My nurse peaked in and excitedly asked, “Are you ready to go home?”
My palms started to sweat as I looked down at my baby who was only two days old. At home, I’d have to make my own meals, remember to take my medication, and take care of this very new baby 24/7 without having anyone to direct me when I had no clue what to do.
“I don’t know,” I responded tentatively, feeling very unprepared.
Bringing a new person into the world and caring for them alongside yourself is probably the most incredible and difficult thing you will ever do as a woman.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the 6 things new moms need for themselves. Buy, schedule, and post this list as a reminder all over your walls (or save it somewhere ) to help prepare for your return home.
The 6 Absolutely Vital Things New Moms Need for Themselves
1. What You Need to Focus on Your Recovery Postpartum
Whether you had a vaginal birth or a C-Section, there are some items you’re going to need to recover from birth.
You are going to need pads, pain relief, and some fun items to make bathroom time easier (stool softeners*). FridaMom makes great products to support you during motherhood. They have a Postpartum Recovery Essentials Kit, which is geared towards vaginal deliveries, and a C-section Recovery Kit for those of us who have c-sections (check out my post on c-section postpartum essentials for more on what you need after a C-Section).
2. Essentials to Help Breastfeeding Go Smoothly
Breastfeeding is great and great for your baby, but it isn’t always easy. There are a few items that can help make things go more smoothly.
Here are a few things you’ll need to have on hand:
If you want more information or have trouble with breastfeeding causing you pain, see my post on breastfeeding essentials for new moms for some extra guidance and remedies.
3. How to Get on the Meal Train After Baby
It’s important for you to eat regularly in order to stay nourished.
A few months after my son was born, I experienced dizzy spells. When I talked to my doctor about it, she suspiciously asked, “Are you eating regularly?”
“No,” I answered nervously, quickly realizing how obvious the solution was.
It’s easy to forget to eat when you have a newborn who needs you around the clock. It can also be really hard to find time to make meals when you’re trying to figure out motherhood for the first time.
Try creating a meal train. Or, better yet, have a family member set it up for you. This is a website that helps coordinate having people sign up to bring you meals for the first couple of months after baby.
You can also make freezer meals before your baby is born (there are tons of posts on this–here is one that I found helpful). Or just stock up on quick easy meals–think meals from the freezer section or Costco items that can quickly be microwaved.
4. Every New Mom Needs to Ask This
Get scheduled help for the first two weeks that you are home with your baby.
If your husband can stay with you for the first week that you are home, see if your mom or another close family member can come daily (or even stay with you) and help during the second week.
If you can get someone to help out for longer than two weeks, great, but having those first two weeks covered will help tremendously.
Note: If you really don’t have anyone to help you, consider hiring a postpartum doula.
A Note on Who to Choose
Be careful who you let into your home at this vulnerable time. The last thing you want is someone who is going to make this time more stressful than it already is.
I have known many new moms who loved their mother-in-law until she spent too much time with her after her baby was born.
This is someone who is going to see you at your worst. You want someone who will prepare meals for you, hold the baby while you use the bathroom and shower, and forgive you when you scream at them and then burst into tears for no reason at all.
You do not want is someone in your home that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Don’t Be Shy
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you’re a timid person, now’s the time to stand up for yourself. If you really just need to rest for a few hours, ask them to take care of the baby while you take a nap.
Don’t feel obligated to keep the person company. Let them know beforehand that you need someone there to help you so you can rest and recover. Not someone to visit with while you miss out on precious sleep opportunities.
The Bottom Line: Being a new mom is hard and asking for help can make all the difference between a mom who struggles and one who flourishes.
5. Hit Pause on the Flood of Family
Even if you are a super social person, the first few weeks with your baby probably aren’t going to be a time where you want to go out to dinner or hang out with family you haven’t seen in a while.
Ask visitors to wait until after those first two weeks to come around. This doesn’t include immediate family members or someone who just wants to drop off a meal.
It’s really up to you how you want to handle this, but realize that you brought a new person into the world who you have the primary task of learning to care for. Sometimes visitors can make that difficult.
This also encourages friends and family to spread out their visits. Sometimes we can get swarmed with people wanting to see the baby immediately and then things die down and Mom is left alone with the baby most of the day for months. Encouraging friends and family to wait to visit can help spread out the excitement and aid in fending off postpartum depression.
6. The Most Important Thing New Moms Need for Themselves
Have you ever tried to tell a story about something really intense that happened to you only to be cut off with, “Well, everything worked out in the end!”
It’s a maddening experience and it will happen to you more often than not after you have your baby.
Someone will come over and you’ll launch into your whole birth story, only to be cut off by that calloused statement.
The problem is having a baby is a traumatic experience. As moms, we are often expected to move on from that trauma as if nothing happened. “Why can’t you just be happy that you have a beautiful baby?”
You will be happy, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you need to process this traumatic event before you can move on. Not only that but your life just changed tremendously from one day to the next.
Find someone who understands that and talk to that person to help you process these events. Stick close to this person and bring all of your questions to them. They will be happy to answer them and genuinely want to help you in any way they can.
What if You Don’t Have Anyone?
There are Mommy groups that you can join if you don’t have any support. Try searching for a group through the Mothers of Preschoolers website. You can meet in-person or online.
If all else fails, and even sometimes if it doesn’t, you can find a therapist to talk to. Sometimes these are covered by your insurance and you may even be referred to one if you experience postpartum depression.
Having a baby is a life-changing experience and that can be hard to navigate on your own or even with a spouse who doesn’t know what it’s like to carry, birth, and become the primary caregiver for a screaming, helpless individual overnight.
There was no place I’d rather be than sitting in a rocking chair in my living room, breathing in the scent of my newborn baby. Even though I’d been afraid, the reward that came from looking down at my baby as he peacefully made expressions in his sleep was enough to assure me that I could figure out motherhood.
As you journey into motherhood make sure you’re prepared with these 6 absolutely essential things new moms need for themselves, so you can enjoy your baby.
If you’re a first-time mom and you’re struggling, that’s what I created this blog for. Subscribe so you can have at least one place to find support as a new mom. Being a mom is an amazing experience, but it can also be so difficult to navigate.
I hope the information in this post is helpful and that you find other posts (see my post on Everything you need to know as a first-time mom) on this blog helpful during your journey from pregnancy through raising your child. Feel like you need more support? Subscribe to the Librarian Mom community to receive helpful resources and updates for moms.