Giving birth is a huge event and it’s completely normal to feel a little off afterward. It’s a whole new way of life and things can get overwhelming pretty quickly. Many expectant mothers feel relief and more prepared when they do research and learn as much as they can about what to expect after giving birth. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn some of the most important parts of bringing a baby into the world. We touched in several different areas, so let’s dive right in!
Getting Help After Birth
Many first-time mothers feel like they need to do everything on their own, but this can quickly run your energy down. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support to get you through this stage. Take a look below at a few ideas of where you can get help.
The staff at the hospital is there to give help and support, so don’t be afraid to ask them for assistance. Not only can you ask them to take your baby to the nursery so you can catch a few hours of sleep, but you can also talk with many specialists including a lactation consultant if you plan to breastfeed.
You can also ask your immediate family, such as your spouse, older children, or your parents. This doesn’t mean they’ll have your children all of the time, so take a shower or a quick nap to help refresh you and take away some of that exhaustion. If they ask if they can help, give them suggestions and let them.
Close Relatives & Friends
Finally, you could ask for help from your close relatives or friends. This doesn’t have to be anything too crazy and you could just ask them to do something simple like prepare dinner or help you around the house. With that said, though, don’t feel like you have to accept help if you truly don’t want it.
Balancing Resting and Child-Care
As a first-time parent, chances are that you’ve heard everyone tell you to sleep now because you won’t be getting much rest. While this is true, there are a few things you can do to help balance caring for your newborn and getting the rest you need, which we’ll talk about next.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
One of the easiest ways to help you balance resting and child-care is by sleeping when your baby sleeps. It doesn’t matter if the chores need to be done or if you need to run minor errands because you need to make sure you’re well-rested. Those things can wait, so rest as much as possible when the baby does.
Another way to achieve this is by accepting any help that is offered or asking for someone to help you. You don’t have to feel bad for getting the help and, most of the time, they wouldn’t have asked if they didn’t want to help out. Try and get as much help as you can to make things a little easier.
As stated above, you don’t have to worry about getting the chores done or running small errands. Those things can wait and you should get all of the rest that you can. If something absolutely needs done, ask for help or see if one of your family members can get it done for you.
Finally, share all of your newborn duties with your spouse. Not only can you take turns during the night, but you can use the same method during the day. The exact arrangement will differ from relationship to relationship, but the most important thing is that everyone is getting as much rest as possible.
Handling a Newborn
It’s important to remember that newborns are very delicate and need to be handled carefully. This can be scary for first-time parents, especially those that haven’t been around newborns much. Take a look below at a few newborn handling basics.
Wash Your Hands
Newborns don’t have a strong immune system and you never know what kinds of germs you have on your hands. Before handling the baby, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands to kill any germs. If you don’t have time to wash them or aren’t around a sink, you could use hand sanitizer to do the same job.
Support the Neck & Head
Since a newborn has very weak neck and head muscles, it’s crucial that you support both of these areas. When holding your baby, make sure the head and neck are cradled in your arm or pillow. You’ll also want to keep your hand in that position when you’re holding the baby upright or when you’re laying them down.
No Shaking or Rough Play
Shaking your baby or horseplaying with them could cause serious injuries, including bleeding in the brain or even death. This means you should never shake the baby or do things like throw them up in the air or bounce them on your knee, even if you don’t think it’s too hard or too rough.
Finally, make sure your baby is securely fastened in things like strollers and car seats. Not only can this help protect them, but it can reduce the chances of serious injuries in the event of an accident. You’ll want to make sure the straps are tight and position the harness right above the chin. It’s crucial to do this correctly and it’s a good idea to practice before the baby arrives.
Bonding and Soothing Children
Bonding with your baby is one of the greatest experiences you’ll experience and sometimes you need to do a little extra to soothe them. Below we listed a few tips for bonding and soothing your little one.
Skin to Skin
One of the very first things you can do with your baby is called skin-to-skin. Basically, as soon as the baby comes out, you can put them right on your skin and just love them. Skin-to-skin can help calm both you and your baby, and it can help give you both a special bond. It also releases hormones that help things like temperature regulation, blood sugar stabilization, and promotion of healing.
You can also give your little one cuddles. After doing skin-to-skin, you can cuddle your baby anytime you want. Some moms will always have skin-to-skin contact, while others will cuddle through clothes. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to cuddle your baby and you can do something like sing or talk to them while you’re cuddling.
