Ease your baby into the world -- and yourself into motherhood -- with these parenting tips.
- Step 1: Get out of the house, even if it takes your last ounce of strength to brush your teeth and put on clothes. The fresh air and human contact will do you good.
- Step 2: Don't feel guilty if you feel more overwhelmed than ecstatic when you first bring your baby home; up to 75 percent of women report feeling sad and alone during the first month of motherhood. But if the feelings persist longer, or your depression is severe, seek professional help.
- FACT: According to one pediatrician's research, newborn's crying peaks at age 6 weeks, at about 3 1/2 hours per day. By age 3 months, it declines to 80 minutes per day.
- Step 3: Caress your newborn often: research indicates that stroking the skin stimulates hormones that help infants absorb food, tolerate pain, and handle stress. Babies who are cuddled and held frequently also fuss less, sleep more, and have stronger immune systems.
- Step 4: Dress your infant in gowns rather than onesies. It makes changing the baby much easier, a benefit that can't be overestimated when you're bone tired.
- TIP: Consider hiring a doula. Unlike a baby nurse, who only cares for your infant, a doula also prepares meals, does light housework, and helps you recover from childbirth.
- Step 5: Don't sweat the small stuff. Newborn babies don't need to be bathed daily; keeping the diaper area clean is good enough. They don't care if their bottle of formula is perfectly warmed; room-temperature is just fine. And if you're breast-feeding, don't let anyone make you feel guilty about using a breast pump so others can give the baby a bottle if you need to rest.
- Step 6: Arrange for someone to take care of the baby for a few hours a day so you can nap. Sleep deprivation is a new mom's biggest stressor, and the advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps" is rarely practical.