After the roller coaster ride that pregnancy is, you have finally got to see and touch your baby. The fragile little being so much dependent on you, looks adorable and you have forgotten the pregnancy troubles and labor pains that you have been through. One look at that face and you melt like butter in the sun. You’d feel that all a newborn does is eat, sleep and poop – which may sound simple when you read it, but is it actually that easy? After you leave the hospital with your little bundle of joy, you will have some surprises- some of which will feel utterly joyous while others will be somewhat overwhelming. Knowing what to expect and being prepared for the same mentally will go a long way to help you bond better with your ball of fur, so let’s run a quick glance on what is in store for you and your baby when you come back home from the hospital.
Bringing Your Baby Home From The Hospital
Your little baby has a tiny stomach, and so she will hungry every few hours. Each feeding she will be able to eat about 1 to 3 ounces of milk, so you will have to feed her every 2-3 hours. Newborns are generally sleepy, so you will need to wake her up to feed. Some babies may give out strong indications of being hungry by crying, while others may just give subtle hints like sucking on the thumb or smacking the lips. That said, when you feed your baby, rub her back or head, talk to her and encourage her to stay awake while she is nursing. You can also read our article on how often should newborns be fed.
Typically, newborns lose about 5% to 7% of their body weight. This is because the flow of oxygen to the baby’s organs is increasing, facilitated by the fluid is that is moving to her blood vessels. The excess fluid is being shed through urination, and you will notice that the baby is weighing less when you get her home from the time when she was born. You should aim at feeding the baby every 2 hours or so and the target should be to get the baby back to her birth weight in about 2 weeks time.
Newborn Burps, Hiccups and Spit-Ups
The biggest cue to burping your baby is her being uncomfortable or fussy after a feed. Don’t yet start to bang on her back, but gently massage her back in soft circular motions or hold her while resting her head on your shoulder. Burp your baby when you switch breasts, or after she is done nursing. If you notice your baby hiccuping, do not worry as they are normal and cause no harm to the little ones. So is spitting, unless you feel it is excessive or the baby arches her back or cries loudly when she spits. In such cases, you should call the pediatrician right away as the baby could need treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
There is no escaping this one! Now how much and how often (and how long and how loud) your baby will cry will depend on your baby only, and all parameters are subject to change. Most newborns are quiet and sleepy the first few days of life, and crying bouts usually start at about two weeks, increasing till about 8 weeks and slowly taper off to some reasonably agreeable situations. You will be able to figure and comprehend your baby’s cries with time, and there will be times when you will run a dead end trying to know what is causing the fuss. We’d suggest that you do not overly criticize yourself and understand that newborns are meant to cry, and there are times when you can do nothing about it.
Newborn Pee and Poop
Breastfed newborns pees atleast 5 times a day, while a formula fed baby may wet something like 10 diapers. Now, it is important to understand the that ‘normal range’ for newborns is pretty large, so do not jump to conclusions hastily. Like pee schedules, newborns may pass stools more if they are breastfed, because formula takes longer to digest. A newborn baby may poop once everyday to once in 5 days, while a baby on formula may poop one every other day to many everyday. You will have to track your baby’s peeing and pooping schedules as these will be asked by the doctor on your baby’s first month check up. Though there is a lot of variation in what is normal poop and what is not, the key is to be tuned to your baby and inform the doctor if sudden changes are observed.
Because newborns have tiny tummies, they will not be sleeping for longer duration and would feel hungry sooner. However, adding up on all the short naps, your newborn will typically sleep for 16-18 hours everyday. Newborns tend to care the least about where they are sleeping, though they do prefer the snugginess and warmth resembling the womb- and that is where swaddling comes into play. No matter where your baby takes her naps, make sure she is always on her back and never leave her unattended, even though you feel that she cannot yet roll over. Also, never leave pillows and blankets around, and hence reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Basic hygiene routine needs to be followed for a newborn also, though she does not need the bathtub yet. Avoiding wetting the umbilical cord stump while it is still hanging. Use unscented wipes or a clean, damp cloth cleaning the folds of the skin and the private parts. Sponge baths are good enough for your baby the first 2 weeks or so, and remember too much bathing can dry out your baby’s skin. Your baby’s skin is still developing and it may not look as glossy as the commercials show. Rashes, cradle caps and other skin irritations are pretty common and your baby’s skin will gain the look and feel you want.
Who does not want to dress their babies in all those adorable clothes and fancy dresses? We all do, the frills and the puffs look lovely but they might have to wait because your baby is so sensitive as of now. Comfort and easiness take the priority as of now, as ease in changing and your baby’s sensitive skin is of important concern. T shirts and pyjamas, one piece suits and soft dresses can be a good bet, and if your baby feels sensitive at the umbilical cord, buy clothes that snap at the side. Wondering if your baby is cold? Well, adapt the age old adage that says ‘what you are wearing plus one’.
Your Transition From The Hospital To The Home
Bringing a baby home is a life changing event, and you should know that you will take some time to adapt to it. Hormonal fluctuations, healing processes, sleep deprivation, anxiousness, emotional instability etc. all will be playing havoc on you and add to this a newborn who has ‘simple needs’ that take up most of you – it can be powerfully overwhelming. Postpartum depression is not uncommon, and the sooner you know the signs, the better. Whether you have delivered vaginally or through a C-section, you need to give your body some time to heal and deal with the changes. If you are breastfeeding your baby, the real deal will strike when milk starts to come, which is often the 3rd day from the birth. You will notice your breasts getting fuller and firmer, and you might have to deal with breast engorgement and other breastfeeding problems. Stay as calm as possible, relax as much as you can, take help, ask for it, and take your time. With time, patience and love, you both will adjust to new and happy days ahead.