Some babies enjoy getting an infant massage. You won’t want to do this too hard or rough, but you can gently rub your baby. There are many videos and guides online that can help give you tips, but you should talk to your doctor and see what they recommend. Keep in mind, some babies won’t enjoy this and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Finally, a great way to soothe your baby is by swaddling them. This has many benefits and the nurses at the hospital will teach you how to do it if you aren’t sure. If you’re still having issues, you can get special swaddle blankets that make the process easier. Swaddling helps calm babies and has many benefits, some of which we’ll talk about later.
Benefits of Swaddling
When you have your baby, there’s a high chance that the hospital nurses will swaddle them and some might not know why they do this. Truth is, there are quite a few benefits to swaddling and they can have a positive impact on your baby. Look below to see some of these benefits.
Mimics the Womb
Going from your warm and safe womb to this big world can be quite a shock to babies and swaddling can help give them the feeling of still being in your tummy. This makes the move much easier and it could reduce the chances of any issues with things like sleeping or regulating body levels.
Reduces The Moro Reflex
Swaddling can also help reduce The Moro Reflex, which is your baby’s startle reflex. For the first few months, your baby will probably startle awake and have the feeling of falling, which can disrupt sleep because of the random jerks. Swaddling can help stop these movements and make your baby feel snug and secure.
Helps Reduce Colic
It can also help reduce colic, which is when your baby has bouts of crying for no apparent reason. Not only is this stressful, but many first-time parents feel like they are failing. The truth is that colic is quite common and it’s thought to be a result of the developing digestive system. Swaddling can put light pressure on your baby’s tummy, which can get rid of gas and belly discomfort.
Helps Regulate Temperature
Most newborns have a little bit of trouble regulating their body temperature and a swaddling blanket can help with this. With that said, though, it’s important to make sure you’re using a blanket with breathable fabric to ensure your little one doesn’t overheat. Temperature regulation is important because injury or death can occur if your baby is too cold or too hot.
Diapering is going to be one of those things that you’ll deal with for a long time, so it’s important to decide which type of diapering method is best for you. In addition to talking about both cloth and disposable diapers, we also included sections on wipes and a few products that can be used after changing the diaper.
Cloth diapers have been gaining in popularity and there are quite a few benefits to using them. For starters, cloth diapers don’t produce as much waste as disposable because they can be reused. There are plenty of cute options to choose from and they are relatively easy to wash out. Keep in mind, this might be expensive at first, but you can end up saving money in the end.
The great thing about disposable diapers is that they are easy to use and you can get them from a large number of places. There are many different brands to choose from and they can be changed quickly. They are small enough to carry around and you can wrap them up and throw them right out after changing your baby.
Depending on your preferences, you can buy disposable wipes or make your own reusable ones at home. If you’ll be using disposable wipes, the good news is that they are available at most places and there are different kinds to choose from, including fragrance-free and sensitive. On the other hand, using a reusable wipe means all you have to do is clean it out really well and use it again.
Creams & Powders
Finally, you’ll want to consider what types of creams, ointments, or powders you’ll want to use. Some parents will choose to use these types of products after every change, while others will only use them if their baby is a little red or sore. It’s ultimately up to you and there are even completely-natural products available.
Basics of Bathing Newborns
Before wrapping up, we wanted to include some tips for bathing your baby. It can seem intimidating at first, but you’ll get the hang of things once you’ve done it a few times. Remember, you should give your baby around two or three baths a week for the first year to prevent skin drying.
You’ll want to do sponge baths when your baby first comes home and you should continue to do them until the umbilical cord falls off and, if you have a boy, when the circumcision is completely healed. You’ll want to lay your baby on a flat surface after getting everything ready. You can then use warm water and soap to clean and rinse them off. Once done, all you have to do is dry the baby.
Once the umbilical cord falls off and the circumcision is healed, you’ll be able to start giving tub baths. The best thing to do is to use a baby bath that’s specifically designed for little ones. You’ll want to put a little water in the bottom of the tub and put the baby bath in before placing your baby in. You can then clean them with gentle soap and rinse them using a small cup.
You’ll also want to make sure you know what to do after giving your baby a bath. You’ll want to have everything you’ll need ready, such as clothes, a hairbrush, and lotion. After getting your baby out of the bath, dry them completely and get them dressed. Some moms will put lotion on their babies to ensure they don’t get dry skin.
Now that you’ve read our guide for first-time parents, we hope that you feel a little more prepared to bring your bundle of joy into the world. These are some very important parts of raising your newborn, but most of the things you’ll learn with time. There will be hiccups but just remember that you can do this and you’ll get through it. We hope you have an easy labor and a quick birth!