surviving the first 8 weeks with a newborn

When I’m sending families home from the hospital after giving birth, I typically see the deer in the headlights look from the new parent(s). Wait!? I am taking this thing home!? It is so easy to get overwhelmed with new mom advice and every book and podcast and friend out there who has advice. I’ve whittled my discharge speech and pep talk down to these fine words of wisdom. 

1. Cherry pick the advice. We all know that every friend, relative, mother-in-law, and stranger on the street wants to tell you an anecdote on how to raise your child. But guess what? You know your baby best. You have just been living with them for 9 months. I recommend you pick friends with little kiddos or babies who have been in your shoes recently and watch how they make it happen. Once you have picked these people, they are your go to for questions and support. Use them as a sounding board and take their advice. You will continue to get unsolicited advice and ideas, but if you already know which friends you agree with their parenting and lifestyle choices you will know when to write it down vs nod and say thank you, politely! 

2. Separate day and night. Your baby just spent 9 months in the dark and it will feel like you are in the twilight zone if you don’t help fix the day/night reversal. This is by no means a way to sleep train or put a baby on a schedule. This is simply allowing there to be a shift in what feels like daytime and nighttime so you stay sane! For instance, you pick 8 am as “day”. Lights are on, blinds are open, you are speaking at a normal voice, and even letting people ring the doorbell! Babies can really sleep through anything - just ask the bartenders at Aquitaine. Then, nighttime is dark, with softer voices and lights off. Yes - you can continue to have Netflix on in the background - I’m not the Grinch! 

3. Celebrate the small wins. Everyone woke up breathing - check! Sounds so simple, but really helps set up a positive day. The goal of the new mom is not to look put together, cook a meal, do laundry, or even shower. But how great will it feel if you already celebrated yourself today and then you enjoyed your coffee while it was still hot! 

4. It takes a village! I think this one is self explanatory, but please, I beg you, don’t try to do this parenting thing alone. 

And if it is your second - let me tell you - 2 is more than 1! Check back later for 2nd mom quick notes.


 Dr. Barbara Frank is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Brookline Village OBGYN. She is also a faculty member of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Frank lives in Boston and is a wife and mom of two young children.

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