Finally! After 9 months of gestation, discomfort, an ever expanding belly, and cravings, you have finally crossed the delivery hurdle and are standing past the finish line… with a brand new baby in your arms. And then the question hits you like a freight train… WHAT NOW? Yes, you have motherly instincts that will help you a little, but the first several weeks after delivery are often considered some of the most emotional and exhausting of a woman’s life, and at least when I get emotional and exhausted, I have a hard time remembering all of the things I need or want to do! Now that it has been a couple of years since my baby, I think I have had enough time to remember all of the things I should have done during those very first few weeks (at least I hope I’ve had enough time, ha!) Here is the list I have compiled of things to do in those first few weeks after baby arrives!
1-Take Newborn Photos
If you plan on doing so. The most incredible thing about babies by far is how ridiculously fast they grow and change. You can literally almost visibly see it happening day by day. If you plan on having newborn photos taken, do it within the first 2 weeks after baby is born. This is something I mentioned can be scheduled in my list of 24 Things To Do in Your 9th Month of Pregnancy.
2- Write Your Story!
Another amazing thing about babies… when you have one, it is shocking how quickly you lose your memory. Write down your pregnancy journey and the story of your child’s birth as a keepsake for yourself or your child. You will be amazed at how quickly all of the details fade, and having a child, at least in my opinion, is one of the most incredible things, so remembering the details might be something you treasure.
3- Invest in Epsom Salt
Oh, this stuff is HEAVENLY for helping to heal after baby delivery. It is natural and helps your skin feel soft but also has healing aids to help your body recover after having a baby, whether vaginally or via cesarean. Trust me, your body will thank me for it.
4- Sleep When Baby Sleeps
I can’t stress this enough. Your body is tired. It is trying to recover. You are more than likely sore or itchy. And you are coping with the 5 million emotions that come with having a baby. The best thing for your body to help cope and recover is getting rest and sleep, which unfortunately can be scarce with a baby. The great news is, newborns typically sleep A LOT. And I know all you want to do is hold them while they sleep, or you will want to have your visitor at times when they are sleeping so you don’t have to deal with baby’s awake needs with people there, but if your baby is asleep, the best thing you can do is try and catch a few ZZZs yourself. Don’t worry about your own “sleep schedule” because your body needs the extra sleep to recover and honestly, you just had a baby woman, don’t feel guilty about letting yourself sleep a little extra for once!
5- Send Out Announcements
This is something you want to do within the first couple of months usually, because let’s face it… it is a little weird to get a baby announcement and the kid is already sprouting teeth in the photo and the kid is obviously closer to 1yr old than newborn. Many parents like to do this right after their newborn photos are born. I personally didn’t send out any announcements through mail, but I found a cute photo and sent it to all of my friends/family/colleagues through email with the usual info (baby name, birthdate, weight, etc.) Yes, I’m a little unrefined and boring, but at the time I was just too tired to think about it. Maybe if I had made this list then I would have pulled myself together and gotten some sent out? Ha!
6- Schedule Your Baby’s Appointments
This is something you want to do pretty immediately as most pediatricians want to see your baby within the first two weeks of your baby’s life. If you don’t already have a pediatrician, finding one should be on the top of your priority list. Ask the nurses at the hospital for recommendations on where to start, or talk to your friends and family about suggestions for doctors they may have.
7- And While You’re At It….. Make Your Own Appointment
Depending on whether you had a vaginal birth or a cesarean, doctors will want to see you anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks postpartum to make sure everything is healing properly. At that time they will usually go over your plans for birth control if you plan to use any after baby, so doing some research about birth control methods previous to the appointment can be helpful.
8- Stock up on Snacks
And you get bonus points if they are ready to go without any prep or can be eaten with one hand. As your body recovers you need extra nutrients and energy to keep it healing and going, and if you are breastfeeding it is even more important. My favorite things were fruits and veggies that were just cut up and ready to go, or things like trailmix or granola bars that provided a little bit of protein.
9- Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
Especially if you are a first time mom, you will probably have a LOT of questions. And if you are anything like me, they will cause you anxiety if you don’t get answers! When you think of questions, write them down, then you can call a doctor or shoot a text to your mom or look online to find answers. Most hospitals have nurses on staff 24 hours a day to answer questions, and they were an amazing resource to me when I had questions about a clogged milk duct and why my baby hadn’t pooped for three days. Don’t be afraid to ask! Everyone understands you are doing your best!
10- Find Helpers and LET Them Help
This is another one on my list of things to do in the 9th month of pregnancy, but I really feel strongly about allowing people to help when you need it. Find people who can come vacuum your floors, wash your dishes, or make a run to the grocery store for you so that you can focus on resting.
For you breastfeeding mamas…. Yes, engorgement is the worst, and I highly recommend getting a pump and pumping asap. Not only does it help with the pain of engorgement, but it helps you build up your milk supply for when you need to have the baby fed and are not in a position to breastfeed. Many people will debate me on this because your body is still learning to adjust and it produces however much milk it thinks it is using, so if you pump then your body will think it needs more and thus will make more, thinking the baby needs more, leading to more engorgement. All of that is true, but from my opinion, the relief was so incredible that I would rather do it over and over again and build up milk supply for the freezer than live with engorgement for several weeks while my body adjusts. Especially where I had to return to work, having milk supply stocked in my freezer was something that was important to me.
12- File Your Paperwork
When you have a baby, there are all sorts of forms to fill out and places to report to. To eliminate hassle later, it is best to get this done early. The hospital will usually give you forms to fill out to get the birth certificate and your child’s social security card (for babies in the US), or you can request to have it sent to you. Also remember to report your delivery to your insurance and fill out any necessary forms they require to make sure your baby is covered. Most insurance companies require this to be done pretty quickly, within the first 30 (or so) days.
13- Watch Out for Symptoms of Post Partum Depression
This one is a HUGE one for me. I struggled with postpartum depression after having my baby, and it was the single worst, most horrible thing I have ever experienced. It is incredibly dangerous because many moms don’t realize they are suffering, don’t want to admit they are struggling, or feel too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. This post here lists some symptoms of post partum depression that are common and should be watched for, and this one here talks about people who are at risk of postpartum depression. It is not a subject to be skipped over or taken lightly, of all the things to do on this list, this is really the most important one to do in my opinion.
14- Lots of Skin to Skin
Skin to skin has amazing psychological, emotional, and physical health benefits for both baby and mama. Especially in the first few weeks of life, having skin to skin contact helps a baby to build trust, feel secure, and feel close to mommy while being provided with a feeling of safety in the strange new world they have entered. It can also really help build the bond between child and parent, so this isn’t limited to just moms! Dads should definitely do it too!
15- Let Yourself Heal
You just had a baby. Give yourself a break. Please. You don’t need to be bending and pulling to make the bed every day, wearing yourself out with housework, or straining your body as it tries to heal through doing too much exercise. This is a free ticket to sit in your sweat pants and eat whatever you want and snuggle your smooshy, wonderful bundle of joy while binge-watching Netflix for the next few weeks. Use it.
16- Make Your Fitness Plan
For later. As previously stated, let your body heal. Now is the time that you can make your goals and a plan for how you want to approach any health or fitness goals you might have, but clear it with your doctor before beginning and take things slowly.
17- Treat Yourself
In whatever way you want! You just had a baby, you are going through a lot of changes, and sometimes it is hard to cope with all of that. Allow yourself to splurge on YOU a little. If you see something you love on Amazon, buy it. Or you get a sudden burst of energy and want to bake some cookies, do it. If you are feeling pretty good about how things are going and would like a break, let yourself go out on a date. Don’t skip out on this one because truly, you deserve it!
If you aren’t quite to the fourth trimester yet, be sure to check out 27 Things To Do When You Find Out You Are Pregnant and my list of Must Haves for the Hospital Bag.