I am currently towards the end of my second maternity leave and was just thinking about how different they have been. The first time around I had been laid off from my job at 7 months pregnant. I went back to work after 10 weeks, to a new job where I didn’t know anyone (not stressful at all, right?) The second time around I have an 18 week paid maternity leave and I am going back to work with an awesome team of people who I love to work with. This post is geared towards first time moms with some tips and tricks to making the most of your time off.
For New Moms:
If you are pregnant or just had your baby, this is for you. I have been through this twice now and both maternity leaves were very different. I wish I had done a little research before having our first daughter because I had NO CLUE what I was doing. I remember the nurses discussing discharging us from the hospital and I was terrified.
“I can’t believe they are letting us leave with a BABY!” I thought to myself as I signed discharge papers. I was so excited to get out of the hospital but so scared of what was coming next.
So here are my tips for first time moms to make the most of your maternity leave:
Ride out the early newborn stage: Everyone tells you “sleep when they sleep” and I’m here to tell you that they are in fact correct. It will seem difficult and you will think to yourself “but I’m not tired!” Trust me girl, you are tired. Even if you just lay down and relax while they are sleeping. Your body needs to recover from the trauma you just went through to deliver that cute little baby.
Take that baby everywhere!: Newborns sleep through evvvvvverything! So take them with you to go shopping, meeting a friend for lunch, happy hour, etc. And once you have 2 kids, it is MUCH harder to manage activities outside of the house. My husband and I took our daughter out with us all the time when she was a newborn and to this day she is a great sleeper. If you keep their surroundings loud, they’ll have no problem sleeping through loud surroundings.
Watch and take note of “queues”: The queues you are looking for are hungry queues like rooting around (moving head to the side and opening mouth, putting hands up to their mouth) and sleeping queues. It’s important to not wait until the baby is crying to feed them, they will swallow a lot of air and then become gassy. Sleeping queues are harder to determine, some babies rub their face or head. While others will be more subtle and just start to seem lazy, not moving or making any noise.
Once you have a rhythm, make a schedule: Once you recognize the queues and how often the baby is eating/sleeping, you can make somewhat of a “schedule.” The schedule can look something like this:
6am – Wake up
6:15 – Eat
7 – 8am – Play/Tummy Time (I know you are thinking play? How can a newborn play? It’s more so putting them on their tummy on a play mat and letting them explore surroundings. This also tires them out)
8 – 9am – Nap – This is when I would go to the grocery store or dare I say, the gym! If you have a gym that has daycare, you can enroll your baby usually at 6weeks old at most daycares. I will admit that I would drop my daughter at the gym daycare and sit in the cafe and enjoy hot coffee and eating warm food.
10:15am – Eat
10 – 11:30am – Play/Tummy Time
11:45 – 1:45pm – Nap
2pm – Eat
2:30 – 4:00pm – Play/Tummy Time
4 – 4:30pm – Cat Nap
6pm – Eat
7pm – Bed!
Obviously, this is just a general idea of a daily routine and all babies are different and will take time to get into a schedule.
Soak up the baby snuggles: Queue the cheesy mom quotes…”babies don’t keep” and “the days are long but the years are short.” These are cheesy and I hate myself for even typing them out but they are 100% real. Some days you’ll be thinking dear god, this baby stage is the worst! Then you blink and that baby is no longer a baby and you’ll wish you could go back. So soak it in, love on that baby because there’s no such thing as giving a baby too much love!