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The first few weeks with your newborn will be chaotic. Here are a few tips from experienced parents to help make life easier.
Prepare as much as you can ahead of time
Watch a lactation consultant help a new mom learn how to breastfeed her baby.
Being ready food-wise when the baby comes is something I never even thought about with my first. I highly recommend cooking and freezing favorite meals. Alternatively, stock up with stuff from the frozen casserole section at the store. My husband can't cook, and we don't want to starve or live on takeout like we did after our first baby! This time I'm stocking up for at least the first six weeks.
Stock up on food and other necessities. I was totally unprepared for how overwhelmed I'd be — meaning, I had zero time or inclination to go grocery shopping and make meals. I spent a lot of time leading up to my son's birth getting his room ready, etc. when I should have been making and freezing meals. Pizza delivery and take-out can only get you so far.
Take a class on infant care through your hospital. You'll learn the basics of holding, bathing, feeding, and so on. It will make you feel much more comfortable in the first few weeks when your baby seems so fragile.
The most helpful thing as far as planning ahead was setting up who would help me at certain times of the day. My husband
asked for vacation for the week the baby was born, and my mom took vacation the next week. After that my sisters would call and see if I needed any help or breaks. It was great knowing I had people who could and would help me, and which times they were available.
Ask for — and accept — help
Use your resources — Mom, Grandma, your hospital's staff, the pediatrician, friends with kids. They love to answer questions, and remember that no question is dumb.
Accept help whenever offered! If friends ask you what they can do, suggest they prepare meals for you or babysit your older children. Hire someone to clean. Send the little ones to day camp. Nobody will accuse you of being selfish or a bad mother. It's the only way to keep your sanity. (And it will allow you to spend time alone with your new bundle of joy.)
Don't try to be a hero! New moms (myself included) get this crazy notion that they should be able to do it all themselves and be "supermom" right out of the gate! You will only run yourself ragged. Get your rest and accept help. If someone asks if there is anything they can do for you, say yes, and then be specific! "Can you pick up some diapers and wipes for me?" "Can you help me with the vacuuming?" People want to help, and specific requests let them know they are doing things that will really make a difference.