Life after labor is very different from what you’re used to. You may have had a pretty regular schedule beforehand, but throwing a newborn into the mix means your schedule is your baby’s schedule. After you get through the first month (or three), your new family will start to get used to each other, and your little one will develop a more consistent schedule. In the meantime, here are a few things to expect from the first month of parenthood.
The most important things you have to accomplish in the first week after getting home from the hospital are:
- Scheduling a pediatric appointment for Baby
- Schedule a six week check up with your obstetrician
- Resting and recovering from labor (and the nine months before it)
- Getting used to the demands of a newborn
Most experts recommend getting your infant to his first pediatric appointment within five days after being born. Expect a general check-up, and bring a list of questions (and your camera, since chances are good this will be your baby’s first outing).
As for the rest, call in some help from your partner or a family member to take care of meals and housework so Mom can focus on some much-needed rest. Sleep when your baby sleeps, drink plenty of water (especially if you’re breastfeeding), and don’t push it -- there’s plenty of time for exercise and adventures in a few weeks when your body has begun to heal.
General Infant Care
The majority of your first few weeks as a new parent will be mainly changing diapers, cleaning bottles or breastfeeding, and watching your newborn sleep 20 hours a day. Most newborns have about six to eight wet diapers and one to two dirty diapers a day. Expect meals to occur every two to four hours, followed by some solid burping. Plan for a bath once or twice a week.
During all of this, keep an eye out for typical newborn issues like cradle cap, baby acne, jaundice and heat rashes. Cradle cap and baby acne will eventually go away on their own (although using a soft scrubber on the scalp can help get rid of cradle cap faster, and coconut oil is gentle on infant skin for baby acne). For naps, carefully swaddle your newborn and lay her on her back to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Development and Health Care
The first month is one of the best times of being a parent. Most moms are on maternity leave, which means you get to hang out with your newborn all day. Dads on paternity leave, although much rarer, have the same great to do list. While you’re hanging out, there are things you can do even this early in life.
Offer baby about ten minutes of tummy time two or three times a day to work neck muscles. Similarly, spending too much time in his crib on his back can cause positional plagiocephaly -- a flattening of the back of the baby’s head. Get to know your newborn. Have fun with her. Read books, talk to her, show her fun patterns (very close up; newborn eyes can only see about a foot away).