Babies can be an unpredictable and time-consuming business, and while organizing in advance definitely helps, you’ll still need to make peace with a host of adjustments. Your baby may sleep hours at a time one day and then opt for cat naps the next; you may be able to shower at 11 a.m. one day then not until 4 p.m. (or never!) the next—and it’s all normal.
Flowing with your baby’s needs each day allows you to be a happier mom who feels successful rather than a disappointed mom who fails to meet expectations. So put things in place ahead of time to make your day-to-day living easier, then concentrate on sleeping once you bring your baby home. Everything you’ve heard people tell you (stock up on diapers, prep and freeze meals, pay bills in advance), really does make those initial weeks more manageable. And you’ll find that slowly establishing routines pays off. Children love predictability and as they get into the rhythm of sleeping, playing, and eating, eventually, the days and nights become more consistent.
Proactive planning plus flexibility is key.
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Edel & Ryan: Dealing with Visitors (2:02)
Matt: Dealing with Visitors (1:23)
Working together to understand your baby’s needs and support one another in your new roles leads to faith in each other’s abilities and fosters mutual respect. When you team up, it lowers tension in the home and enriches your relationship with each other and with your little one.
So what does teamwork between parents look and feel like?
Trust, collaboration, lots of tag teaming, communication, respect, synergy, working out problems, sharing the load, a common vision, backing each other up, a positive attitude, appreciation for each other’s needs, optimism for the future, and balancing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, this won’t be the case every day, but with commitment and some work, it can be accomplished (most days!). Before your baby is born, talk about what teamwork will look like in your house. Keeping communication open and staying flexible makes all the difference because how you each handle baby care reflects individual style and deserves to be appreciated.
For more information, see our list of teamwork challenges and solutions in the “Becoming a Family” section.
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This is a brand new experience for both you and Dad, and you’re supposed to be learning as you go and figure out what works best for your baby and family. Even pediatric nurses are surprised by the learning curve involved with their own newborn. They may know medical procedures, but they still have to learn 24/7 baby care when they bring their baby home.
Both you and Dad will make mistakes that you’ll learn from (get used to that!), and as you figure things out you’ll gain confidence in taking care of your baby. In the meantime, (have we mentioned this before?), cut yourself some slack and remind yourself that your mommy instinct comes from getting to know your baby, which happens in due time.
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“At the beginning, if someone offered help I thought, ‘No, it’s OK. I can do it myself. You don’t need to come over.’ But let them come over; let them do the dishes; let them do the laundry.” –Veteran Mom
Edel & Ryan: It Takes a Village (or at least a Dad) (1:02)
“Sometimes, I would panic when my husband wasn’t around, because I would feel like I had to resolve the issue by myself and I didn’t know what the problem was to begin with.”
“We thought we were pretty well-prepared with birth classes, etc., but we were still lost for the first two months.” –Veteran Mom
- Trained to provide non-medical support during the first days and weeks following childbirth.
- Assist with newborn care, feedings, light meal prep, and supporting mom through the emotional and physical recovery from childbirth.
- Postpartum doulas are available days and nights, including overnight, and rates start around $25/hour (doulas in training may offer a sliding scale or work pro bono for certification hours).
- To find a postpartum doula in your area, contact: dona.org, findadoula.com or cappa.net.