The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Here are some tips from moms to help you make it through the first weeks with flying colors.
Go easy on yourself. “Expect to melt down at least once during the first six weeks,” says Michelle McCann, 36, of Portland, Ore. “Don’t think that you are a freak if you find yourself sitting in a rocking chair at 3 a.m., crying, with your boobs hanging out.”
Purchase plenty of newborn outfits and baby blankets; in fact, get way more than you think you’ll need. “The first night we were home, Christopher soaked through three bodysuits, three pajamas and three receiving blankets,” says Rosa Martin, 38, of Mendham, N.J.
Also make sure that you not only have the necessities, but that you have them in the right areas. “For a week, we changed Ronan’s diapers on the dining-room table because we didn’t have a changing table set up downstairs,” McCann says.
Point the Penis
Protect your baby from urinating all over himself, which can happen even when he’s wearing a diaper. “If you have a boy, make sure his penis is pointing down when you fasten the diaper,” Martin says. “Otherwise, if there is any gap between the diaper and the baby, he will pee straight up his belly and it will drip down the back and soak everything.”
Divide the Duties
Designate dad as the diaper man. “Jerry changed all the diapers,” McCann says. “That made me feel good, and it gave him a chance to bond with Ronan.”
Keep it Clean
To clean the “neck cheese” that builds up in the folds of your baby’s neck, McCann suggests using a cotton swab dipped in baby oil.
Take a Break
Cat Larsen’s second baby, Annika, had colic. “If your baby has been crying for hours and you can feel your tension escalating, take a break,” the St. Louis mom says. Have someone else hold your baby; if no one is around, put him in his crib or bassinet with music playing. “A five-minute break is not going to hurt him, and you will feel a lot more loving when you go back and hold him,” Larsen adds.
Keep it Dark
Keep the room dark for nighttime feedings. McCann brought her baby into bed and used a reading light when she nursed. “I could see well enough to help Ronan latch on, but the room stayed dark enough not to rouse him,” she says.
Get Some Sleep
“Get earplugs for when you are off baby duty,” McCann suggests. Another tip: Sleep when you can. “Everyone says to sleep when the baby sleeps, but I found it impossible to sleep during the day,” Martin says. Instead, she went to bed earlier and slept later to get extra rest. “I would crash at 7 p.m. because there were plenty of people to watch the baby. And for the first few weeks, the baby and I would stay in bed until 9:30 a.m.”
Ask for Help
“It’s hard to know what’s normal,” Larsen says. “It’s helpful to have your mom or someone else with kids give you perspective—they can tell you if the poop looks normal or if your baby is really acting sick.”