The introduction to motherhood can feel like a whirlwind. Your body is trying to recover from giving birth, your hormones are making your emotions run wild, and you’re trying to adjust to all of it while also taking care of another little human around the clock. Adjusting to this new normal can bring a whole new set of challenges and experiences. Let’s talk about some things you can expect during your first week as a new mom — an exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting time.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Table of contents
- First Week as a New Mom: Resting and Recovering
- First Week as a New Mom: Getting used to Breastfeeding
- First Week as a New Mom: Keeping Your Baby Happy
- First Week as a New Mom: Sleep (Or Lack Thereof)
- First Week as a New Mom: Feelings
First Week as a New Mom: Resting and Recovering
There is a lot going on when you bring a baby home from the hospital. It can be hard to make yourself stay in bed and rest when there are a million other things that need to be done. Remember what an amazing thing you have done (you grew a human!) and give yourself a break. Don’t expect to fit back into your pre-baby clothes or hit the gym right away. Don’t expect your house to be perfect. Try not to stress about the things that aren’t important.
You and Baby Are All That Matters Right Now
Take this time to rest and bond with your new baby. You may feel like there’s so much to do as a new mom, but I assure you that it doesn’t all have to be done the first week. Give yourself some grace and let your body rest. Enjoy the cuddles, the tiny fingers, and those sweet baby sounds. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just for the hospital – it’s wonderful at home too. It helps with bonding and can even soothe your baby.
First Week as a New Mom: Getting used to Breastfeeding
If you’re breastfeeding, this first week is a learning curve. Remember, both you and your baby are new to this. It’s common to experience challenges, so don’t hesitate to seek support from a lactation consultant if you need it.
For some, the breastfeeding relationship begins easily, but for others it can be downright frustrating. To make things easier, set up an area where you can nurse your baby comfortably. Keep water and snacks nearby so you can stay hydrated and nourished. Have breast pads, nipple cream, burp cloths, etc. close enough that you can reach them while you are sitting. And remember that breastfeeding takes practice for both you and your little one, so be patient and keep trying. Read more about breastfeeding here.
First Week as a New Mom: Keeping Your Baby Happy
It can be hard to hear your sweet baby cry, especially when they do it a lot. It is easy to think that it’s your fault or that you’re doing something wrong. The truth is that sometimes babies cry and there is nothing you can do to stop it. If you’ve taken care of their basic needs like food and a clean diaper, you may want to try one of “The Five S’s”:
- Swaddling – Wrapping your baby up can help them feel safe and secure.
- Side or Stomach Position – Holding baby across your arm or over your shoulder puts pressure on his stomach and may help calm him if a tummy ache is the problem.
- Shushing – Recreating the sound that your baby heard in the womb (white noise) can be comforting. You can use something like a fan or white noise machine, or you can just make a gentle shhhhh sound near your little one’s ear as you hold him close.
- Swinging – Gently rocking, bouncing, swinging, or baby-wearing helps soothe a fussy baby. Most newborns find motion comforting, and that makes sense as they’ve spent the last nine months on-board while you went about your life.
- Sucking – Offering your baby a pacifier to suck on can help quiet them, as can nursing.
It’s Okay if You Need a Break
Remember that crying won’t hurt a baby. It is okay to hold your baby when he’s upset if you want to, but as long as you’ve met his needs, it’s also okay to put him in a safe place and walk away for a little bit. Crying can make a parent feel helpless or stressed or even angry, and it is okay to put baby down and take a few minutes to breathe and regain your composure if you find yourself getting upset.
Learn More: How to Soothe Your Crying Baby
First Week as a New Mom: Sleep (Or Lack Thereof)
Yes, sleep will be scarce. Newborns don’t know the difference between day and night yet. But your body has been through a lot and needs time to recover. It is easy to run yourself ragged trying to do everything on just a few hours of sleep. Here are some things your can do to make your life a little bit easier:
- Eat and Drink! Your body needs fuel to heal from what you’ve been through, and so that you have the energy you need to do everything. Focus on getting plenty of iron and protein in your diet to help your body heal and give you energy. Avoid drinking too much caffeine as this will make it harder for you to sleep when you need to.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps! Forget about the pile or laundry or dirty dishes and take a nap. Nothing else is as important as you getting the sleep that you need.
- Get Help! Don’t feel guilty for asking your partner, friends, or family for extra support during this time. Your job in the first week as a new mom is to be with your baby. Let someone else take over your other responsibilities for now. You can gradually help pick up some of the work as you’re able.
Everyone will be excited to see the new baby, but it’s okay to set boundaries. If you’re not up for visitors, it’s perfectly fine to say so. This time is about you and your baby’s well-being.
First Week as a New Mom: Feelings
It may feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster after giving birth. Shifting hormone levels, adjusting to a new routine, the responsibilities of parenthood, and a lack of sleep all play a part in your moods and emotions. In addition to all of the excitement and happiness that you may feel, you also might feel:
- Unsure about how to handle the shift in your priorities
- Overwhelmed by the new demands on your time and body
- Protective of your baby
- Distant from your partner, friends, or family
- Too tired to feel anything else
- Doubt about your abilities as a mom
- Ashamed to ask for help
- Sad about losing the life you had before — freedom, your old body, etc.
- Pressure to be the perfect mom
These thoughts and feelings are normal. Let them come and go. Feeling your feelings is always healthier than stuffing them. If you are overwhelmed by your emotions, ask for help, take a break, and talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Many women suffer some level of depression after giving birth, but you don’t need to suffer alone. Talk to your doctor if you need help.
Celebrate Small Wins
Every little success is worth celebrating. Whether it’s a successful feeding session, getting your baby to sleep, or just making it through the day – give yourself credit.
The first week as a new mom is a blend of joy, challenges, learning, and immense love. It’s a time you’ll look back on with fondness and amazement at your strength. Take lots of photos, jot down memories, and know that with each day, you’re growing more into this beautiful role of motherhood.
Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all in parenting. You’re doing an amazing job, and you’re exactly the mom your baby needs. Welcome to motherhood – you’ve got this!
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- Ross, Kelly. (April 2016). How taking care of yourself makes you a better mom. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/How-Taking-Care-of-Yourself-Makes-you-a-Better-Mom.aspx
- Postpartum Depression & Breastfeeding. (Oct 2018). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/Postpartum-Depression-Breastfeeding.aspx
- Casares, W. (July 2020). Importance of Self-Care: Why Parents Need Time Out to Recharge. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Importance-of-Self-Care.aspx
- Depression During & After Pregnancy: You Are Not Alone. (Dec 2018). American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/delivery-beyond/Pages/Understanding-Motherhood-and-Mood-Baby-Blues-and-Beyond.aspx
- Karp, H. (n.d.). The 5 S’s for Soothing Babies. Happiest Baby. https://www.happiestbaby.com/blogs/baby/the-5-s-s-for-soothing-babies