Newborn Hacks That Helped Me Maintain My Sanity
“You’re never going to sleep again”
”You’re going to feel like a cow”
”You should use formula”
That was some of the advice I repeatedly got during my pregnancy as a first time mom. I like to be in control of my outcomes so I naively brushed people's opinions away. I got this, I said. My situation will be different. Why is everyone so negative is what I kept thinking over and over again.
Well let me tell you, no amount of advice prepared me for the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn baby. I didn’t realize how tired I actually was until the third day at the hospital after my cesarian birth. The Lactation consultant at the hospital paid me a visit and I literally fell asleep in the middle of our conversation, while breastfeeding!!
After four days in the hospital, I was escorted out of the hospital in a wheelchair with my baby, and that’s when things got real.
The hospital didn’t provide us with a manual and everyone that gave me “advice” were nowhere to be found. My fiancé and I were on our own with our very own little human.
With some trial and errors, multiple purchases and a lot of googling, I have compiled a list of products that helped me survive the tough parts of the first 12 weeks with my baby girl.
This inexpensive manual breast pump saved my life! When I said that I liked to be in control of my outcomes, I was not kidding. I was 30 weeks pregnant, on the phone ordering my electric breast pump via my insurance and long story short, there I was one week after my daughter was born with no breast pump. My baby wasn’t gaining back her weight as fast as the doctor would have liked so the doctor recommended supplementing with formula. I agree with the saying ”fed is best” but personally, I wanted to continue trying to nurse my little girl before I completely gave up breastfeeding after just one week. Luckily, the lactation consultant from the hospital mentioned that my insurance covered home visits, so I immediately made an appointment. During her visit, the LC didn't find anything wrong with my nursing but she did notice that my baby fell asleep after only nursing from one side. She recommended that I pump an additional 1oz of breast milk to give my daughter after each feeding. I was freaking out because I still didn't have my electric breast pump, so much that I was looking up which stores had them in stock so that I could purchase it outright. Lo and behold I remembered that I had purchased a Haakaa a few weeks before giving birth and it was perfect for my current situation. While my daughter nursed on one side, I attached the Haakaa to the other side, collecting about 2oz of milk on average the first few weeks. This allowed me to build a stash until my routine with my daughter improved. My babygirl went from gaining 4oz a week to about 10oz a week! Never give up momma!
2-Love to Dream Swaddle
My daughter hated being swaddled, I must of purchased 7 different brands and she hated each and every one. We call her Ms.Houdini, because no matter how good or tight she was swaddled, she would manage to escape! Since the womb, she enjoyed having her hands covering her face, and we have the sonogram pictures to prove it! It was how she self soothed. However, she would startle herself awake with the moro reflex-the feeling of falling- if we didn't swaddle her. After much research, I found the Love to Dream swaddle, it keeps her hands upright while still giving her the comforting feeling of the being swaddled in the womb. She hasn't slept a night without it!
Amidst all the unsolicited advice during my pregnancy, not one person mentioned the terms “cluster feeding” and “growth spurts”. If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s essentially a living hell that can last anywhere from 3 days to a week. I kid! But it is tough! You finally have your baby’s eating and napping routine down packed and suddenly the baby becomes a hungry hungry hippo attached to your breast every hour, napping for 10 minutes at a time. Babies can experience a growth spurt around 7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 9 months after being born. My daughters growth spurts lasted nearly a week so needless to say, I was glued to the couch watching Netflix for days. Sleep deprivation is real and my memory became a little hazy at times. I would forget which breast I fed my daughter with last. How did the hair ties help me survive you ask? If I was nursing my daughter on the right side, I would tie it around my right wrist and vice versa. Sure, there's an app to help you remember but who has time to use their hands?
4- Digital Hygrometer
When I brought my daughter home in April, it was unusually cold in NYC & even colder in my home. I automatically began researching what was a comfortable temperature for my newborn. The ideal room temp should be between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, unfortunately I don't have a digital thermostat in my apartment. A digital hygrometer is an inexpensive way to monitor a rooms temperature and humidity levels. A great tool for a new parents peace of mind.
I was fortunate enough to have three months of maternity leave and even more fortunate to have a healthy milk supply. Breastfeeding is hard; you're feeding a hungry baby on-demand 24/7. My lactation consultant advised me not to utilize a bottle until I was closer to returning to work. For this reason, I only pumped periodically to establish my freezer stash. However, the transition from on-demand breastfeeding to full time working and pumping was not an easy one. The goal is to pump enough for the next day during your workday. I remember the first day I went back to work; I pumped 12 oz in an 8-hour Workday. I totally freaked out. There was no way I would produce enough milk to sustain my daughter. I began taking a tablespoon of brewers years powder with juice or a smoothie and within three days I was pumping 24 oz in a day plus breast feeding my daughter when I got home and on my days off. It also boosts your energy level, lowers your blood sugar, elevated your mood and sense of well-being, and provides nourishment to your skin and hair. That’s a win in my book!