You’re finally released from the hospital, arrive home, unpack the car and get your fresh baby out of the car seat. You sit down on the couch to take a breather and think “ok, now what?!” It’s so easy and so normal to feel completely overwhelmed while being so blissfully in love. But what should you focus on during those first few weeks of your baby’s life?
One of the most important things to do is take care of yourself!
· Follow your recovery plan laid out for you by your provider
· Don’t forget to eat
· Drink lots of water (and even more if you’re breastfeeding)
· Rest as much as you can! (You won’t believe how hard this one can be)
· Rely on your partner! Your body just went through one of the most strenuous events that it will ever experience! This is your partner’s time to put everything aside and focus on giving you the comforts and support that you need to heal your body while taking care of new life!
The next most important thing to do is keep your baby fed.
· Your nurses and doctors should tell you how long to go between feeding your baby. Follow that! Remember: if they say 3 hours between feeds, this doesn’t mean you have to wait to 3 hours. This means no more than 3 hours. If baby wants to eat sooner than that, feed them sooner!
· You will most likely experience cluster feeding. This is when baby wants to eat back to back. This can go on for hours and it can seem like something is wrong or that you’re not producing any milk. Cluster feeding is normal and necessary to help build milk supply so don’t let it worry you! Of course if you have genuine concerns please never hesitate to contact your pediatrician or lactation consult to be sure.
· Babies typically cluster feed when Mom’s milk is coming in so around day 2-4 of life. Then, they may do it again around days 7-10 as they hit a growth spurt around that time. Buckle up, get lots of water, find a great show on Netflix and feed that baby!
…and what I’m sure you’re all really wondering... what do you do about sleep?!?
· follow safe sleep guidelines! This one is so important to me! I’ve heard way too many terrible stories and, personally, I just won’t take the risk.
· ask for help! Take shifts if your ba
by won’t let you put them down. Make sure the adult holding the baby is not going to fall asleep.
· follow the wake window! Do your best to not allow more than 45 mins to an hour of awake time to avoid baby becoming overtired! Sometimes it can be difficult to get baby to sleep but try different scenarios. You may need to go into another room to help them fall asleep or offer a contact nap.
With sleep, I know it’s a top concern that too much assisting can lead to “bad habits”. But newborns need our help and lots of it! Don’t be afraid to rock, bounce, feed, pacify— all of the things! At this point in the game, it’s most important to get your baby to sleep! We’ll focus on helping them learn how to do that more independently in the coming weeks and months but during the first 1-3 weeks of life it’s simply not a priority!
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for or deny help! If people are offering to bring you food, entertain your other children or pick up groceries then let them! If someone’s idea of help is coming over and sitting on the couch asking to hold your baby and this makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious, tell them no. Post-partum can be a very fragile time in your life and it’s important to speak up for yourself in order to protect your sanity. It’s ok, they’ll get over it!
So, as a recap, when you first have your baby, the best advice I can give you is to take care of yourself, take care of your baby and loosen up about any stress you have surrounding sleep. Stay safe and get rest and help as you need it! But most importantly, don’t forget that this time feels so long while you’re in it but it’s very short in reality! Your baby isn’t crying because they want to drive you crazy. Your baby needs you the most during this phase of life! They will never need you quite as much as they do right now! Keep that in mind for when things are feeling extra difficult! You’ve got this!