post-partum Q&A: life with a newborn!

every day, I truly feel blessed to wake up to this precious little baby boy. nothing can truly prepare you for the emotional roller coaster of motherhood (especially in the first couple of days/weeks), but in the end, once you find your stride, it is truly a beautiful feeling and something I'll never take for granted.

every day, I truly feel blessed to wake up to this precious little baby boy. nothing can truly prepare you for the emotional roller coaster of motherhood (especially in the first couple of days/weeks), but in the end, once you find your stride, it is truly a beautiful feeling and something I’ll never take for granted.

for those of you new mamas and expectant mamas, I’ve put together a Q&A based on the questions I’ve received since baby Luca was born. if you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible, as they come in!

life with a newborn: q&a

how have you been feeling: hormones, body, relationship changes?

hormonally, at first, was crazy! I’m the type of person that only cries once a year (literally, once.) needless to say, dealing with the insane hormonal surges that happen post-delivery was shocking for me. there were times when I’d look at Luca, terrified, and want to cry. there were other times when I’d look at him and want to cry out of pure joy and happiness. there were also times when Lu wouldn’t be understanding about something and it would make me want to cry. there were times when I was home with Luca and would feel overwhelmed if he wasn’t sleeping all day and I’d want to cry. I have only cried once – I let myself have a big cry! it was so therapeutic. now, at 7+ weeks postpartum, my hormones are back in balance, thankfully. I look forward to my next cry next year, haha!

as for my body, I feel nothing but pride! I’m just so amazed by the miracle that is birth. I am so proud of my body. I worked out consistently during my pregnancy and ate as healthy as possible, so my body looks great to me for just giving birth. I also told myself I’d be gentle on myself and not rush back into getting into shape and let me save my extra energy for cuddling and taking care of Luca. according to my postpartum doctor’s appointment, I have 8 lbs left of pregnancy weight, which I feel good about – I need that extra fat for breastfeeding! I’m definitely as soft as I’ve been in years, but I’m okay with that. there will be time for getting back into shape, but for now, I’m enjoying this stage in my body!

relationship changes. well. it’s two fold! most importantly, I love Lu more than I did before the baby! watching him with our son melts my heart so much. he’s a natural Daddy and I love seeing how comforted and protected Luca looks in his arms. seeing Lu with Luca is just the best thing, and proves I really did marry the right man, haha! building a family with Lu has brought more love into our household than ever before. I love seeing the excitement on his face when he comes home from work, ready to snuggle Luca. on the other hand, we don’t have much Lu and Ali time. at night, sometimes we can have dinner together, which is great, but mostly, it’s ‘get the baby to sleep, catch up on house chores, and get to bed.” since I do all the night shifts with the baby, I try to go to bed as early as possible (by 9:30pm at the latest), so it leaves little time for us – since Lu gets home around 7pm each night. thank goodness for the weekends, where we can rekindle and spend time together! I’m looking more forward to when Luca is a bit older and on a schedule so Lu and I can have dedicated time together – and go on more dates once that schedule is established (and when my Mom’s in town!)

how are you dealing without wine?

ha! I’ve gotten this question a lot and honestly, I haven’t craved it at all. during my pregnancy, I abstained from all alcohol and frankly, the LAST thing I want is a slight hangover, headache or tiredness at nighttime when I need to get as much rest as possible and handle a newborn. I was going to have a drink with Lu on his 39th birthday, but I ended up not because it was too close to Luca’s feeding and I didn’t want to risk it. I plan on having my first glass of wine at Thanksgiving, and I’m actually really looking forward to it!!

how did you exercise during your pregnancy?

you can read all about that here.

any products you bought and ended up not using?

yes! plenty! any swaddles where the arms are contained (like the Love to Dream ones everyone raved about while I was pregnant) Luca loves having his arms out and is now an exclusive tummy sleeper at night, so they didn’t work. other items I haven’t used yet are a lot of the toys, but they were gifts and he’ll grow into them. I didn’t use short sleeve onesies – he’s happier when he’s warmer, so we stored the short sleeve onesies for our next baby (maybe he/she’ll be a summer baby and if not, we’ll donate them!)  I haven’t used any of my bottles, only because I haven’t had a reason to – the boob is it right now!

