This post contains everything that a first-time mom needs to prepare for her baby. Links and recommendations for daycare, newborn schedules, breastfeeding, pumping, and postpartum depression.
Being a first-time mom is life-changing. You have a new person who you are bringing/have brought into the world and things will never be the same. It’s amazing how this little person becomes so important to you from the moment he/she is born.
There is also so much to learn and so much to know. Becoming a mom is like taking on a new full-time job (24/7 full-time) with no training. In this post, I have gathered all of the information that you need as a first-time mom to help you through preparing for your baby, postpartum, and those first few weeks and months with a newborn.
Everything You Need to Know as a First-time Mom
Before Your Baby is Born
Make sure you have everything you need for your baby. If you are having a baby shower, set up your registry.
If you have no idea what you need for your baby, I have a post on first-time mom registry must-haves that will walk you through everything you need.
Request your breast pump from your insurance if you haven’t already. Check out sites like Aeroflow and Byram Healthcare to see if they work with your insurance. They do all of the work for you (contacting your insurance and completing all of their requirements) and you just have to sit back and wait for your breast pump to come to your door. (See this article if you need help choosing a breast pump.)
Figure out childcare. Are you going to stay home with your baby or go back to work? If you’re going back to work, who will watch your baby? If you’re even thinking you might need daycare, start calling and putting your baby on waitlists immediately. (See this resource on choosing childcare if you need help in this area.)
Get everything you need for postpartum care and schedule help for at least the first two weeks after your baby is born. Read my post on what first-time moms need for themselves so you can be prepared with everything you’ll need for yourself once your baby arrives.
Once Your Baby Has Arrived
First off, I know things are crazy right now, but don’t forget to add your baby to your insurance! If you and your husband both have insurance and carry one another, don’t forget to add your baby to both of your insurances. You’ll have to contact your insurance provider or human resources at your job to do this.
Alongside that, don’t forget to let your work know when your baby was born and what type of delivery you had. You’ll likely already be off work at this point, but they need this information to calculate your leave.
Taking Care of Your Baby as a First-time Mom
A lot of caring for a baby does come naturally but some of it doesn’t. If you don’t have much experience with babies, small things like diaper changes may even be a challenge. I found this video helpful when I had my first baby. It walks you through all of the basics of caring for a baby.
The only schedule you need for your newborn is feed-wake-sleep (you can read about this in On Becoming Babywise). Babies require a lot of sleep and their bodies can only stay awake for so long before needing to sleep again. This is called a wake window.
When a baby is first born, their wake window is only about as long as it takes to breastfeed (approx. 30 minutes). So Baby will wake, you’ll feed him/her, change their diaper, and Baby will go back to sleep.
As your baby gets older, the wake windows will lengthen and you might have your baby awake for a bit before it’s time for them to sleep again. It really doesn’t make sense to put your baby on a specific time schedule at this age (see this article for more on that), but you can add some structure to their day with the feed-wake-sleep schedule and a consistent morning wake time and bedtime.
Your newborn baby will need to eat every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 at night. If your baby does a stretch of sleep longer than 3-4 in the first few weeks, contact their pediatrician, especially if you notice a slight yellowing of the skin or eyes (even if you don’t, it’s better to be cautious at this age). Read more about what’s normal in newborn sleep.
When your baby is a newborn, you don’t need to worry about creating negative sleep associations. Babies don’t form sleep associations until 3-4 months, so it’s ok to nurse or rock your baby to sleep during those early months.
As your baby gets older, sleep can feel like a constant issue. The best advice I’ve found on infant sleep has been from Huckleberry (link to their blog). I used the Premium version of the app (link to their app options) with my second baby, which allows you to request a sleep analysis and a personalized plan for helping your baby sleep better.
Their Plus plan (which is a little cheaper and what I’d recommend) will tell you when to put your baby down for a nap based on their wake window and the data that you log. You can add an alert in the app to notify you X amount of time before their nap. You can also create a personalized schedule that will give you a rough schedule and the wake windows for your baby’s specific age.
Breastfeeding as a First-time Mom
If you decide to breastfeed (this article from MomLovesBest has everything you could need to know about breastfeeding and its benefits), it can come with its own challenges.
To start off, breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally. Luckily, most hospitals have lactation consultants who will help you during your stay. Be sure to ask who to contact if you need more support after coming home from the hospital.
If you have trouble at any point in time, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a lactation consultant for a one-on-one consultation. Even if nothing is wrong, this can be a helpful experience.
Be sure you have all of the breastfeeding supplies that you’ll need at home before your baby arrives.
If you need more information about breastfeeding, Milkology has extensive, helpful information and also offers courses.
You may be surprised to find yourself pumping in the first weeks or days after having your baby. This may be because your baby is in the NIUC, breastfeeding is painful (see my tips for this in my article on breastfeeding for first-time moms), or just so you can feed your baby a bottle in public.
If you need any help with when to pump or how to pump, see my post on pumping for first-time moms. I also found this video from Bridget Teyler to be helpful. If you need even more help, Milkology offers courses on pumping too.
Taking Care of Yourself as a First-time Mom
Even if you do have experience with babies, being a baby’s caregiver 24/7 is a completely different experience. See my post on first-time mom advice for more about what to expect from life with a newborn and how to cope if you’re struggling.
If you find yourself struggling emotionally, it’s worth talking to your doctor. According to StatPearls for postpartum depression, up to 20% of women develop postpartum depression (PPD). See this video on what’s normal postpartum and what you should talk to your doctor about.
I hope your journey into motherhood goes smoothly and this post provided you will all the information you might need without being overwhelming. Ultimately remember to enjoy every day with your little baby because it goes so fast (even though it may not feel like it right now).
If there’s anything else that you need help with as a first-time mom, let me know in the comments, and I will try to find the best information for you in that area. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to stay up-to-date with all of the information that I have available for first-time moms.