Your home safely from the hospital, and it’s officially your first day home with Baby. Your body is probably still a bit swollen and if you had a vaginal delivery, you’re rather sore “down there.” C-section moms – you’ve just had major surgery, so you will experience soreness around the incision and be moving a bit more slowly. Regardless, it was all worth it because now you’ve got this beautiful bundle of joy!
On closer look, you may be wondering what exactly you’re to do with this squirming, red-faced little person who makes all these interesting squeaks and bleats, who doesn’t come with any instructions and doesn’t even begin to look like the new babies you see born on TV. The first day home with baby can be a bit confusing as you and your newborn are finding your way together. As a first time mom, you just need some time, a little practice and a bit of advice and you’ll be well on your way to Mother of the Year! So, we have some helpful hints on what to expect on your first day home with Baby that will put you – and your little one – at ease.
- It’s all about food: A new baby’s tiny stomach only holds a little amount, so if you feel like your baby needs to eat all the time, that’s why! A newborn will eat between 1-3 ounces per feeding which is why you may be feeding your baby every two to three hours – or even more often. For some moms, you may need to wake your baby to feed them even though it may go against your better judgement! Likewise, babies sometimes fall asleep during feedings so you will want to gently coax them awake – tickling their toes, gently undressing them and talking to them are all ways to wake a sleepy yet hungry baby.
When your baby is hungry, she will let you know though it may not always be through crying. Yes, crying is a newborn’s most popular way to communicate but newborns also show hunger by sucking on their hands, smacking their lips or what is called “rooting.” Rooting is when a baby puts her lips together and keeps turning towards the bottle or breast, indicating it’s feeding time.
- All these strange noises: We’ve already covered the crying and that unique, high-pitched newborn cry is something a first time mom quickly becomes accustomed to hearing. But, that’s not all in the repertoire of new baby sounds. Newborns hiccup, sneeze, sometimes grunt and yes, they actually squeak. Before childbirth, you may have dreamed of watching your peacefully sleeping baby, but newborns can be some of the noisiest sleepers around. Like most new moms, you’ll probably spend some time watching your new baby sleep. Babies can be “periodic” breathers, which means they breathe quickly for a few seconds, pause and then start breathing again. Short pauses are normal, but if you have questions about your child’s breathing, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician. They are used to us new moms, and handle us with care!
- Hiccups, spit up and burps – Oh My! As long as we’re on the topic of noises, let’s talk burping. Because of a baby’s small stomach, your newborn will need to burp frequently during feedings. After about 2-3 ounces, which translates into about 10-15 minutes of feeding or each time you switch breasts, you should burp your baby. Keep in mind this is not your Great Uncle Bob but a tiny little baby, so a gentle, circular movement or gentle pats should do the job – no need to bang on Baby’s back! As for hiccups, your baby may be a bit taken aback by her hiccups, but they don’t hurt and are quite normal. Likewise, spit up, even if you are a Master Burper, is very common in newborns; in fact spitting up directly after or even during a feeding is typical. If your baby’s spit up seems like a lot, or if your child looks like she’s in some pain (arching her back, crying) your child may have a bit of reflux. This usually goes away as Baby gets more control of her head and neck muscles and with time. Again, your doctors – and nurses – are always there to answer questions.
- Poop and Pee. What in the world? A newborn’s poopy diapers don’t seem quite normal – but they are! Those first few poops, which typically happen in the hospital, are meconium and consist of black, tar-like poop. Even a mother doesn’t have to love those! Once your baby is at home, you may want to keep a general tally of wet and poopy diapers, as your doctor will probably ask at checkups. Wet diapers range from around 5 a day for breastfed babies to up to 10 a day for formula-fed babies. Poopy diapers range more in their frequency so “normal” may differ from one a day to one every 4-5 days to one after each feeding. A newborn baby’s poop is not what you may expect – typically a seedy, mustard color to a greenish brown color depending on formula or breast milk. Baby’s poopy diapers are typically very loose in consistency so don’t worry if each diaper looks like diarrhea. Rest assured that you and your husband may talk more “poop” in those first few months than you ever thought two adults could – and it’s all good!