tips for self care after delivery?

well, that all depends on how your delivery goes! I’d say definitely grab as much of the goodies the hospital gives you. I loved the witch hazel pads for lining my underwear to soothe my stitches (I had minimal tearing, if you have an episiotomy or more serious stretching, there is much more you’ll need – like ice packs!) other self care- honestly, a great robe and nursing nightgown. feeling beautiful in a nice nightgown was the best for me in the beginning.

also, make sure you take care of yourself. shower! brush your teeth. wash your face at the very least! use under-eye cream (this is my favorite). I would also make it a point to straighten my hair once a week, so that I’d feel more human and pretty – good self esteem can go a long way when you’re dealing with a needy newborn! I’d just spritz in my favorite dry shampoo every day to keep it going for most of the week. I’d basically coordinate with Lu – I’d give him the baby at 6:30am after I was done feeding him and then I’d “do me” – shower, get dressed, etc.

and most importantly, drink LOTS of water and eat as well as possible. that always makes the biggest impact on your overall mental and physical well being.

if you’re looking for products I did/didn’t use in the hospital post-delivery, check out this post.

my baby only wants to sleep on my chest, any tips to transfer to bassinet?

warm up the bassinet with your dirty clothes! putting your baby down on a cold, hard surface after being on your warm, mommy-smelling chest is shocking for the baby, I’d imagine! I would place worn clothing on the bassinet mattress so when it was time to put the baby down, I would remove all the clothing and put him in there and it would smell like me and be a bit warm!

also, if I’m transferring Luca to the bassinet, I’ll get him in the right position in my arms to do so and I’ll rock him and make sure he’s good and asleep – that’s key! if he’s wide awake when I try to put him down, he won’t stay down. sometimes I’ll stand for 10 minutes rocking him, but it’s worth it if he sleeps for hours after that!

other than that, just enjoy him sleeping on your chest! just put on a good movie or fall asleep with him. just accept that productivity on certain days/weeks is going to be lower than others!

what do you do when the baby won’t stop crying?

well, we recently succumbed to the pacifier! at first, we weren’t using it at all (like, the first 5 weeks) because I was worried about things like nipple confusion and I didn’t want to be a slave to the pacifier in the middle of the night. now, we use it when he’s just so tired and can’t get to sleep – it helps him cross the line into slumber and then we pull it out once he’s asleep so that he doesn’t get used to having it in his mouth all night long and thus, dependent on it. it really helps especially when he’s crying for no reason!

BUT if you haven’t read happiest baby on the block yet and know about the 5 Ss, then you’re missing out! read up on it, we use every single one of them and they work every time, even though it may take some time to quiet him.

how do you pull off being a Mom-preneur?

well, I’ll let you know once I’m fully back into work! right now, I’m doing light amounts of work, just really staying on top of my Inbox and trying to keep up with content creation on social. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to pull it off, so stay tuned! but, time blocking is huge and capitalizing on baby’s sleep time – don’t waste time on silly things like scrolling through your Instagram feed or doing house work that isn’t urgent. create ‘must do’ lists and try to stick to them throughout the day, although you may not always get to them.

what’s your plan for when you start exercising again?

slow and steady! I’m not going to get right back into it with a strict workout plan. at first, I’m going to try to workout on weekends, since Lu is around and can watch the baby while I go to the gym. I haven’t developed a plan, especially since it’s the holidays and I want to enjoy this festive time with the baby and my family.

most importantly, I’m going to focus on weekend workouts, eating well (I’m definitely indulging more than I normally would right now), and hour long walks with the baby outside (before it gets frigid, that is!) once I do develop a plan, I’ll be sharing it here!

what does your day to day with the baby look like?

every day is so different, honestly! different and the same. it’s a mixture of feedings, naps (or trying to get him to nap), momma naps, house chores, work, and playing with Luca. if he’s napping well and “on schedule”, here’s what the day looks like:

