I recently learned that a friend of mine and her husband are expecting their first child! Learning their happy news started me thinking about and remembering the not too distant past when my husband and I were in the same boat.
I also began thinking about the best advice I could give to her—not just philosophical advice about the meaning and value of being a parent, but pragmatic tips as well. Having a baby changes your life, in the most wonderful, spectacular way. Those first few weeks and beginning months are sometimes overwhelming though, as you adjust to having this new addition in your family.
So I asked myself: what were the top 5 things that made my life as a new mom a little easier? What does every new mom need? I am positive the answers to these questions will vary from mom to mom, and I would love for you to include your top 5 list in the comments below! Here is my personal take:
Top 5 Things a New Mom Needs:
1. Family and Friend Support: Whether it’s giving practical help (cooking, cleaning, running errands) or providing emotional support, any new mother needs a community of love and care around her. I remember one of my friends visited me soon after our daughter was born and she brought a delicious dinner for our family. It was such a huge relief knowing I didn’t have to worry about dinner that night, plus it was wonderful telling her about my birth experience and introducing her to our baby! Surround yourself with loving, helpful people so you don’t feel you need to handle all the new changes alone.
2. Meet Your New Best Friend: A friend of mine recommended My Breastfriend, a pillow that wraps around you and on which you can lay your baby when it’s time to breastfeed. I can’t tell you how helpful this was to me! It helped me find the exact position needed for our daughter to latch on correctly, plus it gave my tired arms a break. I later learned I could do all sorts of things while our daughter lay on My Breastfriend and breastfed—from eating dinner myself, to typing on the computer! If you plan on breastfeeding, prepare to do so the majority of the time once your newborn comes home. Something like My Breastfriend makes the experience much easier and more enjoyable.
3. Wrap It Up: Our daughter was (and still is) a very attached baby: she always wants to be with us! I love holding her, but sometimes a woman just has to get some housework done! I found using the Moby Wrap allowed me to stay close to our baby, but also gave me the freedom to move about the house and do some cleaning. She loved feeling my movements and I loved having a tidy home! So whether your baby sling of preference is the Moby Wrap or the Bjorn or another kind (there are many out there!), enjoy this way of being close to your little one.
4. Baby Swing: Every newborn is different. Some are heavy sleepers, some are light sleepers, some seem like they won’t sleep at all! Our daughter sleeps, but is particular about where and how. When we first brought her home, she would have nothing to do with her crib. We eventually learned, however, that she will happily sleep in her baby swing! I don’t blame her: if it were big enough, I would enjoy taking a nap in it myself, because it looks so comfortable and cozy! Our daughter takes her morning nap in the swing, which gives me some much-needed free time. While she is napping, my husband and I have some time together, too. You don’t want to neglect your marriage as you adjust to being a mother—finding quality time with your spouse is key!
5. Fresh Air: It can be tempting to become house-bound with a baby. You may want to lounge around in your pajamas all day because you’re too tired to do otherwise, or because the thought of taking an outside excursion is too daunting. Resist this! You’ll be surprised how rejuvenating and healthy it is to go outside for a little while. Challenge yourself to take a walk outside each day. Walking is great exercise for you, plus if you can’t find a way to get your newborn to sleep, the soothing feel of a walk outside may just do the trick!
What did I miss? Any other important tips I can give my friend?