Hi! I'm Brittany and I blog over at G Squared. Most of my posts center around my baby, my home, the occasional recipe, what me and my husband are up to, and just other random happenings.
When Kaity asked me to write a pregnancy or new momma related guest post, my mind flooded with ideas. There is honestly so much to learn and prepare for when you find out your expecting your first baby. On the flip side, no matter what you do, what they say is true: nothing anyone says can prepare you for bringing that little one home! Believe me when I say I tried to be the most “prepared” mom on Earth. I read everything, took all the classes, and still was completely dazed and confused when we arrived home.
All that being said, I wanted to share some things about the last month of pregnancy and the first month postpartum that helped me make it through. Those are arguably the hardest two months of the whole shebang, so trust me when I say any tips you can remember from other moms are worth a try.
The last month of pregnancy
AKA the longest month known to mankind. I’m not a patient person, so I knew from day one this month would be difficult for me. The uncertainty, the anticipation, the discomfort, the thought that it could actually be LONGER than a month (for me it was… I was 6 days overdue). No matter what end of the spectrum you fall on, from anxious to excited, here are a few things that will help you get through the final weeks of pregnancy.
Do what makes you happy.
This is a little vague, but seriously, just do whatever you want. If you love work, and are physically and mentally able to continue working up until the day you deliver, do that. If your job is the last place you’d like to be and you have the time off saved? Take a week off and watch an entire season of a show you’ve always wanted to see. Eat junk food (within reason of course) all week. Walk miles in your neighborhood. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, do it.
Firstly, who knows when you’ll be able to do it again. Secondly, you more than likely want the time to go by fast, and time really does fly when you’re having fun. I could not WAIT to be done with work, so I was home for two weeks before my daughter was born. While it was awesome, I was also bored to tears the last few days. I wasn’t in any condition to be working, but I wish I would have planned more to do to keep myself busy. Maybe more visits with friends? Just use your last days wisely instead of fretting and driving yourself mad over when baby will come.
Speaking of when baby will come…
Sleep. For the love of good, sleep. If you can’t sleep (I couldn’t), lay down and rest. Do your nails. Walk. Bounce on a ball (not sure if this really preps you for labor, but it felt good on my 40 week pregnant back, so worth a shot). Get a haircut. Drink a ton of water. Prepare like you’re getting ready for the apocalypse. Because you basically are. While I was in labor for only 7 hours, had a dream recovery physically from said delivery, and had a ton of help the first weeks after Norah was born, I still felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I did all of the above and I’m SO glad I did. There is very little time for making yourself feel/look good after the baby comes, and even when there is, if you’re like me you will want to use it sleeping or snuggling your newborn.
Don’t get ahead of yourself.
Save receipts. For clothes and gifts. Don’t wash and remove tags from every single article of clothing. If you live in a climate with seasons, you may have no clue what the weather will be like when your little one is born. No matter where you live you don’t know what clothes will fit, or even what types of clothing you will want to put on your baby.
I thought I was so clever washing and organizing everything Norah wore weeks before she was born. Between seasons changing, her being smaller than I expected, and just my preference on what she wore, we ended up packing away dozens of outfits that were worn just one or even zero times. I wish I’d of held off and saved the receipts for those bad boys instead of having to go drop $100 dollars at Kohls a week postpartum because I wanted a million Carters long sleeved onesies.
You also have no clue if your baby’s skin will show an intolerance to certain bath products or diapers. That stuff isn’t cheap and can easily be exchanged for things you can use.
Write everything down.
That awesome baby advice from the books you read? All the fun things you want to save from the hospital for the baby book? Who you want to thank for this or that from your final days as a pregnant person? Write it all down. If you think “Pregnancy Brain” is a B, wait until you experience “Mom Brain”.
The first month postpartum
This is such a mixed bag. Just like every baby is different, every labor and delivery and postpartum experience is different. What helped me may be completely irrelevant to the next Mom, but these are things that I think most new moms could benefit from knowing.
Think about the little things.
Think about them, but don’t obsess over them. Your baby will kind of lead the way of course, but I was so worried about the big things like what would we eat and who would take care of the dogs, that I forgot to think about the little things. I’m talking about where I’d keep the 75 items required for breastfeeding every 2 hours (pillow, water, burp cloth and/or bib, paper or phone app or tracking device). It was a nightmare piling all this onto my nightstand or dragging it all around the house, or worst of all- running around the house collecting it from various places with a baby screaming for food.
I also put NO thought into how our first nights would go. We spent the first week trying to have my husband or myself being awake 24/7 in case the baby needed something. We are both people who need a lot of sleep (the good old days), so that was a rough plan. I was terrified to go to sleep in fear that she’d need something and I’d sleep through her cries. I think I was so scared because I never really thought about the logistics of how we’d live. You can only prep so much, but at least put some thought into this stuff so you’re not caught totally by surprise.
Know that you will be physically out of the game for a long time.
I’m young and in pretty good shape. I had dream labor and delivery. My body was still shot.
Our daughter spent a couple of days in the NICU. The third day of her life, I had to get out of that room for fear of losing my mind. I hadn’t seen the sun in 2 days. I walked down to the hospital cafeteria to get lunch, and it almost killed me. Not really killed me, but I did almost pass out multiple times on the walk back up to my room. You may think you feel ok, but you’re more than likely not. And if you DON’T feel ok, don’t even think about trying to do anything besides survive and feed your baby.
I wanted to appear strong after having our girl so people would let me go back to doing normal things instead of treating me like a victim. What a mistake. Because by the time it started to catch up to me, everyone already thought I was fine. Let people pamper you, help you, bring you food, whatever. Appreciate the help while it lasts and rest up as much as you can.
Be ready for breastfeeding to kick your butt.
Unless you are one of the luckiest people in the world, it will. It almost destroyed me honestly. I wrote this post detailing more of my experience if you're interested, and that isn't even the half of it. I am still feeding my daughter mostly breast milk 13 or so weeks in, but I don't think I would have made it this far without a pump, a husband who helps me stick to it, and the luxury of being a stay at home mom, so I can really put time into making it work. If you are dedicated to exclusively breastfeeding your baby, know that it is going to be tough physically and mentally. It's going to be time consuming. But it has proven to be worth the effort for us. I also just want to say that there is NOTHING wrong with formula feeding in my opinion, and if I wasn't so cheap, I might be walking that road myself.
I am more than happy to answer questions on anything related to pregnancy or postpartum, as I'm pretty much an open book, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In my opinion, there is no better advice than a "real" mom's opinion. To anyone considering a baby, pregnant now, or who has recently had a baby- best of luck to you. It truly is the greatest thing of all time!
And that’s my two sense. Just know that regardless of what friends, family, books, or doctors tell you, there is no miracle answer. Do what feels right, and enjoy the life changing happiness that is becoming a mom! Feel free to visit my blog to read all about my pregnancy, birth story, and what we’ve been up to since little N made her debut.