Women's Healthcare Topics

First Weeks with Your Newborn Baby

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

First Few Weeks can be a Whilwind of Unexpected Delights and Pleasures

Your first few weeks at home with your newborn will seem like a whirlwind, filled with unexpected delights and pleasures as well as many well meaning but often uninvited guests.

In the first weeks after delivery you are likely to be sore, tired and cranky. The last thing you'll have on your mind is entertaining guests. A new baby however often brings people together, and before you even have a moment to breathe you'll probably find that people are knocking down your door to see the new baby.

An influx of uninvited guests can be overwhelming at times, particularly for first time parents. Fortunately there are several things you can do to ensure that you are not overwhelmed by your visitors, and to ensure that you and your immediate family get the cherished quiet time you need to bond and enjoy your newest addition.

So what do you do when the masses start knocking on your door? The best thing you can do is prepare yourself and your guests ahead of time. If you would rather that people come visit you while you are still in the hospital and have help caring for your newborn, let people know that you are accepting visitors at the hospital and the specific time you would like guests.

Once you get home feel free to leave a message on your machine that lets people know that you are enjoying some quiet time with your newborn. Ask them to leave a message and let them know you will call them back when you are ready to expect company.

Now, many well meaning and bright grandparents will expect that you will try to 'hide out' at some point or another. If you find that people 'forget' to call and continually show up unexpectedly, don't by shy about turning them away. Let them know if it is a bad time but also let them know when a good time would be for them to stop by.

If you don't want to confront anyone or hurt anyone's feelings, leave a small note on your door that says something to the effect of: "Shhh.... Mommy and baby are sleeping. Please call us and let us know when you would like to stop by so we can arrange for a time when we can all enjoy your company."

You might also find it easier to simply head off people by calling them and letting them know what times are convenient to drop by on what days, so you can entertain people at once and not constantly during the day.

Rest assured that in the weeks after birth the constant stream of visitors will settle down.

Above all else, don't feel obligated to entertain. After birth, you should be taking time to enjoy your newest addition and taking time to rest. If people stop by and ask what they can do, have them tidy or do some laundry. Ask them if they wouldn't mind doing some dishes or bringing over a cooked meal. Most will offer to anyway, and you'll find your visitations much less stressful and more enjoyable for all people involved.

Proper Baby's Sleep Positions

This article explains about the first few weeks after bring a newborn home.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you place your baby in his crib on this back. The back up position is believed to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Remember not to leave toys and blankets on top of the baby bedding

Medical Checkup during the First Weeks of Life

Most new moms will be discharged from the hospital within 24 to 48 hours after giving birth. This requires that the newborn be re-checked 2 days later to see how well the baby is feeding, urinating, maintaining weight and signs of jaundice. A two week follow-up medical visit will be scheduled after this visit. This is a very important visit to make sure the baby has not developed symptoms of any physical condition that was not detectable during the hospital stay.

Prepare a Safe Sleeping Place for Baby

Before you do anything else, make sure that you have a safe place for your newborn to sleep – whether this is in a crib or bassinet.

In the first two weeks of your baby's life, it's probably easier on you if you allow your infant to sleep in the same room as you. Co-sleeping isn't recommended, but you can "room share" – where you place your baby's crib, bassinet, or cradle near your bed. When buying the crib, bassinet, or cradle, make sure that it meets national crib safety standards.

If using a crib, be sure that the crib mattress fits tightly. There should be no gaps or spaces for a baby to fall into. Cover the mattress with a fitted crib sheet. Pillow-like bumpers and stuffed animals may enhance the look of the crib, but you don't want to use them in your baby's sleep area. They can become suffocation hazards. A bare crib is best.

Stock up on Baby Essentials

In addition to preparing your baby's sleeping environment, you'll need to also make sure you get stocked up with all the essentials that your baby will require. Whether using a crib or cradle, you'll need to buy bedding and nursery décor. Crib bedding and cradle bedding is available in a variety of piece sets from select retailers.

On top of the baby bedding set, you will want to stock up on receiving blankets, a diaper pail, and diapers of all sizes – babies grow pretty fast, so you want a variety of different sizes, not just newborn diapers.

