my newborn survival tips

Thursday, June 13, 2013

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.


  1. true true and true! I totally agree on this tips...lansinoh saved my life and my baby had to wear NB diapers and clothes for a long time too
    gorgeous photos!

  2. Thank you so much for these fabulous tips Gabby! I'll be printing them out for sure. Such gorgeous photos too!
    Sophie xx

  3. Love the tips! Your friends are so generous and kind, what an amazing idea to have a meal rotation as a gift. I will have to remember that one especially! I think most women are unprepared for how hard and painful labour is - I don't mean that to be discouraging to expecting new mums - rather the opposite - labour is tough, yet mothers are SO strong physically and mentally that they can get through it, even when they think they can't. I am in awe of mothers' strength every day. Can't wait to hear more about your delivery and clementine (1 month already!) and to see her cute little face (and your cute face too) in person!

  4. Beautiful photos, can't wait to see the rest of them. Great tips for those new expectant mothers...I love the straw tip as I don't think anyone would think about that. I had two c-sections (James was a week overdue and they induced me and nothing happened so in we went and got him out. Sienna booked in for the c-section as is normally the case after one c-section). One thing I craved was ice cold water with ice cubes....when I was in hospital I went through jugs and jugs of it and couldn't get enough, cold ice in cold water round the clock. Funny how your body wants something like that. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

  5. beautiful photos and great advice. i love the last one--i think sometimes, mothers have a hard time at allowing themselves to relax, especially in the first few months when everything is still so fragile and new. i'm glad things are going well for you and the baby! she is a doll, honestly :)


  6. This is such a wonderful and honest list. All of it is so very true and I learned a few new ones. It's been 13 years since I had my babe but we plan to start trying next year so I will need all the help I can get. It will be like starting all over! So glad the three of you are doing so well. She is gorgeous!

  7. Such great advice! I don't have a little one one the way, but I'm tucking this away for that day :)

  8. oh these are just beautiful photographs! beautiful!!

    I love these tips as well. Perfect. xo

  9. Even though I'm already a mama, it's been a little over 7 years since I've gone through the whole newborn stage. I am definitely bookmarking this post to later reflect back on in the next coming weeks. Thank you for sharing! :)

  10. All of these are so true - and helpful! I forgot about bendable straws... I get so thirsty nursing too!

  11. Gorgeous photos. These tips are excellent, especially the bendy straw thing, what a good idea. I just recently organised a meal rotation for a friend and those meals are so welcome. Accept all offers of help and don't be afraid to ask for help, either, I would say. x

  12. Great tips and so true. Those darling photos make we want to squeeze Clementine. She is darling x

  13. Gorgeous photos. Great tips too. My tips are sleep when the baby sleeps, drink lots of water, accept all offers of help and trust your intuition. As a new mum you get lots of advice, but no one knows your baby like you do. Also, ignore all the advice in books that say how long your baby/child should be sleeping and when. Your baby/child can't read. Neither of my boys slept through the night when the books said they should. They slept through when they were good and ready to. Enjoy! xxoo

  14. I love those pictures! You're both beautiful! x

  15. I am saving this post with all my baby resources! Thanks, Gaby. :)

  16. All wonderful and practical tips! :)
    Ronnie xo

  17. p.s. You and Clementine are both looking gorgeous! Ronnie xo

  18. These are excellent tips - thank you for posting all of these! Just have to figure out how to compile all of the amazing notes I find as we prepare for our first - due in February next year :-).

    Your little Clementine is just gorgeous xx

  19. Great tips, Gabby and couldn't have come at a better time. Also going to check out that baby swaddle you reviewed. xx

  20. i'm with you on the 3am download of the sleep sounds app. i was so desperate to try anything


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