As any pregnant lady or new mom can relate with, I got/get showered with TONS of advice. Good, bad, unsolicited, solicited...believe me, it runs the gamut. Some pieces of advice I heard over and over until my ears started bleeding, and some were really useful. I got pretty good at accepting any and all with a "thank you! I'll have to remember that!" and then either filing it in my mental advice cabinet, or tossing it directly in my mental trash can.
Well, at the risk of being one of "those people", I realized the other day that I have a few pieces of advice myself. Most of it was discovered completely unintentionally, and in hindsight I look back and feel pretty lucky that it worked out that way. So, here we go...feel free to file or trash :-)
1) Stock up at the hospital! When we were getting ready to leave the hospital, I asked the nurse if I could have Anna's name tag off her bassinet, and she said, "Of course, honey!! You can take everything here except the linens!! Here, I'll pack it up for you!!" I really didn't want any of it except the name tag but let her pack it up anyway, and I'm so glad she did. That nurse packed up several extra pairs of those awful but incision-friendly mesh panties, Anna's bulb nasal aspirator (which is way better than any of the store-bought ones we have), several packages of diapers and wipes, and most importantly, my hospital cup. Which I still use. And which brings me to my next piece of advice.
2) Be a camel! Breastfeeding makes me extremely thirsty, and I've also discovered that drinking enough water is the single biggest factor in keeping my milk supply up. When we were in the hospital, one of our many nurses brought this behemoth water mug to me and told me to drink FOUR of them every day. The thing holds 28 ounces of water, so to drink four of them?? Gah!! But it really did make me feel better, and it was also incredibly nice to have when we got home. I was able to keep it on my night stand, I knew exactly how much I was drinking, and it helped cut down on the amount of water fetchings that Steve had to do. I'm really glad the nurse stuck this thing in my bag!
3) Learn how to wrap a good swaddle! We've discovered that a tight swaddle is crucial in keeping a baby calm. I know they have pre-made swaddles that you can buy that velcro, but knowing how to swaddle with a regular receiving blanket is a great skill to have too.
4) YouTube is a valuable resource! One of the things that I honestly didn't give much thought to ahead of time was how to play with and interact with the baby. She slept so much the first several weeks that I didn't really get much time to interact with her, but as soon as she started being awake more, I realized that my very limited experience with infants did NOT include how to entertain them for hours every.single.day. I learn a ton by watching moms of older babies at my mom groups, but I also discovered that YouTube has a million videos of people playing with their kids. A simple "games for 3 month old babies" search turns up a ton of tips and ideas, both expert and non-expert. I've learned some of Anna's favorite games by watching and learning from other parents online!
5) Let Daddy do his thing! I'm with Anna ALL day and especially in the beginning, it was hard not to immediately tell him that he's not doing this or that "right", just because he wasn't doing it the way that I do it. As long as he's not endangering the baby, now I let him play or interact with her however he wants. And she loves it! Sometimes I think she needs a break from me (what?? blasphemy!) and Daddy's games are a welcome change. Plus the more time he spends with her, the easier it is on all of us when I have to go run errands and leave them together.
6) Memorize the 5 S's! These are from a book called The Happiest Baby on the Block, and are fantastic to use to calm a fussy baby. I'm not going to go into them all here but you can read about them here.