Those first forty days are traditionally protected, so mom and her newborn can acclimate to their new reality. This is a time to be insular and focus on your baby.
In our culture, 40 days of relative tranquility can be challenging – or even impossible – to achieve. Not just because we’re so busy with life’s demands – but it’s also hard to make ourselves sit still.
Here’s 40 suggestions for minimizing stress in those early days.
1. Stare at your baby as much as you want.
2. Resist bathing yourself or your baby as long as possible.
3. Accept all offers of help (food, clean up, running errands, taking an older sibling to the playground), but don’t feel obligated to entertain your kind friends/neighbors/family members/coworkers or even look up from your baby.
4. Wear your comfiest clothes – and don’t change them daily, if you’re not inclined.
5. Call an experienced friend to process your birth.
6. Drink. A. Lot. Of. Water.
7. Eat. You’ll be hungry. Try to load up on fruits, veggies, and protein. But just eat.
8. Stay in bed.
9. Go for a walk.
10. Drink herbal tea.
11. Call a lactation consultant, if you’re feeling unsure in any way about breastfeeding.
12. Sleep. Especially in the first few weeks, because your baby will start being more alert at about two weeks old.
13. Write your birth story. Even if it was hard. You’ll want it later.
14. Get in the pictures during your baby’s newborn shoot. You’ll want a visual reminder that you were there.
15. Count your baby’s toes and fingers, marvel at their tiny nails … again.
16. Embrace the moment.
17. Stroke your baby’s head.
18. Kiss your baby’s fingers, face, and toes.
19. Cry. And know that it’s normal. If you’re crying for days on end, touch base with your care provider.
20. Take a sitz bath. And then do that again.
21. Breathe. Deeply.
22. Whatever big goals you had prenatally (cloth diapering, sending out birth announcements, taking daily pictures, knitting cozy blankets) … let them go, if you’ve lost interest.
23. Don’t pump milk.
24. Hug your partner (and other children).
25. Let your baby sleep on your chest when you’re not sleeping.
26. Enjoy seeing which features on your baby remind you of your partner or your parents, or your aunt.
28. Change diapers (baby’s).
29. Change clothes (both yours and your newborn’s).
30. If you can get your hands on bone broth, drink that down.
31. Cosleep, if that works better for you.
32. When your baby is alert, make eye contact.
33. Be sure to leave some infant care to your partner – this is setting up the “norm” for your family.
34. When you feel antsy, go to the movies.
35. Connect with your tribe of like-minded families.
36. Rearrange your wardrobe to accommodate your new clothing needs.
37. Ignore the news.
38. Go with the flow.
39. Order take out.
40. Indulge in the treats you gave up during pregnancy (caffeine? fresh cheese?)
In those first weeks postpartum, it may feel overwhelming and yet … like you’re doing “nothing”. Turns out, keeping a newborn alive is time consuming and exhausting. This time is relatively short. Embrace the moment and enjoy this season. If you do any of the things on this list (some are unavoidable – like diaper changes), or very few … that’s okay! Do what works for you and your family <3