What did you do to make the first months of parenthood less overwhelming? #I've got a parenting question!#babies#new parents September 1 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter. Do we need to be this organized NOW… or can it wait? Photo by Liz, used with Creative Commons license. What were the three things (or more!) you did that made those first few months with baby less overwhelming? Or what do you wish you had done? I mean concrete things like organizing the onesies, stocking up on energy bars, hiring a cleaning person, etc. I'm due in around seven weeks with our first, and trying to be as prepared as I can. One request: please don't tell me how I'll never be prepared enough — I get that. I'm just trying to take care of what I can now when I have the time. — Holly What did you guys do before you had your child(ren) that made those first few months a little easier? Join our community! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS Summer's ending: what haven't you accomplished yet? NEXT I won the battle to grow my own food — even though I live on a boat Show/Hide comments [ 95 ] I'm due in 7 weeks too – GREAT question!!! Excited to see the responses! 5 agree Reply 1. Find a group of mothers (internet friends or IRL) that you can use as your support group. Fellow bloggers, twitter friends, local mom groups, LLL groups if you're breastfeeding – any source of support will be great. 2. Trust your instincts over "expert advice". This is one I wish I would have known in those first few months. 3. Make a "minimum maintenance" schedule for your house work and get used to it before baby arrives. 4. Make some prep-ahead freezer meals. And use your crock pot. 11 agree Reply Great list! Also: Have a real, written-down list of things that need doing, so when someone says, "hey, can I help?" or "do you need anything?" you can say YES! and tell them exactly what you need. It'll make them feel good to help, and be one less thing you need to worry with. 3 agree Reply Yes to all of this, but especially #2. Before baby I thought we needed to do hyper-scheduling, ala Babywise, in order to cope. When it came time to put baby on the schedule (at two weeks), I couldn't do it. It felt wrong to me. So I started reading attachment parenting books, and parts of that didn't feel right to me either. (We didn't cosleep in bed together except on rare occasions, among other things). After a couple of months I calmed down with all the labels and just parented the way I felt comfortable. Son is an awesome happy toddler now, so I think it worked! 🙂 7 agree Reply "Minimum maintenance" has saved my sanity. I divided the house into seven sections (two bathrooms, living room, office, kitchen, bedroom, and floors) and assigned days to them. I only end up spending about half an hour a day on cleaning. 1 agrees Reply -Stocked up on hearty freezer meals in large quantities. I made some and we had friends make some too. -Set up a station next to my bed with food, breastfeeding supplies, water, my phone, the nursing pillow, etc. so I didn't have to get up when I felt shitty. -My partner wore the baby in the wrap carrier a lot when she wasn't nursing that way I could get a nap or take a bath. 5 agree Reply Ooooh, yes – setting up a little "sitting on the couch all day with a baby that just wants to be held/eat" kit is great. Stock it with food, water, a book/e-reader, burp cloths etc etc. 1 agrees Reply I completely agree about the stations! We had a diaper changing/nursing station in the living room downstairs, in my room on my nightstand, and in the baby's room (where she didn't even go until she was almost a year old!). I had various wicker baskets and plastic bins to hold my nursing pads, an extra nursing bra, bibs (my baby ate like a pig!), bottles of water, diapers, wipes, an extra outfit, nursing pillow, and a book. I only had one pump, so I moved it from station to station. It saved my sanity to have everything set up! I tried to do a lot of shopping before my baby was born. She arrived in June, where it was 100 degrees in my city. I was NOT in the mood to go out much. I stockpiled food, toiletries, and baby necessities. Keep an extra diaper bag (with outfit, bib, snack, empty cup/bottle or nursing supplies, diapers, wipes) in the car just in case you lose or forget your main one. 1 agrees Reply Good idea with the shopping. My sister-in-law didn't have any grooming supplies for the baby before he arrived and his nails grew fast and sharp. So I'd say, make sure you have some basic grooming supplies. 1 agrees Reply If baby wouldn't settle in basket, then in bed was best. Happily accepted people offering to come over for a meal that they bought with them. Got outside for a walk ASAP, and tried to make sure I did so every day. 1 agrees Reply 1. Do what works for YOUR family. There are so many invisible "lines" out there among mommies- breast vs bottle, crib vs co-sleep, cloth diaper vs disposable. Our motto was always to do what worked best for OUR family at that moment in time. And it may change. But don't worry about what others may think and don't feel like a failure if your plans didn't go as expected (for me, it was breastfeeding). 2. Never refuse a helping hand! I had several friends offer to help me with laundry, to hold the baby so I could shower, or to bring meals over. I always said YES! and it made those first weeks easier. Maybe even schedule the helpful visitors for once baby arrives BEFORE hand, so they are already lined up. 3. Don't worry about the mess. If it does become frustrating for you, as you mentioned, I would definitely hire/ask someone to help you clean so that you can be as stress free as possible. Best of luck to you! God bless 🙂 1 agrees Reply 1. make a lot of freezer meals, stock up on easy/healthy snacks 2. arrange for HELP ahead of time either from friends/family or hire someone. You wont feel like cleaning or cooking, but you'll feel so good if it's all taken care of by someone else! 3. Arrange for help w/ the baby – friends/family or hired help. You NEED rest and alone time, even if it's just for an hour. Good luck!!! xoxoxo 1 agrees Reply Get out of the house. With baby or without, get out of the house, cabin fever often makes the mommy blues even harder, getting out of the house and just enjoying the weather can do wonders. Phone a friend. You don't think about it, but especially after your partner has gone back to work and all the wonderful helpers have left, it gets quiet. Really quiet. You're with a little person who can't speak to you and you can find yourself in your head a lot. See if you have some friends who are open to phone calls during the day. When you go on walks call them and chat about anything but especially about non-baby stuff if you can. It gives you the opportunity to have some adult conversation in your day. 1 agrees Reply Amazon Mom subscription. You get free 2-day shipping for 3+ months. It's great if you find you need something and can't get it locally or if you can get out of the house. 1 agrees Reply I love Amazon Mom. Now instead of stressing on when I will be able to get to the store (which is always, like, 5 days away) I just click and it comes in 2 days. 2 agree Reply i don't know about Amazon Mom but i did become an Amazon Prime member. i had many things shipped (free once you're a member) and they have a subscription plan for the formula we use. no, i didn't predict ahead of time we'd need formula or that i'd have such a tough time recovering and would really need having stuff delivered to our door! (formula is Earth's Best organic — with the subscription, they bring it to you every month, and it costs less that way.) 1 agrees Reply here are the things we did ahead of time that I think really helped. 1. we prepped stations. pumping supplies fully stocked and placed in bedside table drawers. breast feeding pillow, music, nightlight placed around the rocking chair. ect. We knew our babies were going to come home from the NICU on O2 and have apnea monitors so we prepped our house to make it as easy as possible to get around lugging babies and equipment. 2. we had a freezer stocked full of easy meals (burritos, casseroles, ect). our shelves were lined with pita chips, peanut butter and other easy snacks. 