People are fond of saying, “enjoy these precious moments while you can!” when you’re walking around in those industrial sized hospital pads, delirious from sleep deprivation but saying that isn’t of much help to a mama. So here’s something that IS helpful: a newborn journal. I used it after both of my births and it allowed me to spend more time enjoying those precious moments and less time worrying. You can make it for yourself or for a mom-to-be in your entourage with any journal you have on hand!
Related: Not sure what to say to someone if they had a difficult birth? Please don’t unintentionally hurt them by saying, “well at least you have a healthy baby!” Read our article, What to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone Who Had a Difficult or Traumatizing Birth
After each of my births, I noticed that my life really shrunk down to the basics. Eating, sleeping, and caring for baby. In the maternity and for several weeks afterwards, I noticed two things:
- I simply couldn’t accomplish a lot of the tasks/errands that I would have pre-birth, and even though I shouldn’t have, I felt bad about that. The journal forced me to realize that I was actually doing the most important things and made me feel more serene.
- There were lots of things I needed to remember and monitor (feedings, diapers, doctor appointments, how to clean an umbilical cord, the phone number for the hospital room…). Between the pregnancy brain and sleep deprivation I knew I simply couldn’t rely on the thing between my ears to remember them all. Here’s what my journal looked like:
Left page: Keep a list of must-dos.
The basics, the most importants. Daily recurring things as well as punctual things went on this list. Baby to dos on top, mine on the bottom.
- Wash eyes
- Clean umbilical cord
- Vitamin D
- Shower. Once a day, to clean wounds, to wash away the literal blood, sweat, and tears (and dried milk!), to make sure I took at least 5 minutes for myself to look, smell and feel better.
- Brush teeth. Yes, I really had to put this on the list.
- Drinking water. 3 liters a day. I actually put ‘drink 1 liter’ three times on my list so that I could check it off three times.
- Make pediatrician appointment for 1 month check up.
- Pump. Like for drinking water, I’d put ‘pump’ on my list three times.
- Take vitamin/supplements
- Go for walk
Right page: Keep a list of feedings, diapers changed, and any abnormalities.
This was hugely important for me because I was stressed about if my baby was eating enough. The nurses advised me to count diapers to know if she was eating enough. Keeping track of when/what she ate was also very useful as it helped me spot patterns, too!
- Time and method for each feeding. As I was both breastfeeding AND supplementing with formula, I wrote ‘L’ for left breast, ‘R’ for right, and ‘F’ for formula.
- Time and type of diaper change. ‘P’ for pee-pee, ‘C’ for caca.
Any abnormalities were circled in red for future reference (fevers, excessive crying, diaper rash, etc.)
Blank pages for notes: at the front, the back, or sprinkled throughout the journal.
Things you might note:
- List of names/gifts received for future thank you notes
- Things that happened: first bath, vaccines, tests/results, meeting your parents, milk came in, hospital release, etc.
- Foods to eat/drink to stimulate milk production
- The brand of pump/diaper/soap that worked well
- Phone numbers of the hospital
- Add some inspiring quotes
- If you’re making one for a friend, don’t fill in the to-dos, let her figure out what is important. Except if you write “Be an awesome mama” at the top and check it off for her 😉
- Use one pen with different colors, instead of several pens of one color. Makes highlighting any abnormalities easier.
- Personal entries. Fears, joys, feelings, anecdotes…. these I kept in a separate journal simply for their size. They would have taken up too much space!
- You can use any journal you have on hand. I used a set of three lined Moleskine journals.
Did you use a journal to help monitor your baby and track progress? What else did you include?