Describing the sleep scene when my husband and I brought our first baby home from the hospital still makes me laugh. We hadn’t put a ton of thought into our sleep situation and for those first days with a new baby, we took turns sleeping on the living room couch next to our baby in her stroller bassinet. The other person slept in the bedroom and would get a quality 90-minute stretch of sleep.
Looking back, I don’t know how we came up with this system. We had a nursery set up with a spare bed, why didn’t we have the baby and one of us in there? It doesn’t make any sense. We were exhausted and in a total haze of newborn confusion.
Thankfully, we eventually found our stride, along with a sleep setup that actually made sense. We’ve only been parents for 18 months now, but I feel like an expert mom in comparison to that overwhelmed and frazzled woman sleep/sitting next to her baby’s stroller in the living room.
We’ve only been parents for 18 months now, but I feel like an expert mom in comparison to that overwhelmed and frazzled woman sleep/sitting next to her baby’s stroller in the living room.
Of course, I don’t have all the answers, and there isn’t such a thing as an “expert mom,” but I did learn a lot during my first few months as a parent. Now as we prepare to welcome home our second baby, I’m approaching the newborn phase differently. I have a lot more knowledge after being through it once. Though I know I’ll still struggle, I know I’ll have new challenges (how do you care for a needy toddler and a newborn?), and I know I’ll be sleep-deprived, I do have a bit more perspective going into the experience.
Whether you’re preparing to bring home your first baby or your second (or beyond), the newborn phase can be really tough. Remember to give yourself grace during this time. Here are the five things I’ll be doing differently during the newborn phase the second time around.
1. I will read up on newborn sleep early
After around 10 weeks of complete exhaustion, my friend mentioned a newborn sleep course and how it changed her life. I immediately took the course after she gifted it to me, and it was like this whole new world of knowledge opened up to me. I had never heard of wake windows, I didn’t know how much a newborn should and would sleep, and generally speaking, I felt clueless about the whole thing. After taking a course, I had a blueprint to follow. And though it didn’t ensure my daughter slept peacefully every single night, it gave me so much information and took away some of the stress when navigating newborn sleep.
Honestly, I now can’t remember most of what I learned at the time, so I’ll be re-reading the course and reminding myself how to deal with those confusing sleepless nights. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing, and it’s great if you can turn to experts for advice and guidance instead of trying to figure everything out on your own.
2. I will properly stock my home with postpartum recovery items
I know women often joke about wearing diapers along with their baby, but for some reason, this didn’t really resonate with me as being a reality. Well, it is. After reading a few recovery stories, I made about five padsicles, tossed them in the freezer, and figured that would just about cover my recovery process. How wrong I was. Everyone’s experience is different, and some have a harder recovery than others. I personally found it to be an incredibly challenging and painful time. I wish I had put a bit more effort and money into the proper recovery items. During my first month postpartum, I was constantly placing Amazon orders for various pads, Tucks pads, cooling sprays, and so on, basically in search of anything that might help.
The second time around, I’m going to have my house well-stocked in advance. There are companies like Bodily that offer expertly curated boxes to prepare for postpartum. And you might think this is crazy, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying a bidet attachment because that feels like my postpartum dream product (talk to me after your first bathroom visit post-birth and you may understand).
3. I will rest and not rush my recovery
I worked out during my pregnancy, and as a personal trainer, I figured as soon as I had my six-week check up and was cleared to work out, I’d be back at the gym. This was not the case. As I mentioned, my recovery felt long, slow, and painful. I had no desire to work out, and I was beating myself up about it. I felt that by six weeks I should have been feeling much better and more like my old self. So many other moms I followed in the fitness world on Instagram seemed to be out jogging during their babies nap time; why wasn’t this the case for me?
I didn’t push myself before I was ready to start working out again, but I did get down on myself about it.
I did allow myself to recover and didn’t push myself before I was ready to start working out again, but I did get down on myself about it. I kept wondering when I’d feel ready and felt negative that I wasn’t quite there yet. Next time I’m going to let go of my preconceived timelines. I’m going to enjoy all the newborn snuggles, I’m going to rest, and I won’t question why my recovery looks so different than other moms I may see on the internet.
4. I will adequately fill my freezer
Ah, another element to new mom life I underestimated. Surely, I’ll have time to eat! I love to eat! I’ve never been one of the people who forgets to eat lunch; I’m usually thinking about meals days in advance. But with a new baby, your mind is pulled in a million directions, and it is actually hard to remember to eat.
Before our first baby, we made a small batch of freezer burritos and considered ourselves prepared. About one week later, we made a batch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to ensure we could get something to eat throughout the day (desperate times!). Next time, I’m going to make more freezer meals and will make sure they are nourishing and energizing (new moms require a lot of energy!). There are also tons of healthy and filling freezer meals you can buy, so I’ll be making sure we have plenty of those on hand as well.
5. I will ask for help
Motherhood is hard, and it’s particularly hard in those first few weeks and months. There is no shame in asking for help. Many of us have been fed depictions of mothers being able to do it all. Maybe you can technically do it all, but you don’t need to, and you shouldn’t have to shoulder all of the work. I am fortunate to have a very helpful and involved partner, but I was still hesitant to ask for help.
With my first baby I was exclusively breastfeeding, which takes a ton of time and effort. But I also wanted to hold my baby all the time, and I wanted to be the one to soothe her when she was upset. And between all of that, I’d try to do many of the things I did around the house before having a baby. It was exhausting. I did learn to ask for help, and I will continue to do this, acknowledging when I need to rest and being vocal about it so I can get the help I need.