In the first month of life, a newborn will go through at least four to six dirty diapers a day. That equals to at least 180 diaper changes a month. To be on the safe side, you should stock up on 200 to 300 diapers for the first 30 days of your child's life.

Other baby items that you'll want to stock up on include baby nail clippers (some newborns have pretty lengthy nails when they come out of the womb), baby thermometer, a baby brush, baby bathtub, burp cloths, and baby clothes – such as one-piece bodysuits, booties and socks, hats, gowns, and cold weather sleepers.

Whether you're formula-feeding or breast-feeding, you'll want to stock up on equipment. Breastfeeding mothers should stock up on nipple cream, a breast pump, nursing pillows, and bottles. If you are formula feeding, you should discuss what formula is appropriate with your baby's doctor. You'll also want plenty of bottles, nipples, and brushes.

Buy and Install the Infant Car Seat

An infant car seat is a must-have for any parent. You will not be allowed to leave the hospital with your newest bundle of joy without a car seat properly installed in your car. You should buy the car seat months ahead of your due date – just to be on the safe side. Babies can arrive when you least expect it.

To verify that your baby's car seat is properly installed, you can find numerous child safety seat inspection stations in your state that will double-check your installation for free. These stations are found at local police departments, fire stations, and select children's hospitals. You will want to call ahead of time and schedule an appointment.

From birth until your child is one year old, you must place your baby in a rear-facing infant car seat in the back seat. The safest location is the middle of the back seat. DO NOT place your baby in the front seat of a car that has passenger air bags.

Prepare Older Children for New Baby

If you aren't a first-time mom, you'll want to get your other children prepared for the arrival of the new baby. All children respond differently, and your firstborn may not show any signs of sibling rivalry at first. Some children are welcoming and excited about the new baby, but you should prepare for problems that may arise. Other children, especially those who are closer to mom, may be more temperamental and upset when a new baby is born. Kids who are closer to their fathers tend to cope better.

Get Your Children Involved with Your Pregnancy

Before the baby arrives, you should keep your other children informed about the pregnancy. If you have young children, don't automatically assume that they are too little to understand what's going on. Children have a natural ability to understand the concept of brothers and sisters, and keeping the new baby a secret will only alienate them.

Once you have the ultrasound photos, show them to your children. Allow your kids to spend time rubbing your belly and talking to the baby. Encourage your children to participate in the nursery preparations. Allow them to pick out the baby crib bedding set, and take them along with you when you go shopping for baby necessities.

Sibling Classes

You should consider taking your children to a sibling class – these are special classes designed to prepare older children for the arrival of the new baby. They are offered at many hospitals across the country.

Baby Blues

Baby blues affects between 70 and 85 percent of women right after birth. It is very common and predictable. Your body after birth is going through many dramatic changes. There's a drop in estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. During this time you may feel happy and then sad, crying for no reason, fatigue and insomnia. For most women these symptoms typically go away on their own without treatment. This state is temporary and usually only requires a few days of rest and support. If the "baby blues" are for more than two weeks you may be suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can last for up to a year and, unlike the "baby blues", it usually does require counseling and treatment.

The Father's Role

The father needs to take leave from work to be with his wife during and after delivery. Not only does the mother need the father to help with the baby but he should help with the household chores. The father can take saved-up vacation time as paternity leave to help or at a minimum work shorter hours. The father should learn parenting skills by holding and comforting his baby at least once a day. Not only will this help the bonding between the father and baby, it also will develop a close relationship between the baby and his father.

Choose a Pediatrician Beforehand

Before your baby arrives, you need to choose a pediatrician or family physician that you trust. It's important that you make the right decision – you will be visiting this doctor's office at least six times in your baby's first year for routine check-ups. Your baby will need to see the pediatrician within days of coming home from the hospital, so don't put off this task until the last minute. Start looking for a pediatrician in the second or third trimester.

To start your search, you should consider whether you'd like a male or female pediatrician. The doctor's gender doesn't matter to babies, but once your child gets older, he or she may feel more comfortable with a pediatrician of the same gender.

You should get recommendations from friends and family. Some hospitals have "Meet the Doctors" open houses, which are attended by local pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has referrals to certified pediatricians on their website.


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