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Bringing Your Baby Home from the Hospital

Your hospital bag is packed; your nursery is all set up. Everything that you have control over may be ready, but what do you do when you bring your baby home?

Newborns are truly interesting creatures. They are cute, fragile and unpredictable. With crying being the only way they have to communicate, the first few days and even weeks can be very stressful.

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When you were at the hospital, doctors and nurses were constantly checking over your baby, monitoring and recording everything that went in and out of them. When you were ready to be discharged home, a nurse probably gave you a ton of paperwork and had a lecture type discussion about several things. It was a lot to take in. You loaded baby into their car seat and headed home.

All the extra hands, monitoring and attention is no longer there.

When you first come home, it’s not unusual to have a baby who wants to do nothing more than sleep. The nurses at the hospital were probably adamantly concerned that your baby eats every several hours. It’s also not unusual to have to wake your baby up to feed them and several times during the “meal.”

If you’re breastfeeding, frequent feedings are important to help encourage your milk supply.

A general guideline is that formula fed infants eat every three to four hours and breastfed babies eat about every two to three. This is just a general guideline as each baby has their own needs. If it’s during the day and your baby has gone more than five hours without eating, they need to be woken up and fed. Allowing your baby to have extended sleep periods without eating greatly increases his chance of dehydration.

A hard concept for many parents to get accustomed to is being noisy during the day, especially when their baby is sleeping. It’s very important for you to carrying on about your tasks regardless of what your baby is doing. It’s ok to run the vacuum, have the T.V. on, play music etc. Your baby has to get used to sleeping with a noisy surrounding. This helps teach your baby that day time is busy time, and night time is quiet time. This also helps your baby sleep when there is activity going on. If you make your house completely quiet during the day, afraid you’re going to wake your child, every noise is going to disrupt their naps.

The first few days, even weeks, are usually pretty uneventful. Depending on the season, you’ll probably only need diapers, wipes, a safe place for baby to sleep and several changes of clothes. Babies have a habit of having bowel movements either during a feed or directly afterwards. Those first couple BM’s may take you by surprise also. Meconium stools may still be present, that thick, black, mucusy stool. Depending on what you’re feeding your baby will influence their stools. You could expect thinner, yellow “seedy” stools from a breastfed baby and darker, thicker stools from formula.

Your baby’s digestive tract is still maturing. Although your grandmother might have done it with all her kids, you should never give your newborn anything but formula or breast milk. They don’t need water or juice and they don’t need solid food. Feeding a child this young could cause them to aspirate or even choke. Their brains are developing at an extremely rapid rate. They need all the fluids and nutrition given to them from breast milk or formula. They do not need extra fluids.

For the first few weeks, you’ll find that all your baby is going to do is eat, sleep, spit up and mess diapers. They are totally dependent on you for all their needs. Since they can’t speak, when they need something, they will cry. At first, you’re not going to have any idea what they need. Most parents find that they try several things each time their baby cries. Your baby might cry because they are hungry, are cold or too warm, messed their diaper, have a stomach ache, are over stimulated or possibly just want held. It is impossible to spoil a newborn. As new as being a new parent is to you, being a baby is a new experience to your child. They were just in a nice snug warm environment and now everything is bright and loud.

*If at any point you become frustrated due to your child, it is ok to place him safe in their crib and walk away for a few minutes until you’re more relaxed. Newborns and babies have fragile neck structures that cannot withstand being shaken. Doing so could cause severe damage, even death to your child.*

After your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you can then give your baby their first bath. If you would like photos of this milestone, make sure someone else is there with you. You won’t be able to hold a wet slippery baby and take pictures. Until the cord falls off, you should clean the umbilical site with every diaper change. Cleaning the site is easy. You can use cotton balls wetted with rubbing alcohol or alcohol wipes provided from the hospital.

Apart from not knowing what your crying baby is crying for, the hardest part about bringing a new baby home is taking care of yourself. You’ve probably heard many times that you should sleep when your baby sleeps. It can be weeks, even months, before your baby starts sleeping through the night. Many moms feel as if they have to be like “Superwoman.” They worry about making sure the home and everyone else is taken care of and forget about themselves. Taking naps while your baby is napping will help compensate for the lack of continuous rest at night.

Remember when everyone was offering to help? Don’t be afraid to ask for some. Have someone come over and watch your baby while you sleep. Call a family to help with dinner or maybe do some light cleaning. Discuss with your significant other about dividing up the night duty. Even if you’re breastfeeding, your partner can get up and bring the baby to you.

Keep in mind that life is not always going to be like this. Sleepless nights won’t last forever. If you don’t have outside help, it’s ok to let the house get dusty and let the laundry pile up. You need rest and nutrition. A run down mom is no good to anyone.

As hard as it sounds to leave your baby in someone else’s care, planning personal time is just as important and is part of taking care of yourself. Having your own “Mommy time” gives you something to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. You could plan for 30min-1 hr trip to the library or shopping. Maybe just mommy time allotted to allow you a nice long quite soak in the tub without interruptions. You need a break from your baby and it allows your baby some bonding time with someone else.

When it comes to bringing your new baby home, try and take it easy. Take care of yourself and enjoy your new child. They don’t stay small and so dependent long.

© Rebecca Pillar 2008


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