Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting through the first few weeks post partum

photo from home and dorm bedding

It seems the scariest time, after the birth itself, is figuring out how to survive those first few weeks. You may think that it would be limited to new moms only. But it's not. I often see on my due date list that mothers of two or three are asking for help on how to incorporate the new baby into their family. Today I have some tips. AND I hope you do too.

For me the old adage is true, sleep when the baby sleeps. The reason you even need sleep is because newborns are up a lot in the night. A LOT. Sometimes as often as every two hours. And whether you breastfeed or not, you are going to miss out on some sleep. LOTS of sleep for a LOT of weeks. If you have younger children, it gets a little trickier trying to get a nap in. But you can do it. You might want to start training your younger (soon to be older) children to lay down on mats NOW. Then when the new baby comes, you can send them wherever they will be mostly quiet, and have a little nap. I prefer to keep mine in eyeshot. But that may not work for everyone. If they are little-little, then you just take one long nap together in the afternoons. Even if your older little one isn't a napper. Trust me. You'll be exhausted. No matter how much help your husband is, you WILL be exhausted. If you can, invite someone over to watch the olders while you snuggle down with the new baby. Any good friend will help. (Hint, hint. Yes, it's very helpful to post it on your blog as a hint.)

Hold and love your baby as often as you want to, and can. IT FLIES BY. One day you are holding a weird looking wrinkly, red thing, the next thing you know, she/he is crawling and absolutely the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. THAT FAST. So enjoy it. Yes, you will be exhausted. You will have throw up in your hair. You will have not taken a bath since...since when? You can't even remember. Just hold and love that baby. Enjoy your time and don't worry about your hair, or that weird smell. OR CLEANING.

Which leads me to my next piece of survival advice. Don't worry about the cleaning. You are getting to know a new human being. You are probably a milk machine...just say Moo! You are leaking fluids...LOTS of fluids, some not so pretty. You are bigger than you've ever been. And you are exhausted because you got up 12 times to feed, change and make sure your baby was still alive. You don't have to worry about cleaning at this time in your life. Concentrate on taking care of yourself. YOUR BODY JUST GAVE BIRTH. An eight pound creature just came out of your...well you know where. And it doesn't matter EXACTLY where, because it still came out of YOU. And your body needs to recuperate. Get some friends to come help. (Hint, Hint, friends.) Ask husband to help out. Get the children to do anything they are capable of. But mostly, just don't stress about the condition of your house.

One question I hear a lot is how to make the new baby fit into the family without upsetting the other children. The key, I think, is making sure the other children feel apart of the pregnancy all along. Talk about the baby to them; talk about naming the baby with them; let them feel kicks and movements. Make them feel like the baby is theirs. We do not have ANY jealousy when a new baby comes home. Some people may want some extra cuddling or hugging. MAKE time for that when the baby sleeps. (Here a sling comes in handy.) Let the siblings hold the baby and help out. Just act like everything is normal without expecting any problems, and that is probably what you will get. Act like the siblings should be jealous, and that is what you'll get. It's a beautiful time. ENJOY it.

I would say my BIGGEST piece of advice for surviving those first few weeks is to breastfeed. I've done both. I have low milk. With Asa my milk ran out at two weeks and he began to lose weight rapidly. I had to do a combination of breastfeeding with the SNS and bottle feeding. I HATED bottle feeding. It is SO much work in comparison. You have enough work to do. (Ten diapers a day, plus several clothing changes???? YOU know they poop everywhere, right?) Breastfeeding can be a little tricky in the beginning. You can persevere. The KEY though, is to be fully and 100% devoted to breastfeeding. If you go into it thinking you'll try, you will most likely fail when you hit a bump in the road. And you inevitably will. Almost everyone does. Trust me on this. You will be glad you did. Instead of getting up and warming a bottle, you only need to get up and turn over...or if you don't co sleep, just get up. You can lay on the couch and go right back to sleep. Instead of a baby howling for five or more minutes while you prepare and ready the bottle, you have a nursing baby who is content and on their way back to dreamland. Which means, so are you!