- Sleep – what’s that? Newborns sleep between 16-17 hours a day, which is the good news. The bad news is that normally not for more than an hour or two at a time because her tiny, hungry tummy usually wakes her up. Like the poop and pee, it’s good to try and chart sleep times so you can see patterns – or be able to check with your doctor if you have questions. We mentioned above that babies might make a lot of noises during sleep, especially because they tend to be “nose-breathers.” A few things to note on putting your baby to sleep – swaddling is great because it makes your child feel safe and secure. However, you want to remove any loose blankets, stuffed animals or bumper pads. Likewise, you always want to put Baby to sleep on her back – and never sleep her unattended on a couch or chair where she could roll off. If you are like most first time moms, a monitor – and these days, video monitors are awesome – will give you some peace of mind without having to check in every 3 minutes. But, if you do find yourself checking in every 3 minutes, know that’s normal too!
- What about YOU? Yes, if you recall, you were in that delivery room as well, and while those first days seem all about the baby, you need to take care of yourself too. After all, your body’s been put through the ringer and your baby needs a healthy, happy Mommy! So, what’s a first time mom to do?
- Ask for help! This doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you can’t handle it. You need your sleep too, and you’re body is healing. So, when friends
and family offer to help, say “yes!”
- Drink plenty of fluids. Your body needs lots of fluids to heal, especially if you’re breastfeeding. So, don’t forget to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink your water!
- Sleep whenever you can. This is not just an urban legend – try to do it! While you may be the only one who can breastfeed your baby, others can do laundry, change diapers, burp and hold Baby and in general, let you rest.
- Know that it’s hard. It’s ok to admit it, and to say it out loud. If it were easy, our husbands would do it (just kidding!). But seriously, being a new mom is one of the hardest jobs you will ever do and admitting it doesn’t make you a bad mom or a failure. It makes you honest – and likeable – because you’re willing to say what we all have thought!
- Be in tune with your body. You have hormones coursing all through your body, and you’ve just been through a lot, physically. Be aware of how you feel. “Baby blues” are normal, but post-partum depression can be a new mom’s fact of life. While the baby blues fade within a few weeks, lingering signs of sadness or depression could mean more. So, be aware and don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.
- Breastfeeding is hard. On TV and in books, it seems like the most natural thing in the world – and for some moms, it is. For others, we struggle to produce enough milk, for our babies to latch on properly, with mastitis (breast inflammation caused by infection), engorgement and more. Don’t be afraid to contact one of your hospital’s lactation consultants. They are there to help you and are a great resource. If breastfeeding doesn’t end up being the right fit for you – or your baby – that’s OK too.
That first day home with your baby – and the weeks that follow – are a blur of insecurity, questions, nerves and hesitancy. It’s a time when you can spend an hour staring at the wonder that is your baby, when the decision to take a shower or eat lunch can seem overwhelming, when you don’t know what your body is doing and how a tiny human being can take up so much space in your heart, your mind and your day. It’s difficult knowing how to take care of a newborn baby, but trust these tips, trust your doctor, listen to your circle of friends and family, and most of all, trust your instincts. Motherhood – like life – is a series of trial and errors, leaps of faith and taking many deep breaths. However, you can do it – and you will!
“First 24 Hours at Home with your Baby.” www.babycenter.com. https://www.babycenter.com/newborn-baby
“My Baby’s Here! Now What Do I Do?” www.webmd.com. http://www.webmd.com/parenting/guide/my-babys-here-now-what-do
Varma-White, Kavita and Sher, Emily. “The TODAY Parenting Team guide to bringing home baby: 109 things we wish we’d known.” March 15, 2016. http://www.today.com/parents/ultimate-guide-bringing-home-baby-109-things-we-wish-wed-t8756