In many traditions, new mums stay home for the 40 days following birth to rest, recover and bond with their new baby. While I found the idea inspiring, I knew that I wouldn't be up for 40 days of strict confinement at home. But I loved the idea of staying close to home and resting as much as possible. For the first two weeks especially, my husband and my mom took care of all of the housework and cooking. To be honest, I needed it. Clementine's birth was long and difficult, with my pre-labour lasting for 4 sleepless days and nights before spending 24 hours at the hospital in active labour. I was totally unprepared for how hard and painful recovery would be and I spent most of the first week lying down.
I know that it hasn't been long since I became a mother, but my memory of the first 2 weeks is already quite hazy. Days and nights blended together into a whirlwind of diapers and sleeplessness, kisses and coos. I remember in our first nights at home, being up at 3 am frantically downloading womb sounds apps on my phone and willing, begging the baby to sleep. Since then, I've been jotting down my newborn survival tips and I've included them below in point form. I'm no expert, but here are the things that I've found helpful:
- Cosy Pajamas - bring the softest, cosiest, most flannel pajamas you own to the hospital. I would recommend a dark colour, ahem.
- Underwear - Bring big, black, unsexy underwear to the hospital.
- Pads - Make sure to have on hand lansinoh cream for your nipples, and lots of pads, maternity and nursing.
- Newborn sizes - Buy baby clothes in various sizes. Several people told me not to bother with size 0000, and guess what? One month old Clementine is a slight little bub who still only fits into size 0000. You just never know how big or how small your baby will be.
- Baby carriers - I would recommend having at least one baby carrier. We were given 2, and bought one second hand and all three have come in handy. Your baby will love to sleep on you, and this lets you have skin to skin time while being hands free. More on this in an upcoming post.
- Bendable straws - It sounds strange, but when you're nursing you'll end up in some funny positions where it's hard to drink from a glass, and you will be thirsty. Having someone hand you a drink with a straw is so helpful.
- Coconut water - When I began breastfeeding, my thirst was unquenchable. I still get thirsty now when I nurse and my favourite drink is a fresh coconut.
- Toilet paper - Have soft toilet paper at home. Enough said.
- Salt baths - To heal your perineum post-birth, aim to take one salt bath a day. Just add 1 cup of table salt to your bath; a few drops of essential oil is nice as well. I love lavender or rose geranium.
- Ask for meals - At my blessingway, my friends organized a meal rotation with everyone taking turns to bring us a meal. I expected to receive one simple dish, but each of my friends has gone above and beyond dropping off amazing 3 course meals! It's made my life so much easier.
- Fit ball - We learned this tip off a friend, who holds his new baby while bouncing on a fit ball. It works a treat when Clementine is unsettled or needs a nap.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps - Everyone will tell you this, because it truly is important in those early weeks. I had at least one nap a day for Clementine's first 3 weeks.
- Accept help - If someone offers to watch your baby so you can sleep, buy you groceries, vacuum your house or bring you food, say yes! It takes a village.
What's your best tip for new mums?
p.s. these photos were taken by my good friend Sonja, of Jelly Babies Photography. I can't wait to share the rest of them soon.