New Parent Advice
December 22, 2016 5:13 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I just had a baby seven weeks ago. What helped you to get through the newborn stage? We both get up during the night. I am pumping/some nursing. What sleep strategies helped you and your family? My mom is able to help in the evenings also she helps one day a week when i work otherwise my husband watchs the baby on the weekend. She is able to watch her when we need help as well. What meal planning was beneficial ?

I woud like to know by experience ideas that helped you through the newborn stage regarding sleep, meals, rest, time with your spouse and alone. Especially if you nursed, when did you rest? My husband works but has his own hours, he mostly works 9-5. I work part time on weekends and a couple days a week. My mom is able to help in the evenings with the baby and we just need help like to go out or we need rest also with one day when i work otherwise my husband helps with the baby. We both get up during the night as well because i am pumping and he helps to feed her.
Any strategies that helped you or advice? Also what would you do differently and implement now? What would make things easier for me? With nursing/pumping you have to get up vs if you formula feed.

posted by Lillian7 to Human Relations (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
You don't have to get up - best thing if you're nursing is learning side lying position. Then have dad or grandma just bring baby to you and take her away after 15 mins. Then keep sleeping.

Safe room sharing can also help too with the baby by the side of the bed in a co-sleeper.

Make sure you book grandma for one night out per week with your husband if possible.

The other things that helped me were dream feeds, early introduction of pacifiers, white noise machines, and sleep training (obviously not during the immediate newborn stage, though).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:23 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah nursing while cosleepong is the best option. Mom maybe need two extra hours of sleep per night right now to not be exhausted.

Nursing increases your supply and makes everything easier. Pumping when you're with baby will not help you get ahead. Half awake nursing does, even though this feels counterintuitive. Try to spend as much time with baby nursing as possible. Consider only pumping when away from baby to relieve pressure/keep some supply when working.
posted by Kalmya at 5:29 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Same. We rented a co-sleeper that attached to the side of our bed so I could nurse and scoot him back into his own space. It sounds weird, because I was technically awake, but not having to sit up or open my eyes really helped.

I ate a lot. A TON. Make sure you're eating enough!

We tend to go out for breakfast rather than dinner; we also take turns once a month going out for bfast alone. We found this easier than messing with dinner and it's proximity to the bath bedtime thing.

If I did this again (and could afford it) I'd sign up for a meal service (like Blue Apron, where it's all prepped for you) and a house cleaner.

If you can get groceries delivered do that!

Seven weeks is still early! It's really hard - we were definitely still in survival mode. It gets easier.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:05 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Be open to flexible sleeping situations for awhile - the whole first year we just tried all sorts of things.

Some nights we all co-slept, but often we took took turns sleeping with the baby - or I did one half the night like from 9-2 and then papa did the other half form 2-7 to make sure we each got the occasional night with 4-5 hours in a row. It's rough!

I remember one night I was on the couch, baby and papa were in the bed, and our cat was in the crib :) Swaddling and pacifiers helped, and our baby liked to sleep in the Rock N Play thing more than anything. Also, going to sleep when the baby went to sleep ("sleep" meaning the first time they fell asleep for the evening around 7 or 8) I would often sleep then too, and got at least 3-4 hours.

By 6 months you can start sleep training if you want/need to and it sort of got better from there (and then way better by 1).

I remember eating a lot of turkey sandwiches, and chicken pot pies from Whole Foods, and using the crock pot a good bit. Lot of chili and stews for awhile.
posted by Rocket26 at 6:42 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

You mention food and I can tell you a few things that worked for me were frozen burritos that I made in a big batch, wrapped individually and defrosted in the morning, then ate for lunch or dinner. Easy to eat while nursing. Smitten Kitchen has a breakfast bar recipe that's pretty easy and filling and also easy to eat while nursing. But I mention those in the hopes your mom or husband will prepare these foods for you, because you shouldn't be cooking! I remember a friend brought a roast chicken and a huge green salad and that was a really useful meal for several days.
Pumping and nursing is extra hard because of the time and energy it requires. Do you have to pump at night for comfort after you nurse? If that's the case, I feel for you. Your supply will regulate. It will all get easier. It sounds like your husband is helping and you're both sleep deprived. Remember that you're the one who is also nursing and pumping and recovering from child birth. You're physically under a lot of pressure, so even though your husband is also not getting sleep, he is not as physically drained. Just something I wanted to mention because I can remember feeling guilty for waking my husband sometimes or like he needed sleep more than I did for his job. I wish I had let those feelings go.
Try to shower every day and do an extra self care thing each day. Use a nice body lotion, shave your legs, do a facial scrub. I mastered a graduated manicure where day one I trimmed my nails, day two I filed them, day three I trimmed the cuticles. I like nail stuff, but if there's something else you like, do that. I think small moments of taking care of yourself are really crucial at this time. And 7 weeks is so hard. You've had enough time to get really, truly sleep deprived! I think that time cam be even harder than the first few days. Know that you're getting through it, the newborn stage is short although I know it seems endless. Baby is getting sooo close to being able to sleep in longer stretches. It sounds like you're working a day job, nursing and pumping. That's a triple whammy. If your mom is willing, maybe you could give her specific tasks to do when she's visiting. A sign on the fridge where you write down "laundry, prep salads for dinner, clean bottles." Sometimes people want to help and it's helpful for them to have specific things to do.
Memail me if you want to vent. You're doing it, keep going.
posted by areaperson at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Relevant Metatalk thread.
posted by the_blizz at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2016

