Bringing home a newborn baby for the very first time is an experience like no other. It’s wonderful – your home is now a family home, where millions of memories, big and small, are about to unfold. It’s scary – you’ve never in your life had such a vulnerable little person be so dependent on you. It’s beautiful – you’re learning to love in a new, fierce way. And it’s exhausting – nothing can prepare you for it.
That first day at home with your newborn will be surreal. You may not even remember most of it when you try to recall it months later. And yes, your baby will never need your care and attention more than that very first day – but do you know who else will be in desperate need of serious care that day?
Though you will be tempted to just crawl under the covers and sleep in between each painstakingly long feeding session, there are a few things that you can – and should – do for yourself in those first 24 hours.
1. Eat something warm
You may be in the throes of breastfeeding super-hunger, or food may be the last thing on your mind. Either way, a couple of rice crackers snatched on your way back to bed will not suffice. Now, more than ever, your body needs fuel. A bowl of porridge with a cup of tea, re-heated pumpkin soup with some apple juice, Chinese take-out with a tall glass of water – just once today, resist the urge to pass out on the couch, and get something warm in your body.
2. Take a hot shower with an amazing soap
Again, it’s tempting to skip a shower altogether when you’re on a strict 3-hourly feeding schedule and feeding the baby takes 1.5 hours of that time. But it will make you feel more human if, before crawling back under the covers for an hour before the cycle starts again, you take a few minutes to stand under the hot water, lather up with some delicious soap, wrap yourself in a soft towel, and dress in fresh, clean pyjamas.
3. Set up a ‘feeding nest’
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, newborn babies feed very slowly in the first few days until they get the hang of it. You’re going to want to be comfortable. Whether that means binge-watching Netflix, reading a Kindle or listening to music, take a few minutes to set yourself up a designated space for feeding. Have snacks and water within reach,stockpile a bunch of pillows and cushions, and keep the space free of unnecessary clutter.
4. Banish visitors (unless they’re going to be useful)
There is going to be plenty of time for friends and family to meet your precious new baby. The first day or two at home isn’t that time, unless it’s your Mum or sister popping in to wash the dishes or bring some groceries. Social interaction and sleep deprivation will be a draining combination for you, plus newborns can get overstimulated if they’re being handed off to an endless stream of visitors for cuddles. Wait until things are settled in a few days or even a couple of weeks before inviting your friends over.
5. Stay off your phone
Once all your feeding alarms are set, put the phone down. We all know what time-suckers our phones can be – there’s no such thing as a quick 30-second scroll through Facebook, or a nonchalant glance at Pinterest. Take a social media hiatus, leave your texting for another day, and avoid Googling anything baby-related. Your brain doesn’t need that extra noise, plus staring at a screen actually reduces our sleep quality – and you need all the quality Z’s you can get.
Taking care of your new baby is, of course, your number one priority – but don’t forget yourself in the mix. A healthy Mum is a better Mum, so don’t be afraid to spend a few precious minutes on yourself.
Do you have any more self-care tips for those first days with a newborn? Let us know in the comments!
Klara is the founder of She the Fierce. She lives in Perth, Western Australia and is married to a Californian IT-nerd/carpentry dabbler/handyman extreme, Chris. They have one gorgeous, long-lashed little boy, Jackson, and their fur-babies include two dogs and one fat black cat. Klara is a (mostly) stay-at-home Mum with a background in finance and admin. She’s a Christian who loves singing, cooking, cups of tea, grey rainy days, scrapbooking and suggesting spectacular renovation and handyman projects to Chris!