Advice for New Mamas During the Newborn Stage

I am inching closer and closer to my September 9th due date for our first child, Baby Elliot. We are thrilled and anticipating his arrival. But I also know there is so much we don't know yet about those first few weeks and months, and that can be slightly daunting. I have always loved receiving advice, especially from those who have been through different seasons of life before I have, so I reached out to Facebook and Instagram friends recently to ask:

What is your best advice, tips, and hacks for the first months of having a newborn? 

I asked for my own personal knowledge, but also because I wanted to share their wisdom with other first-time mamas who could benefit from some of their feedback. I broke down the advice by topic so you can scroll down to specific topics you're interested in, or just read the whole post; whatever is most helpful to you! I found these to be very wise mamas for sure!

"It's not always rainbows and butterflies. Your hormones are all over the place and you are exhausted so you will cry. Don’t think this is post-partum but realize you’re running on fumes and this is okay. Sometimes the babies are inconsolable and that’s okay because infants are supposed to cry 1-4 hours/day."

"I’m going to go out on a limb here and say what I wish people said to me. It’s ok to feel like your baby is a stranger at first. You’re learning who they are. As they become more interactive and don’t stare right through you, that becomes easier too.  Give yourself grace in knowing all seasons come to an end, even the ones where you feel you’ll never sleep again."

"Take time to ENJOY the journey, even when you are feeling overwhelmed (it will go by so fast!). Most importantly, use your resources but don't let other people's opinion overrule your instincts, you will know what is best for your family."

"They are only little once so don't let chores and other things try to distract you from the bonding you can only get at the beginning!! So, be the baby!! Eat, pee, poop and sleep and leave the rest up to somebody else! Don't try and play super mom! Let go of the control and let people help you out!! A crying baby is an alive baby,  so it's ok to let baby cry and get a breath of fresh air when all is going wrong! Take plenty of pictures because one day, in those terrible twos and threenager years you will need to remember just how sweet and innocent they can be." 

"Take it day by day and don’t put too much pressure on yourself."

"Remember you are both learning: Baby will  be learning how to survive outside the womb and you are learning how to help him survive outside the womb. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and it’s ok to step away for a moment to regroup."

"Nothing about having a baby and raising a child will be as you planned it or imagine it. If you’re a planner, try to make peace with that and don’t let that frustrate you and take away from your relationship with your child. God will teach you and grow you so much! You will meet Him in a very different and real way. You will be more emotional than usual and that doesn’t mean you’re crazy or difficult. It’s your hormones, it’s normal... The first two months can seem crazy and complete chaos and that too is normal. Don’t be hard on yourself, thinking you have to fit into a certain mold and do it all. Welcome help. In the beginning go with the flow and find what works for you and baby and be consistent."

"Just do what works for you. Everyone has an opinion on sleep and eating. Do whatever your baby responds to best and don’t worry what other people say. It’s SUCH a short time even though it feels never-ending. And don’t always sleep when the baby sleeps if you don’t want to. Make sure to set at least one nap-time aside to read or take a bath or do whatever it is that helps you feel human."

"For the first 2 months: go easy on yourself and remind yourself often to have the right mentality, that is: don't have expectations, go with the flow. Some examples: sometimes baby will sleep well, sometimes baby won't, or, you finally put yourself down to nap, and baby decides to wake up 5 min later. Also, babies do really well with consistency, so if you start developing good habits early, particularly around sleep, things will get easier quickly."

"The first week is hard, but just know it will be over soon and get better from there"

"It’s gonna be hard but so worth it! It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to cry about whatever (hormones, am I right? Lol).  Give yourself a break. Don’t believe the stuff about holding the baby too much: you can’t possibly spoil an infant. They need that extra love and cuddles because they’ve just had a traumatic experience being born. Baby wearing IS A LIFESAVER. Seriously, it helped with grocery shopping, dishes, chores, making food."

"Babywearing - see an ergonomic carrier such as Manduca xt, Tula, Isara; Concept Continuum - great book; Chores - ask for help, receive it, ignore the comments and unrealistic expectations."

