Bringing home an infant can be overwhelming. They require constant attention and frequent feedings (as many as 10-12 per day). Sure, your support person can help in many ways (changing the baby’s diaper, burping them, rocking, etc.), but they can’t breastfeed the baby. They can also help with entertaining the older sibling, but that child, too, needs and wants your attention, especially when they have been without you for a couple of days while you were in the hospital. How can you give both children what they need as you try out your new role of being a parent to more than one child?
It’s a good thing you’re breastfeeding! Preparing bottles with formula, washing them, then bottle feeding would consume a lot more time than breastfeeding does, and would afford you less time to spend with your older child. I would suggest having what I call a “nursing bag” on hand. Fill a special bag or box with toys/DVDs/special books that your older child can ONLY play with while you are nursing. The essence of this bag is that having access to it only at certain times makes it a special treat for them, and they will look forward to it. If you are an experienced mother with breastfeeding, chances are that the breastfeeding experience the second time around will be “like riding a bike”, and you will get the hang of it more quickly. Once you get your baby latched on, this is the perfect time to read a book or watch a movie with your older child. Have them cuddle next to you while you are nursing, and give them some special one –on-one time. Give them small, simple tasks to let them help you with the baby such as bringing you a diaper, or handing you a wipe so that they feel like an important member of the family. Finally, for those times when your new baby is in a “milk coma” after a feeding, spend some time with your older child, maybe taking them out for a special treat or to the park during a window of opportunity. The first two weeks are the hardest, but it will get easier as you get more into a routine!