With my first, I finally started getting enough sleep when I started full-time co-sleeping (vs. trying to get the baby to sleep as much as possible in her bassinet) and mastered side-lying nursing. With my second, I just co-slept all the time right from the start and I don't remember any significant sleep deprivation.
posted by Redstart at 7:10 PM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Consider not pumping at night. It's really difficult and you need sleep, too. Hang in there. It ends.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:24 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Definitely identify specific tasks for your mom to do: cook a meal, run laundry, give the baby a bottle.

Good on your mister for splitting nights with you.

The first few months are a miserable haze of fatigue and self-doubt, not gonna lie -- but the baby keeps growing and developing, and you adults learn some coping strategies (and maybe lower some standards for a while), and you do really get through it!

If you can get friends to make you some meals, that saves both cooking AND shopping.

We did it four damn times, and I know that you will make it. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:25 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Dinner: Whenever you cook, make enough for that night, another night that week, and a serving to go in the freezer. Stuff like chilli, meatballs, stew, etc. If you're used to eating nicer meals, just let it go for a while: dinner is just food, not a dining experience. Supplement as needed with bagged salad kits, convenience food from Trader Joe's, etc. Pizza night is everything.

Strongly second side-lying nursing at night instead of pumping. Husband brings you baby, nurse in bed, husband puts baby back in the crib. This makes night feeding a team effort that splits the inconvenience fairly equitably.

Read about infant sleep. I was very against sleep training with my first baby at first, but ultimately did it at 9 months or so and kicked myself endlessly for not doing it sooner. Did it with my second baby between 3-4 months and it was the best decision.

Mom gets a shower every damn day no matter what, assuming she wants one.
posted by gatorae at 7:46 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

A lot of good advice upthread. I'm going to be slightly contrary on one point and suggest that my husband and I found it counterproductive for both of us to be up overnight - although I was nursing and not pumping. Instead we staggered sleep schedules so that I got a four-ish hour block in the early part of the evening/night and he stayed up late, doing one or two bottle feedings (with formula if we didn't have enough breastmilk). I did not pump to make up for the missed feedings and didn't feel my supply seven weeks I feel like your supply is well established, and I would take the much-needed sleep. Good luck, it does get better but it's so hard right now.
posted by handful of rain at 7:47 PM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best advice I got and used was that my partner should change diapers as long as I nursed. Like, obviously if it's just me and the baby and partner is not home, I'm going to change him, but this helped me feel like things were better balanced. It was a tiring time and I needed help, so this kind of rule really helped.
posted by smirkyfodder at 8:22 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll just pipe in and say I could never sleep with a baby in my bed. I couldn't even sleep with a crib in my room. From day 1, my twins slept in their own room, and I got up, nursed one at a time in their room, then pumped. It sucked, but you're right at the time where it gets easier. At about 2 months I got a 6 hour stretch....
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:08 PM on December 22, 2016

Another vote for side-lying nursing. The attached co-sleeper cribs help a lot, although honestly I just co-slept at that point, having googled the safest way to do so.
posted by Joh at 10:57 PM on December 22, 2016

I gave up sleeping when the baby slept. I couldn't relax, and ultimately the "alone" time proved more critical. Still does. YMMV, of course!
posted by jrobin276 at 1:21 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Another vote for don't both get up unless there's really no way to manage without two adults. We used to do a staggered schedule - I (husband) did last late feed from bottle/expressed milk while my wife went to bed early to get a block of sleep in. Then she would get up in the early hours to feed the baby and I would sleep until early morning to get up for work. This way we were both (usually) able to get at least a 4-5 hour block of sleep per night.
Weekends I would normally do the overnight feeds as nobody had to be up early.
posted by crocomancer at 1:55 AM on December 23, 2016 [6 favorites]

My husband and I didn't cosleep because I was terrified I would roll over on the baby -- I'm a super heavy sleeper. When my son was around 18 months old, circumstances and convenience pushed me to try cosleeping. Kid and I both slept through the night for the first time. All kid are different, yes, but what I ultimately took away from this was: try everything anyway. It's easy to get into routines when you're feeling like a zombie -- and everyone tells you that routines are Gold for the baby (and they're right, too! But!) but, try new stuff anyway. If I had to do it over, i would have tried cosleeping earlier.

Night schedules: My husband and I would get up together at first because we did a nurse-pump-bottle thing that sucked. Once we went to nursing only, we did split nights--eight to one was one shift, one to five the next. It was interminable and only got better with time.

