You go through pregnancy looking forward to holding your new baby in your arms. The moment finally arrives and it is as amazing as you expected it to be. As awesome as everyone said it would be. Better even. There is only one problem. No one warned you that surviving the newborn stage was going to be this tough.
The newborn stage is hard whether you are a first time mom or not. Surviving the newborn stage involves learning from other moms’ experiences and/or taking note of what made the experience easier for you the previous time(s) you had a baby.
Surviving the newborn stage also involves being strategic and intentional with every minute of every day.
Below, you will find tips from some real moms on how to make it through those exhausting early days with a newborn. However, to start with, let’s get clear on something: what is the newborn stage?
How long is the newborn stage?
I suppose the WHO’s definition must be technically right but I lean more towards the concept of a newborn being between 0 – 2 months old. Infact, in my mind, my babies were newborns until they hit 3 months at least. Certainly, that is not because after 3 months, life suddenly got a whole lot easier.
When does the newborn stage get easier?
This really depends on your individual circumstances and on your newborn baby. Will you be getting additional child care support along the way? Will your newborn baby suddenly stop crying as often as they did when they were first born? Will you heal very quickly from childbirth and find it physically easy to care for your newborn?
If you think the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the newborn stage could indeed get easier for you. The big question here is when will it get easier.
If it depends on your baby alone, then it is hard to tell because babies are so unpredictable.
Yes, the newborn stage is hard but you can do it. The following tips on surviving the newborn stage will help you to get through it all with as much ease as possible.
How to survive the newborn stage – 13 Tips from 14 Moms
1. Go with the sleep flow
“Be prepared that baby’s sleep will be erratic. They may have nights and days mixed up, or sleep in short bursts. All of it is normal. Don’t get caught up in reading charts and figuring out sleeping schedules just yet. Go with the flow. And remember, no bad sleep habits will be formed in the first 3 months of life.” – Maria
2. Coffee before a nap
Stacey suggests drinking a cup of coffee or a shot of espresso right before you take a quick nap. The idea is that by the time you are up from your nap (within half an hour), the coffee or espresso would have started to kick in and you wake up with a burst of energy.
3. Set yourself up for breastfeeding success
“Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially at night during the first few months with your baby. Since newborns wake up every 2 to 3 hours for feedings, you’ll want to make the most out of your time while you’re awake so you can get back to sleep as soon as possible. Doing things like having a breastfeeding station with everything you need close by, being in a calm and relaxing environment so your baby falls back to sleep quickly, and wearing pyjamas meant for breastfeeding can all help with that.” – Alice
4. Restaurant Gift cards
Cheryl has a great idea about how to deal with the chaos that meal times can become when you have a newborn. She suggests registering for restaurant gift cards. Part of the reason why the newborn stage is hard is because you can sometimes feel like you cannot find to even eat. If you get restaurant gift cards specifically to places that deliver, they will give you the chance to rest when you need to – you can relax instead of worrying about how and when to cook a meal. You can also choose to use them to get out of the house for a change of scenery sometimes. If you are yet to have your baby shower, it may be a good idea to put gift cards to your favourite restaurants on the list!
5. Take it all in
“Know the season you are in and embrace it! It might be hard, it might seem a crazy adjustment to have a baby, the days may seem never ending but all of it will pass. Enjoy the little moments, breathe in and out deeply when you hold your little one and take lots of pictures to keep memories for the future. Before you know it, you will find yourself in the next season of life and you will miss those intense, yet beautiful and precious first months with your baby.” – Tabea
Carly also suggests that we stop to enjoy some sweet moments daily:
“Aim for a few heart moments a day. We often feel guilty if we’re not able to cherish and be grateful for every moment, because it’s so exhausting and overwhelming in the early days. But try to find a few moments throughout your day that make your heart full. Even if it’s just one moment when you’re putting your little one in for a nap and you notice how soft her hair is and how the smell of her head is a scent you would know anywhere. That’s your heart moment for the day. Maybe you don’t even remember what your heart moment was the day before, but you know you had one.”
6. Ask for help
“Ask for help when you need it! It is an adjustment having a baby, so take the help when someone offers!” – Jass
“If you do not have anyone who can help you and you feel overwhelmed, remember that things will be okay. Find a mom friend. Use a mom app to find someone to talk to so that you don’t feel alone. You’d also be surprised who you’ve find close to you who is going through the same thing and be willing to help. Of course, always be careful and cautious.” – Rebekah
“Acknowledge that for this short stage of your life, you may need to ask for help. Allow people to show you how much they love you by accepting offers for help.” – Elizabeth Joy
7. Freeze your meal
Audrey also has an excellent suggestion to take care of meal times:
“Make freezer meals! Freezer meals are a great way to get breakfast, lunch or dinner on the table when you’re in the daze of newborn life. It is so easy to pop a freezer meal in the oven and one less thing for new moms to worry about.”
8. Sometimes, simply survive
It is true that some days, you might feel like you are just trying to survive. You might feel like you are just trying to get through the day. Do exactly that: try to get through. As Kate puts it:
“Do what you can to survive through each day. If that means a messier house than normal that’s okay.”
9. Mind your business
“Do whatever works for you and your baby regardless of what other people say. Is co-sleeping the answer to more peaceful nights? Do it! Have you decided to formula feed your baby? Good for you! Go for whatever gives you peace of mind and makes your life easier. There will always be people who think they know better and give advice. Ignore it and just do you!” – Cristina
“Don’t let people pressure you for your choices on formula and/or breastfeeding. It’s your choice, for one. And secondly, not every woman’s milk comes in. You’re feeding your baby. That’s what matters.” – Rebekah
10. Extra, extra!
“Have lots of extras available. Extra clothes, extra sheets, extra sleep sacks. Last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to replace the bassinet sheets after a midnight blowout and not have an extra clean set. Those first few months are messy!” – Emily Rose
11. Baby wear
“A baby wrap and back brace will be your best friends, especially if you feel like you can’t sit still or function with a mess.” – Rebekah
Surviving the newborn stage for you can mean less outside help and more time for yourself and for your family to get accustomed to how much things have changed:
“It’s ok to tell friends and family that they can’t come over if you need rest!” – Patrice
13. Be gracious with yourself
“Things aren’t the same, and your family is going through a big change. Your house will be dirty. You will be eating whatever you can find (even those stale crackers in the cabinet), and you will be exhausted. It’s ok if someone comes to visit and your floor is dirty or there are dishes in the sink. Eventually, you will find a routine that is comfortable, but for now, give yourself grace. Remember, this is difficult for everyone.” – Elizabeth Joy
Do you have any tips for surviving the newborn stage?