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McKenna is now three months old! We are through the newborn stage. To celebrate, I thought I would share some tips. With each child, I have learned little things that can just make life easier during the postpartum period. This time period can be a little bumpy, so I wanted to share things I have found smooth the road. As always, please share any tips you have found work for you also!
For the Bathroom
A good friend of mine once commented on how long a trip to the bathroom took her after she had her baby. I have found this to be true, also. This can be a bit annoying, especially at night. That extra long bathroom trip is eating into your sleeping minutes! Here are some tips to make the bathroom experience easier.
- Easy Access: Keep all of the things you need close to the toilet. I know this isn’t a glamourouse conversation, but it is a real one. What might you need? Some ideas are any medicines you use such as Tucks Pads (witch hazel) and dibucaine ointment. I keep the two I am using on the counter next to the toilet and back-ups in a drawer next to the toilet. If you don’t have a counter close by, put it on the back of the toilet. If you don’t have a drawer close by, pay attention and put a back-up next to the one you are using when you get close to running out. Another idea are your pads. Also, you might want a change of underwear for when the pair you are wearing gets dirty. Another idea is a bottle of water for cleaning (used if you have a vaginal delivery).
- Water Bottles: If you had a vaginal delivery, chances are the hospital suggested you use a squirt bottle with water in it to cleanse yourself rather than wiping. You fill the bottle with warm water. The trouble is that sometimes a bowel movement comes when you don’t expect it and you need more water! This time around, I kept two bottles available. I kept one filled at all times for ’emergencies’ and then filled the other one each time I went in. That way I knew I would always have enough water.
For Nighttime Feedings
- Extra PJs and Bedding: Babies often leak through their diaper. When this happens, you of course need to change their pajamas and often times bedding if baby was in bed when it happened. It is the worst when this happens at night. While baby is a young newborn and I am still getting used to the location of things, I like to set out an extra pair of pajamas on the changing table. That way if the extra pajamas are needed, they are ready and waiting and I am not fumbling through the drawers at 2 AM trying to remember which drawer holds the pajamas.
- Extra Diapers: If the diapers are not in really easy access, I suggest you set out the number of diapers you anticipate needing through the night and then a few extra. I have my babies sleep in my room for the first two weeks, so I have no changing table to use in the night. I set a stack of diapers on my night stand along with wipes so I don’t need to rummage
- Water: If you are nursing, you are going to want a nice big glass (or jug) of water close by so you can quench your thirst.
- Burp Rag: Keep a burp rag close by for those times baby spits up.
- Medicines/Creams: Keep your Lansinoh, gas drops, etc. close by. Also, keep any pain medication you might be taking close by.
- Nightlight: Put a nightlight in strategic places if needed. I am one who can get to be fully awake quite quickly and easily. Full light will wake me up. I keep a nightlight in places I need some light but don’t want to turn the light on and wake myself up. You also don’t want light to wake up your baby.
- Nuring Pads: I also set nursing pads out on my night stand each night before I go to bed.
For Your EmotionsWe all know what an emotional roller coaster the post-partum period is. Here are some things I have found help (see also the post Emotions).
- Sleep: I always hate to read this advice for new moms! Get lots of sleep. Sigh. Don’t we wish! But there are things you can do to get those extra Zzzz’s you are missing out on. If this is yours first baby, you have more luxury of sleeping when baby is sleeping. Take advantage of that. You can go right back to sleep after the first feeding of the day. You can take an afternoon nap. You can take a nap whenever baby is napping! When Brayden was a baby, I did not take advantage of that.
With older children, though, you have to work around them. Go to bed early. When Kaitlyn was a baby, I went to bed after her 8:30 PM feeding (she didn’t do a dreamfeed as a newborn). Sometimes in McKenna’s early weeks, I went to bed around 9:00 PM and set my alarm to wake for the dreamfeed. It gave me some extra hours to sleep that night. Chances are if you have older children, the only other time of day you will be able to sleep is in the afternoon when naps line up.
If you are not a napper (like me) and hate to sleep because you are thinking of all the things you need to be getting done, make some rules for yourself. One rule I had with Kaitlyn was that I had to take a nap every day for the first month of her life. With McKenna, I wasn’t as tired. I did that for the first week or two, but then I made the rule that if I got fewer than 7 hours of sleep the night before, I had to nap. Otherwise, it was optional. Make rules that work for you and your sleep needs.
- Eat Right: Eat healthy foods that will give you energy long term. Avoid the sugar loaded foods that put you on a temporary high and then send you crashing down. You don’t need any more opportunities to crash right now.
- Walks: The Baby Whisperer often states new moms should take long walks each day. I remember one day when McKenna was 3 weeks old. I was feeling particularly down that day. We went for a family walk–I didn’t feel like it but my husband made me. After we had walked a couple of blocks, I started to feel really good! It cleared my mind and it moved my body. I was better able to put things into perspective.
- Get Out: Along those lines, get out of the house every so often. A trip to the grocery store can be thrilling! If you can, run errands when your spouse is home and can stay with the baby and/or older children. Some time a lone is nice. It is also nice to take your older children with you and have time to focus on them without worrying about the baby. Or you can take the baby and not worry about the older kids! Mix it up.
