Your New Baby
Well you made it through the labour (big well done to you!) and now you have your new baby who needs feeding, changing, bathing, dressing, cuddling, winding, basically, looking after all around the clock!
And poor you, you feel exhausted, emotional, achy and probably completely overwhelmed! No one could really prepare you for this, as well as a very joyful time, it’s also blinking hard work!
Of course, how long you stay in hospital with your new baby varies from woman to woman. Generally speaking, though, nowadays women are going home sooner than they were years ago, and hospitals are less involved with establishing a routine with feeding your new baby.
Some choose to go home the same day that they give birth, while others choose to stay in hospital for a few days to get some more rest while the professionals help them with their new baby.
If you have had a caesarean then you will have to stay in for at least a few days. It will likely depend on how the professionals feel about your progress as to whether you will be allowed home a bit sooner.
With Freddy, I stayed in the hospital for 2 nights. The staff there were really good at looking after me and Freddy. They allowed me to sleep in the night while they looked after him and just woke me up when he needed feeding, (at first, every 2 hours). I was fed well and was able to have showers and baths there.
I would recommend doing this, especially if you have young children at home who can wear you out, this little respite at the beginning can be just what you need to help you and your new baby stay chilled out.
The First Few Days At Home
During the first few days with your new baby you will likely just managing to care for your baby’s needs and hopefully your own and that’s about it, unless you are some kind of super woman!
But it is very important not to get too stressed out or fraught. If you are stressed, your new baby will pick up on this and will become unsettled and much harder for you to look after and cope with. The key to having a settled, chilled out baby is for you to give off settled and chilled out vibes.
You shouldn’t feel bad that you can’t keep on top of the housework, cook wonderful meals, or go out and about showing off your new baby.
If you are anything like I was you will feel as though you’ve been mowed down by a double-decker bus and prevented from sleeping for days. Not to mention the heavy, bloody discharge you get after you’ve had a baby and the discomfort sitting down if you’ve had stitches.
All in all, at this stage you may be wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again, and you may feel that if it stays as hard as this it wasn’t really worth it!
Try not to stress! (Easier said than done with all those confused hormones raging around). Soon you will start to feel on top of things again and you will start to enjoy your baby more.
If at all possible, it’s a good idea to have someone stay with you for the first few days to help out, like a mother or sister. When I had Freddy my mum stayed for 4 or 5 nights and she did housework, washing, cooking and helped me look after Freddy.
In the night she was on standby to have him if he wouldn’t settle so that Dave and I could get some rest. In short, she was invaluable to us and I really recommend doing this if you can.
No doubt you will have lots of family and friends wanting to visit as soon as they can to see your new baby. Take my word for it when I say that having hoards of visitors at the door can be a real source of stress in the first few days.
Therefore, my advice would be to just have close family for a few days, and make it known to others that you would prefer if they waited a week or two before coming to visit.
Again, the importance of this is that you will be able to remain calmer in those first few days and this will have a good calming effect on your new baby.
It’s actually very exciting caring for your new baby. You get to use all the things you bought ready for when baby arrives. It’s like playing dollies when you were a little girl, except its real!
You will have midwives popping in for the first week or so to check and weigh baby and to make sure you are ok. On day 4 or 5 they will do a heel prick on your new baby and take some little samples of blood to take away and test, just to make sure all is well.
If you have any concerns you can talk to them and they are usually a good source of help, and also relief, as they often will put your mind to rest when you are worried about something.
You will likely find that feeding your new baby is a bit ‘all over the place’ to begin with. At first it is difficult to know whether or not your baby is crying because of hunger or for some other reason.
It is a good idea to try to start getting some sort of structure going as early as possible with feeding, as this will make things easier for you.
Bathing your new baby can be a bit scary at first. After all, new babies are so delicate and tiny, and you may worry about hurting your baby. Most babies don’t like their bath straight away, so you also have to contend with them screaming their little heads off while you carefully try to wash them.
If you had the baby at hospital, they may have demonstrated to you how to bath your new baby. If not then you might find some useful tips here.
Your new baby will need lots of sleep during the day. But you’ll need to try as soon as possible to teach baby the difference between daytime and nighttime. If your new baby is sleeping for hours on end during the day and then is very wakeful at night it means they are getting night and day the wrong way around.
After the first week or so, when things have started to settle down, it's going to be important to slowly develop a new daily routine that includes your new baby as well as the other tasks that home and family require. Try the FREE step by step Focus on the Family: Getting Started Guide to help you organize your home and family one day at a time.
Caring For Yourself
Just because you have your newborn baby to care for it doesn’t mean that you should forget about yourself.
As mentioned before, you will be feeling physically and emotionally wrecked, and you will need to take time to look after yourself, otherwise you will just feel worse. Here are some tips to help you to keep on top of things.
1. Firstly, you will need to make sure you eat well and healthily. Especially if you are breastfeeding, you need all the nutrients you can get. This will help you to recover and will also help your baby to start to grow strong.
2. Drinking is also vitally important. Having regular drinks of water will help you to recover, and also, if you are breastfeeding, you will need to replace the fluids that your baby takes on a regular basis.
3. You will likely be up a fair bit during the night to feed and change your new baby, so during the day you will be very tired. It is vital that you sleep during the day while baby is sleeping. If you don’t, you will just become more tired and less able to cope.
4. If you have had stitches down below, or even if you haven’t, it’s a good idea to have a bath as often as you can. I tried to have one every day with a bit of salt in it to help keep my stitches clean so they could heal well.
5. Even though you feel tired, try to get up, showered and dressed each day (even if it is late morning). This will help you to feel fresher and more on top of things.
6. Use your midwife and health visitor checks to ask about anything that is concerning you about yourself as well as your new baby.
I remember, on about day 5, I had a really bad day. We had some visitors and my milk had come in that day, so I was feeling quite tearful and my breasts were really sore.
The midwife came and did Freddy’s heel prick, which made him and me cry. I passed someone some biscuits and felt my stitches pull. When the midwife checked my stitches, the top layer had come undone.
Also, when i went to the toilet i was passing a lot of blood all of a sudden.
I was worried, but the midwife told me that the bleeding was normal, and that my stitches would be ok, but they would just take a little longer to heal. If she hadn’t been there to reassure me, I would have felt much worse that day.
Basically, despite having your new baby to care for, you must take care of yourself as well. You won’t be much use to your baby if you are too worn out and poorly to do anything.
As time goes by you will get into the swing of it all a bit more and really start enjoying your new baby. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself time to adjust to the big change and you’ll find that things gradually slip into place.
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