Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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8 tips for brand new moms: getting through and enjoying the first month!

Otto's age is now measured in months as well as weeks, and we are feeling more like parents than total newbies! This month has been full of changes for both Otto and me, and I wanted to share some tools and tips that have helped me - that I wish I'd known a month ago!

(Also check out my post of baby registry essentials for the first for 4 weeks--that one has been popular!)

First, some 1-month-old photos - Otto has gained 2 lbs since birth and I'm sure some length, too last he was measured it was 0.5" but it's been a couple weeks). He now can grab things and hold his head up with control (mostly), suck on his hands... he has even put himself to sleep TWICE (who's counting?). He is sleeping 4-5 hours for the first chunk at night, then 2-3... which is an improvement. He's changed a lot since birth (see first post about him/that here) and we are excited to watch him grow!

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8 tips for brand new moms: getting through and enjoying the first month!

1. Sleep now

That probably doesn't sound very helpful. It didn't to me when people told me that at the end of my pregnancy. Sleep isn't really like a savings account you can bank it in for times of shortage, but it really does make sense to have good sleep habits and get plenty of sleep while you can before baby comes. (I was getting up 2-3x in the middle of the night because of my squished bladder at the end, but a few-minute wake-up is very different than 1-3 hours up with a baby!! Enjoy it!)

If nothing else, if you don't sleep plenty before baby comes, you'll be kicking yourself!

2. Use a tracker app

In the hospital they gave us a tracking log paper to record Otto's sleep, nursing, and diapers. At home, it's much easier--there are probably tons of apps you can use and you'll have your phone near you at all times, anyway. I didn't have time to research all of them so I got Babytime on a recommendation and it has been just fine.

At first we tracked nursing and diapers, but after day 5 or 7 or something the diapers were no longer a concern. Now I track nursing and sleep. I'm trying to feed him every 2-3 hours (closer to 2) during the day, and I like to know how long his naps are. Plus, their wake windows are so short (they should only be awake 45 minutes to an hour at first, apparently) so it's good to know when the last nap was.

3. The low point is okay

You hear about "baby blues" and postpartum depression, but for me it was hard to tell if I was experiencing either of those. But it was really HARD at first.

If you hit a low point, comfort yourself that that's what it is. For me it was about 1.5 weeks after Otto was born. Breastfeeding was still pretty painful, he was waking up a lot more frequently than when we were in the hospital, my body still hurt, and Jason went back to classes full time so I was alone most of the day. I cried every day for a while there.

I was afraid the postpartum phase would continue to be that hard. It didn't! There was a low point. When it's really hard... don't invite over family who might not be emotionally supportive, don't schedule any non-essential appointments, let others cook and do everything else. Call your therapist if you have one; maybe you can do a Skype/FaceTime session so you don't even have to leave the house. And remember it is normal and will pass.

4. Late night snack!

Those first couple weeks especially, I was so hungry in the middle of the night. When Otto was waking up every 2 hours even overnight, I was hungry almost every time! It would never have occurred to me to keep snack bars in my nightstand until I heard a blogger mention she had to eat Lara Bars in the middle of the night when breastfeeding--I was shocked! Normally eating late at night is not a health recommendation! But in those first few weeks, I found that I needed to eat not only every 2-4 hours during the day, but at night, too.

I kept low-sugar high quality protein bars, Trader Joe's dried coconut chunks, AND dried Turkish apricots and grind-your-own peanut butter in or on my nightstand and some nights I had all three at different times. Now I'm down to just the protein bar or nothing, and I try to get a protein-filled snack after dinner if we eat early so sometimes I don't need anything in the middle of the night.

5. Accept sleep helpers

The sleep deprivation has been the hardest part for me. It's a little better now or at least I'm used to it, but for a while it was so hard and really getting me down. However, all three of my sisters in law came to visit when Otto was 2.5 weeks old and each took a turn sleeping on our couch and helping out with his middle-of-the-night wakings. I pumped some milk so they could feed him a couple of times, and of course they could cuddle and soothe him. That first night, when I only got up once to feed him, and went right back to sleep after, was amazing. I felt so good the next morning!

Not everyone has generous sisters in law with baby experience and interest (they actually wanted to get up with him in the middle of the night!), but you can hire a postpartum doula who can help with things like that. And if you do have family coming who can help at night, I recommend having them come around week 2!

If baby is fussy and won't go to sleep the easy way (nursing or having a bottle), anyone can wear him in this wrap--which has a 100% success rate of getting Otto to fall asleep SO quickly!

6. Get and test out everything early

I shared my newborn baby essentials here, a lot of which were surprising to me (how useful they would be). Not on that list but also essential was a breast pump (I got mine through my insurance, submitted by Aeroflow who took care of all of the paperwork.) I tried using it a couple times, and had washed and put away all of the essential baby products, before Otto arrived. It was so helpful to know where everything was and be able to explain to Jason what to get out of the cupboard or a specific drawer. Each time you use a new thing is a little exciting--oh, that's what we got that for!

7. Let (or make) someone else deal with the food 

We had a meal train that a friend set up so we had a lot of dinners made for us the first couple weeks, which was great. But after that, we've been on our own, and Jason has made a lot of our meals. Now I'm able to a little more, but in the very beginning I was usually busy feeding the baby, napping, trying to get the baby to nap, or other baby-related task during prime meal prep time. Cooking and dishes fell on Jason mostly at first, and my dad and sister-in-law did some grocery store trips for us while Jason was in class! I have still only gone to the grocery store by myself once. Online ordering with drive-up pickup is also useful if you have it at a store near you. (Man, I wish Trader Joe's had that! I know just what snacks I want! ;) )

So let a spouse, parent, or other helper do most of the cooking and shopping if you can!

I've made dinner more the past week plus and am quite proud of myself. I will be doing a post soon on a bunch of easy, healthier meals a busy newborn mom can throw together quickly (including a grocery list for the week!).

Oh, and for lunches for yourself during the day... we've been doing those salad kit bags which I can whip up quickly for myself and add leftover rotisserie chicken or something to, or... I highly recommend making yourself up a pot of my veggie-dense Paleo chili! It'll last you through several weekday lunches and is so easy to heat up, satisfying, and almost a one-dish meal cause of all the veggies and protein. Just add some healthy carbs with it--eat it on white rice or eat with my favorite, plantain chips.

8. Thank yourself

When it's really hard, baby won't stop crying, breastfeeding really hurts, you're exhausted, you hurt... at one of those hard times Jason told me, "Thank you for taking care of our son." That really helped. I got emotional at the time just hearing that. I remember that when it's hard--I'm doing this for others, too. Jason, our parents, the world (what if Otto is the next Jane Goodall or Albert Einstein?)... so even if I lose my patience occasionally and it's not all sunshine and rainbows for me, I can keep going because I want to do what's right. So that might help you, too.

I hope these tips are helpful! Please share with a friend who's soon to be a new mom, I hope my experience can help lots of others!

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