Bringing a baby home from the hospital is overwhelming and so joyful, but with all the recovery and learning going on, can you really enjoy your first week home with a newborn?
Bringing a newborn home, at the very least, is nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first child.
The birth of a child is a life-changing event that always teaches us something new. But the arrival of my second child taught me something completely unexpected: how much I lost out on ENJOYING the beautiful moments of my first baby’s first week at home.
The first week (or even the first month) with a new baby is a wonderful and unique moment… and there’s no way to properly prepare for it. But it appears that the first time I took a baby home from the hospital, I was completely unprepared. There were simply too many things I didn’t understand, and I was so overwhelmed by everything that I wasn’t able to enjoy the time as much as I should have.
Sure, I’d purchased some baby items… I’d read all of the articles on new baby essentials and had meals ready in my freezer. Cute tiny sleepers and frozen lasagna, on the other hand, aren’t going to cut it when it comes to being prepared for the first week at home with a newborn.(This post contains affiliate links. Our full disclosure policy is really boring, but you can find it here.)
First Week With A Newborn – What To Expect
Your Body Is In Shock
Most first-time moms-to-be are so focused on childbirth that the challenges of recuperation aren’t even on their minds. You will be incredibly painful if you deliver vaginally – a baby the size of a Virginia ham just came out of a very narrow place. To soften sutures and keep them from feeling tight, ice the region for the first 24 hours and then take regular warm showers.
Pain medication (over-the-counter or prescription) can help with the discomfort and tugging at the incision site after a cesarean birth.
You may expect a lot of cramping during this period, regardless of how you delivered, as your uterus shrinks to its pre-pregnancy size. If you’re breastfeeding, the discomfort will be the most intense when your baby latches on, signalling your body to begin producing oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions. And all postpartum women have lochia, a vaginal discharge including blood, mucus, and pieces of placental tissue, for a few weeks. Make sure you have plenty of sanitary napkins on hand; tampons should be avoided for at least six weeks since they might spread bacteria.
Feeding Is Not Easy
Moms with older children aren’t talking about the first seven days when they say how much they “loved, adored” breastfeeding their newborns.
Take it one step at a time if you’re nursing. Your immediate aim is to get your baby to latch on properly, with her lips fanned out, her chin near to your breast, and her jaw and ear moving slightly in a rhythmic manner while she suckles.
Whether your breast or nipple aches or you’re worried about your supply, ask your doctor about hiring a lactation consultant who can show you alternative methods to latch and check to see if your baby is getting enough food.
Keep in mind that milk can arrive anywhere from 36 to 72 hours after birth, and it may take up to five days for some.
This can occur for a variety of causes, including gestational diabetes, a protracted and traumatic pregnancy, or cesarean delivery.
Choosing to breastfeed instead of formula-feeding? It might be difficult to choose a brand, so ask your physician for her recommendations. Formulas are available in three different forms: powders that must be combined with water concentrates that must be diluted with water and ready-to-use liquids that may be put straight into bottles. The type you pick may be determined by your baby’s preferences as well as your financial constraints.
Your body is on a hormone roller coaster during these early weeks, regardless of how you delivered. The highs can help you bond with your kid, but the lows may be unlike anything you’ve ever known.
Bonding isn’t always a foregone conclusion. It’s normal to feel distant from your infant at first, or to be concerned about not understanding how to care for your child. Allow yourself time to just be with your baby: Dr. Mittal advises that doing things like feeding and changing him can help you gain confidence. Concentrate on him when he’s awake. Hold your infant and see how he prefers to be held. Make eye contact with him and sing, replicate his noises.
You’ll Be Sleep Deprived
When you’re caring for a baby, you’ll need to get up every two to three hours to feed them. Consider taking cat naps whenever your baby sleeps or matching your own bedtime to your baby’s to attempt to catch up on your own sleep.
If you’re formula-feeding, switch late-night bottles with your partner so you can both get some sleep. If you’re breastfeeding, you may start the same switch-off process as soon as you and your baby have mastered nursing and are ready to pump and bottle breast milk.
you’re In A New Normal
You won’t have the stamina to socialize as much as you did before the baby, so chat to your partner about who will make the cut. It’s fine to keep some folks waiting. Accepting their homemade soups, allowing them to walk the dog, and welcoming their groceries are all ways that eager friends may help. They’ll be able to look at your baby then.
Keep your expectations in check. Every day, you may set one non-baby-related objective, such as completing a load of laundry or sending two thank-you notes. If your baby refuses to be put down, swing him or carry him in a carrier while you finish your to-do list. Let yourself off the hook if you can’t keep your house clean.
Tips For Surviving The First Week With A Newborn
Go With The Flow
My first week at home with babies #2 and #3 has been a complete 180 from my first week at home with baby #1. There’s no clear justification for this other than the fact that I now KNOW more things — I’ve done it before… The second time around, it’s less surprising.
If you’re expecting a baby and are preparing for the first week with your new baby, perhaps these suggestions will not only help you prepare but also allow you to relax and enjoy every minute with your new baby.
Things To Have Prepared Before Baby Comes Home
Again, don’t get too worked up about it; the items you’ll need are actually rather little!
