Bringing Home Baby
What to Expect When You Don’t Know What to Expect
The nurses have waved their final good-byes, you’ve loaded up the government approved car seat and you are driving ever so slowly back home. You are officially the parent of a brand new, living, breathing child. And you are on your own. Not really, though. Here are six important tips to stay sane in those first weeks when your baby comes home. Keep calm and read on!
Sleep is for another day. It’s true. You won’t get a lot of sleep in those first days and weeks your bundle of joy is home. In fact, Baby might even have her days and nights mixed up at the beginning. Take heart though, she will figure it out. In the meantime, expect to wake up to feed your baby ever two to four hours. At around 6-8 weeks, you could catch a break as Baby begins to sleep for longer stretches. Of course, the first time she does this, you’ll wake up in a panic wondering if you missed a feeding. You didn’t; enjoy the extra shut-eye!
Nursing isn’t for sissies. If you’ve made the choice to nurse your baby rather than formula feed, trial and error will be crucial for success. Finding the best nursing position for your baby to comfortably latch on is half the battle. Do what works for the two of you. If you’re concerned that things aren’t going right, there are amazing lactation support groups that meet several times a week in your area. Check with your delivery hospital for times and get some support!
Track it. At Baby’s first doctor appointment, you will be asked how many wet and poopy diapers she is having each day. Unfortunately, you won’t know because you’re lucky to be wearing matching shoes. Try downloading an app like MammaBaby that can easily log everything from feeding times to diaper changes. It can even help you analyze poop color! Or go the old-fashioned route and jot notes down on a piece of paper. This all may seem tedious, but it can help your doctor to determine whether everything is on track with your baby’s internal development. Knowledge is power for your doctor, and the more you can give the better.
The dishes will wait. Before Baby arrived, you were kept busy cleaning every nook and cranny of the house in anticipation of this new life. That was then; this is now. Your main focus should be loving and snuggling your baby with your partner, not grimacing at the quarter-inch layer of dust on the fireplace. Housework is going to become a much lower priority for the time being, and that’s okay. If it’s really bugging you, consider asking a friend or family member to help out. (And if people offer help, take them up on it!)
Don’t create a third wheel. The first days and weeks at home can be bumpy for Dad. In many ways, he feels helpless. Be sure he’s getting equal time with the baby. Encourage him and let him make mistakes—because you’re making them too. If you’re nursing and he can’t help much at night, consider letting him have the morning shift while you take a shower and refresh. Let him have skin to skin time with the baby as well. It’s as close to nursing as he’s going to get, and it encourages bonding between Daddy and Baby.
Trust your instincts; don’t trust the Internet. You’re a parent and you know what is best for your baby. Listen to the inevitable advice that is coming but don’t feel obligated to accept it. Also beware the Internet. There are thousands of sites and threads that offer “expertise” for every imaginable baby concern. Talk to your pediatrician, the actual expert.
Bringing home a newborn is no easy task. This experience will test you emotionally, physically and mentally. Thankfully, it is all worth it. Take a deep breath, enjoy that kind of odd casserole your neighbor made for you and love on the new life that’s in your arms. There’s nothing better.
New Parent Bingo: Add up your points. When you reach 50, it’s time for a night out!
You called your dog by your baby’s name: 2 points
You forgot to eat breakfast. And lunch: 10 points per skipped meal
You spilled breast milk or formula on the floor: 5 points per ounce spilled
You bit your tongue when someone asked, “Will you be getting a nanny?”: 10 points
You made it through the entire day without having a “new parent” cry: 1000 points
Kim Antisdel is a freelance writer and interior design sales rep for Kansas City and surrounding areas. She lives in Liberty with her husband, two stepdaughters and infant son.
As always, please contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns.