I wish someone told me: The First 4 Months

February 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Henry will officially be 4 months old this weekend! This means that we are graduating from what some call “the fourth trimester“. Having made it out alive and still relatively sane, I have compiled my top things that I’d most like to share with new moms:

  • Literally as soon as he’s born, get as much sleep as you can. Even though my labour lasted 35 hours, once Henry popped out, I devoured a bagel, downed a bottle of water, then stayed up to take photos and call my family. I was hopped up on adrenaline and didn’t want to sleep! If you’re in a baby-friendly hospital, the baby will be sleeping in the room with you and guess what? Effective immediately, you’re not sleeping.
  • Once you’re home, give in to the sleeplessness. There’s nothing you can do to make your baby sleep through the night at this point (he needs to eat!) so just enjoy this time. It won’t last forever.
  • Every parent will swear they instantly fell madly in love with their new baby. I contest this. Of course we have always loved Henry, but I think it would be more appropriate to describe these initial feelings towards your tiny newborn as curiosity and fascination.
  • If you’re a busy body, aim to do just one errand a day. Then be proud you actually did it. After all, you’re recovering from labour, getting used to sleep deprivation, and adjusting to a totally different lifestyle.
  • That first growth spurt at 5 or 6 weeks is just brutal. Mainly because it’s the first one and your formerly passive, cuddly, sleepy baby just wants to eat and cry, all day long, for days on end. Just let him eat as much as he wants and get a good book or TV show to watch while you’re waiting for it to end. It will end!
  • Babies are very loud sleepers. They toss and turn and grunt and snort. Then when they finally fall asleep, you’re going to constantly check to see if they’re still breathing.
  • Baby outfits consisting of pants, shirts, hoodies, jackets, shoes and socks are very cute, but a huge pain in the ass. Onesies all day, everyday! Preferably ones with zippers instead of snaps.
  • After you hear or smell the poop happen, wait 5-10 minutes before changing the diaper. You (or the changing table, or the bookcase next to the changing table, or your Mom) will get pooped on. There’s a surprising amount of firepower.
  • Buy nipple shields to use his second week of life. This is a little graphic for non-moms, but learning to breastfeed is like learning to play guitar: you have to build up calluses and then as long as the latch is correct, it won’t hurt anymore. Nipple shields will allow you to nurse through the healing process.
  • Nursing pads are a must!
  • If you don’t have big boobs, you don’t really need a nursing bra. I have spent the last 4 months in tank tops (BOOB Design is especially handy!) and button downs. I occasionally wear soft bras I can easily pull to the side as well.
  • You are going to be HUNGRY! Get lots of healthy snacks and snack all day long. Stock your nursing area with granola bars, nuts, or any one-handed foods for midnight feedings. Also, lots of water.
  • A breast pump = freedom. (Or as much freedom as you’ll get at this point.)
  • Don’t be surprised if your grey hairs multiply like bunnies.
  • Finally, it will get so much easier once they complete their third month of life. Hang in there!

[Disclaimer: thanks to my friend Leah, who is a midwife in Toronto, for reminding me to be careful with the use of nipple shields. Only use them when you really have to so the baby doesn’t become reliant on them and the milk production isn’t affected.]

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