Your life is changing forever with your newborn arrival..!
When you first bring your baby home it can be an over-whelming experience, especially if he is your first. It is important to know what to expect and how to react to the most common situations. You should take time to adjust and when in doubt call your doctor or mid-wife for instructions.
Initially, your baby can be a little weird-looking since he may be covered in fine hair called lanugo, have a puffy face, shut eyes and be a little smooched. You should not worry as this is all normal and he should resemble more a typical baby in a few days. Your baby likes to be held and feels comforted by your smell and the sound of your beating heart so you should cuddle him a lot in these first days. You just have to be careful to always support his head.
It is normal for your baby’s skin to be dry after a few days since it was used to being submerged in amniotic fluid but you do not have to do anything about it. Here you can find advice on how to get through these first days and what to expect.
Bathing your baby might not be necessary right away. He has been cleaned after birth and you can clean only his face and neck and his nappy area. Some parents chose not to give a full bath to their baby until the umbilical stump falls off to prevent infection. However, it is safe to wet your baby’s umbilical stump, you just have to make sure that it is dried completely afterwards. To clean your newborn baby, fill a bowl with warm water and place the baby in a soft surface covered by a clean bathing towel. Use cotton wool with water to clean the baby’s eyes first then move to his ears face neck and hands, and be sure that you change the cotton wool regularly during the process. You should clean your baby’s bottom and genitals with every diaper change. After washing, just be sure that you dry him thoroughly with a soft towel and dress him in clean clothes .
You have no reason to worry if your baby snuffles and squeaks. This is normal in newborns since the lungs are still adjusting to breathing air, because they were used to inhale amniotic fluid in the womb. Therefore, occasional squeaks, sneezes, and snorts are normal for a newborn. Grunting and snorting is more common while breastfeeding since the baby has to breathe through the nose. The accumulation of mucus from the nose in the larynx and trachea can also cause gurgles or a gentle rattle in the chest, but this is nothing to worry about. Hiccupping is natural in newborns and they do it even when they are still in the uterus. Most babies also have reflux after a hiccup because the muscles in the stomach are not yet strong enough to keep milk down.
The first feeding is colostrum, a liquid rich in fat and antibodies that will protect the baby. The first feed usually takes around 40 minutes since the baby’s stomach is really small to take in a lot of liquid at a time. It is normal for the baby to drink only a little colostrum at a time and then increase the amount of the feeding once milk comes in. Newborns usually do not need to be burped since they eat small amounts at a time. You will need some time to work out the best position to breastfeed your baby. To breastfeed, keep the baby close to your skin and bring him to your breast. This process may seem difficult at first but both of you will get the hang of it with time.
Try to feed your baby before he starts crying since it will be more difficult for him to feed then. If he is already crying, you should soothe him first and never try to force him on your breast. Your baby will need to breastfeed regularly, every two or three hours, to stay well fed and grow. When the baby starts feeding in larger quantities you can help him burp to release air bubbles that have been swallowed so the baby feels more comfortable. You will notice that the baby starts to get sleepy after a feed and will come off your breast once he relaxes. If you choose to bottle feed your baby you have to consider that he cannot control his milk intake as well as breastfeeding. You have to make sure that the baby is in a comfortable position preferably by holding him close. You can see that your baby is full when he starts to slow down or rest .
You may feel over-whelmed by your baby crying, but you have to remember that this is the only way of communication for newborns, so it is normal and does not mean that your baby is in pain or unhappy. When you first bring your baby home, if he cries you can check if he needs to feed, talk to him softly and cradle him in your arms. Your smell and the sound of your beating heart will soothe him and nurture the bond between you. Your baby can also cry because he is tired, especially if there are a lot of visitors and noise around him.
Now that the baby is in the outside world, all the new experiences can be over-whelming since he was used to a protected and close environment. Therefore, your baby can be unsettled by the sudden transition into a new world of smells, sounds and touch that he came into suddenly. Make sure that you cuddle with your baby since physical contact with you is the best way for him to calm down and comfort him with these new experiences. Crying is also part of the development of your baby so do not worry about too much. It is normal for your baby to cry constantly during the late afternoon and evening .
You should check your baby’s temperature since he will need to adjust to the irregular temperature fluctuations of the outside world that he is not used to. You just have to feel his tummy and see if it is too hot or too cold to adjust the clothing that the baby needs. It is normal for the newborn to have cold hands and feet, particularly in the first 24 hours. The room in which he sleeps should be kept between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius so the baby does not over-heat .
In the first days of your baby’s life, you will get a lot of training in nappy changing. A newborn will need six to eight nappy changes a day. Formula fed babies will need more changes since they take more fluid with each feeding. You should keep track of the frequency of your baby’s bowel movements and urine as this indicates if your baby is well. The first feces will come up after a day or two. The first poo is called meconium and forms while the baby is still in the uterus. Since these stools are made of mucus and amniotic fluid they will be black and have a tar-like consistency. The regularity of bowel movement varies widely, in breastfed babies it can be once every four days or once per feed. After colostrum is replaced by milk you will see a change in color and consistency of the feces. If you bottle feed your baby he will poop more frequently and have feces that vary from pale yellow to yellowish brown .
You should keep your baby in a calm and quiet environment in the first days so he can sleep and recover from the effort of birth. It is normal for your baby to sleep a lot, up to 18 hours a day. Birth is a tiresome process for your baby and sleeping is essential for healthy growth and brain development. Your baby will wake up for a feed every three hours during day or night. Therefore, you will need to adjust your sleep to the baby’s needs. Your baby will like to sleep wrapped since this mimics being inside the uterus. It will be easier for you to keep your newborn baby in your room at night so you can feed him regularly. You should place your baby on his back, wrapped in a blanket and in a place where he cannot roll over .
You can keep a few things in mind to make this time easier. It is normal to feel over-whelmed and tired, so you should seek help from family and friends with children of their own, the hospital staff advices especially concerning breastfeeding and diaper changing. You have to get your home prepared before the baby arrives, with all the essentials to accommodate your baby comfortably without having to run to the shop. You can take shifts with your partner or a family member to ensure that you get enough sleep, this can be a tiresome period of your life and you need to be alert to take care of your baby.