The staff can also guide you on breastfeeding and diapering—and take the baby to the nursery so you can rest. “It’s nice to have the baby in your room, but if you really want to sleep, have him go to the nursery at least one of your nights in the hospital,” suggests Carolyn Brann, 41, mom to 1-year-old Lily in La Jolla, California.
After your hospital stay, you’ll be eager to get your new baby home. You’ve probably got the crib ready, the changing table well stocked, and a kitchen full of baby bottles—but what about your own sleeping, bathing, and feeding needs? To make sure you’re well nourished in those first few weeks, store meals and extra groceries while still pregnant. Friends or family may help you with this, or you can prep for yourself. “I made extra batches of everything while I was pregnant and froze them, and I shopped and shopped for groceries,” says Johanna Whetstone, 39, mom to 3-year-old Carter and 1-year-old Gavin in Los Angeles. “I didn’t want to have to think about dinner or lunch, or whether or not we had butter.”
Having paper plates and utensils can help cut down on the number of dishes to wash, says Katie Cartwright, 35, mom to 3-year-old Olivia in Bacon Hill, New York. Personal supplies are a must, too, from toilet paper and tissues to nursing pads and nipple cream. “I was not prepared for the postpartum mess,” adds Rebecca Woolf, 24, mom to 10-month-old Archer in Los Angeles. “You won’t want to run errands in the first weeks, so stock up on tons of maxi pads and throw-away granny undies.” You’ll soon discover that showering becomes a luxury. Get an infant seat to put the baby in while you attend to your personal hygiene. “Bouncers are perfect for a bathroom, just so you can pee or take a shower,” notes Cartwright.
Sleep is another rare indulgence in the weeks after your newborn arrives. Strive to sleep when your newborn sleeps, work with your partner to spell each other when the baby is awake, or have friends and family lend a hand while you squeeze in a nap. Just be sure to select helpers carefully. “In many situations, mothers or mothers-in-law will come to visit, which can be good, or sometimes stressful,” notes Curtis. “I recommend no overnight visits from family for the first two weeks and hiring a non-family member to help out—one who will cook, clean, and/or look after the baby,” says Brann.