Right now I have a 4 month old at home but this isn’t my first rodeo. Preparing for a baby is rough and honestly a lot of people just have no clue what to expect. You think you know, but you have NO idea. So I thought I would share my advice for new parents & new moms.
Sometimes I see a pregnant woman at work and when I tell them I’m a mother of two kids they kind of look to me hoping I can tell them what to expect when preparing for a baby. Honestly, lol, I don’t want to scare them with the truth, so I usually give them some sort of watered down answer and spin it positively. “Oh, it can get intense, but it gets easier.” Today, however, I’m going to be 100% honest with you guys: THIS SH*T IS NOT A WALK IN THE PARK. Not even for second timers. But at the same time, it’s worth it. The first year baby struggles are worth it.
I recently wrote a post on my postpartum experience and decided to expand on that on what to expect as new parents. With my first daughter, we got sooo much stuff from the baby shower it was like I was swimming in baby gear. It was also much that most of it I didn’t even get to use because the baby was growing too fast.
My first pregnancy was honestly unexpected so we were just living day to day trying to figure it all out. The second time around there were some things I wish I did to prepare for the baby.
If I could do it again here are some advice I would give for new parents preparing few a baby:
1) Rest the week before you’re due or when your body is telling you
I made the terrible mistake of working all the way up to my labor. It was 3 in the morning and I was texting my boss and my coworker that I was going into labor. On one hand, every single day of my maternity leave was used on bonding with my daughter, but after a whole pregnancy on my feet and birthing a 9lb baby, preparing for a baby, I was done!
But the fun had just begun, and taking care of a newborn is an around the clock job. A job I was physically unprepared for because I had used ALL my energy working at my job during the pregnancy, and then whatever energy I had left went towards the delivery. Afterwards, I literally felt like I was hit by a train.
It would have been more productive for me to take a few days off and rest. Then the postpartum period wouldn’t have hit me so hard.
2) Just focus on baby and yourself after the birth
Seriously. I let a few things slip during the pregnancy. I could barely get up off the couch during my 8th and 9th month. I kept saying, “As soon as I give birth, I’ll be more mobile and able to get stuff done.”
That was a huge delusion. Once I gave birth, I was physically drained from giving birth to my 9 lb. miracle. I had to nurse her around the clock too. And yet, I didn’t listen to my body and I still pushed myself to take care of my other daughter like I always do, cook, and clean the house. I was doing this LITERALLY the week after giving birth.
I listened to my mother in law who looked around my house one day with my sink full of dishes and toys strewn on the floor and said, “You know, I know you have a newborn and it’s a lot but you need to make time to clean up. A baby shouldn’t be living like this.” LOL Because she’s my mother in law, I bit my tongue on that one. Some side advice for new parents: Don’t let the inlaws parenting advice get to you.
So I doubled down on cleaning and taking care of my 6 year old, because isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do?
What I really needed to do was focus on the essentials like feeding the baby and resting whenever I could, because in the end it really did me no benefit. Straining myself and spreading myself too thin just resulted in a REALLY difficult postpartum period where I was moody, tired, depressed, anxious and paranoid.
So rest. You deserve it.
3) Get all the baby furniture and baby essentials in advance around 6-7 months.
We already had the baby furniture from our first daughter but the first time around we ordered it a bit early. I kind of just wanted the baby’s space to be settled right away. I didn’t want to worry about it at 8/9 months when my feet were swollen and I could barely stand without my back aching.
That ended up being a good decision. It made things way easier.
Around 7 months I had my baby shower and we literally were drowning in baby stuff in the apartment after that. But it was great to have everything so early. We spent some time organizing the house and decorating the baby’s room so that my first daughter could enter the world with her space already set up. We cleaned the room and prepared meticulously.
Second baby, not so much….
I ordered a few necessities on Amazon but since we already went through bringing a newborn home with our first daughter, we were a little cocky about our preparedness.
My husband scrambled the first two days after I gave birth to clean the house and get the last minute essentials. What I really needed him to do was to help me rest while the baby was fussing. Every 2 to 3 hours the hospital staff was waking me up. It went like this: take temperatures, check on the baby, bathe the baby, and wake me up in the process. I literally had no one sleep at all within the first 48 hours of giving birth. If we had prepared in advance better, he would’ve been able to be by my side and help during those crucial first few days.
4) Don’t let visitors overwhelm you
Everyone and their mother is going to want to see the new baby. And as much as you want to have everyone else meet him/her, there’s a lot to consider before you do.
First, you’re probably going to be super duper exhausted after giving birth. And if you had a c-section, then forget about it. You can barely stand up.
I also made the mistake of letting all of my and my husband’s family visit. But then I had to worry about my house looking kept, me looking half decent, and having enough food in the house, etc. It was ridiculous. Advice to new parents, don’t do that.
What I really needed was for someone to help me clean up around the house, but I was too prideful to ask for help.
It got to a point of exhaustion where I just had to say no. And honestly, I wish I started saying no sooner because I wouldn’t have had such a bad case of the baby blues if I was better rested and I wouldn’t have felt so stressed during my postpartum period.
5) Get a cozy space for nursing or bottle feeding
However, I didn’t forget to buy a boppy pillow. In my opinion, nursing pillows are the most necessary purchases to get. But I did forget how demanding nursing a baby was.
LIke OMG, some days I was nursing a full 8 hours. Holding, rocking, soothing this little ball of joy. I’m so glad I was able to build out a space that was comfortable because I was using that corner of the house ALL THE TIME.
Feedings take a majority of time with a newborn so having a place to keep a rocking chair or a nursing nook is super important.
Despite having set up this space and preparing for a baby, being hunched over a baby while nursing does a job on your back, so having your own comfortable space is a must.
6) Enjoy every day
Most importantly, enjoy every day. This is my most important advice for new parents. I blinked and my baby turned 4 months old. Every day is challenging but every day I have love in my heart for her.
The truth is that I recognize that this period in my life is fleeting. That these fertile years and years I have to be a mom to an infant and young child are slipping away with each passing day. The thought that these times will be behind me one day makes me sad.
So make the best of it. Even if things aren’t perfect, even if things aren’t easy.
Because in a moment, it’ll all be behind you and the only memories you’ll have are the pictures you took and the stories they’ll share.
Check Out My Other Posts If You Like My Advice For New Parents Preparing For A Baby.