A newborn is a precious gift, and a splendid joy. It can also be a terrifying thing. When you are in the hospital with all the doctor’s and nurses just a button click away, everything feels fine and great and you are so happy. Then you go home, and while you are glad to be getting out of the uncomfortable hospital, you become terrified as you realize that you are now solely responsible for the well-being of this helpless little baby.
Questions start to run through your mind, what do I do? Will I know what to do why she cries? All of a sudden you are very overwhelmed, and you are begging your husband to take you back to the safety and comfort of the hospital. These feelings are very common and are nothing to be ashamed of. It is a terrifying thing, bringing your first baby home.
The truth is for all first time mom’s out there who are expecting, there will be bumps along the way. You will make mistakes, and it is OK, everyone does. Mistakes are essential for ensuring that we all grow and evolve and mature over time. The best part about being a part of a mommy group is that you have people who have been there before and have made these mistakes and can pass on their knowledge to you.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing how to take care of your baby right away, they don’t come with manuals or any instructions. We all just kind of wing it until we are fairly comfortable with our ability. Though, I am not sure we ever are no matter how old our kids are. There are some things that you should not do that first week with a newborn, and here are 15 of them.
15 Go Outside
We all know as a new mom, it is important to not isolate yourself inside. It is important to rejoin the real world as soon as possible, but maybe not that first week. Other than doctor’s check-ups there is really no reason why a first time mom and her baby need to go out that first week. It is a world filled with germs and other bacteria that would not be ideal to expose a newborn too.
This is the time to call on your support systems and ask them to help out. If you need some groceries, write a list and send your partner out to pick them up. If you just want to go out to get some fresh air, call up a grandmother to come and snuggle with the baby while you just go sit outside or go to the local coffee shop to get some java.
14 Have A Lot Of People In Their Face
A new baby is very exciting, and you will probably have tons of people that want to come over and fawn over you and the new baby, ok maybe not you, just the baby. This is not something that should be done that first week. First of all, we have those pesky germs that we talked about. You also want this first week to be a special bonding time for baby with mom and dad.
It is best to hold this off for a few weeks, it may be hard to say no but it is important that you express your wishes and that they are respected. If you do not want to have to deal with saying no, hire yourself a buffer. Someone like dad or even your mother to ward off people. Let them know that the baby is here and that mom and dad will let them know when it is a good time to visit.
13 Give Them A Bath
This one might seem a little crazy, but you probably want to hold off on giving your newborn a full blown bath until week 2. We see this as gross, because as adults we need to shower every day (or every other), we need this to function and because our bodies are very different then the little ones. They do not sweat like we do, they also don’t really do anything, so they are not getting that dirty.
Also, it is important to not submerge the baby in water until the umbilical cord falls off, so if you do need to give them a little wash, you will have to do a sponge bath. Newborns do not tend to like sponge baths, so it is really best for your mental health to wait until you can fully submerge them in nice warm water. Also, if they still have any vernix on them, it is the best moisturizer so you want to let all that soak in as long as possible.
12 Do Not Have High (Or Any) Expectations
We as moms make crazy expectations for ourselves. When we are pregnant, we have expectations of what kind of birth we will have, and what kind of mother we will be. You learn very quickly that having expectations in anything that involves pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is very dangerous. That first week home with the baby; expect nothing.
Do not have expectations that the house will be clean, the dishes will be done or that you won’t be eating take out every other day. These are not only un-realistic, but they set mom up for failure. She will not be able to accomplish any of this (trust me), and then she will feel super guilty for it. The only thing you have to do this first week is relax, heal and bond with your little baby. At the end of the day, that is all that matters.
11 Do Not Stay Awake!
Welcome to parenthood, also known as the land with little sleep. You are probably already exhausted from the hours awake giving birth to your little miracle, but now comes the hard part, the endless nights with little to no sleep. Mom’s will get buckets full of advice regarding sleeping when the baby sleeps. You know what we seem to do with that bucket? We dump it right down the drain. Do NOT do this. It really is important to sleep when the baby sleeps, or at the very least rest.
There are two main reasons new moms have a hard time doing this. The first is because they feel that when the baby is asleep they really should be cleaning up the house or doing some laundry. This can all wait, it’s not going anywhere. The other, is that mom’s like to stay awake and worry and worry about their little ones while they are sleeping. It may be hard, but try to not do that.
10 Stress About Everything
No one ever said having a newborn was easy, or stress-free. If anyone has ever said that, I would like to meet their children. Although this next thing you don’t want to do the first week with baby may seem like an impossible goal to achieve it is really important to not stress about every little thing. And, when I say stress I don’t just mean stress about the baby. I mean, don’t stress about the housework, or that friend that called that you really need to get back too.
This is your time to sit back and relax. Just sit on the couch, put on a great TV show and just cuddle with your new little one. If you are breastfeeding it makes the most sense as your little one is probably going to be nursing a lot. Stress does nothing but upset you, and when mom is upset, baby is upset. No one wants that.
