A dear friend of mine just became a first-time mom a short while ago. Watching her go through the experience has been reminding me of when I first became a mom as well. I have such sweet memories of those first few months the profound experience it is to be a mom. But I also remember how overwhelming it all was. You’re home from the hospital, totally exhausted, and you’re overwhelmed by the reality that you are now responsible for caring for more than just yourself. Where do you even begin? After watching my friend go through the process of being a new mom and remembering my own experiences, I decided to put together a list of survival tips for first-time mothers. Read on for more!
1. Umbilical Cord Care
Caring for a baby’s umbilical cord has changed a bit since I had my first child. Today, there are just four simple steps to take to properly care for the umbilical cord.
Keep the Stump Dry: You need to allow the cord stump to dry out. To do this, avoid covering it up as much as possible. Fold Baby’s diaper under the cord so that it rests over and out of the diaper.
Keep the Stump Clean: When the cord stump gets dirty, use some warm water to softly clean the mess and then dab it dry with a clean cloth.
Sponge Baths: It’s important to keep the cord stump as dry as possible as Baby’s little body works hard to heal. To help with this process, go with sponge baths for now until the stump falls off.
Leave the Stump Alone: It can be hard to leave it alone, but let Baby’s cord stump fall off on its own. Keep things dry and the cord stump will fall off on its own within a few weeks after birth.
2. What Baby Wants
When I was pregnant, I remember one of my biggest concerns being how I would know what my crying baby was trying so hard to tell me. After feeding, sleeping, burping, hugging, what else could the crying mean? After Baby came and I was faced with this for the first time, I surprised myself with what I realized… I just knew. Baby didn’t always stop crying right away, but in those moments, I knew what to do to help and also that I was doing all I could. Even after all his needs are taken care of, sometimes Baby just needs to cry and that’s okay. However, there are a few tricks you can try to help comfort and soothe. Read about these tips from Help Guide.
3. Diaper Rash
To say that I was worried when Baby had his first diaper rash is a bit of an understatement. We had been free of all concerns or problems until that darned diaper rash so it was my first test as Dr. Mom. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly to care for the rash! Oh, how quickly new moms learn! Although you never want to disregard something that causes Baby pain or irritation, diaper rashes are fairly normal. Baby’s skin is adjusting to life out in the world and is super sensitive as a result. Any time Baby’s bum is sitting in moisture for too long, it can fall victim to a rash. The best way to prevent and treat diaper rash is to apply a diaper cream with zinc oxide. This will protect Baby’s skin from the excess moisture in the diaper. Check out these 11 suggested cream options from Healthline. Also, one more serious diaper rash symptom you’ll want to watch for are itchy little red bumps. These are usually located around the bottome or in the folds of skin on little girls. If you see these bumps, consult your pediatrician for a prescription antifungal cream.
4. Problems With Nursing
Breastfeeding is different for every child you’ll have. Some will take to you without a problem in the world, but others will be more finicky. Dr. Jane Morton from the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto offers solutions to 10 of the most common problems with breastfeeding.
5. Bath Time
As mentioned before, sponge baths are recommended for newborns until the umbilical cord stump has fallen. After that you can rest easy about making more of a splash. For our first bath, Baby and I invited Dad to join in. Not that it was too challenging, but I was glad to have the extra pair of hands nonetheless!
Set Up: Be sure to prepare your wash station before bringing Baby over. You’ll want to make sure there are no items within Baby’s reach but that you have easy access to everything you need.
Position: If you’re set up in a sink, face Baby’s head away from the faucet.
Temperature: Not only do you want to make sure bath water is warm but not too hot, but you’ll also want to make sure the room temperature is slightly raised so it’s not such a shock to Baby when she comes out of the water.
Cup: Use a plastic cup or pitcher to help rinse soap off of Baby without running into his eyes.
Timing: My babies all took to bath time differently. One became excited and saw bath time as play time while another usually became relaxed and got sleepy in the warm water. Pay attention to how bath time affects you baby and plan accordingly. If he gets energized with baths, plan them during the day. Alternatively, if Baby gets tired with baths, schedule them right before bed or nap time.
Read more suggestions and tips for bath time here from Babycenter.
Of all the first-time mom skills I learned, I’d have to say Baby’s sleep habits were the hardest for us to master. We got there, but it took a little more patience and practice than other parenting skills (not to mention, some sleepness nights). Head on over to Parents.com for MANY baby sleep tips I wish I had had when I was a first-time mom.
7. Concerning Poop
Now, I’m no poop aficionado by any means, but I think it’s fairly normal to expect that what comes out should closely resemble what went in. It didn’t take many dirty diapers with Baby to learn that this assumption was wrong. Very wrong. Case in point: Baby One was breastfed. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked and worried when his poops were yellow and had what looked like little seeds in it. Baby Two was also breastfed but moved to bottles much more quickly. His poops took on many different colors and were accompanied with an odor that gave Dad a run for his money (I love you, honey!). All of these are okay signs in the poop department. However, you’ll want to watch red, black, or white poops and ones that look like little pebbles. These are all signs to be concerned about and should immediately be directed to a pediatrician. Find a much more comprehensive poop guide here from Babycenter.
8. Soft Spots
I don’t know about you, but I grew up thinking that soft spots needed to be avoided and protected at all costs. While there is truth to this thinking, it also isn’t as critical as my young self once believed. Soft spots, or fontanelles, are thick, protective membranes that allow a baby to safely navigate out of the birth canal. They exist where bones have yet to grow together. Like any part of Baby’s growing body, protect fontanelles as much as possible, but for you first-time mom’s, these are not something to overly-stress over. Read more here from Parents.com.