For nine months you’ve been looking forward to bringing home your new baby. Now that your little one is home, however, it might be more work than you expected. Caring for a newborn can be mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. After all, you’re up half the night, you have to feed your baby all the time, and you aren’t getting any housework done. All this adds up to a foggy brain and a slow body, but some tips from parents who have been in the trenches and survived can help you get through those first weeks as you learn to be a parent.
Like most parents, you probably have a rosy vision of what life will be like with a newborn. He’ll be dressed in clean and fashionable clothes, will sleep all night, and will eat when it’s time. When reality kicks in, you’ll realize that babies dirty their clothes regularly. You’ll be up every couple of hours at night to feed a hungry baby, who might not want to go back to sleep when he’s done eating. Instead of worrying that things aren’t what you expected, try to scale back what you expect. Life with a baby is never routine, and coming to terms with the idea that you are probably going to spend many months, if not years, living moment to moment goes a long way toward getting through each day.
You’ve probably heard this, but actually doing it is something that most parents have a hard time with. If the baby takes three naps during the day, laying down to rest for at least one of them will help you make up for what’s lacking at night. Running on little sleep makes it hard to concentrate and could leave you moody and depressed. It can be hard to overlook the pile of laundry that needs to be folded or the bottles that need to be washed, but getting some extra rest will make you feel better and give you the energy to knock out your to-do list later in the day.
Often new moms feel like they have to do everything to succeed in the role. This will only leave you exhausted and resentful. Instead, take turns. Chances are, your partner is going to want to take part in the care of your new baby, too. Take turns getting up to feed the baby at night. If you are breastfeeding, pump and prepare a bottle for the dad’s turn before you go to bed. Take turns changing diapers, rocking a crying baby, and even getting out of the house for a break. For single parents, a friend, parent, or sibling may be willing to help you out.
No matter the situation, a support system is vital for new parents. Put your mom, the pediatrician, or a best friend on speed dial. Both parents can benefit from a go-to person to talk to when things get rough or either of you need advice. Someone who has gotten through the baby years is a great choice. Just don’t forget to connect to your partner too. Focus on a new baby can cause you to drift apart, but if you work together to care for your newborn, you’ll feel closer and can give each other advice and support.