1) You can’t do it all
So just don’t try. You will just make yourself feel like a failure. I was used to doing everything and being really proud of that. But the first few days of being home with the baby, everyone was waiting on me and all I had to do was feed the baby..and I was failing at that because breastfeeding was so painful! Just accept the help and take the sleep when you can, because your help won’t be there forever! Laundry is going to pile up, dishes will pile up, the house will need to be swept, dusted and vacuumed. But, you’ll get to it eventually, don’t worry. The more I worried, the worse I felt and when I finally relaxed a little bit and accepted that this was the new normal, I stopped crying at the drop of a hat and started to (somewhat) see the light.
2) Nursing tanks and stretchy pants – easy access, that’s my new clothing criteria.
Also, dark colors and prints are a necessity, because..spitup. Also, leakage. I could not believe how much leakage I had!
3) Compromise your grooming and hygiene routine
It was 2 weeks before I could put any makeup on my face because most of the time, the usual face cleanse at the end of the night was skipped during the first couple of weeks. When you have just a few minutes to spare and the options are sleep, eat or hygiene…sleep won. Also, if I took a shower every time I “needed” one, I would be in the shower about 8x a day. I enjoyed the one I could squeeze in and just dealt with the smell and stickiness of spit up and breastmilk dribble.
4) Theres a good reason you got so many clothes, burp cloths, towels, rags and diapers
We went through 4 changes of clothes in one afternoon, so when you have an excessive stock of onesies, stretch out the laundry and use them! Also, cute burp cloths are..cute. But, functionality becomes much more important. I mean, they’re supposed to do one thing: absorb spit up and when they’re covered with decoration, the functionality goes down the drain. I went through burp cloths like crazy, because, when you do the math, that’s 8 feedings a day, meaning 8+ burps and generally 8+ spit-ups. Also, having a little boy, you never know when the pee stream is going to happen all over clothes, towels..everything.
5) Take the lactation consultant appointment
I really, really struggled with breastfeeding at first. I took a class pre-baby and thought I was all set. “It’s natural” “Your baby knows what to do”….well, it didn’t come so naturally for me and my baby. I was in tears and dreading every feeding because I was in such intense pain and he was frustrated, not being able to latch. I was so ready to quit 4 days in, but I called and luckily snagged a same-day appointment with the complimentary lactation consultant at the hospital that I delivered in. She observed how I was breastfeeding and immediately corrected my hold and positioning. She checked out his mouth and tongue, making sure he was positioned correctly as well. Finally, she hooked me up with some hydrogels to heal my intensely scabbed nipples and sent me home with a nipple shield for painless feedings until I healed. I scheduled a follow up appointment to wean off the shield, but I was able to start before the appointment and was well on my way to normal feeding prior to the followup. I still had to use the shield occasionally when my son was too sleepy and fussy to latch on, but after a couple of nights, he didn’t need it anymore and I was so thankful because it was one less “step” and thing to keep track of in the middle of the night!
6) Don’t worry about covering it up while you’re both still learning
Funny thing about breastfeeding…it’s got this amazing reputation and everyone is supportive of moms doing it, but most people get super uneasy and awkward when you actually DO it and when they are around. Myself included. Until you realize how much work it is and how inconvenient it is to “cover it up” when you’re still learning, I think it’s a really normal thing to be uncomfortable and wish moms would just hide it. That’s the only attitude I had been exposed to. Boobs were just nudity. But I finally got comfortable nursing in front of my friends and when men were around, I would just politely ask them to change rooms, or I would find a private room. Until my baby can find the boob on his own, I’m not messing with an annoying cover up.
7) Accept the help while you have it
If you’re lucky enough to have a mom or other family who is truly there to help you, accept the help. I am a super independent person and really struggled having my family and husband constantly wait on me and tell me to “get rest”. But, until I gave in and got rest, I didn’t realize how much I needed it. It helped me physically and emotionally. It also helped me sweat out all that pregnancy puffiness!
8) Boy moms always be prepared to be peed on – seriously
I learned the hard way to be on alert all the time when the diaper is off. If you’re changing a diaper and he hasn’t peed….wait for it…wait for it…it will happen. If it doesn’t, just wipe “it” down with a wet wipe; that usually does the trick too. And if the little boy parts get away from you a few times (it will) just know that if he accidentally pees in his own face, I can say from experience, he won’t be happy, but he will be FINE.
9) Don’t stock up on diapers til you figure out which type fits your baby
We were really lucky to be able to exchanged a stock pile of diapers that my son grew out of and didn’t fit him properly. People will innately want to give you they diapers that worked for them, so don’t register too many, if any, until you figure out which diapers are going to work for your baby. And if someone gives you stock piles of diapers, politely ask where they bought them, JUST in case…most stores will gladly let you exchange diapers, even without a receipt.
10) Take recommendations, but especially turn to expert books as well to get some different perspectives.