Read the pre-birth advice here.
"Don't be too hard on yourselves, the first few weeks are super hard and it takes a while to get into the swing of things. Leverage the PSP network - it's a great way to meet others and start to build your parent community!
Have a post-birth plan:
Have a post-birth plan for support, whether informal (family members who are going to cook and clean for you) or formal (post-partum doula).”
Limit distractions and expectations:
“Make sure you can focus on recovering from the birth and your new baby with as few distractions as possible.”
“I would tell myself to have zero expectations during the first few weeks post-partum. Don't expect to get any chores done, don't worry about "doing it right; don’t feel like you have to know everything; etc.”
“Everything is harder than you thought. The first 6 weeks were really rough but after that it really does get better.”
Be selective when planning visitors:
“Select carefully who comes to visit, it should be visitors willing to roll up their sleeves and help during the first weeks.”
“As for friends and family visiting, if they are not coming to help keep the visits very short and don't be afraid to ask them to bring some food or other things that you need.”
“When guests visit you at home be vocal about asking them for a cooked meal. Folks overlook how hungry mom gets AND her vital getting nutrients back into her is when she comes home with baby.”
“Give yourself more time than you think you need before you let long-term visitors (i.e. out-of-towners) come after the baby is born. My in-laws came for a week when my baby was only a week old, and I was a wreck. I'm not sure it would have been much better if we had waited another week or 2, but I certainly was not prepared for advice and company round the clock after just 5 days home from the hospital.”
“Though many advise against it, we were grateful to have family around to help us with basics like housecleaning and food-shopping once the baby was born.”
"Let friends/family know that you'll need to limit visitors. (limit to the ones that will bring you food and/or help clean your home)."
Ask for and accept help:
“Accept all offers of help. If they offer and don't offer something specific, give them a task - laundry, dishes, picking up a few essential groceries.”
"There's very little care set up for after one leaves the hospital. I encourage arranging a post-partem doula, if you can. Those first few days can be scary, but someone who has a lot of experience saying "this is normal" makes a big difference."
“Ask ask ask! This neighborhood probably has the best resources for birthing experiences of any place in the country. If you have a question or need something, chances are someone here has been through it or can help point you in the right direction.”
“Always reach out for help and support because nothing is more important than recovering and balancing the new life.”
“If someone offers to help after your baby is born, accept it.”
“And, let people help you. Even if it buying a half gallon of milk (or pint of ice cream) in those first few weeks. Just say yes!!”
Make it as easy as possible and outsource when you can:
“If you don't have it already get an Amazon prime membership. It was so helpful to be able to order anything and know it would arrive in two days. It also gives you access to Amazon Mom, which has the best deals on diapers.”
“Get over the fact you're not gonna have time or energy to keep your apt clean... hire a maid!”
“Do not try to be a super hero - rest, recover and process all those crazy emotions (you may have some negative emotions - that's OKAY!! and TOTALLY NORMAL!!). If you don't have friends/family nearby or who can come by during the week and your partner has to go back to work, hire a post partum doula for a few days.”
"Hire part-time help early on in your family leave time. It's really hard to tend to a baby, make yourself, lunch, and attempt to fold laundry."
Sleep when the baby sleeps:
“Sleep was tough- turn your phone off when you're sleeping. That way people can call and text without worrying about waking you up.”
"Nothing prepares you for your first baby. Nothing. I could take all the classes and research the entire internet, and still I was a fish flopping around without water. It's a steep learning curve, but eventually you find your feet! My greatest advice would be to sleep when your baby sleeps. You may feel the need to clean, put away dishes, take a shower, generally make your home less of a bomb site--don't. Just sleep. Let your house be in tatters for a few weeks, because a semi-rested parent equals a happy baby and happy life. Your routine will get back to normal sooner than you think."
Get help with breastfeeding:
“Breastfeeding is way harder than you thought.”
"One other thing is that breastfeeding is hard. Period. Very few women I know have been able to do it effortlessly. Make sure you use all the resources at your disposal to get help early and as much as necessary, and don't beat yourself up if you are struggling, or if you decide to give it up altogether, or need to supplement with formula. Lactation consultants are great, but they often have the approach of exclusive breastfeeding at all costs. I've realized that my own mental and physical health is also a consideration, and if that means I need to supplement with formula because of low supply (with three kids I don't have the ability to have the baby and/or pump attached to my boob as much as is needed to boost my supply), that's what I'm doing. My son is thriving and is content, and that's more important to me than the ideal of exclusive breastfeeding. I've had breastfeeding struggles with all three of my children (you'd think I would be an expert right now), and am trying my best to breastfeed my son until my goal of six months, but it is TOUGH."