3. my husband and I had the "game plan" conversation. how were we going to do night feeds (bottle or boob), what household responsibilities were we each going to be responsible for. 4. we made a phone list of all the people who had offered to help/ had been helping us in case we need to call for support or backup. 5. we decided our mantra was going to be "we'll do what ever is best for our family and adjust accordingly". A therapist gave us that advice while in the NICU. It has served us very well. 1 agrees Reply I'm due with our first in about 10 weeks, and also looking forward to the responses (and reading the ones already here!) Reply Never refuse help from others, they genuinly want to help when they offer!! And when they don't know what to do but want to help, tell them what you need! I made about 40 individual meals that I froze it zipploc bags or plastic containers. They were sooo handy! Have your family, friends and inlaws come over but stay calm and not invasive. Showing off my new baby and having people around all the time made me feel great and proud. I organized my girl's clothes by size and type: short sleeve onesies, long sleeve onesies, pyjamas, pants, etc. I have a drawer with a sock bin, a hat bin and a stockings/diaper cover bin. If you plan on breastfeeding, I recommend you get a book about it ahead of time. My first week and a half was horrible and it's when everything was better that I saw one at a store I wish I would have had. I also recommend getting a cape if you want to breastfeed in public places and are not confortable baring some skin. Have a minimum of 2 bras and some nursing tank tops to sleep, noting else is confortable for me. Also, I need to wear nursing pads to bed. Don't be too worried. I had my baby july 12th and expected the worst from everyone's warnings but all went and is still fine. Of course nights are short and patience is short when the baby cries, but really take each day one at a time and make sure you keep a smile. If anything takes that smile off your face, make sure you talk with your partner and anyone around you to make sure it comes right back on. Have fun and congratulations!! 1 agrees Reply I think all the above comments are awesome. I really struggled with nights not being for bedtime. Around 10pm I would get us ready for bed and it would be incredibly frustrating when the baby had other ideas. A friend gave me the advice to "make your home like vegas". Put the lights on. Personally, I watched a lot of tv on the couch in the middle of the night while nursing or soothing. A lot. Also, really communicate with your partner. This will be a challenging time for both of you. Be a great team. Reply 1) Stocked up on diapers so I didn't have to make an emergency run to the store. 2) Made and froze several different dinners, and made a list of easy stuff that I had on hand so I didn't have to think too hard. 3) Get some magazines and queue up some interesting tv shows in Netflix. If you are breastfeeding, babies nurse up to six hours a day. Some moms may be able to cuddle and talk to their babies for that amount of time. I, myself, could not. (There wasn't much back and forth interaction, you know.) So you need something to do during that time, but not something too taxing, because you're working on four hours of sleep if you're lucky. 6 agree Reply ZOMG NETFLIX! I watched all of Buffy on my maternity leave… now I'm working my way through Dr. Who and Torchwood. If it weren't for Netflix I'd have pulled my hair out… there is NOTHING on during that 3am feeding… 3 agree Reply Seconded! Dr Who got me thru six weeks of exclusive pumping post NICU. Im sure the sound of the theremin will always be strangely comforting to my little one… 1 agrees Reply Mindless fiction is great too. I got tired of watching TV, so my mom picked up a bunch of Star Trek: the Next Generation books (*blush*) for me at Half Priced Books. Make sure the books you choose, if not so dorky, are a small paperbacks so you can read with one hand. A kindle is great too. Reply i read sooo much. it was awesome. i watched a few movies early on, but my son really wanted to focus his eyes on the screen (tv, computer, iphone) after a couple months. current research on screen-watching by little ones is pretty damning. messes up the development of their brains. so anyway, books were great for me. recommended babyish ones: Louise Erdrich's Blue Jay's Dance, Erin Bow's Mongoose Diaries, and of course Anne Lamott's baby memoir, whatever it's called. i actually read those toward end of pregnancy. during the first 8-9 months, before he could grab and shred my books, i guess i read everything — LOVED the Hunger Games especially, and Scott Westerfeld's trilogies Leviathan and Pretties. blush not over Star Trek! 1 agrees Reply Ha! six hours! Two weeks in, my baby was nursing constantly! I thought he was colicky for awhile, but in retrospect I think a lot of it was just hunger, and I was trying to go by the "feed every 1 1/2 to 3 hours" rule. I agree about getting a book. Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding is just as amazing as her Guide to Childbirth. Got me successfully through latching issues, a biting baby boy, and clogged ducts. 1 agrees Reply 1 – Make boundaries about visitors and family, we had a lot just 'show up' between 9am-9pm (?!) and expect us to wake up our son for a cuddle in the first few weeks. We slept when the baby did… and he didn't like to sleep at night. 2 – Have a group of mums to chat to. I had my online forum 'due in' group… and 2 and a half years later we are all still supporting each other and chatting from all over the country. 🙂 3 – SNACKS. I forgot to eat the first week much, I was sore, tired, leaking milk, I didn't know when to wee… I had muesli bars, mini muffins and little crackers handy just to keep up my energy. 4 – Expect to maybe have expenses you didnt plan on. My son was smaller than we thought and he needed a few clothes sizes we didnt have… he also refused the breast so we found ourselves with a bottle baby and no breast pump,formula, bottles, teats, bottle warmer. We also got takeaway alot… and bought those little bits and pieces we didn't realise we needed until he was here! Goodluck! Reply I'm pregnant too and still have 3 months to go but I'm also reading around for information on this topic. I really liked the info in this blog post: http://www.feedingthesoil.com/2011/03/week-one-post-partum-advice.html I would also add the advice of my acupuncturist and traditional chinese medicine specialist: stay horizontal and rest as much as possible for the first 2-3 weeks. Birth is a major event on your body and the hormonal changes and blood loss can have longer term health impacts if you try to do too much too fast when your body is in such a drastic transition and exhaustion. A practical tip: my friends who are moms also swear by a shaper or stomach support girdle for the first few weeks to help your organs which have been squished by your baby and uterus have some support as they settle back into place. They also said it was more comfortable to walk around with this support. 1 agrees Reply Buy the "Planet Earth" series. We basically watched that the whole first week, and it was awesome all snuggled together on the couch, or walking the baby around. 8 agree Reply Another +1 for this! We watched "Planet Earth" a lot when I was breasfeeding, and now that Tavi's starting to get interested in videos, they make for great, toddler-friendly watching. 3 agree Reply We did toooo. We just bought Human Planet and it's equally amazing. Jasper's getting into it. 