Prepare for your “fourth trimester” with these essential new mom survival tips.
Being a mom to a newborn is one of the hardest things you’ll do in your life.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before, and it’s true.
You’ve just spent the last 9 months pregnant, now you’re healing from giving birth, you’re adjusting to breastfeeding, AND you’re taking care of a helpless newborn on negligible sleep.
As difficult as this is, it’s also an incredibly special time.
The key is to be strategic during the first postpartum weeks so that you’re able to enjoy all of the delicious newborn-ness as much as possible…
…and at the very least, maintain your sanity while you’re figuring out your new very important role.
Here are my essential new mom survival tips for making life with a newborn a bit easier.
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New mom survival tip #1:
Be strategic and intentional about getting sleep.
One of the top priorities of your first postpartum weeks is to get enough sleep to be functional and feeling reasonably good-ish.
You’ll probably find “sleeping when baby sleeps,” to be both impractical and insufficient, so my suggestion is to create structure.
You absolutely cannot take a “let’s see how the day goes” approach to getting sleep if you want to feel like a human.
In order to survive baby’s first few months, you are going to have to take shifts with your partner and schedule a minimum of 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night (or day).
This means that dad (or whoever is there to help you) needs to be able to give the baby a bottle.
If you’re breastfeeding and worrying about introducing a bottle, this is a separate discussion for another post. But for now, this should be your takeaway: YOU. NEED. SLEEP.
Sleep is the key to holding it all together.
Your baby needs a mom who isn’t deliriously exhausted and losing her mind more than he needs to be breastfed.
New mom survival tip #2:
Double or triple up on stuff you use often.
Have at least 2 sets of breast pump parts. Lots of extra bottles. If you have a favorite zip up swaddle, buy two.
This will reduce the urgency of doing dishes and laundry on days you just can’t spare the extra energy.
Here are a few items I ended up buying multiples of:
- My favorite zip up swaddle
- Burp cloths (we used flour sack towels)
- Dishwasher baskets for bottle & pump parts
- Pump parts (for Spectra S1)
I’ve got an entire post about the things I used the most during Aden’s first week home.
New mom survival tip #3:
Division of labor.
Assigning daily jobs to each member of your support team is a great way to simplify things during an overwhelming time.
You want each person to have a designated duty so there’s no need for discussion about it each day.
For example, in my house, my mom was the official laundry person. My husband was in charge of the dog and the trash. Other things we figured out day by day.
New mom survival tip #4:
A wrap or carrier is your best friend.
Honestly, those first few months would have been ten times harder without my Moby Wrap.
Baby wearing lets you do things like load the dishwasher, eat a meal, heck… even use the bathroom without your baby screaming the whole time.
It was also my favorite way to do outings — I preferred this to the stroller.
New mom survival tip #5:
Get sleep gear for YOU.
Back to #1 for a second: SLEEP FOR MOM.
It’s important to have whatever tools make it possible to completely shut down and relax when it’s finally your shift to sleep.
I really struggled with this when Aden was a newborn. Some weird hyperactive-mama instinct made me want to be with him 24 hours a day, even though I very much needed to separate and refuel.
A massage pillow like this one also did wonders to alleviate back/neck pain and help me relax.
New mom survival tip #6:
Get a robot vacuum.
If you have pets in the house, this is life-changing. It’s like having an extra person to delegate stuff to.
I previously had this more budget-friendly one that lasted about 4 years with heavy use.
I run my robots multiple times a day and I’m continuously shocked by how much dust and fur was lurking in plain sight before the robots did their thing.
If you’re on the fence about getting one, all I can tell you is that if money were no object, I think I would buy one of these for each room in my house! 🙂
New mom survival tip #7:
Have more than one baby command center.
If you’ve got 2 floors or live in a big place, it’s great to prepare a few supply stations that contain diapers, wipes, outfit changes, pacifiers, burp cloths, etc.
This was key for my family because we were on a constant rotation of who was sleeping in what room. We needed to make sure supplies were always accessible.
It’s also just easier to have everything at arm’s reach.
We used a mini Pack N Play, the Graco Travel Lite, as Aden’s downstairs sleep space and changing station.
Upstairs, where the bedrooms are, I stocked this amazing rolling cart with all sorts of stuff, including my breast pump, pumping bra, diaper changing supplies, swaddles, burp cloths (we used flour sack towels), protein bars, and water bottles.
New mom survival tip #8:
Get out of the house!
It may feel daunting, but stock your diaper bag and go do something. It does wonders for your spirit.
I’m serious. It’s a major mood changer — especially if the weather is nice and you can be outside.
In Aden’s first two weeks we took him to the botanical gardens, the beach, a pumpkin patch, and for walks around the neighborhood.
Even though I was an exhausted zombie on these outings, it still felt great to get out. (And now these excursions are amazing memories).
New mom survival tip #9:
When things are feeling hard, try to remind yourself that this is temporary.
Try to enjoy the sweetness of your newborn as much as you can.
What everyone says is true: the days are long but the months are short.
An important note about PPD/PPA:
Not all new moms feel bright and cheery, even though they might want to feel that way.
If you don’t feel like yourself and if you think it’s interfering with your day to day life, talk to your doctor.
“Postpartum depression isn’t a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.” – Mayo Clinic
It’s important to remember that Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety don’t look exactly the same for every person. The Mayo Clinic has a list of symptoms that are worth reviewing and speaking to your doctor about.