I have just reached the other side of month one with our baby girl. And to sum it up briefly, I’d describe it as total survival mode.
You can forget what the books told you. What your aunt swore to you. What that Facebook article tried to scare you to believe. The first month with your newborn is, in my opinion, an extended incubation period. It’s often referred to as the fourth trimester.
Babies still need to develop so much after leaving our bodies.
As I mentioned in another post, I read every baby book in preparation for this. I read books and articles and forums and posts. Everything I could get my hands on. And of ALL the content I consumed, this one simple line is what got me through that first month.
You can’t spoil a newborn.
That’s it. Point blank. Plain and simple.
Trust your instincts. Observe your baby. Ditch the need for order and routine. Follow her cues.
You’ll sleep, but it won’t ever be the same as it was before baby. You’ll mostly be catching power naps whenever you can. Sometimes you’ll sleep when the baby sleeps. Other times you’ll want to use that opportunity to be a person and leave your bedroom. I still find time to pick up the house, because that’s something that matters to me. I feel better when the house is picked up. I could use that time to shower or paint my nails or cook. But those things don’t matter as much to me.
You’re going to be reintroduced to times like 3am. Remember 3am? You haven’t seen 3am since you were chugging vodka sprites, dancing to bad EDM, wearing a shirt as a dress. Now 3am looks like you dozing off over your baby as she dream feeds on your sore nips.
You no longer wear clothes. You live in the same three pajamas now. Accept it. You’ll return to your closet eventually and put on jeans and be a person again. But for now, that’s just not on the agenda.
Everyone makes a BIG emphasis on mom “taking care of herself” after having a baby. That’s because when you take care of yourself you’re in better shape to care for baby. But self care is going to look a little different. Some days it might look like bingeing on Netflix all day because baby refuses to be put down. Other days it may look like taking a hot shower while your husband watches baby. Or eating an entire meal at a table, uninterrupted.
So far my favorite self care activity is going for walks. And baby loves it, too! We get some fresh air, a change of scenery and some exercise.
It’s going to feel like all you’re doing is feeding the baby. You kind of are. You’re basically a human milk machine that first month. Just go with it. Feed baby whenever she wants. (I don’t know if this is true for formula, but I’m breastfeeding and my doctor assured me you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby).
Baby’s day looks like this: cry, eat, sleep, cry, diaper change, eat, sleep, cry, etc. etc.
Toward the end of month one, she’s been awake for longer stretches and we’re getting to play with her a lot more. That’s been super fun! She’s starting to focus on our faces and playing with her toys. She even rolls from belly to back and tries to army crawl during tummy time. She has crazy strong neck control, too.
The point is, there is no right way to care for a newborn. The main goal is getting to a place where you can start anticipating her needs before she has to ask (and by ask, I mean scream). As long as you’re paying attention to her and giving her what she needs, you’re doing it right. Every new born is different and every baby develops at a different pace. Just focus on building as strong a bond as you can with your little one. Observe her. Learn her. Know her inside and out.
And accept that as soon as you think you’ve cracked the code and have her figured out, she’ll completely change. That’s normal. She’s not a completely different baby, although it might feel that way. She’s still your baby, who you know better than anyone else. She’s just growing, and with growth inevitably comes some change. Take the curve balls in stride.