The First Month at Home with a Newborn

Somehow Milo is already eight weeks old! What? How? The time seems to be going faster and faster these days. I find myself jotting notes and just breathing him in (that newborn baby smell!) — I don’t want to forget even the small moments.

The transition to motherhood hasn’t been all easy. Milo came three weeks early, and although we were so lucky to have a healthy baby, feeding was a bit tricky at first. He would fall asleep quickly and didn’t have the energy to latch long enough to breastfeed. Luckily, I began working with a lactation consultant in the hospital (and saw her for the subsequent month) who helped us figure out a plan to make it work for us. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, but it’s something that I really wanted to try, and I am so glad that I had the support to really give it a shot.

I’m sharing a short list of the things that really helped to make the transition to life with a newborn feel as comfortable as possible. There are lots of things that I thought would be super helpful, that in turn, didn’t work that well for me. Everyone is different (and so is every baby!), so I’d love to know what worked and didn’t work for you…

I know I’m not the only one who has found myself wide awake at 2am (and 3am and 4am…) with a huge, scary question. Sometimes I have been quick to feel alone and like I’ve been the first person to have a common concern. Having access to trusted resources and mom groups has helped me feel connected in these first few weeks. I’ve loved reading the daily digest (and asking my own questions) from GardenMoms (plus, they have a great classifieds section!), the Downtown Boston First Time Moms Facebook group, and my neighborhood group, The Moms Club of South Boston (which also arranges small groups by child’s age). There are also lots of support groups around town like Me & My Baby Support Group at MGH, a breastfeeding support group at the South Boston Community Health Center (and there is a similar one in the South End, too). There are so many more, too. I can’t recommend finding these groups early on and connecting with other moms in the community. I also found myself having a few friends with babies around the same age. Laura has been an invaluable resource, and I’ve loved chatting with my friend Amelia, whose little baby girl was born the same day as Milo. It’s crazy how much things change day to day, and it’s so nice to have a friend that is going through the exact same thing.

You spend many hours feeding and snuggling baby, especially at first! As soon as I returned home from the hospital, I set up a nesting corner in my living room where I knew I was going to be spending a ton of time. I wanted it to be as plush and cozy as possible. I put plenty of pillows (including this one that I had used during pregnancy), blankets, and other things that I would want within arms reach like a massage ball, a water bottle, tylenol, heating pads (I use this pillow from Origins and it is MY FAVORITE — plus smells so good), burp cloths for baby, a phone charger, magazines, and a book. When it came to breastfeeding, I have used many different pillows and I found that My Brest Friend pillow worked best for me. Milo was so little at first and I found that he slipped between me and every other pillow I used. My Brest Friend pillow sits right against your skin thanks to a buckle and you can position it at the right height so it makes feeding easy for you and the baby. Since Milo had some trouble feeding, I started pumping in the hospital. At the beginning, I was pumping 8-10 times a day! It was a lot of effort, but I found that this hands-free bra made it so much easier.

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Pretty early on, I craved holding Milo without actually holding him. I knew that using a wrap would make that closeness possible. Laura had loved using her Solly wrap with Serena and I was excited to try it. Plus, I found myself having a hard time taking the dog out for a walk around the block! The Solly wrap has been awesome – for both short and long walks, errands, and even just hanging around the house when the baby just wants to be snuggled. It fits perfectly to their little bodies, which I love. For a little extra support, I’ve been using the Lille baby carrier (Laura and I both have this one), which I just started using around the 7 week mark, although you can use it for a baby 7+ lbs.

Having a summer baby has been awesome for the most part. It’s easy to take nice walks, be outside, and you can feed or change the baby pretty much wherever! The only challenge has been the sun and really hot days. It is advised to not use SPF on a baby under 6 months old and they really shouldn’t be in direct sunlight. I have loved using this blanket (and this one, too!) on his feet when in the wrap, or to cover his little legs in the stroller. It makes me feel less nervous about taking him outside when it’s super sunny.

Luckily, Matt was home for two weeks after the baby was born. He kept me fed and hydrated! But, as soon as he went back to work, I quickly realized how easy it was to make it to 3pm without eating anything. He began making me egg sandwiches for breakfast in the morning and would leave them in the warming rack of the oven so I could grab and eat one whenever I was hungry. This was such a game changer! Having snacks to grab (and eat) with one hand is so important in those early days.

It’s been a wild few weeks, and if I could share any advice it would be this: trust your instincts (you know more than you think!), and know when to ask for help. You’re not alone in this! Be gentle with yourself. You and baby are learning how to do this whole thing, together, for the first time! You shouldn’t expect to know everything on the first day of a new job. So remember to give yourself a break and be patient.

I was really upset that breastfeeding wasn’t as easy as I had anticipated. In the hospital, we decided to give Milo formula for a few days because he was loosing too much weight. I was so upset and really felt like I had failed. One kind nurse reminded me that this was a bridge, and that with each day comes a new plan. Sometimes we have to let down our walls and go with the flow. Although things may be different than how we had envisioned, we can still get to the desired goal. Things don’t always go as expected and bridges can be invaluable if we give them space to exist. I know I’ll be learning and growing right along with this little babe.

Image credit: Natalie Chassaigne Kurtzman

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