"My son is now almost a month old, and breastfeeding is still a challenge. If I could go back, I would see a lactation specialist ASAP after returning home from the hospital. Grace, our doula, was helpful in her postpartum visit, but I could have used extra support in those early days and instead chose to tough it out. I wonder where we would be now if I had addressed some of these issues right out of the gate."
“If you plan to breastfeed, know that it is difficult, but stick with it and seek out help before you give up.”
“Have a lactation consultant lined up unless you are not a first time mom. It's virtually impossible to get it right yourself at the first try.”
“Breastfeeding became such a huge part of my life after giving birth, and I felt that I didn't know what to expect. I had taken a three-hour breastfeeding course which helped with some information about breastfeeding and about positioning the baby during breastfeeding, but I wished that I had known more about what to expect about the process of my milk coming in and how often I would be feeding the baby. I would recommend reading more about this process before birth so it is a bit less of a shock.”
“Get a manual breastpump! I have an electric one at work and keep the manual one at home for weekends and car rides. I love my manual. And learn how to hand express. The pumps don't tend to work for the last ounce or two. You don't need a special pumping bra - the flanges will stay in a supportive regular bra. Learn to nurse with the baby in the baby carrier (Ergo is especially good for this). You can then nurse on the go. My babies loved this. Usually put them right to sleep.”
“If you plan to breast feed, go through your closet before the baby is born and move all the tops and dresses you can nurse in to the front.”
“Don't feel guilty if you end up having to give up breastfeeding for different reasons, your babies will still grow healthy.”
"To the future first time breastfeeders, I wish I had learned more before about what to expect and about the supports available (eg gotten LC recommendations, found support groups). The site KellyMom.com was wonderfully helpful, as were they La Le League meetings and the Methodist support group. I think it might have made it a little easier had I known about these in advance. It was six painful weeks, but it got better and the rest of the year that I nursed I really enjoyed. Good luck!"
Know about the baby blues and PPD:
“Not having the birth experience you wanted isn't your fault, and it's okay to feel that loss.”
“My advice to pregnant women is to be prepared for (potential) baby blues. I was not, and was really taken by surprise when I had feelings of depression and hopelessness after my birth. These lasted for about 4-6 weeks.”
Be gentle with yourself and your new family:
“I did not realize how much pain and discomfort would follow my vaginal delivery. I did not feel in control of my body again for several weeks. It was all really hard but also a miracle and speeds by.”
“I would be honest about what you need and when you need it as well as when you want everyone to just go away. Communicating with those that you love and want to be around you to help is super important for everyone involved.”
“It's SO hard when there's a new baby in the house and hormones are running high but try, try, try to TREAT YOURSELF KINDLY. It's likely things will not go according to "plan" and you may not have the birth you envisioned
"Do kegals post partum / find some post partum body help in advance."
“Even if you are desperate to leave the hospital, take a few extra minutes to get a thorough check up before you go, and ask every question you can think of. You see a doctor so frequently at the end of your pregnancy that it's really jarring to find yourself so completely on your own after you have the baby: the pediatrician is around all the time, but no one is there to make sure you are doing ok.”
"Give yourself a break in any way you can after the birth!"
Get OUT and get involved:
“My October PSP group has been a lifesaver for my sanity as well. Definitely join a group and get involved!”
“And though it sounds conflicting, I highly recommend getting some fresh air (maybe just in the form of sitting on the stoop!) but also not leaving the house. I gave myself one goal per day starting in week three, and that goal was something like, "eat lunch" or "fold the laundry".”
“My advice is to try to get outside, walk around, and talk to other women who have been through (or are currently going through) the same thing. It made me feel much better to know that I wasn't alone in these feelings, and that they would eventually go away.”
“The best thing I did was join the PSP moms group. We met up while everyone else was working.”
Enjoy the experience of being a new parent and relax:
“Just relax, let your instincts guide you, drink diluted Gatorade, healthy food, arnica, don't worry about stuff - like gear, you only need some clothes and a place for the baby to sleep, have the number from La Leche League in case you need breast feeding support, go to prenatal yoga and be as active as you can, and surround yourself with love, minimize stress.”
“Take care of yourself and listen to your body! Have fun and enjoy every second.”
“Write down the birth experience right away...your brain forgets very very fast! Take lots of pictures, videos and don't be ashamed of how you look. There will be hardly any pictures of you and the baby if you shy away thinking you don't look your best.”
Updated 09/2017 from the "PSP Birth Survey."