Most articles focus on what to expect during pregnancy, labor, and your postpartum recovery. And even though it's incredibly important to know what will happen before and during your labor, there is less information readily available about the things that happen after your baby is discharged from the hospital. It's strange too, because that's when things get real.
I remember leaving the hospital after giving birth to my first daughter and thinking to myself, "This is it. Now she's all my responsibility." What happens if I forget how to breastfeed? How do I even give her a bath? What if I can't get her to sleep? These questions and more can make life at home with a newborn a pretty nerve racking time.
Eventually, as with all things, you'll develop your own rhythm and figure out how to do "mom things" all by yourself (which feels pretty darn great, I should point out).
In the meantime though, if you're struggling to have confidence in your abilities or knowledge, be patient with yourself. Even motherhood has as adjustment period, believe it or not. You and your baby will learn right along with each other and it's as difficult a process as it is a beautiful one.
Knowing what to expect once you're home, despite the stress, can be a lifesaver. The things on this list are fairly universal first time mom experiences that are, in their own way, a rite of passage into motherhood.
1. You'll Check Out One Last Time At The Hospital
After your baby passes the tests post-delivery, you'll be given a time when you're expected to leave the hospital (at least 24 hours after delivery, according to Fit Pregnancy.) In my experience, it will feel like an eternity. But once the doctor gives you the go ahead to go home, you'll simply check out at the front desk one last time, and then you'll be ready to go home.
2. You'll Be More Cautious Than Ever On Your Drive Home
All of a sudden, something as simple as driving home becomes incredibly anxiety inducing. Don't be surprised if you're tempted to drive much lower than the speed limit, fully conscious of the tiny little baby in the backseat.
3. You'll Have Your First Solo Nursing Session
Whether or not you had a successful few nursing sessions at the hospital, doing it on your own without the help of a nurse or a lactation consultant. It's important to try to understand proper latch and positions before you go home, since there won't be help readily available. Don't worry though, if you struggle with breastfeeding once you're home, a lactation consultant is only a call away.
4. And First Solo Everything Else
Aside from your first breastfeeding session post-hospital, you'll also have your first diaper change, bath, nap and everything else that comes with caring for a new baby. If you're overwhelmed, remember to be patient with yourself. Give yourself time to master all of the "mom things" one at a time. It won't happen overnight.
5. You Won't Get Much Sleep
One of the most obvious facts of new-motherhood is that you probably won't get much sleep right at first. According to Baby Center, your baby needs a lot of sleep, but they also need to eat every two to three hours around the clock, which results in not much sleep for mama.
6. You Have To Care For Yourself
You're probably primarily focused on caring for your new baby, but once you arrive home, you'll have yourself to care for too. Fit Pregnancy noted that you'll need things like pads, nursing pads, witch hazel to ease swelling, ice packs, and comfy clothes.
7. You'll Be Totally In Awe Of The Little One You Created
The best part about being home with your little one is that you get to sit, uninterrupted, in awe of the tiny human you grew inside you for the past nine months. Enjoy the newborn stage, in all it's exhausting messiness, because it only happens once.