Helpful relatives: my dad and mom came to visit, and it was difficult to pass my son off to them, due to special needs on his part. So my dad did best with non baby related tasks ("oh, you need a dividing wall put up in the basement, pepper bird? On it!" Etc) and my mom would take over grocery shopping and cooking. But they weren't able to visit frequently. I'd keep doing what you're doing with your mom. Maybe have her do baby bath time every evening, or put baby down every night? But really, if she's able to give you guys a day or night off every week, that's awesome.

Food: it helped me to make a monthly meal plan, with only 1-2 designated shopping days a week. I did a lot as other people have suggested: made stuff in bulk, froze and reheated a lot of leftovers, said fuck everything and ordered pizza. We ate pretty repetively in the early months of baby.

Good luck and congratulations! Newborns are so tough. Make sure you get some time to sleep, be alone or be with friends outside your house, whatever best helps you recharge. If you feel like you don't know what you need anymore (baby brain changes! Your brain changes!) take the time to try to figure out what you need. Therapy or walks, whatever works for you. Sounds like you have a supportive setup --use it and ask for more if you need it. Big hugs to you.
posted by pepper bird at 3:59 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

In my experience (three breastfed kids), pumping at night is for the birds. Husband would change baby and bring them to me, I would nurse and put them back down.

The act of pumping, getting the milk to the fridge and cleaning up always woke me up wayy too much and I felt like the hassle of pumping while baby was home was a waste of husband and my combined energy. Just a thought.
posted by checkitnice at 4:56 AM on December 23, 2016

I'm no expert -- my own twin boys are only two and a half weeks old -- but a staggered nighttime schedule seems to be working for my wife and me. She skips one pumping session a night to get a straight 5-6 hours of sleep, and we supplement with formula. One little thing that helped was buying extra bottles and pump attachments so we don't have to wash anything in the middle of the night.
posted by bradf at 7:25 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best thing that my husband did was taking the baby (and then baby and toddler) to the park, or the zoo, or out shopping on the weekends so I could get some "down time." Time with the barely-there hum of stress turned off, to sleep in, relax, take a walk, etc. This was not time to catch up on chores. This was topping off the internal batteries.

Fact: every few weeks the rules change, particularly in the first two years. Have several plans ready to go when what works... doesn't anymore.
Fact: every child re-writes the book. What worked for Honorable Eldest Offspring (crying herself to sleep every third night -- should have co-slept) was not an issue with Honorable Youngest Offspring (did co-sleep). But then other issues arise (screams of terror if driving after dark; this lasted part of the first year and made a particularly memorable Christmas lights tour when stuck in neighborhood traffic). And then this, too, mysteriously disappeared.
posted by TrishaU at 7:27 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

A thing we did that really helped is assign shifts so that we both got st least sic hours of uninterrupted sleep. I slept from 7 pm to 1 am and my husband was in charge of taking care of baby. Then my shift started and I was in charge until 7 am. Oh my god it made things better to know that I could sleep for a long time without listening for baby. Every night.

Also seven weeks is the worst. Things started looking up for us at 12-14 weeks. Hang in there.
posted by songs_about_rainbows at 7:55 AM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think the fact that you are already working again part time at seven weeks postpartum IS SO HARD and it's amazing you're able to do whatever it is you're doing even if it feels like you're not really holding it together so don't beat yourself up, you are doing quite a lot.

My advice as someone who had to pump a ton for a veryyyy long time, unless you need to keep up your supply and are already pumping at other times throughout the day (especially after first and second feeds of the morning), absolutely drop the night pump if you are already feeding then too - that's too much to do at night. And if you must pump at night, do whatever you can to minimize the steps needed to get it done - go to sleep in your hands free pump bra so you don't have to put it on at night, have everything assembled by bedtime, throw all parts into a baggie afterwards to be refrigerated and dealt with later.
posted by sestaaak at 10:21 AM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

We just had 2 babies in a year and they are now 7 months and 18months. We are super big on routine and I did a lot of research and throughout the early baby period we started working towards a routine. Specifically with regards to sleep. We put babies in their own beds from the start because their little noises were very disturbing and we couldn't relax. We had a twin bed in there in the early days and would take turns sharing the room. With our first we had a 7,11,3 feeding schedule from very early on. That didn't work with baby 2 who didn't love milk and still eats very often now that he's eating solids (he was also ready to eat solids very early-and was much happier when we started).

We tracked all feedings the first 8 months and will do the same with baby 2... It's interesting to look back on and it also helps if you don't have to explain the baby's whole day every time a different caregiver takes over.

We also trained them on naps- Google 234 napping. We never manage it 100 percent but without a doubt baby 1 and baby 2 both needed a nap 2 hours after morning wake up. With our first we went back to bed.

Also we helped gem get close to comfort items and played lullabies during bedtime. It's helped a lot during times of teething and illness.

So for us the newborn period was hard but we looked at it as laying the groundwork for a happy older baby.
posted by catspajammies at 9:48 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

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