The first week at home with baby Noah might have seemed like a total blur. There were so many adjustments to make— not just limited to my sleeping habits or to my confinement diet, or to my lifestyle at large but also to my physical well being as a whole.
The first week might have zoomed past in a blink of an eye, but I am ever so grateful to the helplines that I received along the way and I want to share with you each and every aspect with you so that it could possibly help ease you into motherhood as well.
Leaving the hospital after a very comfortable 3-day stay was a little nerve wrecking at first. I felt some anxieties that I would not be able to cope (especially with breast-feeding) back at home, so I extended my check out time from 11AM to 4PM. The nurses and lactation team at Mt. Alvernia Hospital were the strongest pillars for both James and I. It is all thanks to them and Sister Kang, that my breastfeeding journey started out on a good note. I will share more about that in another article.
Thankfully, we had arranged for our confinement nanny to come on the same day of our hospital check-out. Given that we extended our stay, she met us directly at Mt. Alvernia hospital and helped us with everything she possibly could — from the packing of our bags, to changing the baby and basically everything that took us to get from hospital back home. It sounds kinda silly that I make it seem like a big ordeal but looking back, we did take a good 30 minutes to transfer all our baggage, hampers and gifts from our room to the car, and another 10 minutes to figure out how to set up the car seat. Both James and Aunty had to make a couple of trips back and forth.
So here are a few tips (summarised) that could help you to overcome the first week of motherhood.
Note: I have chosen to exclusively breast-feed baby Noah, so all that I am sharing is based on my personal experience.
Make feedings comfortable.
Develop a good latch as this will ensure that your nipple is spared and that baby gets the milk he/she needs.
They spend a lot of time feeding over the course of the day, so you want to make sure that this process Is as comfortable for both you and your baby, as possible. A nursing pillow would be your bestfriend/lifesaver. I am using the one from Dreamgenii. It is a pregnancy and feeding support pillow that provides a great amount of comfort and support when breastfeeding. Prior to baby Noah’s arrival, I used this pillow in my third trimester to ease my backaches when I sleep.
I’m usually quite a traditionalist. I keep a journal for my travels, I maintain a physical calendar/diary and I write a manual to-do-list on top of the “productivity apps” that I share with my team. However, this app helps me to track my feedings with Noah very efficiently. It has a cute and simply interface and it helps you to track everything from your feeding sessions to your pumping frequency to the baby’s sleep schedule to his wet/dirty diaper frequency. My confinement nanny actually also tracks his dirty diapers, so I use the app mainly to track his feeding time.
Ask for help
This is one of those things that other mom’s advise a million times over but let me reiterate it once more: it is okay to ask for help.
Don’t be afraid of not having enough time to bond with your baby. Know that you are doing everything in your best capacity to care for the child and get whatever help you can when you need it.
To be brutally honest, I feel a great deal of anxiety leaving my baby with anyone else but Aunty Siew Fong (my confinement nanny) or James (I still feel the same right now). I get psychological attacks of the worse things that could happen to Baby Noah when left unattended or with a person whom I do not trust. I find myself going to check on him every now and then because I just want to make sure he is okay.
Here’s a really silly story to share: When city gas came over to my house to fix the stove, I had the craziest and most vivid imaginations of a pipe exploding and the kitchen catching fire. I started to plan my route out of the house and ways I could best protect my child. I asked James which blanket in the house is actually fire-proof. I thought I was going mental at one point.
It is really not easy trusting someone (an outsider especially) with a tiny human that means the world to me, but trust is built over time and one week later, I find myself letting go a little more. I so extremely grateful for being blessed with such good help like Aunty Siew Fong. We engaged her from Confinement Angels and I must say I would be at a total loss without her. The way she cares for Noah and loves him like her own, moves me to tears. Her most easy-going nature and most of all, selflessness, really puts me so much at ease. During the first two days, I asked her to rest because like us, she was up every 2 hours all night, and during the day (while we were napping), she was busy with the baby’s laundry, marketing, preparing my herbal bath, and meals. But her reply to us was, “我做这行是这样的” (Translated to: “I’m used to it. It is like that in my line of work.”)
Never underestimate what a good swaddle can do for you and your new born. Swaddling the baby gives them comfort and a mimic of what they used to feel in the womb. Feeling all snug and cosy can help the baby to sleep better and longer. When wrapped in a swaddle, it prevents them from being disturbed by their startle reflex. During this period of adjustment to the outside world, I am down for anything that helps to comfort them! Given our humid weather in Singapore, opt for swaddles that are breathable and lightweight like the ones I’ve chosen from Aden + Anais. This one is a soft muslin blanket that combines breathability and versatility with viscose made from bamboo, making it the most luxurious fabric that has a multi-usage for a blanket, burp cloth, stroller cover or nursing cover. You can also look at sleep suit options for the night if you’d like something fuss-free.
Be extremely patient
Patience is key not just in handling a new born baby but with yourself. The learning curve is steep and you’re only just at the beginning of it, so give yourself adequate time to adjust and learn the ropes. Breastfeeding is a tough journey on its own but confinement at large is also another hurdle to cross. Know that everything takes time and soon, you’ll be all well-adjusted.
Being organised with your baby supplies will help you a great deal. Keep all the essentials easily accessible with each item allocated a specific place. In the event of a baby meltdown, you’ll know exactly where to head to get what you need. I’ve bought storage organisers from Ikea to help me to section his 0-3 month old clothing and 3-6 month clothing and beyond. Coming home, I realised that not all his 0-3 month clothing could fit as he was a little too tiny for some of them. So, I re-organised into “new born” sizing and then 1-3 months. I also have a diaper changing drawer with all the changing essentials like my clover soft wet wipes, dry tissues, diaper cream, cotton balls, diapers etc. Invest in small baskets or bins so that you can allocate them for various usages. Orientating ourselves into the baby nursery for just the first week had us make so many changes to the space. Like I mentioned, we’re still learning on the go, and we’ll always be learning.
Looking back on our first week home with baby, I still feel all the butterflies stomach. Yet, it was the most rewarding and life-changing time ever. Not sure how I survived it but I did, and I’m only looking forward to the rest of our time together. I want him to remain a baby, yet I want him to grow up quickly!
Not sure if you first time mom’s share my sentiments! But if you’re entering this very precious period of your life, I want to give you a pat on your back and a word of encouragement! You’re made for this mama, you’re strong!