🙂 1 agrees Reply Nap! Make sure to nap whenever you baby does in the first week or two, and then try to nap every other nap. This made a world of difference to me in terms of coping skills, happiness level, and happy bonding with the baby. Don't worry about clutter/dishes/laundry. This is hard if you're like me, who gets bummed out by having a messy home. Ask your partner, friends, or family to help with tidying if you can. Also, if friends want to bring you food, by all means let them! We were lucky enough to have friends deliver meals to us almost every night for the first few weeks, in part because we requested meals as part of our baby shower gifts. It makes a world of difference to have hot food ready for you when you need it. Good luck and enjoy these early sweet times with your babe! 4 agree Reply 1) Meals in the freezer are great. In supermarkets in the UK you can buy stuffed pasta that cooks in 2-3 minutes. Chuck some olive oil and parmesan on it and you have a meal for two. 2) Also, don't be afraid to press your friends into service when they visit. In the first 6 weeks or so, everyone who came to visit the new baby was given a choice: do some housework for us or hold the baby while we do some housework. People really didn't mind. People who brought a meal for the freezer were invited back. 3) If you have a partner, trust them. If they suck at changing nappies, let them do it badly until they get good. Let your partner learn with you, which is hard if they go out to work most of the day, but if you're the only one who can change a nappy, then you'll be changing all the nappies. 4) If you get the opportunity, leave the baby with your partner for a long stretch of time, maybe an afternoon, or a whole day, even overnight. This will give you time and space to be a real person, and it'll also give your partner a sense of just how difficult it is when you're on your own taking care of feeding, sleeping, playing and pooping. My wife has been good enough to trust me with these last two on several occasions, and it's been brilliant for both of us. She does baby stuff every day while I'm out at work, and having had a taste of it while she's out with the girls or shopping for a Mum-grade handbag, my respect for her is now immense. James 22 agree Reply I'm nowhere near being a mom, but this is just excellent advice in general – let your partner do something that they're crappy at until they get good at it. Tips are fine, but no one likes a back-seat driver. Perhaps this will change if I do have children, but I'm of the firm belief that no one you trust would do anything to harm a child, and that pretty much everyone has a little mothering instinct (including males) so try to step back and chill and let someone else be responsible for a bit. I think this was the hardest thing for my friends with babies, but once they got over that hurdle, they became much happier. 2 agree Reply This is even hard for me with our pets – for some reason I have this awful "I know everything and I know best!" thing, even though I really don't! I'm lucky my dude has been patient with me, and tells me when I do this, but this really is great advice. And even if he really isn't great at things, if I don't act all "La la la, I know it and you don't", then he'll often ask for advice and we'll both learn from each other and get better at whatever it is (even for simple things like lining a litter pan or picking up a dog's poo). Reply 1. When my annoying MIL would come over, I would have Have my kiddos laundry clean and in a basket for her to fold and put away. I didn't care how she did it, but it gave me the control I needed, and gave her something to help with. This can apply to anyone annoying. 4 agree Reply DEFINITELY keeping this one in mind for when the time comes that my hubby and I have kids … no popping round for a coffee and snarky, sly remarks about my housekeeping, when she can DO some housekeeping instead 😛 Reply Ahead of time, I made a "tiered list of support" of family and friends I could call on for help. The top tier were my sisters, whom I could ask to do the real nitty gritty stuff like help cook and clean. The next tier was the handful of family and close friends I didn't mind calling on to run an errand or help me unpack (we moved into a new home a week before the baby was born), and the last tier was all the others who offered to help but I didn't know as well – those people I would assign tasks or an errand as they visited. I didn't call on everyone on my list, but seeing all those names and the help I could get if I needed it was very reassuring. Reply What a great list!!! So much good real advice. Read up some but when you've had enough, stop. I didn't have much experience with pregnancy or infants when I was expecting our first. I read books that had a good tone and that I enjoyed. This mostly turned out to be "daddy" books. It definitely made me feel more prepared. When your bundle of joy arrives follow your instincts. Know that things you bought may not work for your family and it's ok to just let them go! We bought a crib for our son second hand and he never really used it. People, ridiculous people, will try to give you advice. Just smile and continue on. If it's good advice, great! If it's not say 'thanks" and leave it be, trust me, everybody knows best. People want to help. Let them. We put a note on the door asking people to keep the visits short and sweet. And to please walk our dogs if they wanted to help us out. Finally the MOST important thing to help me feel relaxed was a group of other new moms. While you are pregnant make an effort to befriend anyone who seems like they would be cool to hang out with. Prenatal Yoga and swim classes in addition to birth class are great places to meet other new moms and usually their babies will be born close enough to yours for the kids to play as they grow. In our small area a lot of us new friends knew each other making a group. So we would meet once a week for a walk/hike. It was the best. It was so casual and we could just talk about our babies and get to know each other more all while out getting fresh air. So don't be shy! Make an effort to meet these other families around you sharing the experience! Have fun! Reply This is a bit different, but… 1) make sure all your paper work, especially maternity leave and insurance payment stuff is in order well ahead of baby arriving so that you don't have to worry about getting paid or missing bills or other key payments in those first few weeks/months. I even wrote post-dated cheques and pre-addressed envelopes for the whole year off (in Canada) so I could just mail what was needed when, and not have to figure it out when I was sleep deprived. 2) stations all over the house: we had bed and/or diaper changing stations on each floor with changes of clothes, wipes etc in each. It means you can camp out wherever is comfortable without having to run around for supplies. 3)start exploring mom and baby groups and activities; be prepared to visit a few before settling into the ones you like best. I found I needed an outing every day and if I wasn't careful, I would end up just shopping or something – got expensive until I found the free stuff like baby story time at the library, breastfeeding drop ins etc. 8 agree Reply I have to second the paper work suggestion. My twins came so early that I hadn't even thought about all the paper work (FMLA, short term disability, bills, ect). I spent my first week recovering from multiple incision c-section, had babies in the NICU and had to navigate through piles and piles of paperwork. Most of which could have been done before hand. 1 agrees Reply Yes to paperwork! Our son came early and my husband hadn't turned in his paternity leaave paperwork. He stayed home with us that first week anyway. Good, I needed him to, but we spent the whole time unsure if he would be getting paid for that time (at a time when we really needed to not be losing income). It all worked out fine, but we could have done with out the extra stress. Reply love all of these suggestions. Wish I'd had them when baby Lotus was born. Oh-didn't read extremely closely but if you are feeling any anxiety or depression talk to your provider. There are many western drugs you can take even temporarily that are safe for nursing-at least my one year old is perfectly fine and I REALLY needed some help with my hormones-not until about 3 or 4 months into it-as I started freaking out about the future and tripping out about not getting enough sleep-but up till then I was soaring on love. Good LucK! Reply Do you taxes. Ok, this might now help you, but my baby was due in January, so I pre-filled out everything I could (we use turbo tax) and then when my W-2 came in the mail, just plugged in all the right numbers and send it electronically. I think I got it done a few days before the baby was born. For the baby's dresser, I put current clothes in