6:30am: feeding
7-7:30am: time with Daddy
7:30am: try to get the baby down for a nap (which usually entails wearing him in the Ergo Baby) while Lu gets ready for work.
7:45-9ish: baby naps and I make breakfast, do house chores, work, etc.
9-10:30am: feed the baby and play with the baby (tummy time, mobiles, etc)
10:30am-12:30pm: baby naps and I do work usually
12:30-2pm: feed and play with the baby
2-3:30pm: walk with baby outside- he usually naps in the stroller during this time and it’s nice for me to get some fresh air.
3:30-5pm: feed and play with baby
5-7pm: baby naps and I get dinner ready or nap myself
7-8:30pm: Lu gets home and plays with the baby, we bathe him, massage him, and then I feed him
8:30-9:30pm: Lu gets the baby to sleep in the rocking chair and with his favorite lullaby music
9:30pm-12am: baby sleeps and we do too (or we try to have some one on one time before passing out)
12-12:30am: feed the baby and put him back down to sleep
12:30-3:30am: baby sleeps (and me too!)
3:30-4am: feed the baby and put him back down to sleep
4-6:30/7:00am: baby sleeps (and me too!)

how have you been balancing losing postpartum weight with being hungry from breastfeeding?

eating nutritiously as possible! I definitely have my cravings (and give in to them!) but I try to eat as healthy as I can so that I’m full off of the “right stuff.” eating a bowl of Fruit Loops won’t fill you up like a piece of avocado toast, ya know? I eat a lot to keep my milk supply up and keep the baby and myself healthy. I definitely eat more than normal, but that’s to be expected – you’re supposed to eat more to keep up with how much you’re burning from breastfeeding! I’m treating my diet the same way I did in the third trimester and the weight is peeling off – if I gave up the sweets and salty cravings at night, I’d probably be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by now, but I’m enjoying this time!

did you cut out all dairy for breastfeeding? do you find the normal gas causing veggies cause gas for the baby?

I found that dairy does affect the baby mildly, so I’ve cut it 80% out of my diet. I will have Greek yogurt here and there or some cheese in my meal, but I’m really abstaining from it right now for a couple more months until his digestive system is better. as for the veggies – they don’t cause any issues, so I am eating plenty of brussels sprouts and cauliflower! I tested this all out by eliminating them completely versus eating them and there was no difference, so I’m going with it!

how has Luca’s nighttime sleep evolved? is he sleeping longer stretches? did you try to schedule or are you totally responding to his cues/feeding times?

he’s in a bit of a sleep regression right now where he won’t nap very well and has to be attached to me, but before that, he was sleeping 5-6 hour stretches! it was definitely tough at first (and totally unpredictable), but by week 4, he started having a quasi schedule. I’m not doing any sleep training at the moment, I’m just following his cues – I can see when he’s hungry and that’s when he gets up! I never force him to sleep or don’t pick him up when he’s hungry. I’m planning on sleep training around week 8 (two months, right after the Thanksgiving holiday!)

what soap, lotion, etc products are you using for baby?

Babyganics, Zoe Organics and Noodle & Boo.

favorite clothes for the baby?

I quickly realized NO NO NO to clasps/buttons! at the newborn age, time is precious and the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling with a button at 3am while your baby is screaming to be fed. my favorite places have been GAP for zip-up onesies and Magnetic Me (magnets as clasps – it doesn’t get much easier than that!)

anything you would add or alter, prep-wise, now that you’ve gotten to enjoy the meals you prepared before Luca entered the world?

unfortunately, I don’t have much freezer room, so I did as much as possible! I am SO SO happy I did buy what I bought, though! it was immensely helpful in the beginning. meal prep is key for a healthy postpartum experience!

did you have any initial issues with breastfeeding at first?

basic latching, yes! he RUINED my nipples at first. you can read more about that here and how I remedied it. now breastfeeding is my favorite part of new motherhood! I’m going to have my LC over here on the blog to share her breastfeeding tips! stay tuned.

are you planning to pump at all and if so, any tips/what your experience has been?

