Meet Your Newborn Baby: 7 Things Every New Parent Should Know About Newborns by Rachael Daniels CPNP-PC, CLC
Congratulations, you've had your first baby and you just got home. But now what?! You've waited for 40 weeks for this, but bringing a new baby home can be scary. I remember thinking, "Oh my God, what do I do now?" Here are a few things you can do to get to know your newborn now that they're on the outside:
- He's crying a lot. How do I get him to calm down? Patting him on the bottom while rocking, gently touching him on the head, holding him skin to skin, wrapping him so that he feels snuggled, breastfeeding, singing and talking to Baby are very soothing. He spent 10 months in your womb listening to your voice and your heartbeat, and he still loves hearing it now.
- Respond to her cries. Crying is your newborn’s way of telling you how she feels. She will cry if she's too cold or too hot, wet, hungry or hurting. In the first three to four weeks you will learn what each of those cries sound like and be able to respond accordingly, but it will take time. Newborns love to be held and no, you cannot hold her too much!
- He will have his days and nights mixed up. Your baby was so used to being rocked to sleep all day while in the womb, it will take about six to eight weeks for him to learn to sleep more at night than during the day, and the first few weeks are the hardest for him to adjust to. Yes, that's right – expect to be up a lot at night. Newborns can't go for longer than four hours without eating in those first few weeks of life because they are growing a lot and gaining weight. To do that, they need to eat eight to 12 times in 24 hours. If you're breastfeeding, he will be nursing a lot! Feed him on demand as this will help regulate how much milk you will make. And trust me, it will be enough.
- Eat, sleep and feed your baby. You don't need to worry about cleaning the house, doing laundry or making meals. Your only job is to rest, nourish your body and feed your baby. Your partner can help by making you meals and snacks, changing Baby and holding Baby while you nap. Lactating is a huge job and you are also recovering from your baby’s birth, so take this time to actually rest – it is so important. Enlist the help of family, if you are lucky enough to have friends and family around you. Say yes to them bringing dinner and doing a load of laundry. The first few weeks of Baby's life is so precious. Enjoy the simplicity of feeding and holding your baby.
- You cannot hurt Baby's umbilical cord. I see so many families who worry about the cord. It is meant to dry out. It can ooze and yes, it's OK to wipe the gunk off! You will not hurt your baby, I promise! If that cord is just not coming off after three weeks or starts to have an odor, then your pediatrician or nurse practitioner can help.
- Baby's skin will dry and peel. Your baby has been in liquid for 37-plus weeks, so their skin is not used to being without moisture. It will dry and peel, and that is OK. Your baby's skin is very thin and very sensitive, so you do not need soaps or tons of lotions. As a matter of fact, they can make your baby's skin dry out even more. Your newborn does not need a bath every day. Really, the only areas you need to check often are his or her diaper area and their folds (think neck, arm pits and groin) because these are the areas that can get the dirtiest. It really is OK to spot clean those areas with warm water and wash cloth and pat dry. A weekly or twice monthly full bath (after the cord has fallen off) is really all they need, because you are changing that diaper so much, you are cleaning the dirtiest part.
- Babies get lots of rashes. There are a lot of skin rashes that affect newborns, many due to Mom's hormones that were passed to Baby in utero. Most of these will go away on their own – you do not need a special cream, lotion or soap. In fact, many babies will have breast buds and vaginal discharge. Again, those are due to maternal hormones and will resolve on their own. You do not need to worry, but if you do your pediatrician can help.
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