7 Tips for Surviving the First Weeks at Home with a Newborn

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motherhoodbuttonYou are reading my personal story for the When Motherhood Comes Softly Series. You can read more from this series by clicking the button to the left. We hope you are encouraged as you read about other woman as they struggle to grow into the role of mother by trusting in God day by day. If you would like to submit a post for this series, please read the introduction to this series and guest post submission guidelines. I look forward to reading your story!

Last week I shared some of my struggles during the first few weeks of motherhood. I felt like I left the post hanging a bit in that I did not give much of a practical answer for how the Lord pulled me through those days. Now that I am well on the other side of that stop along my journey, I can look back and see some specific tools God used to get me through that time. I wanted to share them with you today.

As the theme of this blog suggests, I believe that every good gift is from God by His grace. You may look at some of these tips and think, “The Lord didn’t give her that, its just good common sense” but I know differently. First I know that I don’t have or do anything good except by God’s grace and mercy. Second, I know that He graciously provided each of these suggestions as tools to get me through the first weeks of motherhood.

Let me fill you in on some details surrounding the birth of our son. As you may know, we were living in Fort Worth at the time. This was 7 hours away from our nearest family member and 9 hours away from my parents. Thomas was born on February 11–the beginning of tax season. My husband is an accountant. At the time he worked 30 minutes from our home, so his already long hours were extended by the commute. At the time, I was also finishing up my final 9 hours of graduate school–1 class in person and 2 online. I don’t tell you this to complain about my situation–I know others have had far more difficult circumstances. I want you to have a better picture of where I was when I began mothering my son outside my body, so you can better understand my appreciation for every small grace that made the days easier and more pleasant.

7 Tips for Surviving the First Weeks at Home with a Newborn

Tips for Surviving the First Weeks with a New Baby

Shopping with Mommy
2 weeks old

1. Continue to cultivate a relationship with your husband. Some days this came easier than others. Often, we get so wrapped up in the new baby that we forget the man who helped give us that child. I wrote a post about ways to continue to invest in your relationship with your husband after baby arrives last week. While I didn’t do each of these every day or even often, taken cumulatively, they helped to keep us connected.

2. Get out of the house. Even if this is just a walk down the driveway to check the mail, if it is possible, get out of the house and into the sunshine! When Thomas was two weeks old, the seminary I attended hosted a shopping day for all the women graduates. They were buying us all business suits for interviews. Who can pass up free clothes? So I loaded Thomas up and went. Best decision ever. Making it through the day boosted my confidence as a mother and gave me some much needed social interaction.

3. If you are nursing, learn to nurse laying down. Once I got past my fears of smothering him and gave nursing laying down a shot, it changed our world. Thomas almost always fell asleep nursing, so I was able to sneak away after he fell asleep if I wanted or I could just lay there and nap, too. This was most helpful at night though because I didn’t really have to “wake up” for night feedings. I just scooped the little man into bed with me. I dozed while he nursed, when I woke up to realize he was finished, I put him back in the basinet.

4. Eat and Drink lots of water. This is doubly true if you are nursing. While it’s not true that you need to “double” your calories, you do need to actually eat to keep up a good milk supply. If you are not nursing, your body is still recovering from giving birth, sleep deprivation, and caring for a newborn. You need your energy! Make wise choices. I like to keep a little something to snack on by my nursing chair and take my CamelBak with me everywhere.

Thomas loves his Woombie!

5. Let others help. If someone volunteers to bring you food, let them. If someone offers to fold your laundry, let them. This was the hardest thing for me. I had the two most amazing friends who came over every Monday for lunch and a visit. I almost always tried to pick up the apartment before they came. Silly. Both of them would have been more than delighted to help me with anything I asked. And they did help me stuff cloth diapers on more than one occasion. We did have an amazing Sunday school class that brought us meals every other night for nearly two weeks.

6. Give yourself a break. Realize that the laundry may pile up and the dishes may stay in the sink a bit longer. You may eat cereal for all three meals for a few days (or weeks)! This is all just fine. The world will continue to spin. Your main job is to nurture that little one and heal from giving birth. Get the cuddles in while you can. They grow too fast!

7. Find what works best for you and your baby and stick with it. Trust your instincts. This was also hard for me. There were certain things I just swore I wasn’t going to do (use a pacifier and swaddle come to mind). I thought they were silly and unnecessary. However, at 4 weeks, I gave in, swaddled that boy, and he slept “like a baby”. Thomas slept in some sort of swaddle until he was almost a year old. Most will say that’s crazy and I’m pretty sure my parents and my mother in law thought Thomas was going to go to college in a swaddle, but it worked for us. He now sleeps unswaddled like a big boy–no harm done!

How did you survive the first few weeks with a newborn? I’d love to chat in the comments.

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  1. We got the straight jacket comments too, especially when we used a Miracle Blanket. But hey, he loved it! Started grinning when we pulled it out!