the top drawer (use the top of the dresser as a changing table). In the middle drawer, I keep clothes for the next size up. In the bottom drawer, I keep miscellaneous stuff, extra diaper inserts, baby toys, bag of disposable diapers (for when you forget to wash diapers in time or that yucky mec poo), formula samples that some company mailed me, etc. I saved one of the gift bags I was given and it sits on the floor next to the dresser. Then, when he outgrows clothes, I just put them in the bag. After the bag, I have two rubber boxes in the garage for: 1) stuff he's outgrown and 2) stuff he's not fitting yet. Just out of one box and into the other. This will probably work for the first year in rotation with the drawers, and then you'll need another box. I tend to shop sales and a year in advance, so I needed a place to put things and a rotation so that I don't forget what I've bought when he's the right size to wear it. Although, before it goes into the box of 'stuff he's outgrown', I decide if it's an item that I loved enough to save for the next child, in good enough condition to sell or give away (goes in a box to Goodwill), or trash (those white shirts that end up with more stains that stubbornly won't come out- you know- your clothes, not the baby's). Although, those stained shirts make good cloth wipes. If they are that t-shirt material, you won't even have to hem the edges. (I hate sewing.) Above the changing area, I hung one of those command hooks (use these so you can re-decorate easily) and hung a toy chain from it. He loves it and now, he'll pull it down to play with it. Find a TV series that you like. I re-watched Friends during that first month. Each episode was about the length of each breastfeeding session. It was good to be distracted from the pain. 1 agrees Reply My go-to show was The Big Bang Theory. Now my little one LOVES the theme song! 1 agrees Reply If you can afford to, hire cleaners and/or a post partum doula. And if you have a good support group, ask a friend or family member to arrange a meal delivery system for the first week, where your friends/family will each take a night delivering lunch or dinner to you. Reply the stocking up on food thing was great. also, i had a mom-friend come over and organize things in the first little while. she was great because she KNEW what i was going through. one thing she did was organize all the baby clothes into "stuff that fits now", "stuff to go through when baby gets bigger" and "things that won't fit for a while". that way, brighid's first growth spurt didn't overwhelm me because i could just go through a little bag of stuff, not all the handmedowns the family had given us. Reply I second the Amazon Mom membership – free/cheap and fast shipping of stuff in stock that my local shops just didn't carry. LIFESAVER! I also second separating clothing into size groups which my husband thought of and has been fantastic. We do it even now as we cycle through clothing to consign and donate as our son outgrows them and if we buy/receive clothing too big for him at the time. And, just this one bit of advice I wish I'd heard: It gets easier. Around 6-8 weeks old something clicked with our baby. He was figuring out breastfeeding and routine, and suddenly feeding was teamwork and less of a struggle. I was full of anxiety about all I didn't know (I Googled every little noise, skin bump and thing he did wondering if it was OK) and overly worried about everything. As we got more comfortable in parenthood and our little guy became a little more aware of things it got so much easier. In the beginning, my tired brain worried that it was going to be that level of difficult forever. Knowing that it gets easier as infants (and parents!) mature would have let me relax a bit those first two months! Reply Great great great suggestions so far. My one suggestion is to talk with your partner about what you need before they leave for the day (if that's your situation). For example: get some breakfast ready for you, make the coffee, defrost that lasagne you made Before Baby, feed the cats or lock them in the basement so they don't bother you if you and baby are sleeping, etc. Wishing you the best! Reply 1) Decide what things really need to get done and figure out a plan. For me, it was having my living room clean. I didn't care about the kitchen, but I spent all of my time in the living room (where the rocking chair was). It was important to me to have it look nice to keep my stress level down. So my husband and I made a point to work on it every day. 2) don't worry about having all of the tiny clothes hung up on all of the tiny hangers. You wont' really need it. As long as you can get to them. What you will need is a place for baby to sleep. Whether you are cosleeping or using a crib/bassinet, you are going to want to have it all set up. There is nothing worse than having a sleepy baby and not place to put him/her. 3) FOOD! Everyone will tell you to freeze stuff ahead of time, but I didn't even have time to put stuff in the oven! My son would not stand to be set down, so even cooking something prepared was difficult. Plus I always got SO hungry while I was breastfeeding. I kept some trail mix by my rocking chair to munch on. A nice combo of carbs and protein to keep me going…. 4)If you are breastfeeding, stock up on water bottles. I only had one in my house and I had to go out and buy several more. I was always "hungover" thirsty. I felt like I'd been binge drinking for a week straight with not water….constantly. Reply We made a huge container of trail mix with healthy nuts and dried fruit and kept it along with a jug of water and a cup next to our 'nursing station' for the wee hours of the night when I felt like I needed something to get me through. We also added small chocolates and those mini heart-shaped cookies (I cant remember what they are called)for the times when what I really needed was some comfort! Also I posted signs around the place with the words 'this too shall pass' to remind me that I wouldn't be _______ (sleep deprived, smelling of sour milk, etc) forever for those times when it really felt like it would. Good luck! It's such an amazing and overwhelming time that goes so so quickly! Reply FROZEN FOOD!!!! I worked right up to my due date and did not have time or energy to cook and freeze, so we bought healthy frozen food at Trader Joe's. It is better to BUY food than keep saying "I'll make them soon" and then never do it. Designate a "family and friends liaison" (or more than one) who will update your whole list of family and friends on what is going on. My daughter was in NICU for a week and my husband and I did not want to make 40 separate phone calls. My mom, his mom, and a friend of mine sent out updates on our behalf. Reply Set up a secondary diaper changing station. This saved us because the nursery was upstairs with our first and the other side of the house with the second. 1 agrees Reply yes! two changing stations worked for us, especially since i couldn't get up the stairs for a month (that's where the baby's room is). Reply 1. Get your house clean! You'll probably be having many visitors as well as be too tired to clean for a couple weeks after the baby is born, so deep clean everything and get it as spotless as possible. 