If you're about to have a baby - especially if it's your first - you will be in for a rough week or two (or six). Newborns are so unpredictable, and they don't (unfortunately) come with manuals. Your only goal in these early days is to survive, minute to minute.
I literally remember emailing a friend in tears during my first week or two, confessing how overwhelmed and uncertain I felt. She told me, "Just get through the next 10 minutes. And then the next 10. And this, too, shall pass."
In the meantime, though, if you can prepare in advance, you'll have some tools to get you through the first week. And sometimes, being prepared can make all the difference.
1) Some help
Okay, seriously. You shouldn't do this on your own if you can possibly avoid it, and maybe you can't, if you've had a c-section or a difficult delivery. Get someone to help you out - your husband, your mom, your best friend, someone! You will need them to help you with meals, basic chores (dishes and laundry), and even hold the baby while you sleep sometimes. Help is worth its weight in gold right now.
2) Lots of clean baby things
That means clothes, diapers, burp cloths, etc. Wash your entire stash before the baby comes and keep them near you. I kept my kids' clothes stacked in a basket or on a shelf in my room in the early weeks, so I didn't have to run down to their rooms to find it in the middle of the night. Once things were settled I put them away. It's nice to have a cloth to grab if your baby spits up, plus an extra outfit if needed. Just keep them close.
You'll get bored at some points. You're tired of sleeping, or you can't sleep (because baby needs you) but you can't do anything else either. Have books, magazines, a TV, your laptop, a friend…something to entertain you. Bonus if it's something you can do while sitting in bed and nursing your baby too! (That's why I recommend a TV.)
4) A Breast Pump
If you're breastfeeding, obviously. It's possible that your baby may struggle to latch on, and a pump might save you from supplementing (and making the problem worse). I had to pump for my first baby for about 6 weeks until we figured it all out. Or, you might have such an oversupply that you're dripping, sore, your breasts develop corners (yes really) and your baby can't even latch on. In that case, you'll need to pump a little until your baby is at least able to latch, or pump until you no longer hurt (don't pump too much or your supply will just keep growing and you'll make the problem worse. Just a little). I didn't need the pump my second time around, but if I hadn't had a toddler to help me out, I definitely would have - I was pretty uncomfortable for the first few weeks!
5) Clean, soft, loose clothes for you
You will not feel like wearing your usual clothes yet. You probably won't even be able to. I spent my early days wearing either a short bamboo velour nightgown (short so I wouldn't sit on it and bleed on it). Then I wore a nursing nightgown. Just wear something comfortable. And have extra clothes around in case you do bleed on them…or your baby spits up on you.
For 5 more things you need in the first postpartum week, visit Babble.
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