Coming home from the hospital with your newborn is exciting and scary all at once. What should you anticipate in these first few weeks?
Bonding: You may not have felt an immediate connection with your baby. That is okay. Take time to relax and bond, and the connection will come. Practice skin-to-skin as often as you are comfortable. Look into his eyes (in those brief moments he is awake) and talk to him.
Baby wearing is a great way to bond with your newborn. If you are up and about, use a wrap or sling to wear your baby to keep him close. If you need assistance or support with your baby carrier, check out the Bluegrass Baby Wearers.
If you feel overwhelmed, depressed or you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, call your care provider immediately so they can help you.
Bathing: Your baby won’t need much bathing in the first few weeks. A sponge bath to clean up after any big blowouts or spit-up episodes will be fine. Don’t be surprised if she cries during her first bath. Hold her securely while you wash her. You can wrap her in a warm towel and expose each body part as it needs washed, then cover back up.
Her umbilical cord stump will fall off naturally. Never pull or try to remove the cord stump. Most newborn diapers have cut-outs to avoid rubbing against the stump. Don’t submerge your baby in water while her cord stump is still hanging on. Call your doctor if the cord stump is oozing, bleeding, red around the navel or has a foul smell.
Eating: Whether you are bottle or breastfeeding, you may feel like your baby is eating around the clock. This is probably true and it’s normal. Think of how much growing he is trying to do!
With bottles, don’t be worried if your baby rejects the first one you try. You may go through a variety of bottles and nipple textures and flow speeds before you find the perfect fit.
If you are breastfeeding, keep the contact information for local lactation experts on hand. Set up a follow up visit with the hospital lactation consultant to make sure you’re getting the hang of nursing. You can find resources through the local health department, La Leche League or try Kelly Mom for online support and advice.
Sleeping: Educate yourself about reducing the risk of SIDS.
Swaddling your baby may help him sleep better. Make sure you lay him on his back until he can roll over on his own. If you choose to co-sleep, make sure you do it safely. Read some tips on creating a safe co-sleeping environment.
You may feel that your baby never sleeps long enough for you to get any real rest. Call in reinforcements if you can- relatives, friends, or a night nurse. Sleep deprivation can become dangerous for you and your newborn.
Diapers: The first few diapers will be full of sticky black poop called meconium. This is totally normal. Once you have a few feedings, her body should clear out the meconium and yellow-green poops will arrive.
The color, consistency and frequency of dirty diapers will vary based on your baby’s natural digestion and if you are formula or breastfeeding.
As gross as it sounds, you will keep a mental diary of your baby’s poops. It’s a good thing to be able to distinguish when something is not right. Talk to your doctor about how many wet/dirty diapers to look for and what weight gain he expects to see.
Postpartum Care: The first six weeks with a newborn are a trial. Moms can feel that they live in an endless cycle of eat, poop, sleep, repeat. But soon your baby will be interacting on new levels and you will find some normalcy again.
Take a few minutes to yourself each day, enlist the help of friends and family, eat simple foods filled with protein and fiber, sleep any time you have the chance, and find a support network to help you out. Time with your baby will go by quicker than you think!