2. If you're at home with the baby and your man is working, getting up at night with the baby really should be your job. But try about once every 2 weeks to get a full 8+ hour night of sleep. Go sleep in the living room while your man takes care of nighttime feedings, leave the kid with your parents, or something similar. You'll be amazed how much better you will feel for several days after getting a full night's sleep for just one. 3. Make sure you have plenty of clothing that will fit you after birth, and several nursing bras, that you like. Reply Number 2 didn't work for our family. I had a full 8 weeks off of work after my second daughter was born, but when I DO work, I bring my kids with me. When it comes to the kids, I'm always 'on' and I need my sleep, too! I got up with the baby Sunday through Thursday nights, and my husband got up with the baby on Friday and Saturday. It was so amazing to be able to get continuous sleep so I could be my best when taking care of my girls. FWIW, I was a single mom the first time around, so I DID get up every.single.night every.single.time with my baby. I'm so glad that I had somebody to switch off with the second time around 🙂 Reply a) Asked a friend to set up a meal-delivery calendar for the first three months, so we could get real food and real company twice a week — and a fridge full of leftovers to sustain us the rest of the week. b) bought a lot of cloth diapers to use as burp cloths. Best purchase ever. c) practiced installing the car seats. Reply 1. Definitely stock your freezer with frozen meals. A good dinner means a lot, especially when you are too tired to even stand up. Also have healthy snacks or prepared lunches handy. I had a harder time feeding myself when it was me and the baby alone than when daddy came home from work. 2. Set up "Baby Stations" throughout the house. At least one on each floor if you have a multi-story house. Also, spread out the baby gear so you always have a safe place to sit her down nearby. We have a swing in the living room, a pack n' play in the dinning room, a bouncer seat in his sister's bedroom,…etc 3. Organize the baby's room and clothes. At first, I kept the onesies in the dresser, which was across the room from the changin table. Bad idea. Keep everything you may need for changing a baby right there with the table. Also washing and organizing clothes by size is great because you can just grab them when you realize how quickly your little one has gotten big. Reply I'm due in 7 weeks too and a lot of the same above info was shared with me: wash the clothes, sheets, and changing pad covers (and pack away the clothes that are larger sizes so you don't even have to deal with them now), make sure you have enough diapers and supplies you're not going to want to go out and have to get, prepare meals ahead and freeze etc. I'll add, some advice i also got recently that i plan to put into action is prepare the birth plan, pack a bag, and prepare a call list this weekend (at 33 weeks) – in case the baby is early. Same goes for car seat installation and building whatever the baby will sleep in when you're first home. I'm also trying to think of additional prep things i can do too. Good luck! Reply Food and snacks that you can grab in the middle of the night one handed. And WATER water everywhere! And the knowlege that it's going to get easier! Take a breastfeeding class before the birth, or like someone else said, read a book about it. The way you start could shape your whole experience. Reply Remember that a bad day is just a bad day. It can be really hard to stay calm and think clearly when you're sleep deprived and it becomes very easy to blow things out of proportion. Here is my real life example. At my most tired I was able to convince myself that if I couldn't breast feed and my son wouldn't eat then his development would be delayed, he'd be behind in school and would never get a good job or have a happy life and I would have failed him as a mother and ruined him for life. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself and also, completely unrealistic. Take a step away and take a deep breath. You will figure out what works for you and your new family unit. (And by the way, we did get the hang of breast feeding, I started getting some more sleep and suddenly all those ridiculous thoughts stopped coming around). 1 agrees Reply Be prepared to go to bed at 7:30PM and then do it when the time comes! I set aside a 12-hour window for night sleeping: 7:30 to 7:30. I was only getting 2-3 hours at a time for the first three months but they added up to over 8 hours total and it made a HUGE difference in my mental health. And I agree with others who recommend finding a breastfeeding support group (if you plan to nurse). I was shocked by how difficult breastfeeding was and their help was invaluable. Plus, you make friends with babies, too. Win! Reply Yes, sleeping requires 12 hours (though you won't get nearly that much sleep). Mine is closer to 11pm – 11am but the theory is the same. Reply My daughter cried almost all day every day for the first several months. However, she slept great at night. I pumped a couple of bottles in the evening for her nighttime meals and indulged in a few glasses of wine every night. It was a tremendous stress relief. 2 agree Reply A few more have occurred to me: Not sure you'll have long enough to nap before baby wakes up/someone comes to call etc? Find a ten minute or so guided meditation that you like (plenty to choose from on youtube and various meditation websites ) A good one is as effective as a long nap, I find. Also, the first six weeks tend to be a lot more mind-bending than the rest – lots of feeding, sore boobs if breastfeeding, no routine, no set bedtime etc. But sanity slowly returns after that stage. I have a four week old right now and keep reminding myself that I'm getting closer to things like a regular bedtime and someone else being able to give expressed milk in a bottle (I hope)! If, like me, you're not content just to nest at home, this time round I'm finding it quite good to alternate a day when I do stuff with a day when I do very little. So I don't feel too cabin-fevery or like I'm not getting anything that needs to be sorted done, but I can also appreciate the rest days more. Reply We discovered that we don't eat meals from the freezer. But. It's really handy for me to portion out and cook meat, especially chicken, and chop and freeze veggies. Then I can just throw a bunch of stuff in the crockpot, add broth and spices, and it's easy soup. Or stovetop casseroles/one pot dishes. Takes less time and I can do it onehanded. We also stocked up on several packages of diapers. The crib was full of them (since baby slept in our room for the first several weeks, that was the easiest place to store them). Also, schedule time for yourself. Find a babysitter you trust, and set up a time(s) for you to leave the house and do something grown-up each week. It's such a mental lifesaver. Reply Sign up for diapers.com. That's where we get all of our diapers. They are usually cheaper than the store and get to your house in about 3 days. They also carry a lot of those baby products you might need to replenish often, like butt cream, baby soap, shampoo, powders, that sort of thing. It was a life saver for me because my hubs was deployed for the first nine months of Pookie's life. Reply I haven't read all the responses, so I hope I am not repeating too many of them. If you haven't received some at a shower, I would recommend buying Mylicon Drops (or generic brand of simethicone drops) ahead of time. My husband ended up going to the store at 3am our first night home. Chances are VERY good you will want them. Make sure you have a box of whatever kind of maxi pads you find most comfortable. This is for after your bleeding has slowed, and you're ready to leave the hospital issue, phone book-thick pads behind, but you're not ready to be without. Being a tampon girl, I didn't have a single one in the house. For me, regular absorbency was fine. More diapers and wipes than you think seems reasonable. We planned on using cloth as soon as we were able, so I only bought one 32 ct box of NB diapers, and continued to buy them one at a time until we needed them. We ended up using five boxes. It was annoying to be constantly on the verge of "out." I millionth the suggestion of stocking up on freezer dishes. I didn't want to cook for about 3 weeks, and even then, I only cooked once or twice a week that 4th week. If you are having people stay with you, make a list of things that would be helpful to know, but you may not think of at the time. Mine had things like, "Our laundry detergent is concentrated; trash pick up is Wednesday morning; my husband's work shirts are gentle cycle; I don't put our good knives in the dishwasher." If possible, I would recommend some semblance of balance to night time duties, even though I am a SAHM and my husband works. You could argue that your working partner needs their sleep, but so do you. Always being the one to get the baby would be VERY frustrating to me. We worked it out that my husband gets our daughter up, changes her, and brings her to me to eat. Afterward, I put her back in bed. I relax in the knowledge that when she starts crying, I get a few extra minutes I know are MINE. He still gets more sleep than I do, because it takes longer to feed her than it does for him to change her, but we both are contributing to the part that is the least fun. Good luck! 1 agrees Reply I second the maxi pad comment – think of how many you might need, then double that amount! The bleeding can go on for weeks… Reply Any birthdays, weddings, anniversaries coming up in the next 3 to 6 months – buy presents now! I would also recommend wrapping them , buying the postal bags and organising postage that way a week before the present is due just pop it in the post. And a word on visitors – don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. We had lots of family and friends who just wanted to see the (sleeping) baby and have us (?!) make them (?!) a cup of tea. After a week of this, we rang everone we knew and asked for "family" time – just hubby, mummy and baby for a week to allow us to adjust. It was bliss. Find out the opening hours and address for nearby chemist/pharmacy and takeout places. 