1. It doesn’t matter how you gave birth — you have a baby now.
That may sound surprising for someone who has had two homebirths and advocates strongly for midwifery care, but once the baby is out, it’s kind of a moot point. However, for your sake I hope you didn’t have to have cesarean surgery, or if you did, I hope that the recovery is easy and it doesn’t interrupt your nursing relationship.
2. You need more clothes and diapers than you think — but less of the other stuff.
Things I found essential include a My Breast Friend, a Miracle Blanket, a Moby wrap carrier and nipple shells to protect your nipples from anything touching them… and that’s about it. I had two My Breast Friends, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Newborn babies poop and spit up a lot, though, and I’ve always been shocked at how much laundry I do each day. So get some extra clothes.
3. Nursing can be very challenging — but gets better after a while.
I’ve been lucky enough to have two really good experiences with nursing, but my first three kids were barely breastfed at all. I regret that tremendously. I wish I’d been armed with more knowledge than I have breasts and they have mouths. There’s a lot more to it than that! I wish I’d been more supported by family members, and I’d been more confident — or even insistent — in my decision to breastfeed. Because at 3:00AM when your baby is crying and has been nursing for the last seven hours in a row, it’s easy to think that making a bottle will be okay just this once. And there’s so much SUPPORT for bottle feeding. Dad can help! Mom can rest! Grandma can feed the baby! Mom can get away from the house without baby! Bottle feeding is awesome!
4. Take All the Time That You Need — don’t worry about bouncing back.
Having a baby is a big deal. It takes more than two weeks — or even two months — to get used to it. People seem to expect that a new mom should just bounce back in every way: physically, emotionally, intellectually. But you don’t have to think that way. Having a baby changes your entire life, and puts you in charge of someone else’s life. It’s a big deal. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad if you take months to get used to your new life.
5. Ignore the Advice — Even the well-meaning advice.
Just focus on meeting your baby’s needs. Everyone — including me! — has suggestions on how to make your life easier, better, less stressful and things that worked perfectly for our children (or didn’t work at all, so you should avoid it). Try to tap into your mom intuition. Remember that crying is the only way a baby can communicate with you, and baby truly doesn’t want you to be a sleep deprived, bloody-nippled zombie.