1. Take are of you.
9. Start routines.
Bath time routines, nighttime lullabies, family traditions: They all add up to a calm, nurturing and predictable environment for your baby.
Here’s how Dr. Tovah Klein explains the value of routines:
Routines are the basis of stability for your child. Establishing routines is the bedrock for helping your child learn the rhythm of the day and gain a sense of inner stability and calm. Routines help little ones become more independent over time because they know what to expect, they know what comes next. So if you do the bedtime routine nightly the same way, they feel safe. Routines are essential for any activity you do daily such as meal times, getting dressed, bathing, bedtime and leaving in the morning.
8. Accept help.
You don’t need to do it all to be an amazing mom. Accept help from your in-laws, your BFF and your partner. Ask them to clean, to watch baby while you shower or to run out and pick up your favorite meal.
Don’t have a support group nearby? Hire a postpartum doula or a night nurse. It is not indulgent to need extra support during this fragile time in your life. In fact, it’s a wise investment in the health and happiness of your family.
5. Start healthy sleep habits for baby.
“Babies are creatures of habit, and how a baby learns to fall asleep in her first few days is how she will always want to sleep,” explains Dr. Jane Scott, MD, in her book The Confident Parent. Long story short: Scott put her babies to bed fed, safe and sleepy, but not already asleep.
We started a routine that did not include the endless rocking or letting baby fall asleep in our arms. Although still sweet and cozy and filled with kisses and lullabies, the routine did not require my assistance once the babies were in bed. I’d gently lay them in their cribs calm, clean and well fed, with their eyes still open, and after one last kiss I would quietly leave. Instead of associating safety and sleep with constant motion and mommy’s and daddy’s arms, they learned it was safe and comfortable to sleep in their own beds until the next feed or the sun came up the next day.
Of course, the decision to room share or co-sleep is entirely a woman’s choice, and what works for one family or child will not always work for another. Some high-needs babies might need extra attention; some moms will prefer a different method.
But the sooner you can develop good sleep habits that work for the whole family, the better.
7. Involve your partner.
Caring for a newborn is a team sport. Giving Dad specific responsibilities, especially baby-related ones, during postpartum can help give him a sense of purpose and connection—and can give you a sense of relief.
Here are some ways Dad can help:
—Bring mom and baby water each time they breastfeed.
—Change all diapers when you’re home.
—Cook meals for Mama.
—Wear the baby in a wrap.
—Read bedtime stories.
—Bathe your little one.
—Do grocery shopping.
—Write thank-you notes.
—Let Mama nap (see #6).
10. Practice mindful mothering.
You are not your worst days. You are not your postpartum weight. You are not your breastfeeding challenges. You are an amazing mother, despite the very hard days you might have.
Mindful motherhood helps to mother you as a mother—it gives you a bigger perspective on the challenges and gives you resilience to carry on. Try Expectful’s mother-targeted meditation programs, or Headspace’s super-easy meditation app. If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can find a new perspective.
Deep breaths, mama. You’ve got this.
Read—Read to baby from day one. Try bedtime stories, baby pop-up books and bright books with contrast so baby’s developing eyes can see.
Sing—Through songs, baby can learn about rhymes and word structure, and enjoy the sound of your sweet voice. Try adding her name into songs, or simply make them up.
Talk—Narrate the day. Count her toes during breastfeeds. Explain to her the step-by-step process of a diaper change. Ask her opinion on dinner plans. Point out animals and plants on your walk.
The day your baby is born is one of the most important days of both your lives. It’s also the start of a beautiful relationship—and a perfect time to begin practicing the habits that will keep mama + baby happy and healthy.
1. Make guilt-free time for yourself.
You’re not a bad mom if you take time for a long shower.
You’re not a bad mom if you go out on a date with your husband.
You’re not a bad mom if you bring your baby to the gym day care so you can fit in a workout.
You’re not a bad mom if you go back to work after maternity leave.
On day one of baby’s life, starting with that first, glorious postpartum shower, make time to take care of yourself, without guilt.
Nourish your body with nutritious foods. Pamper yourself with a new outfit in your new postpartum size. Take deep breaths. And by all means, binge on Netflix. When you feel that mom guilt creeping in, tell it to take a hike. You’ve got better things to do than listen to those unhelpful lies that whisper that you’re not doing enough. (YOU ARE.)
The transition to motherhood is so demanding, and you owe it to your baby and family to mother yourself first.
4. Take a daily picture.
You won’t ever regret taking too many pictures of baby, starting on day one.
And a tip from Motherly—take more videos! You’ll love looking back and seeing and hearing your baby in action. Trust us: They change so much, so quickly.
The Daily Kiddo app makes it easy for you to send once-a-day pictures to a curated group of family and friends.
InkCards is another app that makes it super simple to send your Instagram posts to Grandma.
2. Keep baby close.
It helps regulate baby’s temperature after birth.
It helps baby’s heart rate normalize outside the womb.
It builds baby’s immune system.
It helps comfort your little one during her first days outside your womb.
It signals for your breastmilk to come in.
And it just feels so incredibly good.
Try: Baby-wearing, room sharing and good old fashioned cuddling. Doctor’s orders.
6. Get your rest, too.
Maybe you’re able to sleep when the baby sleeps. (Most of us can’t.)
Or maybe you feel better taking a nap when you know your husband or mother or nanny is watching your little one.
However you sleep best, make sure you prioritize your rest above other things—yes, including housework and work work. Your rest matters. A well-rested mama means a happier family. Promise.