Bringing Home a Newborn Without Support
Bringing Home a Newborn without Support
April 16, 2020

Bringing Home a Newborn without Support

Bringing Home a Newborn without Support.
Bringing Home a Newborn without Support

You’d thought it through for months and had it all perfectly planned out in your head. Your little one would arrive and you’d spend the next few weeks bonding, cuddling and gladly accepting all the help you can get from your excited friends and family. And then, everything changed.

So now what? The thought of bringing home a newborn without support is daunting. And it’s okay to let yourself feel all of the feelings around it–disappointment, stress, fear and so much more.

But there are a few things you can put into place to make your time at home with your new addition more manageable. Keeping these tips in mind won’t replace the family and friends you were counting on for help, but they can help you feel less stressed and less alone as you adjust to new parenthood.

1. Stay in touch.

It’s easy to lose track of time and let one day (and night) slip right into the next when you’re in the thick of it with a new baby. Setting aside a specific time or two of the day to chat–either virtually through programs like FaceTime or Zoom or just by picking up the phone–with a family member, friend or fellow parent can go a long way in helping you to feel more supported or less alone.

  • Figure out who in your life is going to make you feel your best and who will make you feel supported. Are you super close with your mom or your sister? Put a Zoom date on the calendar each day during a time that works for you both.
  • Have you recently met another friend who’s also a new parent, or know someone who’s been there, done that with a few kiddos already and is your go-to for all things baby advice? Reach out to them and figure out a time to talk each day. Sometimes something as simple as a 10-minute conversation or quick venting session is all you need to calm your nerves and get your mood back on track.

2. Go virtual.

Although it doesn’t always feel that way, there are a lot of benefits to living during a time when you can access almost anything with the touch of a button or a swipe across the screen of your smartphone. And there’s never a better time to take advantage of that than right now.

Take a virtual breastfeeding class. Many new parents agree that breastfeeding can be one of the most challenging parts of becoming a new parent. During times when an in-person visit from a lactation consultant isn’t possible, there are several virtual options that are just as good as the real thing.

  • Breastfeeding 101 is a class designed by Krystal Duhaney, an RN, IBCLC and breastfeeding parent of two and founder of the site Milky Mama. It’s an amazing, on-demand course that you can take from the comfort of your home. “It’s perfect for expectant parents, new parents and even experienced parents,” says Duhaney. “It is designed to prepare, educate and empower parents to have successful breastfeeding journeys, helps answer some of the most common questions that new parents may have about breastfeeding and even some questions they didn’t think to ask.” Duhaney also offers a breastfeeding support group with over 25,000 members on Facebook called The Official Milky Mama Lactation Support Group.
  • La Leche League, whose mission is for parents worldwide to breastfeed through support, encouragement, information and education, is currently running online breastfeeding support groups and virtual meetings. You can check the organization’s Facebook page to find one local to your area.

Get postpartum support online. Breastfeeding isn’t the only type of support you can get online as a new parent. If you’re having a difficult time transitioning to your new role as a parent, Duhaney recommends online courses like the Keeping Mommy in Mind virtual class that was specifically designed for new mothers. It was created by a licensed psychologist with specialized training in perinatal mental health and can help you learn how to manage your role as a parent and navigate changes in mood, relationships and identity.

Schedule a telehealth appointment. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by new parenthood, and the current circumstances combined with the inability to bring in any outside help can really take a toll on your mental health. Scheduling a telehealth session with a mental health practitioner may help. You may want to check with your health insurance provider before you set up a session to learn more about your mental health benefits.

  • The Seleni Institute, an organization that provides psychotherapy for women, men and families experiencing maternal mental health challenges, is currently offering online counseling services.
  • Operating under the mission of providing support, counseling and education to women and their families who experience difficulties related to pregnancy, pregnancy loss or the postpartum period, The Postpartum Stress Center is offering virtual support groups and telehealth appointments.

3. Start establishing a schedule.

Dreaming of the time when your baby will take predictable naps each day and lull themselves peacefully to sleep every night? While it is possible to get there eventually if you’re a schedule-loving parent, the newborn days aren’t the time to do it. And newborns certainly don’t require a schedule to thrive. But there are benefits to figuring out a loose schedule that works for you and your little one during those early months when so many aspects of your life already feel so out of control, especially if you’re navigating new parenthood without any outside help.

According to a blog post by Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician, child development expert, author of the bestselling book The Happiest Baby on the Block and creator of the Snoo Smart Sleeper Bassinet, there are a few tips to keep in mind when working on a newborn schedule.

  • A rigid schedule isn’t recommended, but a flexible schedule that works around approximate times for feeding and sleep can work.
  • Help your baby distinguish day from night by carrying them often during the day.
  • Aim for a feeding every 1.5-2 hours, then try for a nap. Feed your little one in a quiet room to minimize distractions.
  • Use white noise and a dark room to signal that sleep is on the way.

Read the full post here for all of Dr. Karp’s tips.

4. Share the load.

If you have a partner at home with you, making sure you share the load of new parenthood is even more important now than it would be under normal circumstances.

One of the biggest benefits of having outside help during the postpartum period is it allows you to take a break. You can sneak in a quick nap or take a long shower while someone else holds the baby or take a few hours off from the constant swaying and rocking your little one to sleep. But with no family, friends or a postpartum doula around to help, you and your partner need to rely on each other to trade off so you can each have a little time to yourselves. Try these tips:

  • If your little one is drinking formula, switch off each feeding so one person can rest while the other feeds the baby.
  • If you’re a breastfeeding parent, sharing feeding responsibilities can be trickier–but it’s still doable. Have the non-breastfeeding parent get the baby when they’re crying and do a diaper change, then bring you the baby when they’re ready to eat. Once your supply is established, start pumping to build your stash of breast milk and have your partner feed a bottle of pumped milk to your little one.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Let your partner know when you need a break, a shower or even a quick nap, and encourage them to do the same. It’s easy to assume the other person in your relationship knows what you’re thinking, but that’s often not the case. Stay calm, be honest and try your best to meet each other’s needs during this (crazy, stressful, tiring) time.

5. Be gentle with yourself.

This should go without saying all of the time, but it’s never more important than during the postpartum period—especially when you’re not able to enlist any outside help.

Be as gentle as possible with yourself. Prioritize what’s important and let go of what’s not. Feel bad that you usually make a home cooked meal but instead you ordered out for the last four nights? Don’t. Worried that you haven’t vacuumed in two weeks? A little extra dust never hurt anyone.

The newborn period is all about survival; do what you need to do to make it (sanely) through the day. Listen to podcasts or binge something mindless on Netflix or do some yoga or take a quick walk around the block if you can—whatever brings you a little peace and sanity. Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself or on your partner.

And remember, it gets easier. We promise.

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