You’re a mama! 8 easy—but important—habits for new mothers to start your first week

1. Connect with your little one

Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! When your first baby is born, a mother is born too. Embrace her—and recognize that change is always challenging—even when the change is a joyous one. You and your family have a grand adventure ahead!

Connect with your newborn. Hold him. Gaze into her eyes. Watch him breathe. Look at her tiny fingernails. Soak in the reality that THIS is YOUR child.

2. Get your rest

It’s been an exhausting journey for you and your baby. Whether he arrived by vaginal delivery, c-section, surrogate or adoption—the physical and emotional journey is exhausting for both of you. You both need to recover and rest—and this is true of the journey through motherhood. Your rest matters.

3. Take care of you

Rest, food, water—all are crucial for making breast-milk and recovering from the trauma to your body (let’s face it—childbirth is a miracle—and a trauma). Don’t overlook how important self-care is. In order for you to raise a happy and healthy child, you need to be a happy and healthy mother.

Rest, food and hydration are basic—but key.

4. Get your partner involved

Ask your partner to call/email your friends and family. Leave your phone and laptop in the drawer while you rest and connect (do you see the theme here?!) Let your partner send the emails.

5. Play it safe

Before leaving the hospital you will need to: have a pediatrician and know when your first appointment is (the doctor in the hospital nursery should tell you when your baby needs to be seen), demonstrate car seat fluency, have a safe/appropriate place for you baby to sleep at home.

Babies don’t need much, but make sure you’ve got the important safety issues covered.

6. Trust yourself

But ask for help.

Dr. Spock, the original parenting professional, opened his famous 1946 book with the line: “You know more than you think you do.” That was timeless advice.

Parenting is on-the-job training for just about everyone. You will make some accidental mistakes (learn from these)—and you will make some good moves, also by accident (learn from these too!) But overall, trust your judgment and your instinct.

7. Find your new mama network

Don’t overlook the importance of a support system—you need to find someone(s) to lean on. That person can be your mother, sister, friend; mother-in-law; baby nurse; mother’s group etc. You will be exhausted, scared, overwhelmed, and overjoyed—and you will need both practical and emotional support. This is important.

8. Take a breath

And get ready for the amazing adventure ahead.

Hero 📷: Liz Denfeld

Tiffany Otto Knipe, MD, is a pediatrician, a mother and the founder of Washington Market Pediatrics in Manhattan.

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