"Having a birth plan is great, but be ready to go with the flow. In the end, the health and safety of you and your baby is all that matters!"

"The delivery process is not pretty and the damage it does to your body is so understated BUT praise God you will heal."

"Lots of poise pads, chucks pads, good supply of Witch hazel and especially dermoblast pain & relief spray. Also don’t be afraid to ask for extra supplies from the hospital for your post-hygiene care. I wish I would have had a good stock of those supplies before hand bc let’s not forget to take of ourselves too:  labor and delivery is hard work!"

"Take your lanolin or whatever you’ll be using for sore breasts with you to the hospital. You’ll get sore fast. If nurses push for nonstop breast time say no or you’ll risk being raw by the time you get home."

"Sharing the duties with your hubs! I definitely tried to muscle through too much (still do sometimes). Also, ice some pads that you’ve soaked in witch hazel. Total life saver. Also be prepared to sweat SO MUCH in the weeks following your little Bubs arrival. I was horrified."

"Get them on a good feeding and sleeping  schedule (I did Babywise book and loved it). Once they’re old enough (3 months), a good sleep schedule will save your sanity. Sleep when they sleep. There’s a 45 min nap intruder so don’t be frustrated when they don’t nap longer. Just know- when you hit 3 months it gets much easier. Have a good swaddle (we love the Halo velcro one) that keeps their hands in to prevent the startle reflex and make sure you have a good white noise sound machine."

"I know it will be tempting, but don't rock or sway baby to sleep. Simply holding baby and then laying them down, is all baby needs. This will help you sleep train them early. Sleep associations start early, so keep that in mind."

"I agree with the practice of teaching them to have good sleep habits. Keeping their tank full during the day so they don’t wake you as often at night for feedings, not feeding them to sleep, and putting them down drowsy so they learn to fall asleep without your intervention. This. Is. Huge."

"Babies love noise! The womb is noisy so don’t be all shh around baby. Play rain sounds or white noise in background when baby is sleeping. When they get older they will love falling asleep with rain sounds and will know it’s bedtime."

"Getting him used to putting himself to sleep (drifting off while laying on his own) will make sleep training easier. And getting him on a schedule ASAP, will keep everyone's sanity, especially his, but don't be too rigid."

"I read through so many sleep articles, mostly because I was desperate, and everyone has a slightly different perspective and that was so frustrating. In the end you have to go with your baby’s temperament and what you feel most at peace with. I will say that I wish I had paid more attention to awake times length for each age and intentionally put him down at those times. When I started doing that it was a game changer. Awake times are key! But also, don’t stress about schedule for the first 4-8 weeks."

"Swaddle! Even if you think they fight it and don’t like it! trust me they love it!! And Instagram feed: takingcarababies for sure!! Best sleep advice out there."

"A well rested baby is a happy baby - be aware of baby's need to sleep, watch for the cues and try to avoid letting baby get overtired."

"Don’t start pumping until 3-4 weeks after baby comes just so your body can naturally make the amount of milk the baby needs. I pump just 1x/day (In the morning because that’s when you have the most milk) so that I can get some extra for when we travel or want a date night."

"Have your nursing spot prepped with snacks and water. If you plan on nursing, you will be hit with a hunger of a thousand men! It's intense. Eat to satisfy and drink lots of water to ensure good milk production. Engorgement is no joke. Painful for sure. Pumping right off the bat if baby is nursing just fine, isn't the best idea. I would recommend only pumping when necessary unless you feel you're at risk of developing a clog and baby won't nurse or is having trouble nursing. The more you nurse and pump, the more milk you'll produce. It takes the body about 3 months to fully understand how much milk baby needs. Keep in mind that baby is also learning how to nurse. Not all babies are full on professionals when it comes to nursing. It's a learning process for the both of you."

"I started pumping right away (first week). That way your milk supply is established and daddy has some milk to provide a feeding and you can take an uninterrupted short nap. Sometimes this is very much needed, especially if your baby isn’t a good sleeper. And it gets dad involved too!"