I am definitely planning on pumping soon so that I can get the baby accustomed to a bottle, since I have my sister’s bachelorette in January, wedding in February and a couple other events where I won’t be able to breastfeed Luca. for now, I’m just pumping if I feel engorged. there was a two week period where Luca was going 6 hours between feedings and I was getting engorged, so I pumped a couple ounces to relieve the pressure. I am using the Spectra S2 pump and I couldn’t love it anymore! I don’t love manual pumping.

did you experience any baby blues or post partum depression/anxiety? If so, what helped?

the day my mother left and Lu went back to work, I had a lot of anxiety. was I going to be able to do this? would I be able to survive the sleep deprivation? after two days of being alone with Luca at home, I realized that it’s all natural to have that anxiety and it went away once my maternal instinct took over! just know that it’s normal to feel nervous about rearing a child by yourself, but we’re built for this, and as long as you listen to your gut and trust your instincts, that’s what’s important. texting and calling friends helped tremendously in the beginning – any issues I had while I was home alone got remedied with a text!

there were times in the first two weeks when I would look at Luca and be shocked that this was my new reality. it wasn’t a depressing, but definitely a little bout of the blues. could I do this for years? every day seemed to drag on (but the weeks fly by somehow!) as selfish as it may sound, it’s hard to adjust to 24 hours of caring for someone else and not yourself. it’s overwhelming and you feel very alone at first. however, once you become more comfortable and confident with being a mom, it’s less scary – and my blues turned into loving bliss by the end of the first week.

talk to me about tummy sleeping

from about week 4, Luca started spitting up. a lot. he also was fidgeting like crazy when we put him down to nap and sleep on his back. we realized it was because of his reflux/spitting up. luckily, he’s a ‘happy spitter,’ so it’s no cause for concern. also, from day 1, he loved having the use of his arms and hands. he soothes himself by sucking on his fists/fingers and without them, he goes into distress mode and wails. so, we never swaddled his arms in (even the nurses suggest we let his arms out in the hospital!) when we’d put him down on his back, swaddled, he’d wake himself up constantly from his startle reflexes.

so. we started sleeping Luca in the Rock n’ Play – and it worked great, for about a week or so. then, he started growing and seemed to feel squished – and started the nightly fidgets. he’d sleep for 20-30 minutes and then fidget for 5 minutes until he fell back asleep. it was MISERABLE and we felt so bad, because he he barely slept (and we barely slept either!) he was getting really fussy during the day and we think it was because his reflux got worse on his back and he was so delirious from lack of good sleep.

we were at our wit’s end when, at about week 4.5-5, my mother was here for a visit. she noticed this and right away suggested we put him on his tummy, because it would feel better on his belly. like magic, Luca slept. like, instantly! he slept deeply, no fidgets. at all. and just like that, miraculously, he became a dream baby – no fussiness and loved sleeping. he started sleeping 4-5 hours!

we asked our pediatrician right away if this was okay and say that Luca was ‘mature for his age’ and had great neck and head control, so it was okay to do, as long as we slept next to him and monitored him. for the first couple of weeks, we slept right next to him – in the nursery in his crib. now, we sleep in our bedroom with Luca in the bedroom and our monitor on as loud as possible next to my bed, on a nightstand. we don’t put any blankets in the crib or other SIDS risks.

while I was nervous at first to sleep him on his tummy, it’s been better for our baby and us. we can sleep and better take care of him – and he’s much happier sleeping on his tummy. we were torturing him on his back! when we go for walks in the stroller, if he’s bundled up, he sleeps nicely on his back. when we get to a restaurant or somewhere warm inside, we unbundle him and flip him on his tummy so he can sleep!

PLUS it’s like constant tummy time – he moves his head back and forth all the time to get comfortable!

if you had a similar situation, talk to your pediatrician – I’m just sharing what worked for us and what blessing our pediatrician gave us.

let me know if you have another questions and I will answer them when I get the chance!

all photos by Erin Dwyer Photography.

with love, Ali

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