Lastly, take a bath any time anyone comes over who can hold the baby. You'll feel better. The smell will go away. You can relax. Yes, hurry if you are worried about the baby (I KNOW I do). But do take one. And if you have it in you, take a long, hot, relaxing bath, knowing that whoever is holding the baby is doing fine. And if the baby wakes and starts to cry they will come to get you. Shave your legs even....that makes you feel really good. Or don't and buck the trend. Just enjoy yourself for a few minutes...fall asleep. Just be sure to be sitting up or we may never see you again.

I will close by telling you, you will be a zombie. But you will be amazed at how much love you have. If this is your first baby, no one can tell you the amount of love you will feel. And if this is your tenth, it's still surprising that you could love ANOTHER human being as much as you love your little bundle. You won't remember the last time you ate. You won't care that you have spit up all down your back and poop on your pants. (And oh yes, you WILL.) See, it passes so quickly that really it won't even matter. Just try to enjoy it.

I said I was closing but I have one more thing to say...





(Okay, so that was more than one thing...but trust me anyway.)


Mom's Place said...

Good advice! Here is some more!!!

~ Make up a bunch of casseroles before you are due and stock them in the freezer. No prep work will need to be done other than pre-heating the oven (if you do that :P)

~ Make up a bunch of snack mixes, pre-wash and separate fresh fruit and veggies. I found it hard to remember to eat, but having snacks ready to go in zip-locks that were easy to grab, helped me to get my extra calories that I needed and helped me keep my energy up!

~ We always purchased a small gift from the baby to the older siblings! To kind of start things off on the right foot, per say. My baby is 4 months old right now, and my oldest is 10. Leading up to the birth she was so excited because she wanted to know what her little brother was going to get for her! So they are never too old! We do things like baby dolls or coloring stuff, bubbles, sidewalk chalk...simple things that will help keep them busy and happy while dad or grandma are spending time with them at home and/or while they are visiting in the hospital!

~LET DAD SERVE YOU!!! You need to be resting as much as possible, and this lets dad help out in a little way. Don't be afraid to ask him to bring you things! My hubby actually would ask what I needed, and if I was all set, would bring me a surprise!

LifeMoreSimply said...

This was a great post--honest and humorous. :-)

Yara said...

1- my baby's sleep. They are good sleepers when they are little. All they do is sleep. Day and night. Haha!
2- I shower with the baby. I was clean every day, I never smelled. HAHA!
3- the naps, yeah... it's not easy with older kids. I let the tv babysit them when I needed a nap. hey, don't you judge me! At least I got to nap.
4- yes, nurse. Nurse like a madwoman. when you wanna quit- DONT.
Michelle is gonna call Me this time if she feels she needs to give a bottle. And we will work through it together
5- you forgot to mention food. EAT. especially since you will be nursing. If you have real friends, have them bring you food. Tell them you need help & your kids like at least 2 meals a day. Don't be shy. Food is important, but try to get people to bring you food. Or save up for delivery. Anything to keep you holding the baby and not in the kitchen!
I didnt really have that & it was sad. Feeding older kids & a nursing mom is a lot of work.

Unknown said...

Great post Michelle...I can't wait to experience that love for the first time in May!

adrienzgirl said...

I miss those moments. Sometimes I really would like to have another one. Then I get over it. I am enjoying watching mine become young adults.

Michelle said...

Wonderful advice ladies!!! Keep 'em coming!

And yara:

1. Mill did, Asa DID NOT.

2. No showers every day.

4. Yes!

5. VERY important to eat. AND to feed the kids.

Jennifer said...

Just stopping by to say thanks for commenting on my blog!

I loved this post, my sister just had a baby a few months ago and she would have loved to read it! (She isn't online, gosh who isn't online these days....really? LOL) anyway, great post and some very good advice!