Many mothers are fortunate to have a few days, or a few weeks, with their partner, family, friends or a postnatal doula supporting them, following the birth of their baby.
The early days and weeks are a time for much needed rest and recovery as you begin to bond with your baby and establish breastfeeding.
If you’ve had some support, it can be a bit intimidating to think about your first day home alone with baby, especially if it’s your first baby.
Having realistic expectations, being prepared, and making the best use of time can help make the day go pretty smoothly, and build your confidence as the rockstar mother that you are.
What To Do On Your First Day Home Alone With Baby
Here are 7 things you need to do on your first day home alone with baby:
#1: “Pack” Your Breakfast And Lunch
If you’re wondering why you should pack meals when you’re planning to be home, then think about when you often feel hungriest. Many mothers find themselves famished as soon as they settle down to breastfeed. Not a problem when your partner’s around but if you’re home alone that can make for an uncomfortable and very long breastfeeding session.
Feedings aside, between nappy (diaper) changes, spit ups, rocking and soothing baby, you rarely have more than a few moments, and often only one hand, to grab food. Having food prepped and ready, so you can simply take it out of the fridge, can make the difference between a miserably long day and one where you at least feel nourished.
Sandwiches, salads, wraps, cheese and crackers, cut fruit, apples dipped in nut butter, etc are nutrient dense and easy to prepare ahead of time. It’s the ideal job for your partner or support person to do, and will make sure you’re well fed and therefore able to care for baby.
#2: Sleep When The Baby Sleeps. No, Really, Sleep When The Baby Sleeps!
You’ve probably heard this a million times but it’s really true. Chances are you’re not getting a solid eight hours at night. Now that you have a young infant, you have to think about how much sleep you need to survive, and aim to get it – over twenty-four hours rather than in one stretch.
While showering, tidying, etc are appealing activities when baby is down, it’s vital for you to get adequate rest. Some mothers opt to sleep when the baby sleeps anytime during the morning, and then after lunch they’ll try to do other things. In the earliest days, and even weeks, catch a nap whenever you can, regardless of the time of day.
#3: Schedule A Helpful Visit
If you have a friend or family member who has been dying to spend some time with your new little one, plan the visit for your first day home alone. The key word is ‘helpful'; be sure it’s someone who will be of assistance and not expect you to host in any way. Choose a friend who will happily make you coffee, fold a basket of laundry, or not mind if you drift off to sleep when your little one finally gives in and has a nap.
#4: Don’t Worry About Chores
Yes, chores eventually have to be done. However, try to focus only on essentials, and remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Doing a week’s worth of laundry, mopping the floors and dusting the furniture, while also prepping three meals a day isn’t likely to happen when you have a newborn. You might be able to get the laundry washed, but not folded, or you might be able to prep lunch but order take-out for dinner.
When you’re feeding, bathing, changing and soothing a newborn 24/7, you simply have to adjust your chore expectations. Do what you can, ask for help, and remember that this is only a phase. Choose the short lived newborn cuddles over cobwebs; the days seem so long but this phase is fleeting.
On your first day home alone, definitely don’t worry about the chores!
#5: If You Can, Have A Shower Or A Bath
The first few postpartum showers feel like heaven on earth. As you get further into motherhood, they become the crutch that can get you through a long day as you finally feel human again.
Having a shower when you have a newborn might seem like an impossible feat, but it is possible some days. After baby is fed, changed and soothed, try using a swing or bouncy seat in, or right outside, the bathroom. The soothing noise from the shower is often enough to keep your baby settled long enough for you to wash your hair (and wash away the spit up, leaking milk and other pleasures of early motherhood).
If you need to feel refreshed but baby is impossible to settle, try taking a bath together. A gentle bath can provide relaxation, skin-to-skin, and be simply soothing for both you and baby. You might find that when nothing else works, a bath can quickly calm a fussing baby, and help you to reenergize enough to make it through the rest of the day.
#6: Ask For Help
Our culture isn’t quite as community oriented as it once was. Many new mothers feel the pressure to do everything on their own; in reality it’s nearly impossible to mother without support.
If it’s three in the afternoon and the thought of making dinner is haunting you, don’t be afraid to plan for take-out, or ask friends or family if they can assist in any way. If baby simply won’t settle and you’re at your wits’ end, call a friend and ask for company.
Every day won’t be hard, but in early motherhood you’ll need a lot of support. Never be afraid to ask for help.
#7: Get Some Fresh Air
While it’s important to be cautious about germs, going outside doesn’t really increase germ exposure. Taking your three day old to the mall probably isn’t ideal, when it comes to germs, but taking a walk in your neighbourhood or hitting a local trail spot isn’t a big risk.
If it’s really cold, try opening the curtains to let in some sunlight. Otherwise, be sure to keep baby shaded and enjoy the fresh air. Even having coffee on your back deck or patio can be enough to refresh you and get you through the day.
Being home with a new baby can be intimidating, but with some preparation and support you can not only survive, but even enjoy, this short newborn phase. Even if seven of the eight hours you’re alone are spent breastfeeding and rocking baby you have accomplished a lot.
Nourishing and soothing your baby… what task could be more important than that?
Recommended Reading: Partner Returning To Work? 5 Tips For A Smooth Transition.