2. Involve your partner
If you think you're having a rough time figuring out your new role, your mate is probably even more baffled. "Dads want to help, but they don't always know what's most needed," says York. True, much of the early caregiving falls on you, especially if he's back at work and/or you're nursing, but try adopting the "help him help you" motto: Tell your partner how much you'd appreciate it if he took care of grocery shopping or other household chores--and be specific. Encourage him to change or bathe the baby, reserving criticisms for safety issues only. After a month, pump your breast milk so he can do a nighttime feeding. (Nothing grates on a new mom's nerves more than having her mate ask how the night went!)
3. Get your frustrations out
She may be your friend, mother or neighbor, but all new moms need a sounding board--someone who vows not to pass judgment on anything you say or do in the first six weeks. "You want someone you can be topless around," says Glyck, "or can joke with about where the 'return' counter is for your baby!"
On a serious note, your confidant should also know the difference between baby blues and full-fledged depression. While many new moms feel overwhelmed and tired, symptoms that last longer than two weeks and also include sadness, excessive anxiety, trouble concentrating, discomfort around the baby and/or lack of appetite need medical attention. Contact your OB-GYN or primary-care physician or visit fitpregnancy.com/PPD for more information and resources.
4. Perfect the breastfeeding latch
Having your baby latch on correctly can help mitigate many potential breastfeeding difficulties. Here's how to do it:
Before putting the baby on your breast, position her on her side so she is facing you, with her belly touching yours.
Prop up the baby with a pillow, if necessary, and hold her up to your breast; don't lean over toward her.
Tickle your baby's lips with your nipple until her mouth opens wide, as if in a yawn. When she does this, quickly draw her to your breast.
Make sure she takes the entire nipple and much of the areola (the dark area around it) in her mouth.
Once your milk comes in (about three days after giving birth), you should be able to hear your baby swallowing. If your nipple hurts for more than about seven seconds or your baby is frequently slipping off, check with the lactation consultant at the hospital where you delivered.