When you’re approaching your due date, thoughts of labour and birth will no doubt be taking up most of your time, but what happens once you’ve brought your baby home? And how do you prepare for such a big change?
This article hopes to cover the changes to your body, what to expect from yourself and your baby and signs to watch out for to ensure your baby is healthy throughout those first few weeks.
Firstly, making sure you have all the right provisions will help you feel more prepared and ease some of the stress from you and your partner. The first few weeks with your baby will consist of changing up to 15 nappies a day, so make sure you’ve stocked up on nappies as well as lightweight, soft and easy to remove baby clothing. Newborn babies sleep for around 16 hours a day, so you’ll need a comfy, safe crib as well as a pram which reclines, as babies aren’t supposed to be propped upright just yet. Newborns love to be close to you, so a baby sling is good to keep you on the move as well as giving your baby some close contact. A safe car seat is invaluable for getting around as well as for the journey back from the hospital, so getting this early can cut out some worry. Other items you might want to secure before your baby comes are: a baby bath, around 5 bibs, bottles, nursing bras and pads, and formula milk if you aren’t planning on breastfeeding.
So now you’ve got the house and home prepared, it’s time to prepare yourself!
What Happens to your Baby?
What to expect from your baby after the birth: Within five minutes of being born, your baby will be given an apgar test. This is a quick test to check your baby’s colour, breathing, reflexes, muscle tone and heart rate. Your baby may also be given a vitamin K shot straight after the birth to prevent vitamin K deficiency. It is quite common for newborn babies to have jaundice, and so don’t worry too much if this is the case. You and your baby will be kept in hospital until the jaundice has passed. Also, sometime in the first week of your baby’s life they will be screened for rare conditions such as phenylketonuria (PKU). As well as these initial tests, your baby will have routine checks with your midwife regularly over the next couple of months. You’ll notice your baby’s skin start to smooth within the hours after the birth, and they will most likely be very sleepy. For the first few weeks, your baby will be waking up every 3 hours for feeding and nappy changing. They will need bathing 2-3 times a week and need a lot of skin to skin contact.
What Should You Do?
What to expect from yourself after the birth: You’ll feel extremely emotional after the birth and for the following few days. This is totally normal so don’t worry if you’re weeping an excessive amount! Your body will be changing too; you won’t look pregnant anymore, but your stomach will still be round and soft. When breastfeeding you may notice abdominal cramping, known as ‘afterpains’, as well as the breasts becoming bigger as they stock up on milk. You may also experience bleeding for the next few weeks, which whilst irritating, isn’t anything to worry about.
Once you’ve become a new mum, you might find you’re worrying about your baby non-stop. To keep your baby as safe as possible, follow these simple rules:
-Hold your baby close to you when handing him or her to someone else. They should slide their arms under yours before you take yours away. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone holding your baby, then don’t feel obliged to hand them over. Explain that you would like to keep holding him/her.
-Never let your baby experience jerky or shaky movements and don’t allow anyone to smoke around your baby.
-Try not to cover your baby’s umbilical stump with their nappy. If it gets wet during a sponge bath, gently towel it dry. (The stump should fall off within two weeks of birth.)
-Your baby should go to sleep on his back, without a pillow or comforter in the crib.
A common problem experienced my new mums is not knowing when to call the doctor. You don’t know whether you’re being over-cautious yet you don’t want to risk not ringing either. Generally, it is safer to call the doctor then to let a problem go untreated, and if you notice any of the following, you should definitely call a doctor. (Not all of these are serious but still may need treatment.)
-Consistent, terribly upsetting sounding, high pitched crying.
-A high temperature (over 100F.)
-Blood in their poo.
-Projectile vomiting and/or persistent diarrhoea.
-Yellow skin or eyes.
-Unusual discharge from navel, eyes, genital or eyes.
-Patches of white in baby’s mouth.
-A rash (especially one which doesn’t disappear under pressure.)
Enjoy your Time
Finally, to prepare yourself for the first few weeks with your newborn it’s important to remember that you’ll never get those weeks back, so try to enjoy them! You’ll have lots of guests and visitors but remember that you and your baby come first. If you feel up for company then great, invite close friends and family members who won’t mind making the tea (or even doing a bit of housework if they fancy it.) If you are too tired to receive guests then let them know, they will understand. Try to sleep when your baby is sleeping and put everything else out of your mind. Ask your partner and family to help with any odd-jobs you need doing. Finding time to cook and eat may prove difficult so ask for help with cooking or order-in lots of healthy ready meals to freeze before the birth. Try to keep energy-boosting snacks to hand and you’ll also want to drink lots of liquids, especially if you’re breastfeeding.
If you’re feeling very anxious about the weeks after the birth it might be worth checking out some newborn preparation classes before you give birth, even if it’s just to give you some peace of mind. So now you know to expect once your baby is born, you can go back to enjoying the last couple of weeks of your pregnancy!