What You Need to Know
Once You’re Home

“Read your baby, not the baby books.” –New Grandma

What You Need to Know
Once You’re Home

“Read your baby, not the baby books.”
–New Grandma

Getting Organized & Planning Ahead

We know hearing about the challenges around caring for your newborn may not be what you’re looking for here, but it’s exactly what gets lost in parenting discussions and it’s important stuff. 

The basics of caring for a newborn are relatively easy (change them, clean them, feed them); it’s everything else that’s tough. And being unprepared for the hard stuff can make it hard to enjoy motherhood and your baby. So it’s important we look at the potential emotional roadblocks ahead.

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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. 

READ! Preparing Pets for Baby’s Arrival

"We had a notebook called The Brain because, in the first couple of months, you have no brain. We put everything in there - when she ate, when we changed her, when she slept, questions for the doctor, all the doctor and emergency contact information, everything. It was a lifesaver."  

- New Mom

"Give yourself grace and hold everything with open hands, because you never know what's coming once that baby is born. The more firm you feel about things, the easier it is to break down over them, so just keep it light." 

- New Mom

Those First Visitors

Many couples take time at home to bond as a family before friends or relatives visit. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider doing some cocooning, just you, Dad, and your baby. If help does arrive after those first few days, you’ll likely be really ready and happy to see them!

But keep in mind that conversations about relatives in the delivery room or at the house need to happen before you're in labor. When you and Dad do discuss it, be supportive of one another, because  mother (in-law) conversations can be a sensitive topic. If you decide against having relatives in the delivery room and/or you’d like some time at home before visits begin, find a good time to let family know your wishes. And once you make your decision, stick to it: no guilt.

If you get overwhelmed and feel you need to set new limits or take a break from visits, don’t feel guilty about making decisions that are right for your family. The goal is for you three to comfortably settle into your new life, and other family members will have plenty of time with your baby. If you decide to have relatives visit immediately after bringing the baby home, definitely try to get in some bonding time with just the three of you.

READ! Throw a Baby Viewing Party?

Edel & Ryan: Dealing with Visitors (2:02)

Matt: Dealing with Visitors (1:23)

"My friends set up a meal train so that kind of decided when people could visit and I wasn't overwhelmed with visitors. I also set a time between five and six at night so I could schedule nursing and naps around that. People kind of know the first few weeks are hard. Your husband or partner needs to be your spokesperson, answering texts and emails  like, 'Now isn't a great time,' or 'She's nursing,' or 'The baby is sleeping.'" 

- New Mom

"We made the decision we were going to tell people they could come for, like, 10 or 15 minutes, maybe a little longer, but we gave them specific windows. And I had no problem being the bad guy...if mom's getting tired, then it's time to say 'We aren't taking visitors right now.'" 

- New Dad

Conflicting Opinions

It doesn’t take long to realize there are conflicting opinions on every single aspect of baby care. Even among medical professionals, you often get different answers for the same question: unnerving when you want to make the best decision.

First, think about the information and choices in terms of your unique baby: What makes sense to you and Dad? What feels right?  And second, consider The Five-Year Rule: Will this matter in five years (or even one?). This question keeps things in perspective, because, truthfully, your second and third choices are likely not that far from your first choice.

"I took a lot of classes, did a lot of research. It was a constant learning curve. I relied on a lot of help from my friends, Google, even Facebook, putting questions out there to mom groups. I realized there's a lot of conflicting perfections on things."

- New Mom

"My doctor and pediatrician told me not to read too many books because you kind of overload your brain. You'll figure out what you need but if you get too much information and too many opinions, you get confused overall."

- New Mom

Teamwork

PARTNER UP

Referring to each other as “my partner” is one thing, but you’ll need to mean it in the best sense of the term when your baby is born.

With all the demands and curve balls a new baby brings, the most important issue—developing a strong partnership in parenting—often gets lost in the clutter. 

After a baby’s birth, couples tend to divide and conquer, which creates a feeling of separation. Mom feels like she’s not getting the help she needs, Dad feels like his efforts go unnoticed, and both of you end up increasingly frustrated. 

Working together to understand your baby’s needs and support one another leads to faith in each other’s abilities and creates mutual respect. When you team up, it lowers tension in the home and enriches your relationship with each other and with your little one. 

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Shaping Teamwork 

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. 

It Does Take a Village

Many generations ago, new moms were taken care of by the women in the “village” and so were their newborns. This gave them a chance to learn under the guidance of moms who had been through it. Moms were nurtured through their recovery with lots of helping hands present to care for the baby while she slept, got her strength back, and received plenty of advice on adapting to her new responsibilities. 

At Boot Camp for New Dads, men talk about the pressure women feel to “just know” how to care for their baby and the lack of confidence they experience when they don’t. But remember this: You’ve never been a mom before. 

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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. 

“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.”

– New 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.”
– New Mom

Finding Support

Some parents have all the baby support they need, but others are truly desperate for an extra pair of hands. Hiring a caregiver ensures you’ll have help with childcare while building your skills and confidence. When hiring, conduct a thorough interview, confirm CPR certification and check multiple references. 

Some support options to consider:

“We thought we were pretty well-prepared with birth classes, etc., but we were still lost for the first two months.”

–New Mom

Postpartum Doulas

  • 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.

Baby Nurses

(AKA Newborn Care Specialists)

  • Non-medical professionals who provide extensive in-home infant care in the weeks and months following childbirth.
  • Baby nurses are available for around the clock (live-in) care or on a part-time basis. Light meal prep and housekeeping may also be provided, but the focus is usually exclusively on infant care.
  • The average rate for a baby nurse starts at $20/hour.

Nannies

  • Experienced childcare providers who live-in or out of the home and are hired on a full or part-time basis.
  • Manages all aspects of childcare and may also handle light housekeeping and meal prep.
  • Average weekly pay for a full time, a live-out nanny is about $700/week.

Mother’s Helpers

  • Provide household help to lighten the load for new parents. A mother’s helper (sometimes called a “babysitter in training”) isn’t certified in infant care, but assists with meal prep, housekeeping, errands, looking after older siblings—any task that’s helpful.
  • The average rate for a mother’s helper is around $10/hour.
  • To hire a nanny or mother’s helper, check online at www.care.com.
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