Managing your first days home with baby can be tricky. You've analyzed your baby for nine months now tracking its progress from the size of a raisin to finally feeling him kick. Now you've finally given birth and your baby is ready to come home with you. Here's what to expect in those first few days.
1. People, people everywhere. Everyone and I mean everyone is going to want to come over and see your baby during those first few days. I should have done this the first time, but don't feel bad if you can't see everyone and be honest that you aren't up for a visit just yet. People will understand and be excited to see you and your baby whenever you are ready. Relatives, though, will want to see the baby right away so be prepared to have the in-laws and your parents drop by or stay over during those first few days, which hopefully means some extra hands to clean, cook and to hold the baby.
2. The baby won't latch on. Everyone has different experiences with breastfeeding. I didn't have milk for a few days and thought I was doing something wrong but really it was just something that needed a little time. For some this can be frustrating and confusing as you are trying this for the first time. If you are experiencing any difficulty and want to continue breastfeeding, consult La Leche League or even call your hospital. One of the nurses at my hospital was available to answer questions and helped assure me that my milk would come in slowly, but surely.
3. Eat, sleep, rest repeat. The first few days are a cycle of eating, sleeping and resting for your baby (and hopefully you, too!). When you hear a baby eats every two hours, you can expect that during the first few days and months. If you are breastfeeding you will notice a new found hungry to keep up with the calories you are burning, eat well for you and your baby and as most people say rest when they baby rests. If you have trouble sleeping, try to rest by reading or catching up on some TV. Use your two-hour break wisely you will feel better about that at the end of the day.
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4. There's so much crying. This doesn't apply to every baby but as a first-time mom I didn't realize how much my baby would be crying. Crying for food, crying to be held, crying for being tired or wet. It was a cry-fest in my house those first few days (and awhile after). The first few days you will get familiar with your babies cry and try to understand what each of them mean - and actually want you baby is trying to tell you. It just comes as a shock at first but soon it will be a familiar sound in your house.
5. Night, day? It's all the same thing. Speaking of end of the day, there is actually is not real end (sorry!). One of the hardest adjustments in those early days is not being on a normal sleep schedule, or at least sleeping in shifts and waking up during the night to feed. Some people like to have a bassinet next to them during those early days while others get up and go to the baby's room. Do whatever works for you. If you are breastfeeding try to arrange a schedule with your partner where they get up and feed your baby some pumped milk or formula. Some babies may not take to the bottle while some may; so expect anything to happen and a few bleary-eyed first days.
6. Mixed emotions. Some moments will be happy while others will be sad and confusing. The changes will really hit you hard after the first few days where you may find it difficult to understand your new role as a mother, not to mention having the baby at home after 9 months of resting in your stomach. Take time to adjust and talk to your partner about how you are feeling. If feelings of anxiety or depression get worse, you should consult your doctor.
7. It fell off! A week or so after your baby is born their umbilical cord will fall off. Wash the area and give your baby a bath. This calming ritual will be with you and your baby for a long time, make it a special one.
8. You'll want to go out. After a few days or so (and when you are physically ready) you may be ready to venture outside with your baby, if not for food but a walk and a chance to get out of the house (during this time you may also have to go to the pediatrician). Dress your baby appropriately for the weather, including a little hat, blanket, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, etc. It will only be after the first few months where you actually ease up on some of the stuff you pack.
9. You'll stare and stare and stare. No matter what your baby does - sleep or eat or cry you won't be able to get your eyes off them. Take in these amazing moments and reveal in the beauty of your new child. It really does go by so fast, appreciate it and realize the sleep will come back, you'll feel better and you'll have something to smile about every day.
Serena Norr is a NYC-based writer/editor, soup-maker, a mama to a toddler and now a pregnant mama with her second child. You can read more soup recipes on her blog: seriouslysoupy.blogspot.com.