Surviving the First Weeks Home from the Hospital

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

I'd anticipated the moments of bringing our new baby home from the hospital for as long as I could remember. We were prepared and absent of nearly all the anxiety I'd expected.

We began our new life with ease. Surprisingly, the week following my c-section was pretty painless, and I found myself nearly erupting with all the energy that had gone missing in my final trimester. I couldn't stop smiling, and organizing, and snapping photos of our amazing little boy. I admired my husband like never before. Sleep was completely unimportant to me, as I had a baby to stare at all day.

I was high. 

Completely, incomprehensibly HIGH.

But then … week two rolled around.

I struggled to establish a milk supply, and the round-the-clock feeding, pumping, burping, swaddling, and crying was ramping up just as my high was taking a nose dive. I'd barely returned a single congratulatory text message, as I'd had my arms full of newborn and breastpump for over a week. And before I knew it, I was in tears in the arms of my mother-in-law for reasons I couldn't articulate.

As prepared as I'd been, and as much as I'd been dreaming of this moment for all my life, I had no way of really knowing how my new, all-consuming role was going to affect me.

As prepared as I'd been, and as much as I'd been dreaming of this moment for all my life, I had no way of really knowing how my new, all-consuming role was going to affect me. Those first weeks home were a roller coaster, and I'd not understood the magnitude of just how much my body, at least for a short while, would not be my own. I did not expect to second guess myself nearly every second of each day, and never in a million years did I anticipate that I'd not be equipped with a maternal answer to my son's every whimper.

I was an idiot.

Thankfully, I have a handful of best friends who'd “been there, done that,” and their words of wisdom helped prevent me from diving into the emotional dumpster.

These five simple pieces of advice seemed to make all the difference.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

1.  Buy a hands-free pumping bra. 

If you are nursing, this may be the greatest gift you can give yourself. It took what felt like nine years for my milk to finally come in, therefore I was connected to a breastpump. A LOT. Those fifteen-minute pumping sessions were incredibly frustrating as I contemplated all the things I would rather be doing, but once I purchased a pumping bra, I was able to return text messages, apply a little makeup, and reconnect with the outside world via social media. Those dreaded minutes of pumping turned into extremely valuable moments of “meditation.”

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

2.  Get outside.

Preferably alone. There is something to be said about how the power of fresh air and a simple walk — even to the mailbox — can be medicating. You and your baby will spend many hours indoors together. Leave your baby with your partner or other trusted loved one for as long or as little as you can stand. Just get outside, take deep breaths, and let the world recharge you.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

3.  Take an indulgent bath/shower. 

I got lots of advice to bring my favorite shower gel and lotion with me to the hospital (as there is no shower that will ever feel as overdue as the one you take after you have your baby), but I didn't realize how important that advice would continue to be once I got home. While many of my showers each week were of the expedited version, I made it a point to “go to the spa” at least once a week. 

After my baby was well fed, dry, snuggled, and content, I'd hand over the baby monitor to my husband and disappear to the bathroom for 30 uninterrupted minutes for the steamiest, most aromatic shower of my week. I'd suds from head to toe, shave, exfoliate, and then lotion in my favorite fragrance while relaxing with my iPod. Those showers were like going to church. I re-emerged as a whole new woman. I washed away the sour smell of breastmilk and replaced it with an attitude worthy of taking on the world. Trust me. Do this for yourself. 

{ MORE: Your Newborn Bathing Questions Answered }

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

4.  Order your dream meal. 

Recreate a fancy restaurant experience at home. Don't limit yourself to pizza and Chinese. Don't worry about the mess, the price, or the details. Throw caution to the wind and take yourself on a sofa date. If your favorite restaurant doesn't deliver, enlist your partner or friend to pick it up for you. The point is to put the baby to bed, relax for just a moment, and spoil yourself. You deserve it.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

5.  Watch your baby sleep. 

No, not for hours, of course, but for long enough. Seeing your most beautiful creation in his most peaceful state is sheer therapy. Don't get caught up in washing bottles and restocking diapers. Pause. Relax. And enjoy this new life.

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Surviving the First Weeks Home from the Hospital

Jennifer Bruno is a credentialed trainer by day and a freelance writer and aspiring photographer by night. Raised in rural Kansas, Jen moved to sunny Florida after college where she met her husband, who married her despite hearing her sing Dixie Chicks karaoke. Shortly after saying “I do”, they moved to New York City to fulfill their dream of living amongst the bright lights and skyscrapers. They currently share their cramped apartment with two modelesque miniature dachshunds named Millie an ... More

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9 comments

  1. Ready for my little one to come any day now 🙂

  2. Ready for my little one to come any day now

  3. I can’t wait for my little girl to come in November, the only thing I’m worried about is if we’ll be ready for her or not.

  4. Amanda says:

    I wish someone had told me more about nursing bras/the pumping kind. maybe i would have enjoyed pumping more.

  5. ChildofGod says:

    My husband is already planning when to take off from work to help with the kids. We have two boys already 5 and 8, and our babygirl will be arriving right around the beginning of school so he is mentally preparing hisself to be my support system to keep me from having a “moment” aka an emotional breakdown. Lol, Gotta love him:)

  6. Diana says:

    Thanks for the tips!! God Bless!

  7. Thanks for the great article. Not only was it helpful to me but I think I’m going to have my husband read it so he can get a bit of a reality check and (hopefully) be more prepared for whatever emotional roller-coaster and new life challenges we have waiting for us in 3.5 months.

  8. Another great article from J. Bruno. Love the advice. Already stuck doing the last. Can’t help but smile as my beautiful baby boy slumbers. Precious moments.

  9. Tina says:

    I will try to remember these and do them at least some of them once my baby boy is born. I’m so excited to meet him

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