Bringing home a newborn baby is exciting, scary, exhilarating and exhausting. It requires a just a wee bit of gear – the rear-facing baby seat with a newborn insert, to start – bottles (if you’re planning on letting others help out with baby feedings), itty bitty diapers, and a whole lotta patience.
No matter how prepared you think you are, you can never be fully prepared. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t try our best!
7 Things We Wish We Knew Before We Brought Home Our Newborns
This post won’t be about nursery items or baby gadgets, it’s about the real, time-honored and basic things we wish we’d had in place when we brought our newborns home. After a thorough poll of our staff, patients and friends – we’re bringing you the Top 5.
Afterwards, feel free to peruse, I Just Had My Baby, Now What? for some FAQs about new motherhood and nursing. Finally, feel free to give us a call here at Women’s Health Associates if you’re feeling desperate and need a little professional support.
- A Recommended List of Certified Lactation Consultants. Breastfeeding is a hot topic, but everyone can agree that if and when it’s possible, breast milk is the best possible food source for a newborn baby. It contains probiotics, antibodies and other micronutrients that are tailor made just for her. The problem is that breastfeeding can be a challenge, especially for first-time mothers, and especially in those first three to six weeks. However, if you have the support you need – especially in the form of a local La Leche League group and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), the odds are decidedly in you and baby’s favor.
Get a list of multiple IBCLC’s in your area (they aren’t one size fits all and you may like one more than another) BEFORE you bring baby home so you can call them ASAP if you have any problem. Read, 5 Lifesaving Breastfeeding Tips to start building your arsenal of self-support.
- Give Yourself a Babymoon. Move out of the way, Honey, it’s a Babymoon now. Our lives have gotten pretty busy, including lots of phone, computer and screen time. The problem is that your baby could care less about that stuff. And, for the first little while after bringing baby home, you will care less about that stuff too. Let family and friends know that you are planning to spend a Babymoon, enjoying your first few weeks as hunkered down with baby as possible. It will include lots of topless time in order to accommodate breastfeeding and skin-on-skin contact, which is important for baby bonding. You also need to sleep and get into your own rhythm with your baby.
While visits from your closest family and friends are important, limit them to a specific time period or have a code word you can use with your partner that means, “We need a break, get these people out of here so we can breastfeed/bathe/eat/hydrate/rest/cry/whatever – STAT!” DO hang a sign on your door that says something to the effect of, “We’re busy with a new baby and may not be able to come to the door. Thanks for stopping by. Leave a note or food on the doorstep and we’ll contact you when we can…”
- Be Prepared for the Umbilical Cord. The umbilical cord will eventually dry out and fall off. In the meantime, it’s important to keep it free from diaper bands (pre-cut newborn diapers usually do the trick or you can fold down/pin cloth diapers). Clean the area around the umbilical cord once a day with a little warm water (keep the cord itself dry) – no need to use anything else – and then gently pat dry the area. The cord remnants will smell pretty nasty towards the last day or three before it falls off – that’s totally normal!
- Set up Multiple Diaper Changing Stations. Eventually, you may get to a point where most diaper changes happen in the nursery or in the family room, or somewhere specific. In the beginning though, babies poop and pee like there’s no tomorrow. Save yourself the trouble of running back and forth through the house. Instead, fill a grocery sack with diapers, wipes, a diaper pad or soft, washable blanket, an extra onesie or two (baby poop can be runny and copious despite what you’ve hear about their “walnut-sized tummies…)and burp cloths. Place them in convenient locations throughout the house (under couches, coffee/end tables or on bookshelves) so you are never further than a few steps away from the rescue…er, changing station.
- Learn Your Body’s Warning Signs – And Honor Them. For new moms, there are a few warning signs your body will give that say, “Lay down, rest, we’re wearing out…”. One of them is increased drainage of lochia. This is the bloody, menstrual-like blood that follows a vaginal delivery. If your lochia begins to get heavier – rather than lighter – you need to scale activities back a notch. It means you’re doing too much and you need to lie down more. If you have a C-section, pay attention to higher-than-normal pain levels or increased redness/swelling at the incision site. These, too, say extra care is warranted.
Another sign is mastitis, a breast infection that is very common for breastfeeding moms. It’s characterized by hot, swollen, painful breasts – often with pink or red streaks. You may also run a low-grade fever. In most cases, nursing more often, gently massaging plugged milk ducts, using hot compresses and getting more rest will do the trick to clear it up. If it doesn’t ease up within 24- to 49-hours, call your doctor or midwife.
- Practice With the Breast Pump BEFORE Baby Arrives. Let us tell you when you don’t want to be experimenting with a breast pump – the first time you really need to use it. Instead, practice assembling/disassembling and using it before the baby comes. Obviously you don’t want to use it at great length – just long enough to know that it’s working correctly. This way, any kinks in the system will be worked out beforehand, and you won’t be trying to figure it out at work, when you’re super hormonal, tired, hot, cranky, crying….etc.
- Trust Your Gut Instincts. As a mother, you know what’s best for your baby. Other people may think they know best, but they don’t. Tune out what you need to from well-meaning family and friends so you can find that calm, quiet space inside yourself – it has 99.9% of the answers you’ll ever need. The other .1% of the time, call the wisest, clear-headed, no-nonsense, compassionate woman you know and she’ll probably have some sound advice for you.
Finally, on a bonus note: Remember that dads know what to do too, even when they’re doing it “all wrong.” The desire to micromanage your mate in regards to how things should be done is overwhelming. It’s also detrimental to your partnership as well as the father’s relationship with his new child. Resist the urge to correct and use the breaks as an opportunity to leave the scene and take advantage of some much needed self-care!
Looking to work with OBs and Midwives who provide unrivaled support and assistance in for mothers-to-be as well as mothers in the postpartum stage? Contact Women’s Health Associates and schedule an appointment. We look forward to becoming a part of your wellness team.