Here are a few tips to help you through those first few weeks after baby comes home:
Keep things simple.
If you don’t have the luxury of having relatives, a church family or friends around to help out with meals during the immediate post-delivery period, then keep things as simple as possible. Stock up the pantry, fridge and freezer with lots of pre-cooked home meals, store bought frozen or ready-to-eat foods. Examples are frozen vegetables, frozen chicken tenders, fruit, yogurt pots, granola bars, bananas, cereal, canned soup, cheese, crackers, dried fruits. You won’t have time to think about what you will eat, let alone make it, and trust me, you’ll want all your spouse’s help with baby instead of grocery shopping or cooking. These energy boosters and quick snacks will also come in handy in the middle of the night!
Focus on healing.
The sooner you heal, the quicker you can be up and about, and the better you can care for baby. You don’t want to develop any complications (like I did)! It may be difficult with a screaming, crying, breastfeeding baby around, but really try to rest up as much as you can during this time. As mentioned before, accept ALL help you can get (cleaning, diaper changing, burping, soothing baby, meal preparation, etc.) from your spouse, family and friends.
Keep baby wrapped and warm.
The first night we brought baby home, baby seemed to keep crying without any seemingly good reason. We found out later that it was because she didn’t like to be unclothed and cold. Once she was snuggly and swaddled tightly with her arms wrapped in, she calmed down more. It probably gave her a sense of familiarity and comfort, after just being bound in the warm, tight quarters of the womb for the past 9 months!
Keep a baby diary.
At the beginning, your baby will only want to sleep, poop, and eat. But after a few weeks of allowing demand feeding, your baby will start to show you his or her unique feeding and sleeping patterns. What helped me to get to know my baby better was keeping a simple diary to jot down baby’s sleep and breastfeeds. I began to notice that at some point in each day my baby seemed perpetually hungry, like a bottomless pit. It turned out that my baby liked to be awake and cluster feed (feeding multiple times in a short space of time) for 4 hours in the evenings!
I remember initially feeling overwhelmed, a bit depressed and out of control. Everything was so new, baby often had ear-splitting cries (especially during diaper changes), and I never really knew when baby was going to wake up, or when the next breastfeed was going to be. What allowed me to feel I had regained a little semblance of control (and helped me feel less depressed) was starting a loose basic pattern to baby’s day within the first month of baby’s life. This can be as simple as being prepared every 2-3 hours to be feeding baby, or trying to get baby to stay awake for half an hour after a feed once or twice during the day. This also helps to establish a basic rhythm to the day that you can keep practicing, and which baby can come to slowly get used to over time. As your baby grows, his or her feeding/sleeping patterns will also change, but because you have already established a basic pattern, you can adapt this to your baby’s changing needs over time.