing). If that isn't always an option, freshen up with moist towelettes. If makeup helps to perk you up, put on a coat of mascara or lip gloss. I mentioned soft pajamas before; I will be getting several pretty nightgowns that are nursing friendly as well as other new items that way I can be super comfy without always wearing my old (somewhat worn out) lounge wear. It helps me feel more prepared if visitors come. Seriously, sometimes the smallest thing can make your mindset better.
5. Get help if you need it. Postpartum depression, exhaustion, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed (plus whatever physical healing you are going through) are all very real and shouldn't be ignored. Whether it comes from your husband, family, friends, a lactation consultant, your doctor/midwife, or a postpartum doula, support during this time is invaluable. With Rennie we had my sister come live with us for almost two months. I can't even describe how much it helped me, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. This time Andrew is able to take two additional weeks off of work (last time he only could stay home the first week) and my family lives next door. I am also considering looking into hiring a doula if needed.
6. Give yourself grace and time. If days go by that all you accomplished was nourish the baby and binge watch Netflix, you are still doing an amazing job. Sleep whenever possible. Don't shy away from the camera; you may look half dead, but one day you will love looking back at those moments with your brand new baby. Let yourself heal. Take in the sounds and smells of this sweet little human you've brought into the world. Read or listen to voices of life and encouragement (Scripture and friends who know how much grace is needed during this season). Say no to visitors if it becomes overwhelming (I learned this the hard way and completely burned myself out the first week after Rennie was born). Only leave the house when you feel ready. Don't let anyone pressure you. Every person recovers at a different pace and has different needs. Own yours.
I hope these ideas are helpful! For you fellow moms, what did you find to be super important for your experience with a newborn? Much love and many blessings to you all!