I am blessed to have two little ones to care for now and I couldnít believe the differences in the experience with the first versus the second.
Here are five scenarios and how I approached them both the first and second time around:
The Hospital Stay
After our first baby was born, we kept him in the hospital room with us pretty much the entire time. It was especially helpful at night because I wanted to get used to what "normal" sleeping baby sounds were so I wouldn't freak out at home. I had a nurse come in often to assure me that the "alarming" noises I heard from the baby turned out to be "normal", which was comforting.
This time around, we did the complete opposite. I knew we wouldnít be able to rest as much because we had a toddler at home. Each time we slept, I had the baby go to the nursery. This way we could get the best sleep possible, even though it was usually short since I was breastfeeding. The nurses would bring him in when he was ready for his next feeding. I had peace of mind he was cared for and that I wouldn't miss a feeding. It felt weird sending him to the nursery so much, but I'm glad we did. It gave us a good start since we had plenty of sleepless nights ahead of us.
Activity at Home
I was tired and worn out, and I laid down whenever I could. (Note: I had a vaginal birth, so there wasnít a medical reason to do so). After a few weeks, I was ready to get out of the house, but I could barely walk to the mail box there was so much atrophy in my legs. Apparently, every day your down, it's like 2-3 days to your body. No wonder I could barley walk down the street! I was so discouraged that my legs were so weak.
I was determined to stay active. I even made a point to walk around the Childbirth Center while I was recovering. Once home, I made sure to go on walks, even if they were just 10 minutes. Since we had another little guy to entertain, I certainty couldn't be on the couch all the time anyway. Staying active, even though it was minimal, helped my body and kept my spirits up.
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps
This is sound advice for your first. Babies sleep A LOT. Rest or sleep when they do (or at least most of the time they do). Even though I was exhausted, my mind was racing. So I had to work hard to rest. My nap recipe was: close the blinds, wear eye shades, listen to relaxing music and dissolve lavender bath salts in a basin of water while breathing deeply. I also usually had to have the baby nap in another room, otherwise I was constantly distracted by each noise.
Itís hard to sleep when the baby sleeps now because of baby one! Your new focus is to find a time at least once a day that you can line both kids nap/rest time up together and rest yourself. I designed baby two's schedule entirely around when my oldest child naps. This was my biggest goal for the entire day. It may have taken an hour or more worth of coordination to put them down at the same time, but it was worth it!
I was worried about every little thing. I even slept with a light on so that I could stare at him make sure he was breathing. I was afraid I would break him. I was also afraid to take him places for fear that he would cry.
Luckily I realized, although babies are fragile, they wonít break when you change their diaper. They make funny noises and are okay. They spit up and are still healthy. They cry, even in public, and it's okay. People expect it and don't think much of it (and, Iím told, it always seems louder to the mom anyway).
I took the breastfeeding class, but there was still a learning curve. I was frustrated and so was the baby. The lactation consultant was helpful, especially those first few days in the hospital. Since our baby was 3 weeks early and small, I was worried about him gaining weight. Heíd fall asleep nursing, but so would I too, so Iíd be trying to feed him for 1:30 minutes a session! Then Iíd put him down for 30 minutes and start again. Needless to say, this exhausted us and didn't give my body time to make more milk. It wasn't until I went to breastfeeding support group that I learned that he didn't need to nurse that long. Knowing that improved the demands of breastfeeding tremendously!
This time I did everything to keep the baby (and me) awake so we could be efficient nursers and focus on a full feeding. I found reading (especially at night) made me sleepy, so I watched TV. I also started the feeding off with a diaper change, which woke the me and the baby up. Some other ideas to keep the baby awake is to take their clothes on and off, tickle their toes or move their arm. Now a feeding usually only takes 15 or 20 minutes. Thank goodness!
Iím also less shy about nursing around people too. God designed our bodies to breastfeed, so why should I be embarrassed? (Iím still mindful about who is around and I use a cover-up sometimes too.)
Whether you are a first-time mom or a fourth-time mom, I hope this was helpful!