"If you choose to and are able to, know that BREASTFEEDING is HARD WORK but...oh so worth it! So don't get frustrated or feel inadequate if it doesn't "just happen right away." Keep working at it and know that there are so many resources out there. I suggest watching this video before baby arrives . I started pumping right away because I knew I was going back to work,  wanted to start building up our stash, and I didn't want baby to become too attach to just me. I've heard horror stories from friends who's little one would only feed from mommy, and also because I wanted to allow Dad to be able to bond during feedings as well. HOWEVER, I wouldn't recommend bottle feeding before you guys have the breastfeeding down pat, because it can lead to baby rejection of the breast since they don't have to work as hard with the bottle."

"'Fed is best!' Don't beat yourself up or stress over breastfeeding because that will just make it worse! Get all the hands-on help you can get at the hospital and a little formula supplement in the beginning never hurt anyone! I agree on the not pumping too early! Don't stress on having a stock pile freezer full! Your body will make what baby needs!!"

"Breastfeeding is hard at the beginning. You would think it comes so naturally but it doesn’t always for everyone, so don’t stress if it takes you a little while or if need to supplement."

"If breastfeeding doesn’t work out or the baby is gassy and is super fussy, their tummy might do better on formula, don’t beat yourself up by feeling bad that you can’t breastfeed, your baby will be healthy either way!! I suffered for 6 months thinking that it was just a phase she was going through but the second I switched to formula she was a different baby!"

"Breastfeeding will be painful and hard work. You will be tempted to give up but stick with it, push through the pain and it will eventually all disappear and you and baby will both feel the blessing it is. STICK with it! Pump your surplus and if you don’t have any it’s okay to supplement with formula here and there. That way Dad can feed the baby too and have the bonding time. Don’t be guilted into thinking you’re not an adequate mom and doing it wrong."

"Become best fiends with your lactation consultant at the hospital, but if breastfeeding isn’t working, it’s ok to give formula (we did and there is nothing wrong with it)... there are going to be a lot of growths spurts so expect cluster feedings that can last 2-3 hours, maybe more."

"Breastfeeding - a lactation consultant is totally worthy and it will save your time from all the wrong advice you may receive (cause everyone has an advice when it comes to babies feeding)."

"Sleep as often and as much as you can. The lack of sleep was the hardest for me after my first child. It can really start to mess with you if you let it go unchecked."

"When people tell you to sleep when your baby sleeps, do it! Your going to be so exhausted trying to recover and take care of your child. If you can steal a nap here and there, leave the cleaning aside."

"Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do everything. When someone offers to help take them up on it. Feeling like you can’t handle everything is okay because you can’t. Let people love on you and your baby."

"Ask your mom friends questions if you have questions. As a mom, I tell new moms they can call or text me at anytime of day/night if they have questions about baby or themselves after birth. Sometimes in the middle of the night you have an issue with baby but the world is sleeping and you don’t know what to do. Text or call a trusted mom friend!"

"Change out of your pajamas! it makes you feel so much better and prettier. For a few weeks I was just sitting in pajamas because I thought 'Why change if I’m not leaving the house and I keep getting spit up all over me', but it really makes you feel good to brush your hair and change into something nice even though you don’t have time to shower. Take it slow! Your baby needs you, the dishes don’t. Don’t feel like you need to resume your cleaning routine. You just gave birth and you need to heal too! And baby grows soooo fast that you wish you didn’t do a single dish and just sat there and cuddled with baby more."

"Early motherhood can be monotonous and lonely. Take walks, say yes to friends coming over, go to the library playgroup, let your partner come home early from work... just get some adult interaction for you own sanity."

"Don’t be afraid to ask for help from you husband, family, and friends. Get out of the house once in a while even if just to take a walk. Enjoy the cuddles and don’t worry about trying to do it all around the house. Everything else can wait. The first few weeks are hard but you will get a rhythm and it gets easier as they start to sleep better at night."

"Don’t sit in the house during the first couple months: Go out, get air, and take advantage of the time the baby sleeps or you will go nuts! And some days you will need a break, even if it’s 20 minutes to the store by yourself, you will feel like a different person when you get back to baby!"