1 agrees Reply These have all been said, but here goes: – do your taxes, paperwork etc. Have all the papers you need for birth certificates, child tax benefits, maternity leave, etc. filled out as much as possible (it took me three days to fill out our birth certificate form with a newborn who wouldn't let me put him down). – pay your bills a month or two in advance if you can. The last thing I wanted to think about was the phone bill. – instead of stocking up on baby stuff, I found it more important to have extra cash on hand for unexpected things (eg. a $350 breast pump when it turned out I couldn't breastfeed). I wanted to get out of the house so badly I didn't mind running out to get extra sleepers when it turned out our big baby didn't fit the newborn sizes for more than a couple weeks. – have a doctor you trust lined up. I found that my doctor was a huge source of support when certain things got tough. It also helps to have the phone number of a nurse's line and someone to provide breastfeeding support. Reply Oh, yeah and have lots of frozen, quick to make food stocked up! Reply Everyone says to have frozen food on hand, but I couldn't find anything resembling a list of recipes that freeze well. I don't do frozen food a lot so, other than lasagna, I had no idea what to make. Think we can do a post thats just a collection of recipes that portion and freeze well? 2 agree Reply Great Idea! I have turned into a bit of a squirrel in the last couple months of my pregnancy. I have been absolutely compelled to stock my freezer. Here are a few things I have made: Vegetarian Chili: Chili will be great in November (In Wisconsin.) Its packed full of summer garden veggies and beans. Corn off the cob: I have bags and bags of sweet corn in the freezer. Pick it, blanch it, take it off the cob with a knife, put it in zip-lock freezer bags. Bran muffins- haven't made them yet but sure to be a good snack. Tomato sauces- gotta use up those garden tomatoes. I make a basic sauce that can be converted into pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or whatever. Any type of chicken and rice dish, casserole, or soup freezes well. Some tips: -Freeze the stuff in the portion size your family would eat. -I am 29 weeks prego and about every 3rd meal I make, I make double what we will eat and freeze what is left. By the time the kiddo shows up we should be good to go. -Bread freezes really well. -I just froze a bunch of raw cookie dough (yum) that way when guests come over and can pop out a handful of raw cookies and throw them in the oven if I feel like being all housewifely. There is a lot of good info out there on food preservation, have fun and good luck!! 1 agrees Reply All types of casseroles! Here are ones that have frozen well for me: Shepherd's pie: fry ground beef with onions, garlic, and add some veggies. I like corn kernels and peas. Some people like finely chopped carrot. Whatever. Put that in a dish and top with a layer of mashed potato. Tuna casserole: Mix together cooked whole wheat pasta of your choice (macaroni, rotini) with a can of low-sodium mushroom soup and a can or two of tuna or salmon. Add veggies if you'd like. Top with grated cheese. Reply There is a website called savingdinner.com that has TONS of freezer menues you make ahead. The food is great, you can pick the number of portions and it has all the nutritional info. There are also vegetarian, gluten free and other options. Leanne is a life saver around our house! Reply I wish that I'd done a diapering run through. I'd take a stuffed animal or something and change the diaper on it to make sure everything is accessible/handleable for those first few changes. Our diaper changes were fumbling messes (and our bedroom a disaster) for about a week, till we got a set of shelves to organize stuff. I'm only two months into this, so thanks for asking the question. I read through everything hoping to get some good tips too. Reply 1. buy a TV recorder (tivo type thing) so you an stockpile some watchable tv. 2. get outside everyday. maybe that means 5 minutes on your patio, or half an hour around the block, but trust me. the sunshine and fresh air (even in winter!) will do you both good 3. Join a mums group. I love mine. we are super different (heck, one of us is a dad!), but its a positive and accepting group who have saved my sanity. 4. accept help. 5. facebook is the modern village sometimes. I have friends all over the world who are full of reassurance and sensible advice. 6. remember – 'this too shall pass'- the good and the bad. soak up that newborn-ness, it is SO fleeting. and a little off topic – take a footprint and handprint as soon as you can. I kept putting it off, and I missed the tiny stage. Its one of my greatest regrets. Reply Buy infant tylenol so that you have it on hand in the middle of the night if you need it. Reply Wow, these responses are so awesome–thanks everyone and keep 'em coming! Baby Olive June is now here–born August 18th–and we are implementing many of these ideas now. A corner of our couch has the pump, Lanolin, Breast Friend, room for beverages, a pair of glasses (for tv-watching at 4am) and all the other stuff I like to have on hand. We've accepted every offer of help (my mom is, as I write this, in the kitchen making us dinner–yay!) and we're trying to time out the visits so that we get time with friends without being overwhelmed or anxious about feeding Olive on time. Super loving the friends who graciously have made us food and spent a mere few minutes with us when they know the baby is antsy. One thing I've found really helpful is this: if you have a dvr, record as many shows you like as possible. I prefer lighter stuff like CSI and What Not To Wear–nothing where I have to think too hard but keeps my interest up. It's nice to have the distraction while pumping or when Olive is out cold but I can't quite get to sleep…and I can cruise through the commercials. Another thing my husband and I have found to work well (at least for the last week or so–and she's only 14 days old) is to take two 5ish-hour shifts at night so that each partner gets a fairly solid block of sleep. Olive prefers to sleep in the bassinet instead of the co-sleeper so far, so the bedroom is currently the "sleep zone" and the on-shift partner hangs out in the living room with Olive. I miss sleeping with my honey, but so far it's worked well and we can each function pretty well during the day 🙂 I love hearing all the different things people have found to make their new-parent life work! We are indeed finding our way and making it work for us. And getting to talk to other new parents is extremely helpful too. Community is a blessed thing 🙂 Reply stock up on tea, coffee and 'guest cookies' as we call them in our house. the fancy kind we don't usually have 🙂 if you have gone to pre natal class, try and stay in contact with your class mates, they are most likely due around the same time as you. try to get out of the house every day Reply 1. Eat! When my daughter was born, I was holding her or doing something for her all the time. I wouldn't eat because every time I went to, she would cry. It made me so much more stressed and tired. Be kind to yourself. Its okay for the baby to cry for a few seconds while you finish what you are doing. 