Congrats on your new baby! Learn how to survive the first weeks with a newborn, here.
The newborn phase is exhausting. You’ve either just become a mom for the very first time, or you’ve added another little one to your already growing family. Either way, navigating your way through this phase of life – whether this is your first time doing it or your 8th – is hard.
You have a little baby who is completely dependant on you. You aren’t sleeping. And you feel like you’ve been run over by a bus. And your hair.
Oh, your hair.
(You haven’t showered in several days, and it shows.)
When you have a new baby your entire life changes. Your old life is obsolete and you feel like you’re stuck inside a stranger’s body (postpartum hormones do strange things).
But, on top of all the dirty diapers and baby poop on your clothes – or baby pee on your face, in my case – it is such a wonderful time and there’s something so special about becoming a mom.
But I’m not going to pretend that it’s not hard. I’m not going to talk to you about how you’re going to be feeling nothing but joy and happiness those first few weeks with your new baby. I won’t tell you that at 3 in the morning when your baby still hasn’t fallen asleep that you’re going to love every second of motherhood. And I definitely won’t tell you that you’re going to feel like you have it all together.
Because you won’t, and that’s okay.
You’re going to feel defeated when there’s nothing you can do to soothe your baby, and there will come times (days. weeks.) when you feel like you’re a bad mom.
But just because you feel like you’re failing at being a mom doesn’t mean that you are.
Let’s look at a few ways that you can not just survive the first weeks with a newborn, but thrive in it.
How to Survive the First Weeks With a Newborn
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You’re going to be drained and exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. There is no shame in accepting help the first few weeks with a newborn (or at any stage, but especially the first few weeks).
Your life has been flipped completely upside down, but nothing slows down. The dishes still need to be washed. The laundry still needs to be folded. Errands still need to be ran, and meals still need to be made.
I remember the first few weeks with my son and thinking that I had to do it ALL. I didn’t want my husband to have to wake up at night with our son because he had to go to work the next day. When people came to visit us and offered to lend a hand doing some chores, I felt bad accepting the help because I thought I should be able to do it all.
But I couldn’t.
I got burnt out faster than I ever thought possible. It was at that point of sheer exhaustion and sleep deprivation that I knew I needed a hand. I couldn’t do all the things by myself and, though it took me a while to realize, there is no shame in that.
So do yourself and favor and accept help when someone offers it. Don’t feel bad for having someone stay with the baby while you go nap, or having someone bring you meals and clean up your laundry.
One day you can pass the kind gesture along and do the same for another new mom.
Rest and don’t worry about what needs to be done
By now I’m sure you’ve had it preached to you so many times that it’s ingrained into your brain:
“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”
But, if you’re anything like me, it just doesn’t happen. Anytime I would put my son down for a nap and try to take a nap myself, I would wind up running a list of everything that needed to get done through my mind and feeling guilty for laying around when I could be cleaning, fixing meals, or doing laundry.
Yet I still had countless people telling me I HAD to sleep when the baby slept, which just made me grow irritable anytime I heard that phrase.
If you aren’t able to sleep when your baby is sleeping because you have a long list of must-dos running through your head, give yourself permission to let the house and errands go for a couple of weeks.
Rest is an incredibly vital part of postpartum recovery, so taking time to rest won’t only help give you enough energy to be up with your baby at all hours of the night, it will also help speed up your recovery after birth. So, no, you should never feel bad for taking time to rest during the day while your baby is sleeping.
Put your mind at ease that you don’t need to do everything right now, you’ll get around to it eventually. Then, lay down and at least rest when the baby is sleeping. If you can’t bring yourself to sleep when the baby sleeps, at least allow yourself to sit back and rest. (But if you can, then by all means SLEEP)
Use a baby carrier
In the early weeks, my son never, ever, ever wanted to be put down. Anytime he wasn’t be held, he was crying. I would hold him until my arms were sore and I couldn’t hold him anymore. I wasn’t able to get anything done.
That’s when I discovered an amazing baby carrier. We had tried baby carriers in the past, but he didn’t like them. It took a bit of playing around, but I was finally able to find a baby carrier that he liked – the Infantino Flip Advanced 4-in-1 Convertable Carrier.
After discovering a baby carrier that my son actually liked to be in, I was finally able to get things done around the house, all while holding him. Which brings me on to this:
Don’t worry about “spoiling the baby”
When some people hear about a newborn baby being held for hours of the day, the first thing they’ll tell you is:
“You’re going to spoil that baby!”
My advice? Don’t worry about “spoiling that baby”.
That baby is adjusting to life out of the womb, and ideally, that baby would have liked to stay inside the womb for another trimester to finish developing. But, since it had to be evacuated, it’s important that we as parents work hard to recreate the environment of the womb for our new baby. The Happiest Baby talks all about the importance of the fourth trimester, here.
In the womb, babies were snug and felt secure – that’s why they like to be held so much. They feel safe and like they’re back in the security of the womb.
So my opinion?
Don’t worry about spoiling that baby.
Don’t expect your baby to sleep through the night anytime soon
While some babies will sleep longer than others, it’s unrealistic to expect your baby to be sleeping through the night within two weeks. (But if yours is – PLEASE, share your secrets.)
At two weeks your baby’s stomach can hold approximately 2 – 3 ounces of milk, and they generally take in 20 – 25 ounces a day. At this rate, your baby will be feeding about 10 times in a 24-hour period, which means they will be up to eat about ever 2 and a half hours.
Now that you can see your baby’s stomach can only hold so much milk (and breastmilk only takes about 2 hours to digest), it makes sense that they’re waking up so much throughout the night to eat.
So, with all this in mind, prepare yourself to be up a lot at night, and give yourself permission to sleep when the baby sleeps.
For months my son wouldn’t go to sleep unless he was being held, rocked, or nursed. And even then I had to wait about 20 minutes after he fell asleep, to make sure he was in a deep enough sleep, to put him down in his bed or he would wake up crying. Finally, I learned the trick to putting him down to bed awake and HELPING him soothe himself to sleep.
(I’m not for letting my newborn cry it out, and that’s why I helped him learn how to put himself to sleep.)
Realize that it’s okay to say no to visitors
You, your baby, and your partner are frazzled and exhausted. Adding countless visitors to the mix isn’t always the best idea.
In the early days, you’re going to have people (even people you haven’t spoken to in years) want to drop by to meet the baby. While it is great to have people come by (you might even be able to sneak away for a shower while they’re there), you need to realize that if you’re just not feeling up to visitors a certain day, saying no doesn’t make you a bad person.
All in all, having a new baby is hard. But it’s important to remember that these days of exhaustion aren’t going to last. You will get through this and before you know it your baby will be 5 years old (where does the time go?!).
It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to not know what to do. And it’s okay to eat frozen pizza for supper for the 5th day in a row.
Focus on taking care of you, your baby, and your marriage. There’s nothing that flips a world upside down like having a baby. But even if you can’t see it now, eventually you will be able to see the joy in motherhood.
We hope you can use these tips to help you get through the first weeks with a newborn, and start your motherhood journey off on the right foot!
Don’t forget to check out these related articles:
- The Ultimate Guide for Losing Weight After Pregnancy
- Breastfeeding 101: Everything You Need to Know
- Co-sleeping Safety – Tips, Tricks & Product Suggestions
Amy is a young mother and wife who knows that being a mom is an exhausting, and often, thankless job. Amy is the founder of DeliberatelyHere.com where she is using her skills and passion to help other women learn how to love their role as a mother with helpful tips and resources to encourage and inspire them along the way.