What To Expect In The First Few Weeks
During the first week postpartum, you (and your partner) will experience many emotional changes, which can range from elation to feelings of inadequacy to frustration. It is too bad that this new little person doesn't come with an instruction booklet! Never hesitate to call your doctor or pediatrician with concerns.
The good news is, however, there are numerous resources available, from experienced family and friends, to educational books and health care providers. Preparation is always best done in advance, so it is a good idea to attend newborn baby classes before delivery. Some classes are offered after delivery, but it is good if you can do this before in case you are too tired to attend after delivery or if you want to spend the time bonding with your new family. Topics usually covered include: how to bathe, burp, diaper, and swaddle the baby; how to dress the baby; circumcision care; and eye, ear, nose, nail, and umbilical cord care. Car seat safety is usually also discussed.
During this exciting and demanding week, you and your newborn baby will be learning a lot about each other. With practice (and you'll get plenty) your skills, such as dressing, feeding, or diapering the baby, will improve as will your confidence. Expect to feel like a novice at first.
Whether you decide to nourish your infant at the bottle or breast, it will be quite often and will require effort. This wonderfully challenging week will be filled with feedings, burping, diaper changes, sleep and then more feedings, burping, and diaper and clothing changes. By the end of the first week, most new parents, while still feeling overwhelmed at times, have developed a "routine" which can help immensely.
Remember, above all, that your baby is a newborn for only a few short weeks. Set aside everything else – thank-you notes for baby presents, housework, cooking, laundry other than essentials – and focus on the basics: eat, sleep, and feed your baby. Ask for help from others to deal with other household issues. Sleep whenever your baby closes her eyes, because you can assume that she will be wide awake and ready to play come nightfall. Everything else can wait!
Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.