"Best advice I got was while my nurse was wheeling me out of the hospital. She said in these next few weeks, treat yourself like you are your own best friend. Yes, things will come up and you’ll want to take care of everything but yourself. Remember your husband is your partner and don’t micromanage everything he does. Let him be useful too."

"I learned with my second baby how important for me to get an uninterrupted (read: without baby) nap during the day. I would have my husband take the kids and wouldn’t see me until I came out of the bedroom rested. It saved my sanity when I was up for 1hr+ every 3-4 hours every night."

"My biggest take away, and I’m still working on it, is that everything can wait. The dishes can stay dirty, the laundry can stay unfolded, and cleaning can wait until another day. Yes, these things need to be done, but personally I think those things always put the most stress on me. It sounds like common sense, but they all can wait. Just soak in that baby time while you can. The days are long and hard (but so completely worth it), so adding additional stressors just isn’t worth it. Enjoy the snuggles because at some point they won’t want to snuggle anymore, and that point some so much faster than I was prepared for."

"Your needs are as important as baby’s. Hand off the baby to take a shower, go for a walk if someone offers to give you a break, get out of the house if you’re feeling stir crazy, and have people you can talk to if you feel isolated. You can’t pour into someone else’s cup if yours is empty."

"SLEEP WHEN THE BABY SLEEPS. People always told me that but I thought I would rather be awake/have alone time. I always ended up terribly grumpy and emotional at the end of the day. I totally believe those couple naps during the day would’ve been a huge help."

"I felt like the first month was bananas. I stayed in my pj’s and robe all day and really made myself leave the cleaning alone. Still showered and did my hair to feel fresh and good about myself, but otherwise had pretty low expectations. After the first month things started feeling more normal again."

"Ask for help. If you need an hour to just sleep, or breathe or shower, ask your MIL or husband or whoever might be there that you trust to help you with that. It’s amazing how one hour can refresh you!"

"Remember that your baby is their own little person and every baby is different! Also, I had to remind myself that everyone who gave me advice or ideas came from a place of love and to take it as such. Make sure to take moments to just breathe them in as they smell amazing those first few months. And as you feel overwhelmed and exhausted as we all do, remember that this time is so fleeting and you will sleep again!! Lastly, find things that you can do that rejuvenate you in 10 mins, and 20, and 30 (reading, baths, a walk, a prayer) and take those moments when you have them as they helped keep me sane & centered! "

illness prevention
"I didn’t leave the house very much with baby in the first 3 months. The world is full of germs and although they “need to get that immune system going,” they don’t need all the germs the world has to offer at that young of an age. Tell people no kissing baby and to wash their hands. A lot of stuff spreads from a kiss! If you do go out, (baby sleeps a lot at the newborn stage), keep them in the car seat covered a little to protect them from peoples sneezes and coughs." 

"Make sure you pay attention to your husband as well. It’s a tough transition for him too. If you’re willing/up for it, go out even for an hour just the two of you to let him know you are still thinking about him and not only just the baby."

"Prep some freezer meals before baby gets here because fast food will become tiring pretty quick and you will really want a home-cooked meal but won’t have much time or energy to make it."

"If you know you want to leave somewhere the next day, prep most of your stuff the night before. It takes so long to get ready and out of the house when you’re a new mom so it’s very helpful to have things ready to go." 

"Have lots of snacks and some treats in the freezer! Also, I wish I would have paid someone to come and deep clean the whole house! I am slight OCD and love a clean house."

"Set boundaries with your family that are clearly understood." 

"Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors: at the hospital or at home. Have people visit when YOU are up for it not when they call you and set a day. It was a piece of advice a Momma friend gave me and I truly appreciated it because I didn’t want to upset anyone, but she told me that it’s my job to focus on baby and not worry about adult's feelings if I say “no I’m not up for visitors today” and they get upset. Blunt but very truthful. It takes time to adjust so it was nice not having to worry about visitors if I didn’t want them, then there came a time where I was feeling up for it and they came to visit then!"

Is there anything YOU would add to this wide array of useful and wise advice? Feel free to share below in the comments. 

(Linking up with Mary-andering Creatively on the #LMMLinkup)