We typically adhere to the idea that newborns only eat, sleep and cry. But the reality is that things aren’t as simple as all that; the first few days at home with your newborn can be an overwhelming experience.
That is why we offer you a simple guide to help you happily navigate through the first 24 hours with your newborn.
Since a newborn’s stomach is so tiny, your baby will only consume small quantities of milk frequently. Some babies want to be breastfed or bottle-fed every 2-3 hours, whereas others are hungry much more frequently. Your baby might announce his hunger with strong signals (loudly crying) or might opt for subtle gestures, like sucking his hands, moving her mouth or turning her head towards your breasts or the baby bottle.
During the first few days of life, your baby might lose about 7% of his weight. Although this is perfectly normal, you’ll want to feed your baby every 2 hours until he recovers his birth weight, which is why we recommend a visit to the pediatrician for proper guidance.
Newborns also sleep a lot, which is why you might need to wake up your little one in order to feed her and keep her awake while feeding. You can do this by gently rubbing her head or back, and talking to her. The goal is for your baby to have the same weight she had at birth by the second week of life.
Changes in your body
After giving birth, your body goes through hormonal changes, the postpartum recovery period and lack of sleep. As your mind tries to adapt to your new reality, there will be moments of tears, laughter, anger, excitement and a wide array of emotions in brief bursts.
You’ll realize that meeting your baby’s needs will take a great deal of time, regardless of how small his necessities might be. It’s entirely possible that you might be unable to take care of some of your needs, such as taking a shower or finishing your meal.
During the first two weeks after birth, you will go through big hormonal changes. This melancholy period won’t last long and usually disappears during this time. But postpartum depression affects one in every 10 women, so obtaining treatment is as important for you as it is for your baby. Speaking to and seeking support from your spouse or your family members also helps to assuage this normal emotional imbalance.
One way to fight the postpartum “blues” is to dedicate time to pamper and take care of yourself. Support from family members and friends is also crucial. If you can afford it, hire someone to help you manage domestic chores or recruit family members or friends who offer to help you do laundry, cook or clean the house.
Make the most of when your baby is sleeping by resting, taking a nap or a warm shower. It’s essential that you recharge your batteries before feeding your baby, change his diaper or put him to sleep again.
Keeping track of when and where your baby sleeps will help you identify her sleeping patterns and answer the questions that your pediatrician might ask. Luckily, newborns have an outstanding ability to sleep just about anywhere, although a warm and cozy place helps them sleep longer because it reminds them of the comfort of the womb.
Putting your baby to sleep
Swaddling your baby recreates the environment she was used to before being born, and also prevents her from waking up due to naturally-occurring reflexes of her arms and legs.
Regardless of where you put your baby to sleep, always remember to lay her on her back and to remove any blanket, comforter, pillows or toys – in order to minimize the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Remember to never leave your baby alone if she falls asleep on a sofa or a bed, because there’s a chance she might fall off even if newborn babies aren’t yet able to roll over.
Once baby is sound asleep, don’t be surprised to hear strange noises. If it sounds like she has a cold when she breathes, that’s because babies breathe naturally through their noses. Since your baby is as of yet unable to wipe her own nose, you can use a bulb syringe to clean it, which in turn, will allow baby to breathe, sleep and even eat better.
This article first appeared in LatinaMoms.com