So those 2 little pink lines show up. How exciting! A new baby is a blessing and a joyful adventure.
Growing your family adds an extra dimension to an already busy lifestyle. How do you handle the fatigue, nausea and extra appointments on top of managing your home, children, and everything else? And what about when the baby comes? Pausing to feed and change a newborn every few hours will definitely interrupt your day.
Many parents worry that having a new baby will mean needing to make major lifestyle changes. While a new little one may be a welcome addition, the extra work and loss of sleep can feel so overwhelming. But a new baby doesn’t have to mean a huge adjustment … unless of course, it’s your first child.
I have had 5 children, and now I’m pregnant with my 6th. There are things I’ve learned along the way that just make life easier, both while pregnant and immediately following birth.
What you can do:
There are things you can do during your pregnancy and afterwards to make life not only fun and enjoyable but easier on you.
Consider the timing of your new baby’s arrival. Are you due in summer? You may want to plan for flexible vacation time, low-key stay-cations, and look for local attractions for entertainment. Day camps for other children, beach days, playground and splash park time are excellent ways to keep the other kids busy, so that you can rest and relax and take care of you and baby.
Also, you may want to limit how much you do with other people. The big neighbourhood barbeques, family reunions and friendly feasts may need to wait for a few months while you and your family adjust to another baby. Don’t add on the extra planning or work for hosting — or even attending — events with a new baby. Keep everything to a minimum, so that you can allow for the uncertainties of a new baby.
Reduce the hands-on work.
Especially during the first 4-6 weeks after your baby is born, you want to reduce how much you need to do to maintain your standards. Take the time while pregnant to declutter and downsize areas of your home. Train older children (or ask a partner to help?) on certain household chores — such as laundry, cleaning the bathtub or shower, doing the dishes, or cleaning up after a pet or younger child. The more you can get others to help out, the less work you will have to do, when sleep and energy is limited.
Spend some time while pregnant (after the morning sickness period is over, of course!) to meal plan and even create some meals ahead of time. Ask friends or family to help you cook for your freezer. Stock your freezer and cupboards with easy-to-prepare meals. You can teach older children how to use an oven. Even a 7 yr old could take the wrapper off a casserole, put it in a cold oven, and turn on the heat and timer. Just add a bit extra to allow for the preheating phase.
Outsource your jobs.
Seriously it’s no shame to hire out some of the more mundane aspects of housework. We are human, not superheros! Call a cleaning service and check around for prices. Even a once-a-month job can take a huge amount of stress off your shoulders. Find babysitters now, especially if you have older children. Talk grandma and grandpa or other family or friends into a day-long playdate (and possibly overnight?) with older children, so that you can have a day where it’s just you and your baby. All those people who offer you help after the baby is born? Take it. Give them specific things to help with: “Could you please hold the baby while I shower?” “Could I get you to come do all the weed-eating on the front yard — we just haven’t had time with the baby!” “Could you run over to the store and grab me some milk, bread and hamburger for supper? Here’s a little cash.. thanks!” Outsource what you can, so you can concentrate on what no one else can do!
Use technology to help
There’s so much to keep track of while you’re pregnant and with a new baby. Thankfully, these days we have so many technological options to help. Use apps like FertilityFriend to track milestones while pregnant. You can download a contraction timer in the later weeks, so that you know when labour is really happening. There are apps such as Baby Book, Tweekaboo or Baby log that can help you mark down baby’s first smile, that first appointment with the doctor and first foods. You can also use technology to help monitor how often your baby needs to be fed, changed and sleep.
Technology can also help with knowing what to expect and what’s normal. Use your phone e-reader app to read up on baby development while you’re nursing. Music apps can help with white noise or music to calm fussy babies. And Facebook or mommy sites can connect you to other moms so you don’t feel quite so isolated with a new baby.
A new baby is exciting!
Having a new baby can make you feel completely anxious and almost panicky. But remember, the human race has been having babies for generations. You aren’t going to face anything that someone hasn’t already gone through. Talk to other moms and learn from their experiences. Read blogs (like this one!) to prepare yourself for the adjustments needed. While you can’t predict whether or not your baby will be fussy, contented, high needs or easy-to-care-for, you can make some preparations. Whether its your first child or 6th child, you can do some things in advance to make life easier.
And.. congratulations again!