In case you missed it, Kate Middleton left the hospital, perfect hair and baby in hand, just seven hours after she gave birth to her third child! Seven hours after giving birth, I was still sitting on that air-filled doughnut the hospital gave me while trying to figure out how to breastfeed and how long I would have to wear those oh-so humbling hospital-grade mesh underwear.
Kudos to Kate for her graceful and speedy exit. Most of us new moms have shared the same sentiment of wanting to return to the comfort of our own home as quickly as possible ... until we realized what going home with a newborn actually means.
While I’d advise any new mom not to be in a rush to exit the hospital post-birth, there are some things you can do when you get home to make those chaotic newborn days so much easier.
Don’t Be A Hero
OK, you’re home with this new person you created. You’re blissed out but secretly terrified. Turns out you’re normal because most new parents are terrified, too. Ask for help, whether it’s from someone you've hired, your family or your partner. You will bond with your baby no matter what, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and to take it!
If you’re a new mom and you’re crying randomly or wondering “What have I done?” you’re in good company. Being responsible for a tiny little person is an awesome responsibility and there’s nothing wrong with feeling the weight of it. And while “Holy sh*t, I’m a mom now!” freak-outs are to be expected, take note if your thoughts turn darker. You might need some extra support or even some medication. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and happens to the best of us.
You can lose whatever weight you put on while pregnant. Remember that. Because a post-birth body, which often makes a gal look like she’s still preggo, can be remarkably humbling. You’ll want to go Paleo or start up some extreme juice cleanse immediately after leaving the hospital. Don’t. And don’t avoid meals. You’ll need your strength and energy. You can go on a diet another time.
Don’t Look in the Mirror Too Hard
I was totally unprepared for how my body would look after I had my first child. My still-looks-pregnant belly threw me for a loop as I naively figured I’d go back to a flat tummy as soon as my baby left its 9-month studio apartment in my belly. Go easy on yourself after you get home with that baby. Avoid staring in the mirror for too long. It’ll just mess with your head.
While much of the work of an infant falls on the mom, just remember there’s nothing a dad can’t do except breastfeed.
Play Hostess Another Time
It’s amazing how many people want to come by and visit a new mom and her new baby, but even well-meaning guests can be exhausting. They can also stay too long. Setting boundaries on when, who and how long guests stay can save your sanity when you first bring your baby home. And no, you don’t have to feed everyone who wants to come by. You just had a baby! They should feed you.
Stay Away From Doctor Google
No matter how healthy your baby is at birth, you’ll be sure something is wrong with them—and there’s no illness, ailment, or diagnosis that can’t be found on Google. Which isn't always the most accurate. If you have a genuine concern for your baby, call the pediatrician. Step away from Dr. Google for a while. It’ll just make you feel nuts and worried.
Make Your Partner Be a Partner
Baths, bottles and bedtime are not only a great way for your baby’s dad to bond with his baby, it’s a great way for him to support you. While much of the work of an infant falls on the mom, just remember there’s nothing a dad can’t do except breastfeed. So, let him. You’re in this together.
Spread Out the Exhaustion
When I had my first child, I made the mistake of thinking my husband and I needed to be up with the baby at night together. This didn’t make the work more equal—it made us both tired all the time. By the second child, I learned to spread out the work and the exhaustion. We took shifts on the early mornings and the night wakings, giving one or the other a chance to recover.
Do What You Gotta Do to Feel Pretty
Becoming a mom is a beautiful thing, but doesn’t always make a new mom feel beautiful. If getting a mani/pedi or a blowout makes you feel a bit better about yourself once you bring that baby home, go for it!
Last but not least, don’t for a second think it’s normal to leave the hospital just hours after giving birth, like Kate Middleton did. It’s great that she could, but her circumstances are pretty rare. Until you have a staff waiting for you at home and some royal doctors on speed dial, don’t panic if you can't leave the hospital seven hours later.