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First Time Out With Baby?

We've got tips from a pro.

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I was four hours behind schedule. I had planned on a 10:30am outing, but then there was an unexpected poop and a not so quick change, followed by an hourlong nursing session, after which my newborn son, Jack, fell asleep for over an hour. Then another poop change followed, of course, by another feeding and burping.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Alisa Schindler

By the time I pulled my hair back and straightened my spit up-stained maternity tee, it was after 2:30 in the afternoon. But I was determined. I had been homebound for almost three weeks; the July heat too much for Jack. And to be honest, I did not feel remotely capable of getting it together for an outing before then. I had been up every two hours or so round the clock. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I waited each night, my mouth foaming with excitement, for my husband to walk through the door so I could escape to a shower.  Half the time I never even made it to the bathroom, just plopping down on the bed instead, too tired to move or even sleep.

Just having my baby home with me was incredibly overwhelming, and everything I did seemed to reinforce the feeling that I had no idea what I was doing.

Turns out, how I was feeling was very normal. But when you’re going through it, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. I spoke with pediatrician Dr. Minu George, who offered some advice on how to handle the challenges that come with taking a baby out for the first time. Here’s what she suggests:

Breathe and take it all in

“Take everything in, ask lots of questions and enjoy this new experience,” Dr. George says. Having a newborn is a stage that flies by and if you don’t take a moment to really take it in, you’ll miss it. My oldest son is now a teenager and I wish I had been able to talk to Dr. George all those years ago. Now I’m busy staring down the barrel at college applications, driver’s permits and teenage crushes and wondering where those delicious moments with my babies went.

Take time for yourself

Dr. George suggests doing nice things for yourself, like having a cup of tea or taking a bath when you can. My personal “Mommy Time” preference? Closing my eyes and doing some deep stretches. It calmed me during particularly stressful times. But Dr. George cautions that extreme anxiety can be a sign of something more serious: “Postpartum depression can be a problem for new moms. We screen for it at all pediatric visits up to four months of age and have lots of available resources to help if we see you’re struggling.”

Ask for help

You don’t have to be an army of one. “Having friends and family around makes a big difference,” Dr. George says. Knowing you can lean on others, whether you need more diapers from the store or a shoulder to cry on, makes everything easier. When Jack was a baby, random friends would drop by, giving me 20 blissful minutes to shower without stress. My mom and in-laws would come take him for a walk so I could sleep. But reaching out to my new mom friends was what kept me sane. These were my sisters in motherhood who understood everything I was going through because they were going through it too! These people are your village. Use them.

Make the call

Not sure if a particular shade of green is an OK color for a poop? Unsure if it’s a healthy rosy glow or a skin rash? Don’t hesitate to call the doc. You’re not being annoying. You’re learning how to parent, and that’s a good thing. “We love check-in calls,” Dr. George assures. “Ask your questions. That’s what we’re here for!”

It’s all in the preparation

“Most new moms don’t realize how much stuff is required to take a newborn out,” Dr. George sympathizes. She suggests packing up the diaper bag the night before. Have an outfit picked out and make sure you have plenty of diapers, wipes, formula, burp clothes, a change of clothes (or three) and even a snack for mom. Simply organizing yourself ahead of time can make you feel more confident and you won’t have to panic if you are stuck in a place for longer than you anticipated. So expect the unexpected.

Yup, there will be poop, spills and spit up. You’ll feel vulnerable and uncertain. So just remember tip number one and breathe. Along with the overstuffed diaper bag, you have everything you need to take care of your baby anywhere—you.

Jack and I finally made it outdoors that long ago summer day. Armed with a heaving bag filled with pacifiers, diapers, wipes, changes of clothes, burping cloths and toys, I took a deep breath and walked out the door. We made it down the elevator and I was grateful that no one rode with us. Outside, I cringed when a woman stopped me to take a peek, but relaxed when I realized she wasn’t going to lift the protective baby net. Slowly we strolled, gaining confidence with each step. I was a proud mom walking my baby and it felt great.

You got this, mom!

Photo credit: Courtesy of Alisa Schindler

Dr. Minu George is a board-certified pediatrician and assistant professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

 


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Published August 7th, 2018

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