Andrea Tran RN, BSN, MA, IBCLC
Nothing compares to that thrilling feeling when your newborn is first placed in your arms. You instantly go from being pregnant to being a mom. You can’t wait to get to know this new little person.
Those first few days of motherhood are intense. Your body is recovering from giving birth or possibly from having a cesarean section. Your baby is changing every day. You are trying to master breastfeeding.
All this would be challenging under the best of conditions. However, you probably haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in days, if not weeks. Having a newborn who needs to eat every few hours means you aren’t going to get much sleep anytime soon, either.
These tips for surviving your first three days with your newborn will help save your sanity. These tips basically fall into two categories, taking care of yourself and taking care of your baby. One of the first rules of motherhood is that you have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Tip #1 – Stay Well Hydrated
Staying well-hydrated is essential for many reasons. Dehydration can affect your milk supply, your energy levels, and your mental clarity.
A water bottle should be your constant companion. My favorite tip to make drinking water easy is to fill several water bottles at the start of every day. Distribute them around your house, where you will be spending time.
- The living room
- The kitchen
- On your bedside table
- Next to a special chair where you plan to breastfeed
- Don’t forget to put one in your diaper bag.
Tip #2 – Nourish Your Body
Your body burned a ton of calories during labor and childbirth. That’s good because it tapped into those fat stores you laid down during pregnancy. Your body is also recovering from pregnancy and birth. You want to nourish it to help it do that job. Milk Dust protein powder is a fabulous way to help your body heal after baby. Milk Dust offers so many amazing nutrients for new mommies, and it is delicious mixed with just water or milk. Even better, grab their free recipe book of smoothies, and your body will be so thankful!
Choose foods that will give you energy, like protein (a Milk Dust Bar or shake!), fruits, and vegetables. Foods that are high in fiber will help with something that most new moms who had an episiotomy or any tears dread – bowel movements. Smoothie are a great way to get in fiber and protein together, to help keep your bowel movements regular.
Also, Milk Dust Protein Powder has vitamin B12 and Folate, which can really help with energy levels postpartum. Think of it as super vitamins to help your brain function, when you feel like you need 10 more cups of coffee.
Tip #3 – Get Some Sleep
The reality of being a new mom is that you won’t be getting long stretches of sleep for a while. In the hours after birth, even an exhausted mom will find it challenging to sleep because of the adrenaline wave she is riding.
Most babies have an alert period in the first couple of hours after birth. Then they typically will take a long nap. Take advantage of this gift from mother nature and turn off your phone, turn off the lights and close your eyes. It can be really hard to make yourself sleep when there are so many things to do, but just even some rest, with your eyes closed can be super helpful.
You may also like: The Best Sleep Tips For A Breastfeeding Baby
Make afternoon naps a priority in these first few days. Even if you don’t consider yourself a napper, lay down in a dark room and close your eyes. A lot of new moms find they can nap after all. Naps will also help your body heal, so you can get back to feeling normal again.
Tips #4 – Be Prepared For Your Baby’s Second Night
The tip to nap is especially crucial before your baby’s second night. Baby’s go through something called second-night syndrome. They stay up all night wanting to eat very, very frequently.
Many moms think their baby is not getting enough from breastfeeding because they eat so frequently. But this is normal behavior that almost all babies experience. They often will suck for a few minutes and then fall asleep. Mom will try putting her baby in his bassinet or crib only to have him awake within a few minutes and showing his cues that he wants to eat again. This can go on for hours.
I encourage moms to keep the baby with them during the second night. Of course, you will want to observe all safe sleep measures.
The second night is an intense period of time with your new baby. The benefit is that all that frequent feeding will help bring your milk in. It also encourages a good milk supply.
Tip #5 – Be Prepared For Breast Engorgement
Most new moms will notice their milk starting to come in on the second or third day. It is common to experience some degree of engorgement when your milk comes in.
Engorgement is when a woman’s breasts get full and hard. They may feel very tender. They can get astonishingly large.
When your breasts first start to make milk, there is swelling of the breasts. The two best things to do for engorged breasts are to feed frequently and apply ice packs for up to twenty minutes every 2-3 hours.
It is essential to keep the milk moving with frequent feedings or pumping if necessary. Breasts that get hard without relief can result in the milk-producing cells being destroyed and a subsequent low milk supply.
Tip #6 – Use a Log or an App to Keep Track of Feedings and Diapers
Beginning with the second day, you need to make sure your baby is eating at least eight times every twenty-four hours.
You also want to track how many pees and poops your little one is having. The number of diapers your baby has is one way to know that he is staying well hydrated and getting enough of your colostrum from breastfeeding to meet his needs.
However, when we get tired, our memories become less reliable. Running on so little sleep can make it hard to remember when you last changed a diaper or when your baby last ate.
Using a newborn feeding log or an app to keep track of the feedings makes it easy to keep track of this important information.
Tip #7 – Keep Diaper Changing Supplies Together
While we are talking about diapers, do yourself a favor and keep your diaper changing supplies together. If you plan to have a diaper changing station, you will have everything you need. But it will be easier if you can change diapers in several places throughout your house. Putting diapers, wipes, and bags for used diapers in a basket or caddy will mean less walking to your primary diaper changing station.
While a newborn may not have a lot of diapers in the first few days, the diaper count goes up significantly after a mom’s milk comes in. It is also very common for a baby to have a bowel movement during breastfeeding. It will be less disruptive to be able to change the diaper where you are.
Tip #8 – Limit Visitors
You will be excited to introduce your new baby to your family and friends. But you want to make sure that you have time for that ever-important afternoon nap.
Another reason to limit visitors is to minimize what I call the game of pass the baby. Visitors usually want to hold the new baby. This may not seem like a big deal. However, it can be over-stimulating for a new baby to be passed around and held by many different people. Most babies will respond by sleeping a lot. This can result in them not feeding as often as they need to.
It can also result in you missing their feeding cues. If a baby doesn’t get to breastfeed when they show interest, they may just fall back to sleep. This can result in a baby not feeding frequently enough.
Tip #9 – Accept Offers of Help and Food
People genuinely want to help when they offer. But that sleep-deprived brain of yours can make you forget all the little things you need to do. Have a list of errands or chores you can refer to when you get offers to help. Most visitors would be happy to fold some laundry or stop at the store to pick a few things up for you.
Definitely say yes to any offers to bring you dinner.
Tip #10 – Cut Yourself Some Slack
Don’t try to be supermom. Your top three priorities in the first three days should be to get to know your baby, learn to breastfeed, and take care of yourself.
Don’t worry about having an immaculate home or responding to every text and email you get.
Take this time to enjoy your newest family member and learn how to be a mom.