There are five areas to be prepared for when getting ready to welcome a newborn into your home. Each section will highlight what I believe are newborn essentials, not just for the baby, but also for you and family.
- Mental Diversity
- Courage, Kindness and Patience
What is your environment like? When you have a clean, well-organized, and functional space for you, baby and the rest of the family, all will sleep and live better.
Can you keep the baby near you from the very beginning?
Experiments show that when your baby is close to you, they are more comfortable and will sleep better. https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/james_mckenna/babies_need.html
Have clean bedding available (here is a study that shows the power of a made bed and clean sheets) and comfortable clothes to wear as you get used to a new sleeping routine for awhile. When there is limited sleep, try to make it count. I use a rocker recliner to sleep in to when I need to have baby on my chest.
Is your home organized?
Before baby comes, try to have a place for all the things you and your family will need. For example, when the baby comes, the rest of your family, even if that is just your husband, will need to eat. Have the kitchen clean and organized and if you are really ambitious you can have some freezer meals or the ingredients for potential meals. Check out this meal service.
For you to feed your baby, have healthy snacks and a water bottle close by for you. If you are breastfeeding, keep your breast pump, burp cloths, nipple shields, nipple creams and night lights near you so that you can easily get baby fed. If you are bottle feeding, try to create a streamlined system for cleaning bottles, warming and storing milk. Your partner or another can be a great help in this area since it is time consuming to clean bottles and then there is still the actual feeding. One of the perks of bottle feeding is that the baby can bond with your partner during feedings too.
Your nursery, bedroom and bathroom should be ready for the newborn life. There will be a lot of dirty burp rags, diapers and wipes. Have a laundry basket easily accessible, along with a garbage can. Try to have your baby clothes and blankets organized and ready for use. If your bathroom is clean you will feel more at ease to take baths and clean up when you have the time. You will also be more likely to bath your baby consistently when the bathroom offers a place.
There is a physiological response to having clean and tidy space.
A study led by associate professor NiCole R. Keith, Ph.D., research scientist and professor at Indiana University, found that people with clean houses are healthier than people with messy houses. Keith and her colleagues tracked the physical health of 998 African Americans between the ages of 49 and 65, a demographic known to be at an increased risk for heart disease. Participants who kept their homes clean were healthier and more active than those who didn’t. In fact, house cleanliness was even more of a predictor for physical health than neighborhood walkability.Ryback, R. (2011). The Truisms of Wellness. Psychology Today.
I hope you understand that the less stressed you are before and during the newborn stage, the better you will heal physically and mentally. I know most moms having a nesting period naturally, but understanding the purpose can really help and prepare you.
If you had a vaginal tear during birth, you can take Sitz baths, use ice packs, stool softeners and get lots of rest (no doing strenuous work or having sexual intercourse). Source.
If your nipples are super sore or cracked, here are some options to help.
- Speak with a lactation specialist in your area (Search here)
- Check for tongue tie
- Apply nipple cream
- Use a nipple sheild
- Try holding your baby in different positions. I had hold my firstborn in a football hold because it hurt too much for the baby to accidentally touch the other breast.
- Here is more information about healing sore or cracked nipples
Another way to heal is to practice meditation and or prayer. Here is a free app that has guided meditations for Insight Timer. If you want to know which ones are great for moms, check out this post here.
Stretching and movement is so important for healing too. Start slow and do what helps you feel good and allows you to do a little more each time. Yoga can be a great starter exercise after baby is born and you have done the initial healing.
Once a new baby comes, they consume your time and energy as you try to adapt to a new lifestyle. This all-enveloping challenge can take a toll on your mind. Where you may have had regular interaction with adults and lots of interesting and fulfilling things to do, now you are filled with the monotony that is required of caring for the needs a tiny human.
I especially struggled with this after my third that was born only eighteen months after my previous pregnancy. I was ready to take my life back, but the rigors of motherhood were even more intense. Don’t hesitate to get help with your mental health. It is just as important that you are mentally healthy as being physically healthy. It took be awhile before I let myself get counseling and now I also take medication to help me with anxiety and depression.
Here are some ideas for mental diversity in your life.
- Plan to spend time with other people regularly. Get out of the house at least once a week.
- Pick up a book on a topic that is interesting to you. You may not have a lot of time to read, but when you do, let it be stimulating and progressive versus just browsing the internet without any purpose.
- Plan to have someone else care for the baby for short periods of time so that you can go somewhere without the baby.
- Learn a new skill with your hands.
- Exercise according to your healing path.
COURAGE, KINDNESS and PATIENCE
I could continue listing traits that will help you during this time, but I think these three are the top three.
There are moments during the newborn stage where you feel like you are only surviving and completely drained of energy, but there are also moments of pure joy and excitement for the new life that you get to witness. I hope that you will be courageous as you face the hurdles. You are not alone and there are so many people here and on the other side that are eager for you to succeed. When you are experiencing pain, sleep deprivation or discouragement, love yourself, do your best and be courageous enough to ask for the help that you need.
When I am under stress or being stretched, I am not always the kindest person, but being kind to those who are helping you and to your new child is so important. You will be strengthened to meet your trials. Having gratitude during the hard times will give you a new perspective that would not come if you can only looking for what is going wrong.
I think I added patience because I struggle with this. When my first daughter was born, I was so eager for her to grow–to get to the next stage. But, with each subsequent birth, I realized that the newborn stage is extremely quick and precious. If you can be patient with the different stages, you will be more likely to enjoy the small moments of their first smile, the snuggles and the memorizing of their tiny features. When I am patient in motherhood, I always learn something because I am paying attention and instead of feeling chaotic, I feel at peace.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
I hope you will fill your heart and mind with light and hope as you enter this beautiful and challenging stage of life. I am 35 weeks pregnant with my fourth child, and I feel so excited and peaceful. Remember that you are not alone and that what you are doing is so important and special, especially to the little one(s) that are coming your way.
Now it is time for me to go get more prepared. 😉
If you are looking for reading material to help you prepare, check out this post here.