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! We loved our time in Fort Worth. I miss the big city and Target. :)

  3. michy loving our journey says:

    Thanks for linking up….so wonderful to think back to those days….oh they go so fast! :)

  4. MB, love your list. Learning to nurse on our side really helped us, it took us a month or so to get the hang of it, and after that…ahhh the sleep we got! My husband and I would have ‘dates’. Just watching a movie on the couch or eating dinner together. Neither one of us wanted to leave her, so we just included her in our dates. I think she was 4 months before we left her with my parents for our first date out of the house. Was super weird to be driving away from her, even now 2 years later I still don’t like to do it!

  5. Alicia Bruxvoort says:

    Oh, these suggestions bring me back. I’ve “survived’ five newborns and now my ‘baby’ is a rambunctious 3 year old. Crazy as it sounds, I miss those days a bit. Loved the feeling of that soft skin in my arms and by the fifth, I learned to let the house go and just savor the fleeting days with my tiny one. I used those nighttime feedings as time in the Word- baby in one arm, Bible in another, I was filled and fueled as my little one tanked up! Blessings to you from a mom in Iowa!

    • I should’ve used that nursing time to read the Word! Sadly, I spent most of it watching TV. :( That’s a wonderful idea, especially with today’s technology, it would be very easy to read with one arm! :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. KathleenBasi says:

    These are all good ideas. Especially the lying down to nurse bit! I only ever managed to make that work with my first–the second has Downs and didn’t have strong enough muscles to stay latched with me sleeping; the third was lazy, and the fourth–well, no time! But with that first, –Heaven! I was the best-rested first time mother ever.
    Getting out of the house is also a good idea. Sometimes it takes a lot just to take a walk around the block, but yes, sunshine is so important. Unless, of course, it’s 104 degrees like it is right now. Then you might try mall walking. :/

    • Thomas is my first! I imagine things change drastically when you add multiple children to the mix!

      Thomas was born in February in Texas, so the weather was very nice for walks outside. You are right thought, with this heat now a walk around the mall or just sitting by a window might be your best bet!

  7. Giving myself permission to do what was necessary (even if I it wasn’t what I wanted) was pivotal in surviving Abigail’s first few weeks. I was well and truly exhausted from nursing my baby and my husband’s security as a partner and a father when we went for our 5 day check up and found out she had lost far too much weight. I wept the whole 30 minute drive home, feeling I had failed as a mother because my body wasn’t producing nearly enough milk. We started bottle feeding mostly formula while I pumped after every feeding. I never made it above 8 ounces in a day.

    But my grieving for nursing Abby gave way to joy! I got to sleep a few hours in a row while my husband exulted in being able to help me feed our baby. He began to feel he was a necessary part of raising this beautiful little person. She was getting enough nutrition to thrive. And we were all enjoying a good bit more mental and emotional stability.

    • Hey Mary! Glad to see you here! Congratulations! I didn’t realize Abigail had arrived! I’m sorry to hear you had so much trouble nursing! That can be very frustrating. I had the opposite problem as you. Due to a clogged duct turned mastitis turned staph infection, I had to pump pump pump to keep the milk moving and prevent further infection. So I had serious oversupply. Pumping 12 extra ounces a day in addition to feeding Thomas.

      I’m glad you were able to work through it and find what clicked well for your family! I’m sure the extra sleep was a blessing! :)

  8. Those woombies are so great! It’s tough, but doing all those things definitely help…especially relying on others and getting out of the house!

  9. Christina@toshowthemjesus.com says:

    Honestly, I didn’t survive very well. Post-pardum depression each time:( These are great tips and important for new moms. Ask for help, accept help, and openly share your struggles–that’s what I learned:)

    • I have also found that openly sharing your struggle helps so much. It helps you to realize that you aren’t the only one this isn’t coming easy for! I’m sure you’ve been able to serve others in this way after coming through the postpartum.

    • KathleenBasi says:

      It’s good that you went looking for help. I always have wondered if I would have had the couage to ask, if it had happened to me. Actually, the first time I think I did get PPD, but not until 6 months in–and it manifested as insomnia. It was horrible. I’m so thankful I haven’t had a recurrence with the later kids.

  10. messymarriage says:

    It’s hard for me to remember, Mary Beth. My boys are 22, 19 and 16 now. :) But I think I did a lot of the same things that you’ve discovered work. Although I really like the way your friends visited to help and encourage you weekly. I think that may be one that I didn’t have in place–at least not weekly–and I think it probably would have made a huge difference for me when I was at that stage. Great post, friend and fellow alum! ;) And once again, thanks for the heads up on the link problem!

    • You’re welcome! We had already set up Monday as “lunch days” for accountability and prayer, so we continued after I had the baby–just always at my apartment. They were a huge part of me making it through those first few weeks. :)

  11. I’m stopping by from In, On and Around Mondays – these are great suggestions. I loved nursing lying down and you are right – it helps so much. Mommy and baby can relax and rest together. I wish I would have learned to let people help. I am so bad at that…but it would have saved me a lot of anxiety and stress. Blessings from Croatia: A Little R & R: http://www.littlerandr.org

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