2. Get a schedule going. I dont mean, feed every 3 hours. I mean, when baby finishes eating, change diaper and or clothes. Bath at same time a day. Do evreything the same that way they expect it. Thats how I got my daughter to sleep through the night at 4 weeks. 3. Trust your instincts. My daughters doctor was very rude. I didnt lean on a professionals opinion even though I read book after book. Also, dont let anyone make you feel bad for the way you raise your child. Everyone is different, but some people will tell you that you are wrong. You are not wrong. Its what works for you and its your child Reply I am now one week into taking care of our new little one. Biggest tip I can give you: it (enter any aspect of new parent time) is going to be okay. Not perfect, maybe not even tolerable in your normal life situation, but totally okay with a new baby and a new you. Prepare as you will, but be ready for not having things your usual way. You never know an exact date, so don't freak out if labor happens and you dont have it all done right. Our house was pristine and clean, organized and stocked…a week before baby arrived. When I finally did go into labor, the fridge was empty, the house was dirty, I was low on energy anyway being a week overdue, and it made me so unhappy to not have certain projects done. I had to do some serious attitude adjustment to get over this on the drive to the birthing center, because mentally it will interfere with labor and many other things. This all became more complicated when I got a good tear during delivery and I was suddenly restricted to reclining/laying down or standing for short periods of time. Sitting is not in the picture, and after 33 hours of labor I wasn't about to do anything more than hobble to the bathroom and back. Even the rocker is out of bounds for me right now. Thank the stars I had borrowed Ina Maye Gaskin's Guide to Breastfeeding, because it had pictures and instructions for breastfeeding while laying down, and many other helpful info. I'm also restricted on the amount of walking I can do, so I'm at home a lot right now. Movie rentals have saved my sanity, as well as random internet fun. I still have a hard time with snacking. Dried fruit is a favorite of mine, so I may try to make trail mix as suggested. I carry a bicyclist's water pack (Camelback thing) with me everywhere in the house or wherever I go – I can drink lying down really easy from this. La Leche League is going to be my resource for mom time later on when I'm cleared to go out more. Basically, I did everything right to prepare as best I could, but the tear changed up everything. That and hubby had to return to work right away… I am dependant on him doing meals in between work, or from visitors doing errands and such, since we only have one vehicle. It gets better every day, but it isn't how I saw it going down beforehand! I still feel like an awesome mom though. Happy baby breast-coma face makes it all better. 1 agrees Reply Figure out the minimum about of self maintenence you can live with and stock up. I don't usually wear make up but I found that mascara and eye liner helped me pretend I wasn't as tired as I was. Stock up on hand cream. You will be washing your hands a lot and whithered hands can be depressing. Also set up cleaning stations so if you happen to have a couple of minutes you can take care of small stuff around the house. Reply I dont really have 3 things but we always said to ourselves "this cant last forever", she cant scream forever, she cant stay awake forever, she wont be grumpy forever so there is no point getting worked up about it cos it cant last forever (and when you get stressed it makes baby even more stressed) Keeping this mentality seriously helped even if it was with a forced smile. Reply 1. Be prepared to not wear a shirt when your house isn't full of other people for the first few weeks. (It makes nursing so much easier!) 2. Organize two baskets of diapers, wipes, receiving blankets and snacks. Keep one beside your bed and one beside the couch. 3. Buy a big jug of water, just in case. The power went out here for three days the week my son was born which meant we did't have water either. It is 10x harder to take care of an infant with no water (think hand washing). 4. Get the phone number for your local La Leche League Leader and keep it handy if you need help with breastfeeding. What seems like a complete inability to do it can often be fixed very quickly with their help. 🙂 Reply Haha! I'm still shirt-less around the house at three months! 1 agrees Reply All the suggestions for a having a support network are great. It's nice to have fall backs if you get overwhelmed. However, you also need to know that if push comes to shove you can make things work all on your own. Let me explain. When I was pregnant, all the baby classes, and books said you needed this huge support system ready to be in place before the baby comes. They made it feel like without it, you don't stand a chance in hell. We did our best to make lists, and have people on standby, but when it came down to it, life got in the way. My daughter was born in the midst of my Dad fighting for his life from throat cancer, my sister in an abusive relationship and with a 3 month old, and 3 days after she was born, my grandmother died. (I had to move my baby shower for the funeral, since I was induced three weeks early.) Not to mention my daughter was in the NICU for five days before we could take her home. So it ended up just being me, my husband, and my baby girl for the first few months until everything else settled down. You know what? We did just fine. There was the usual adjustment period where we can to figure out how to live around a newborn's schedule, but overall I have nothing but fond memories of that time. Basically support is great if you have it, but don't be devastated if it doesn't all work out just as you planned. As with anything in life, but esp. when it comes to parenting, just try to be flexible and roll with it. It will be ok. Have confidence in your ability to be exactly what your baby needs you to be (it helps to remember that babies don't care if your house is a mess, or you haven't changed out pajamas for a week straight), and just take it from there. 3 agree Reply Find out what type of support there is in your community. I ended up going to a couple baby groups and a breastfeeding clinic. I just wish I had known about them earlier. It would have made the earlier weeks waaaaay easier! Reply We cooked a lot of food which could be kept in the freezer. We also ordered from a home-baked food service which delivered a week's worth of meals every Sunday for two weeks. Everyone says it, but it really is also important to let people know ahead of time that when they come to visit you in that first month or two, they should bring something with them, be it food or a willingness to clean, even if it is just to wipe down the sink in the bathroom or sweep one floor. I thought it sounded mean to ask but wish I had! If you have been in any prenatal exercise or other groups and haven't already done it, get a list of phone numbers and e-mail addresses – new Mum friends are indispensable when you are a new Mum too. Plus you can forge many long-lasting friendships! Good luck, and enjoy – it goes so quickly! Reply i'm happily moming a 5 month old but MAN did i want to quit during those first few months. my tips: 1. stock up on toilet paper and paper towels (if you use them), dish soap, shampoo, toothpaste. the things you want to die if you run out of but don't really think about till you're sitting on the toilet desperately wanting to wipe. 2. we reserved ONE weekend day to NOT have visitors. we just wanted to be. weekends became insane and we had constant streams of people and didn't feel like we could exhale. so, say no to some people, say yes to some people. your friends and family will have a WHOLE lotta time to meet the little one. not everyone needs to during the first two weeks or three months. because a visit is great except that it means you can't nap or shower or lay facedown on the bed while people are there. say YES to people who get it…people who will hold the baby so you can nap for 45 minutes but will wake you if you need to be up…people who will wash your dishes without asking…people who will know that a 2 hour visit is tough. 