Labor and delivery are behind you, and now you are on the way home with your new baby. Welcome to the first month of motherhood.
Believe me, most of the time, these first few weeks will feel like you are walking around a dark room, constantly bumping into things and stepping on wayward LEGO pieces, BUT there will be pockets..yes, there will be pockets…glimpses of the good and the beautiful… a baby dimple, a nap with your little nugget, an older sibling falling in love, I promise there are pockets. But that first month is tough yall, so let me say some things that no one else says.
1) NURSING SUCKS AT FIRST
Nipples get sore – sometimes even bleed – Here is my favorite cream
The initial latch during each nursing session will make your toes curl for the first week or so. That is reality. Don't let anybody tell you differently. Once the baby is on, it hurts less. Learn the techniques for getting a nice deep latch . That does help.
I NURSE ON ONE BREAST AT A TIME. NEVER BOTH IN ONE FEEDING. THAT MAKES IT EASIER. NURSE ONE SIDE – TREAT THE NIPPLE – REST
It gets easier. One old school tip is to put a head a cabbage in the fridge and pull off a cold leaf to sooth your breast after each session. Weird, I know. But I will rock cabbage boobs if it gives me relief. (It also helps with the dreaded engorgement.)
2) POOPING IS NOT FUN
Here are some tools you need to have on hand.
- Tucks pads – These things feel like gold on your back side
- Big Big pads. I mean big
- Granny undies – buy a bag just for these first few weeks.
- Stool Softener – must have
- Pain reliever – Give your body that gift as it heals. No need to tough it out.
3) BE SELFISH
This may sound harsh, but take it from someone who has been through this five times, this first month is for you and baby. Put your feet up, recover, watch some Netflix, and bond with your baby.
Don’t Entertain People – If people want to visit and help – have a list on the fridge ready with things that need to be accomplished around the house. Here are some ideas.
Have “you snacks” handy – Have quick nutritious, snacks at the ready that no one else is allowed to eat.
If you can, make plans for the older kids to be entertained. I have a friend who is a mom of six who said her number one postpartum hack is to send her kids to Grandma’s for a few weeks after the baby is born.
While this may not be a reality for some, you can always ask friends to sign up for play-date pick-ups or research possible day-camps in the area that may line up with your first month. If all else fails, send them jokers outside as much as possible.
Create a jam-up Meal Train for Friends and Family – don’t just allow people to bring you whatever they feel like. Give them direction, and add other categories like grocery pick -up, take out places you like, play date pick-up, help with chores, etc. give people options. They want to help.
4) YOU MAY NOT FEEL ALL THE FEELS AT FIRST
I have had it both ways. I have had one experience of having a really easy birth and immediately feeling all of the feels. But honestly, that was one out of five.
The majority of my experiences have been a bit muted. I mostly have felt relief and really tired when the baby is placed in my arms labor and delivery. That is OK MAMA. Over the years, I have learned to give myself the gift of the nurturing self-talk I deserve in that moment. Your Body is tired. You need rest. The emotions can’t be separated from the physical. As a mom, the time starts immediately after birth to begin to nurture yourself physically and emotionally.
Just because you are not feeling the strong emotion of love (mostly a hormonal thing, btw) in the moment does not mean it is not there. It IS! You have just proven your love, I mean honestly, think about what you just did.
And I have to tell you that there is the deepest love that develops over time as you watch your children develop personalities and relationships with you and the people around them. It is the most amazing love ever. Can’t describe it, really. It is the greatest gift ever given.
5) GUARD YOUR THOUGHTS
Let’s talk about self-talk for a second. You have just been through one of the hardest seasons of life. Pregnancy is filled with all of these expectations and images of blissful emotions and baby giggles, and cute diaper commercials, and well meaning people who don’t want to tell you that sometimes it is hard.
BUT sometimes you can’t figure out how to get the baby to stop crying. Sometimes you are really tired. Sometimes when the baby cries for the fifth time in the middle of the night, you don’t want to get up again and walk across the room or down the hall.
This is when the critical voice tries to creep in. “I am not made for this.” “I cant do this.” “This is too hard.” “I am not a good mom.” STOP THIS VOICE IN ITS TRACKS.
REPLACE IT WITH A NURTURING VOICE. “This is hard, but I can do the next thing.” “I am tired, and I am doing my best.” “I am doing the best I can, and I need some help.” Being a mom is hard for everyone at times.” "I am new to this and It will get easier."
6) YOU WILL ADAPT, MAMA.
Here is the thing, Mama. The new normal is coming, and you will thrive in it. It will not take long to find your rhythm. Give yourself grace, and know that you will find your way to the light switch in that LEGO room soon before you know it.
Motherhood is the greatest gift I have ever been given. It has made me resilient, strong, and un-phased by most other things in life. It will do that for you too. That is because it is not easy. But it is wonderful. So wonderful.
Let me know what you think in the comments. What was your first month experience? What did I leave out that you would tell new moms?