The first three months after birth are generally the most challenging for new parents. It takes about six weeks for Mom to get back to normal, and newborns need round the clock attention. The newborn is getting used to life outside the womb, the parents are getting used to being parents, and everyone is getting used to a new family dynamic. Altogether, this can lead to some serious anxiety, but the most important thing to remember is it will get easier. All the same, having an idea of what to expect from the first three months can make it easier to face.
The first month will pass in a whirlwind of learning to breast or formula feed, changing diapers more often than necessary, and desperately seeking a nap. Mom should be drinking plenty of water and eating well to promote healing (and breastfeeding, if appropriate). Most mothers recover from a vaginal delivery more quickly than a cesarean section, but either way, it’s important to take it easy on yourself. Don’t lift more weight than your newborn until your obstetrician gives the okay. Psychologically, you may notice some strange mood shifts, which is mostly due to your hormones settling down from pregnancy. Often called the “baby blues,” this is totally normal for new moms, particularly combined with learning to be a mom. If you feel exceptionally anxious or depressed, talk to a doctor or licensed counselor about the signs of postpartum depression.
Your newborn will spend most of her time sleeping, eating, and pooping the first month. She will need a checkup in the first week of life by a pediatrician. Newborns sleep about 17 hours a day in the beginning and eat every 2-4 hours. Prepare for about six to eight wet and one to two dirty diapers a day. As the weeks pass, you’ll notice your little one is becoming a little more aware and starting to express interest in the things around her.
By the second month, all those delightful parental duties will start to become routine, although you will still be desperate for sleep. Around the six-week mark, it’s time for Mom to head to the obstetrician to get the all clear, at which point she can generally return to her normal activities. For many parents, this is also the time when maternity or paternity leave ends. Leaving your little one can be hard, but putting in the extra work to find a caregiver or daycare you trust can make things easier.
Your baby, on the other hand, is still spending the majority of his time sleeping. Providing stimulation during the day can help him sleep better at night. He may enjoy working on strengthening his neck muscles during tummy time, or lying on his back and watching brightly contrasted toys dangle.
By the third month out from childbirth, mom should be almost completely back to normal, although there may still be some discharge. Weight gain during pregnancy is common and completely normal, but it can be frustrating. Eating well and getting regular exercise can help that weight drop, although it takes close to a year for most maternal bodies to get completely back to normal.
Your three-month-old is starting to make the transition from newborn to baby. Early reflexes are starting to disappear, and she is developing new skills, like grasping or putting everything nearby in her mouth. The best part of the third month is that your baby’s intestines are getting bigger, which means they can accommodate more milk at a time, and that means less frequent feedings, which means you might get as much as seven hours of sleep at a time! She’s getting good at staying on a fairly regular schedule and is even starting to understand nonverbal communication beyond crying.