One of the most agrivating factors during that first week of motherhood or fatherhood is the lack of sleep. "The baby is going to sleep a lot, but only in really short stretches," says O'Brien. "Sleep when the baby sleeps if you can, that's easier said that done."
In between all those naps, your new little bundle of joy may be screaming their head off. Newborns are easily agitated, but a few simple steps to replicate the womb environment can help soothe them. Try swaddling them tightly to mimic the close quarters they're used to or sway slowly back and forth while holding them close. You can also try to make "shhhhh-ing" sounds, which is similar to the sounds babies hear in the womb. Holding them on their side and letting them suck on your finger can also help.
Breastfeeding can also frustrate new moms. "A lot of people think, 'Oh, it's so natural! It's just going to come to me!' But for most moms, that isn't necessarily the case," says O'Brien. She suggests seeking advice from a lactation consultant, preferably before you even leave the hospital. "You want to try to get it down right away in those first few days," she adds. Chances are, your baby will be feeding around the clock.
With those round-the-clock feedings can come boredom. It's important to keep yourself occupied and keep what you need near you at all times. Try to keep things like books, the TV remote and a bottle of water nearby. You don't want to interrupt a feeding once you've started, so try to set up a feeding "station" where you'll have everything you need.
Finally, remember that it's okay if you don't feel like you have a lot of energy. "Remember that it's normal... You will bounce back," says O'Brien. She suggests enlisting as much help as you can, be it from another family member or a friend. Prioritize your time so you will stay sane. "The thank you notes can wait... you don't have to have a spotless house," says O'Brien.
For more information on adjusting to life with an infant, as well as additional parenting advice, click here to visit www.AmericanBaby.com.
By Erin Petrun