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Newborns are hard! It’s bizarre how something so tiny, so precious, so loved and anticipated can inspire such feelings of fear and anxiety in the hearts of even the most doting new mother. Was that a sleeping noise or a waking noise? Does she really have to nurse again? Please tell me that poop-splosion didn’t just paint my pants. Is this rash normal? Is there any point in getting dressed with all of these bodily fluids flying around? In the case of painful nursing issues, feelings of terror and tears in the mother frequently follow any hungry cues from baby. I am intimately acquainted with this issue.

For some moms this isn’t the case at all. A friend of mine just had her sixth child. She swears she actually feels better when she’s pregnant and then two days after the baby’s birth she’s back on schedule, helping out at school and church and running her business. I’m vaguely certain that these mothers exist just to make the rest of us feel really, really bad about ourselves.

This week I’ve been entrenched in helping two of my dearest friends get through their first postpartum weeks as smoothly as possible and in doing so I’ve been reminded of a couple of my favorite tricks for doing just that:

  • Nurse your baby right away after birth to avoid latching problems, low blood sugar and body temp issues.
  • See a lactation consultant in the hospital and for more than one feeding if possible.
  • Swaddle! (and here‘s a good how-to video)
  • Get a good sling and use it right away. (how-to video)
  • Put people to work. When people ask if they can do anything to help they mean it! Have them bring in food, hold the baby so you can have a shower, wash and fold laundry, do dishes, coordinate visits and helpers… anything you need done.
  • Nursing issues only get worse when you get home. If you are having trouble, line someone up to see you in your home before you even get there!
  • Sleep! If you have a choice between getting something done and taking a nap, take a nap. Ask a visitor to help tidy up or take out the trash. People love to help! It makes them feel a part of and contributor to your new family.
  • Don’t expect too much of yourself. Everyone works at a different pace and everything deals with stress and change in different ways.
  • Play a show or movie you love when you are up for midnight feedings. This lessens feelings of loneliness and helps you to relax at a time when it’s easy to be frustrated.
  • If you have an older child, make nursing time family snack time. Have someone pick up special snacks that are just for nursing times and sit your older child next to you for a family snack.
  • Drink lots of water! If you are dehydrated, your might be soon. It’s easy to lose track of time in the hospital and come home dry and parched.

And here I will stop to remind myself I’m not writing a book but a blog post. The rest will have to wait. Happy postpartum recovery to all!

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