When you’re preparing to enter motherhood, almost everyone tells you that the first week is really tough. I heard it from so many mamas, so I tried to prepare myself as best I could. I knew it was going to be hard, but I really didn’t understand just how difficult it would be until my husband and I lived it. We were extremely lucky with our daughter—she had a healthy birth without complications, which we feel so grateful for. Still, that first week with the first newborn is unbelievably tough. Everything is so new and foreign, and all you care about is making the best choices for your baby. You’re suddenly experiencing a type of love you’ve never before experienced—and you’re running on no sleep, and visitors are knocking on your door around the clock. While I’m no expert, I wanted to share a few of the ways that I prepared for this special time as a brand-new mom—an experience I’ll always remember as equal parts hard and wonderful. —Caitlin Kruse, Editorial & Partnership Director
1. Set ground rules for visitors. This is very important! Decide whether you’re OK with guests (parents, siblings, etc.) staying with you, or if you’d prefer they rest their heads elsewhere. Sorting this out before you head to the hospital will guarantee that you don’t come home to any surprises. Enlist your husband for help when it comes to explaining your preferences to your in-laws, or even when asking guests to wash their hands before holding the baby.
2. Plan your meals. I can’t emphasize this enough! Figure out a plan, whether you build a stockpile of meals in the freezer or arrange to have friends and family members bring you food. Everyone talks about dinners, but don’t forget about breakfast and lunch! Keep your cabinets fully stocked a few weeks before your due date so you don’t come home to empty shelves. The last thing you’ll want to worry about is what to eat—and you’ll definitely be hungry! Keep plenty of healthy grab-and-go snacks on hand, too.
3. Prepare for yourself. While the focus will undoubtedly be on creating the perfect nursery and stocking up on adorable baby clothes, it’s important to prepare for yourself, too. Put together a postpartum kit of essentials you’ll need to have on hand. Unpack and wash your non-maternity clothes, even though you’ll likely continue wearing several of your maternity pieces for a bit. (During my first week of motherhood, all of my regular summer clothes hadn’t been worn in a year, so they were still boxed up somewhere in our basement. This was really annoying because I wanted to start wearing some of those pieces again during that time.) If you plan to nurse, purchase plenty of nursing bras and tanks ahead of time. And don’t forget to look for sleepwear that will make nursing as easy as possible! I bought a few button-up nightgowns before my daughter’s birth, but I found myself wishing I had more. It seemed like I was searching each night for something to wear that would make those every-two-hour feedings easier. Bottom line: The more organized you are, the happier you—and your baby!—will be.
4. Say yes and ask for help. One of the most helpful pieces of advice I received: Accept help. Allow people to help you during this time, whether it’s doing your laundry or picking up groceries or simply watching the baby while you take a shower.
5. Write down (or type) everything. Amid the chaos of bringing a new life into the world, you tend to forget a lot. I started keeping notes on my iPhone so that I wouldn’t forget questions for the doctor, things to pick up at the store, or times that our daughter fell asleep (we now use the Sprout app for that, which is amazing!).
6. Sign up for Amazon Prime. If you haven’t already, sign up for Amazon Prime—it’s seriously a lifesaver. Knowing that you can have diapers, wipes and random baby items delivered to you in a pinch is totally worth the yearly fee.
7. Organize your home for your baby. I’m so glad I did this! We set up a changing station in our bedroom since we knew our daughter would be sleeping with us for a few months. I placed baskets around key areas of the house for storing various items: We have a nursing basket near my rocker, a basket with burp cloths and a basket with baby blankets in our living room. I also recommend setting up areas upstairs and downstairs for laundry, as you’re guaranteed to go through so much of it!
8. Don’t try to do it all. Make your baby your No. 1 priority, and forget everything else. The dishes can sit in the sink. Your emails can wait. You may not have time to vacuum—and that’s OK. Take in every second with your baby while he or she is small, because you’ll not have the opportunity to do it again.
Newborn photo by Olive Juice Photography