One of the few things that most moms can agree on is how difficult the newborn stage is. Those first two months with your new baby feel like a rollercoaster. The sleepless nights, hormone shifts, appointments for you and baby, and even getting into a schedule of any sort.
But, even with all of these things, the newborn stage throws most parents for a loop. So, why is the newborn stage so hard? Just like when you became a teenager, when you got your first job, when you went to college, or moved in with a significant other, change takes time.
Even if it’s hard, you don’t have to sit and take it! Whether you’re an expecting mom looking, new mom, or experienced mom, here are some things to expect during the newborn stage and some simple tips that can make those first two months postpartum much easier!
While the term infant or baby typically applies for the first year of life – or until your little one is walking or “toddling” around (hence the term toddler), the term “newborn” typically refers to a baby until the first one to three months of life.
During the newborn stage, your baby can sleep up to 18 hours per day and will spend most of their awake time eating and adjusting to life outside of the womb. The end of the newborn stage is when your baby adapts to this outside world and begins to sleep more at night.
Towards the end of the newborn stage, you’ll notice they react more to the world around them and even their cries may sound different.
But, the newborn stage isn’t filled with just your baby learning how to adapt – it’s a period where parents learn to adapt to expanding their family. You’re learning how to care for a new baby, how to adjust to your rapidly-changing body, and even how you interact with the world around you with your newborn.
During the newborn stage, you should expect crying, waking up throughout the night, and spending a lot of time feeding your newborn. Newborns should eat every three hours or more depending on what your pediatrician recommend or baby prefers.
Some newborns also deal with issues such as colic or reflux that can cause your baby to wake up frequently or need soothing to go to sleep.
You will often get the recommendation to “sleep when the baby sleeps” which is great advice for your first baby, but isn’t quite as possible for your second, third, or fourth.
The newborn stage is the hardest thanks to your own recovery and adapting to a new person entering the family – a very needy one at that. Newborns require around-the-clock care until they’re almost two or three months old.
If you’ve had a preemie or newborn with other health issues, you may be looking at an even longer “adjustment” period.
So, not only are you caring for another human being that can’t do anything by themselves, you’re doing it all day and all night. You’re skipping caring for yourself in favor of this little human you created – which is to be expected and even loved, but it doesn’t make the time less difficult or tiring.
Thankfully, the newborn stage doesn’t last forever and you’ll eventually get back to sleeping more than three hours at a time.
While there’s no foolproof method of making the newborn stage easy, you can definitely try and make it easier. Now, you don’t have to use every tip on the list, but do try and use a few!
Here’s my top tips for surviving the newborn stage that I’ve personally used as a mom of three!
You can read about all the things you need online or get recommendations for the nursery from people you know, but prepping for the newborn stage looked a little different at our house – and it saved my butt after birth.
We prepped every space in the house for a newborn, or at least the spaces that I used frequently. We had places for myself and the baby to lay in the den, the bedroom, and even the kitchen. Plus, we would put baskets of diapers, wipes, pacis, extra onesies, and a small blanket in each room. Rather than searching for baby supplies, I always had them ready to go.
Let’s get real for a second. Your first reaction might be “ew” but everyone deals with postpartum differently and sometimes that means you’re just too tired or too stressed to shower. But don’t give in!
You need that little boost to your mood – I promise you’ll feel a little bit better and re-energized afterwards. Get a baby bath like this one and set it safely in the shower, outside of the spray, if you happen to have a newborn that doesn’t appreciate you being out of their line of sight.
The pressure to do it all during this stage can be overbearing. Just ignore it. You need to focus on your baby and yourself until you’re done healing. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
The house can be cleaned another day, you can wash but not fold laundry, you can sleep when the baby sleeps when you need to. The more you take care of yourself now rather than stressing about things that can be done later, the easier it will be when you begin to actually have time to do so.
While your routine may need altering nearly ever week as your baby continues to develop, having a general idea of what happens when can help you make it through the early days.
If you really want to set a routine with your newborn, consult your pediatrician about how often they need to eat and sleep. Some pediatricians may recommend waking your newborn to ensure they’re getting enough to eat while others may suggest you let them sleep.
Finding a support group of mothers in the same stage of motherhood can be really beneficial during the newborn stage. This stage of motherhood can make you feel lonely and as if you’re the only one struggling or your baby is the only one that doesn’t sleep, doesn’t latch, doesn’t want to be put down.
A support group, even if it’s just a Facebook group chat, can make the difference during those mornings and evenings when our feelings get to us and we need that reassurance that we’re not alone.
Finally, remember that there’s a difference between the “baby blues” and postpartum depression. If you think you are experiencing postpartum depression, speak to your pediatrician or consult a therapist for help. There is no shame in putting your mental health first mama!