For months now, you have been waiting for this moment – your new baby is finally here.
Everyone in the delivery room is delighted, you are cuddling or feeding your new baby and can’t wait to spread the happy news.
But soon you’ll be transferred to your postnatal room or the ward room, or in some cases you’ll be going straight home (unless you are already at home) so then what happens? What comes next? What should you expect in the first few days after baby’s arrival?
Many of the day-to-day postnatal events and changes come as a complete surprise to new parents.
Here are five helpful hints to help you prepare for the first few days after birth.
5 helpful hints to help prepare for the first few days with a new baby
1. Be ready for a busy first day!
The first postnatal day is a hectic one for new parents. Not only are you learning about, caring for and feeding your baby, but there will be catering staff, cleaners, physios, doctors, photographers and visitors who will all want your attention.
Try to do some learning about normal infant behaviour, feeding and care before your baby is born, as you won’t have a lot of time on your hands once your baby arrives.
2. Ask your midwife everything you can
Many babies in the first 24 to 48 hours can be what we often describe as ‘mucousy’. When you arrive in the postnatal ward ask your midwife how to recognise and manage this common occurrence. Make sure you take advantage of your time with hospital staff and midwives – they can answer all your questions.
3. Gently wind-up long visits
Parents and visitors look to each other for cues to bring a visit to an end. Visitors don’t want to appear bad-mannered by staying for too little time and similarly parents feel rude asking visitors to leave. A simple ‘thank you for your visit, it has been lovely to see you’ might actually make your visitors feel comfortable to bring the visit to a close.
4. Don’t expect instant weight gain
Babies usually lose weight in the first few days. In general a weight loss of up to 10 per cent is acceptable, however always be guided by your individual health providers. Often babies begin to gain weight again by about day five.
5. Time baby’s feeds from start to start
It surprises many new parents that a baby’s feed time is taken from the beginning of the feed not the end of the feed. Imagine your baby starts feeding at 3pm, finishing at 4pm. Your baby wakes again at 7pm. This is considered four-hourly not three-hourly feeding.
The birth of a new baby is an extremely exciting day in any parent’s life, but those first few weeks with your baby are just as significant and just as challenging.
Nothing can really ever fully prepare you for all of the challenges that come with having a new baby. But by knowing what to expect in those first few days you can minimise the surprises and worries, and spend more time simply enjoying your baby!
– by Kate Griffin, qualified midwife and the founder of ‘Prepare to Parent’
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