Check to see whether you have:
- A few warm and attractive clothes
- A safe place for baby to sleep
- A good quality baby monitor
- Your postpartum care kit
- Diapers, wipes, bum cream
- Breastfeeding or formula feeding supplies
- A safe place for baby to sleep
The following suggestions are considerably more essential than the actual items you possess!!
It’s Not Going To Be Easy And You’re Going To Have To Get TO Know Each Other
If you bring baby home and he or she doesn’t appear thrilled to be there, keep in mind that this little person has only ever known a cozy, warm secure environment – and there’s a lot going on around him that he probably doesn’t understand. I am a firm believer in the importance of the fourth trimester.
If your baby cries the whole first night at home, remember that this is a difficult time for him as well. Expect a lot of sobbing! (You’ll be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t happen.)
Accept it if your kid cries all night the first night, or perhaps every night for the first month. I promise the baby will not wail indefinitely. Neither he nor your spouse should be yelled at. Keep in mind that this will pass. Set up a tent and watch TV in the family room.
On a similar subject, it’s fine if YOU weep all night. Allow yourself grace, and keep in mind that your hormones are raging right now.
If your infant is upset, attempt skin-to-skin contact to soothe him. Simply place your naked (diaper-less) baby on your chest and wrap him with a blanket. This will often calm a crying baby when nothing else would – they need to FEEL mom.
Do not rush to bathe or clothe your baby in all of the lovely tiny outfits you purchased. Allow your infant to gradually acclimatize to his new environment.
‘Keep her warm and contained (she’s used to being confined in the womb). Don’t put your baby in a huge crib — it must be scary for them! Get them a little baby bed that will make them feel safe. A baby lounger is a great tool, not only because it provides the baby with a sense of security, but also because it’s portable (unlike a crib) and allows the baby to stay near to you at all times.
Take Your Time
After you’ve settled in at home, take newborn photographs, mail baby announcements, and make plans for everyone to see the baby. You will be busy learning how to feed your baby, and you’re going to be lacking some sleep too. there is just no rush to do all the things. Take it easy, you just popped a human out of you.
When she’s a week old, your new baby will still be dopey and gorgeous!
Don’t Allow Nursing To Stress You Out
Even without all of the other craziness going on this week, the stress of breastfeeding for the first time may be overwhelming.
I hope you’re reading this before or throughout your pregnancy, or at the very least during the first few days of your baby’s existence. For (at least) the first week, don’t anticipate breastfeeding to be simple or natural. Expect a little discomfort throughout the first week. It doesn’t mean you’re bound to fail.
When it comes to nursing, there are things that are typical and things that aren’t. Knowing the difference will be quite beneficial. It’s natural to experience a stinging discomfort when your baby initially latches, but the ache should go away once he or she starts sucking. For the first week or so, it’s also typical to experience chapped or sore nipples. Nipple cream like this will help heal your nipples quicker and a nipple shield can help with latching issues. Your hospital might have a nipple shield for you, so you can ask them before leaving or purchase one like this.
Nursing a baby is a skill that must be learned. I actually had a tough time with all 3 kids when it came to nursing, but we figured it out eventually. Nursing was difficult not just for the first week, but throughout the first two months as well. By month 3, you’ll either have it figured out, or you might go in a different direction for feeding such as formula – there is nothing wrong with that.
Know When To Take Baby To The Hospital
- Lethargy, reduced urine, sunken eyes, a sunken fontanel, clammy skin, or skin that does not spring back to normal when you squeeze it are all signs of dehydration.
- She gets a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees.
- She’s breathing at a rate of 60 to 70 times per minute, has nasal flaring, and her chest or neck appears to “suck in” with each breath.
- Around her mouth/eyes, she falls limp or turns blue.
- She passes out or has a bulging fontanel (the soft spot)
Don’t Stress About All The Things You Need To Do
When it comes to newborns, there are a lot of things to do on a daily basis. Don’t let it stress you out.
Yes, it is recommended to sterilize all the baby bottles, nipple shields and pump parts after each use, but did you know you can put these things in the fridge and use them again before you wash and sterilize?
You’ll have loads of laundry piled up, dishes to wash, floors to clean, pets to feed and more which can be very overwhelming when you’re a tired hot mess with a newborn. Don’t let these things stress you out. The most important thing you need to worry about when you have a newborn at home is feeding that baby, getting in loads of snuggles, and getting as much rest as you can.
The rest can wait.
Post Partum Preperations
One of the things that made my first week with my first child a little more difficult to appreciate was the fact that I was in a lot more pain than usual.
Freezer dinners will also come in handy — you shouldn’t have to prepare anything for the first week. Allow your mother-in-law to cook for you if she so desires.
Rest, Eat And Bond
If you can arrange to spend a whole week in your pjs, curled up with your baby, it would be fantastic for both of you.
I really simply wore a nice robe (I purchased this one from Amazon) and sweatpants for a whole week to make nursing easier for both of us. I just wore a nursing bra like this, had my breast pads soaking up all the leaking milk and covered it all up with my new robe.
Make sure to snap a lot of photographs your first week back… It’s OK if they’re candid photos, though. Allow yourself time to reclaim your humanity before dressing up for formal photographs.
Start with a brief calm outing with your infant when it’s time to go out!