3. we gave ourselves 12 weeks of guilt-free ness. so if all we could muster was sitting on the couch eating granola bars watching friday night lights…so be it. if one of us was grouchy, the other gave space. those first few months are HARD so own it, honor it and know that when you get your first laugh a whole new world of awesome opens up. 1 agrees Reply i'm a writer starting to work on a book i wanna call something like "The C Section You'll Never Have," full of lists and helpful hints for how to make things less stressful when you get home from the hospital (that of course you, being fully wonderful with your positive visualizations and birth hypnosis, would never have to go to!) (being silly, ha ha)… so, i'd pre-prepare for the chance you might have a cesarean section. tell your friends and fam that if you do have one, they should treat it as though you just had major abdominal surgery — because you did! how would they treat you if you'd had a liver transplant? *add* that to how would they treat you if you'd had a baby. it's HUGE. no one, despite my lotsa-reading and many awesome docs/doulas, warned me adequately about this. 1) you may be on lots of drugs for a while. your doc might make you come in *in person* for drug refills (federal law). 2) you may not be able to drive for a good long time. or walk. 3) hell, you may not be able to get up off the couch to go pee. 4) the couch? wtf! why didn't you set up a nice bed in the living room, just in case you had a C section or bad tear or related surgery. DUH! 5) combine C section with breastfeeding problems, and holy crap, is it hard. pre-warn your friends and fam that if this happens, you may need to have others in the house with you 24/7 or close to it. 6) maybe ask one friend (who isn't the person coordinating dropoff meals, etc) to be your C Section Coordinator. if you *do* have one, this person has read a bit about it, and will coordinate having others come stay with you. or a Breastfeeding Coordinator if that goes awry. these things add so much craziness. the supportiveness and free time of your partner will probably be a factor 1 agrees Reply Take advantage of your co-parent! My husband took off 3 weeks after the birth and while I was recovering/struggling with breastfeeding, he was cooking, cleaning and changing the baby. (We did make freezer meals but didn't use any of them in the first month because he was so on top of things!) Get rid of any resentment you may have about having a baby clinging to you, and leaking milk and being sore and having to wake up in the middle of the night and realize that equal input doesn't mean you both do the same things. Divide and conquer. I am breast-feeding and co-sleeping, and my rule is I am the night-parent and he is "on call". I feed and comfort the baby during the night, BUT I don't get out of bed during the night. Any diaper changes or walking is his department at night. The next big thing for us was for those first 3 weeks, we didn't get up until we had enough sleep. Sure this meant a few hours of having him sleep on our chests to keep him calm, but you'll be happy on your back after the long pregnancy. Usually this meant we spent at least 12 hours in bed, but everyone was amazed that we were bright-eyed during the day. Even if you get enough sleep at night be sure to nap as well because it takes a lot of energy to recover, produce milk, deal with hormonal changes, and care for a new person. Get out of the house! Pack up that little creature and go anywhere. Friends are going to want to see your baby anyways, so why not meet them in a place where you're not worried about them seeing that you still haven't vacuumed since the birth and oh yeah, it's been a month…or two. Honestly, when they're little they're easy to take with you and don't have many needs. Don't be afraid that they are going to make some noise or need to be changed or fed. They will. You just have to be cool about it. You can still do a lot of things that you like with only a few minor modifications; Go to matinees instead of evening movies so there are fewer people, hit your friend's party early before it turns into a rager, eat out at a restaurant a little before the dinner rush. A good thing to know is that babies are sometimes way better out in public than you'd think. Sometimes he'll be screaming at home and I get sick of strolling around my kitchen trying to calm him down. I grab the wrap and we're out the door going for a walk or to the store or for a visit because if he's going to be the same at home or out, I'd rather that I were happier. Usually the change of scenery actually makes both of us happier. A lot of our friends think my son is a "good baby" because he is very social and likes being out around other people. Now, even when he cried all through dinner and had to be held while I stood up and rocked him and even took him out of the restaurant for a little while to walk around outside, they still all say he's such a good baby. Long story short, you will probably notice and remember your baby fussing in public much more than other people will. (At least those who know you) The biggest mistake I made at the beginning was trying to delay things based on his eating schedule. I'd stay up the extra 45 minutes because I figured that it was better than having to wake up to feed him (Wrong! Always grab that extra 15 or more minutes of sleep!) or I'd kill 30 minutes at home so I could feed him before we went out. I eventually got over my worry about breastfeeding in public (seriously, feeding your baby in a comfy chair or at least a moderately ok bench is better than sitting on a toilet in a cramped public washroom stall) and now I just go when I'm ready to go. 1 agrees Reply 1) I created a "breastfeeding/hospitality/convenience basket" for myself I could move with me around the house so I could nurse where I wanted to and have what I needed (nursing pads, lansinoh, nail files, lotion, bottle of water, a snack, etc.). 2) Lean on your partner to serve as the "visitor buffer", enforcing when and how people come by (with food or gifts). We learned that the hard way after a pair of friends came over with 2 bottles of champagne and just wouldn't leave b/c they wanted to "celebrate with us", even though I was literally falling asleep sitting up. 3) Nap when baby naps!! Sounds cliche, but it's true, and it worked for me. It's infinitely harder to cope with anything that comes at you (and everything will come your way, surely) when you're lacking sleep. Other essentials: Didn't do but wish I had: Read up on breastfeeding ("The Nursing Mother's Companion" was my bible") and locate a Lactation Consultant you trust BEFORE baby comes. This will help you at least have a sense of what you'll be doing, and a plan for building your milk supply, establishing a latch, pumping for going back to work, etc. Netflix and/or epic serial TV shows (think "Mad Men", "The Wire", etc.) for the random times you're awake and you need distraction. Snacks and water on the night stand– I've never woken up more voraciously hungry in the middle of the night than my first 1-2 months of nursing. Get used to nursing on-the-go as soon as you can. Practice makes perfect! Baby will never be more portable than they are in the first 6 months of their lives. (Yes! Do it! Go out to eat with baby in tow– wear him/her– while you can! This coming from the mother of a now 2.5yo toddler who fondly remembers the days of adoring looks from fellow customers eating out with an infant.) Reply Call around to your local grocery stores and find one that does deliveries. Some stores even have online shopping where you can set up a profile with your favourites, which makes an hour-long outing take ten minutes at home. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via emailGet only replies to your comment, the best of the rest, as well as a daily recap of all comments on this post. No more than a few emails daily, which you can reply to/unsubscribe from directly from your inbox. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.