- Know Yourself–Your Post-Partum Self: Get to know yourself and your emotional needs. They are likely different from your normal self. This is the new you for however long the hormones make you emotional.
- Communicate: Once you know yourself, communicate your needs to your spouse. When Brayden was a baby, I handled my emotions differently and it took my husband and I several weeks to recognize that. Now, my husband knows post-partum me better than I do and he forces me to do things that will help me–hence the walks and running errands alone.
- Exercise: Once you get the clear from your doctor, exercise! It can be hard to find time to exercise, but make it a priority. It is important to take care of yourself. You will have more energy, which makes for a more fun Mom. I recently started running with a friend and I am amazed at how much happier it makes me.
- Consult: If your emotions are really spiraling and/or you just feel like something is off, talk to your doctor about it. Get help. You may or may not need help, but talking to your doctor will help you to know. She sees lots of pregnant women and she knows the signs.
For Your Chores
If you are like me, the chores that need to happen around the house start to really eat at you. This is one reason I have a hard time napping.
- Break It Down: I have talked about this in the past. I have a “chore” for each day of the week. So Monday is laundry day. Tuesday is dusting, etc. You could do it like that or take one room a day. Monday is the family room. Tuesday is the master bedroom, etc. I also have the things that must be done every day (dishes!). This way, the tasks and goals are small.
- Make Lists: When your brain isn’t working well (a definite fact of life during post-partum time), lists are great. They help you keep things straight and help you remember what you need to do. I often find that while I am nursing, I think of all the things I need to get done. When I am free, I seem to forget. I have started keeping a paper and pen where I nurse so I can write the things down that I need to get done.
- Get Help: Get your husband to help. Ask your Mom for help. When your friend offers to help, accept it. Take the help that you can. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning service! That would be nice.
- Get Over It: HA! I need to write that to myself on a daily basis. If you think keeping a house clean is a challenge with one baby, just wait until you have a preschooler, toddler, and a baby! I can be *slightly* OCD, so I try to really keep things in perspective. At the end of the day, I can clean up. At the end of the day, I cannot spend time playing with my kids or teaching Brayden in schooltime.
- Prioritize: Prioritize the things you need/want to get done each day. Do the most important first. That way if/when you can’t complete it all, you at least have the most pressing things done. These are things that are time sensitive or things that will just wear on you if you don’t do it.
- Make Small Goals: Time is just not free flowing when you have a newborn. Even with an easy newborn, you don’t have as much time. This is even more true when you have other children to take care of. I spend at least 7-8 hours each day just on McKenna! Feeding, bathing, dressing, playing with, etc. That is to say nothing of the time spent obsessing over her schedule :). Then I have the other two children and a husband! You have to just accept that you will not be able to get as much done. Over time, you learn to be more efficient and you also get more time as your baby gets older. My mother-in-law always says that the most efficient people in the world are young mothers. She says now that she is an empty-nester, she takes her time doing things. She has the whole day to get things done but she doesn’t get as much done as she did with four small children at home.
For Your Sanity
- Shower: For me, this one could also go under “emotions.” I absolutely must shower every day. I feel so much more rejuvenated and refreshed. I get completely ready, down to my jewelry. It just makes me feel better. I know some people prefer to stay in their PJs all day. If that is you, go for it! Figure out what makes you feel better and do that.
- Enjoy Nursing: When I nurse, I like to read a book. For the last year and a half or so, I have been buying books and saving them for the next nursing baby period. That way I would have books I was looking forward to reading 🙂 It helps make the time go by faster. I had a friend that watched movies while she nursed her twins. I hate sitting still, so reading is a good thing for me to do that makes me relax and enjoy nursing.
- Host a Party: Having friends/family over helps you in several ways. One is it gives you something other than the baby to stress out about :). Another is you are serving people and that always makes you feel better. You also have a taste of “real life” and it just gives you that social boost you need.
- Do Hobbies: Scrapbook, sew, listen to music, dance, garden, cook…do whatever it is that makes you you. You won’t have a lot of time for them, but you will have some. If this is your first child and your baby is easy, you might have a lot of time. Just don’t become so wrapped up in your baby that you lose yourself. You want to maintain your identity and your personal interests. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, also. It in no way takes away from your baby. It only benefits baby. Baby will have a happy, confident mom!
- Scale Back: You can’t do all that you did before baby. You can’t attend every family function. You can’t go to every social gathering. You can’t clean the house from top to bottom every weekend. You can’t run errands at the drop of a hat. You must scale back. You must learn to say no. It isn’t forever. The day will come when you can start attending things as often as you would like. Our families know that when we have a new baby, we just don’t go to everything. They now expect that. When go when we can. We stay home when we need to.
When you become a parent, you have to change your lifestyle. You create a family. You can’t tote baby around behind you as you refuse to give up your fun. That isn’t responsible. But that doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself up in your house forever, either. Again, this is a family. Baby doesn’t rule all.
Those are some tips I have for surviving and adjusting during the post-partum period. I am sure many of you have great tips, also, so please share!
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