9 Do Not Overstimulate Them
Newborns are very easy to overstimulate. All they have known for their whole existence is the comfort of your womb. That means, everything that goes along with being in the womb. It’s dark, quiet and very comforting. Once they come into this world, they are all of a sudden thrown into this world that is bright, very loud with different sounds that they are not used to experiencing. It often happens that the first week can be very overstimulating for a newborn.
Lots of people come and visit and want to handle the newborn. This overstimulation can have a large (and negative) impact on your new baby. It can make it harder for them to sleep and settle down enough to eat. The best thing to do if this does happen, is to take the baby to a quiet and dim-lit room. Overstimulation is not something that we do on purpose, but sometimes, despite our best efforts, it does happen, so it is best to try to avoid it.
8 Keep The Kisses Away
It is hard to resist giving a little one a whole bunch of kisses, everyone wants to do. Mom, dad, family and even strangers on the street. This is something that should be avoided the first week, and probably for some time after. It is very easy to spread germs, especially through the mouth, and newborns just do not have the immunity to fight these off like we do.
Even something as small as a cold sore that is transferred orally can be serious enough to send a baby to the hospital for an extended stay. Don’t be afraid to tell people that you see going for the kisses to back off. There will be many opportunities for kisses, but the first week of the baby’s life is not one of them.
7 Let The Baby Sleep On Their Tummy
Now, this is a controversial topic, we all know as it has been drilled into our heads that ‘back is best’ and we only place our little one’s on their back to sleep. Babies are usually more comfortable sleeping on their tummy, this can be very dangerous. Not only does this increase the risk of SIDS, but it can also cause the baby to suffocate, as they are not strong enough to hold their own head up.
There are instances where the baby must sleep on their tummy, such as cases that involve reflux, this decision is best left to the medical team to decide. It is easy to want to let baby sleep the way that means they sleep the best and longest so that our sleep-deprived brains can get the most sleep, but this is not something you want to risk!
6 Neglect The Diaper Change
This one may seem like one that doesn’t need to be mentioned, we all know we have to change our baby’s diapers often to avoid some pretty awful diaper rashes and other infections. Sometimes, the first week home for a first time mom is about learning everything. One of those things we don’t often know is just how much we have to change a diaper that first week home.
No one warned me that my little bundle of joy would need a diaper change every half an hour. I was totally unprepared. The younger the baby is, the more they urinate. A newborn will urinate (and defecate) much more than a 6-month-old. Especially if they are breastfed, as breastmilk is processed a lot faster than formula. You may find your little one having a blow out in the middle of a feeding, it is that fast.
5 Don’t Do Too Many Wardrobe Changes
When you are pregnant, you spend a lot of time buying and oohing and aahing over all the adorable outfits. Whether you bought the outfits, or they are all gifts, you just can not wait to put them all on your little one. This excitement can kind of make a new mother go crazy. This translates to a newborn baby wearing a bunch of layers. This can cause the little one to overheat.
Think about it, babies are way more comfortable being naked. That’s all they’ve known. Clothes are foreign objects that are uncomfortable and itchy. They will probably be much more happy to be naked and swaddled. If you have to put clothes on them, less is more. It is a much better option to control the temperature of your home instead of layering up your little one.
4 Wake The Baby Up
As a first time mom, you will probably have it drilled in your head that your baby needs to be woken up every 3-4 hours to eat. While this is true, they really only have to be woken up until they gain back their birth weight. This usually only takes a couple days, so once they hit that your doctor will probably tell you to let them sleep. They will wake up when they are hungry.
There are a lot of people that, out of worry or the sheer need to cuddle their baby will wake their baby up just to be near them. Please, do not do this! There will be many times for snuggles later, for right now let them sleep. You will probably wake them up and then live to regret it. Please, all you moms this is when you close your eyes and go to sleep!
3 Take Opinions Seriously
When you bring a new baby home, you will have a lot of people flocking to give to you all types of well-meaning tips, tricks and advice. Please do not take these all so seriously. The only opinion that matters is mom and dad’s. This will all most likely come in the first week, when people call or come by to visit and see how you are doing.
Also, please do not take offense when people want to give you their advice. They mean well, and their goal is usually to offer some sort of assistance to help the new mom and dad cope. It is not usually meant with any judgement or doubt in your parenting skills. The best thing to do is smile, thank them and bank it for later. Then when you have a moment, you can decide what you would like to do with the advice. Use it or throw it away.
2 Hold Off On The Pacifier
Pacifiers are great, I am an advocate for them for both breast and formula feeding moms. But, you do not want to introduce them the first week. A newborn’s instinct is to suck, and it is meant to be using a mom’s breast or a bottle. You don’t want to be introducing a pacifier at this time, because you could be creating some nipple confusion to them.
Also, in that first week, you want them to be getting the proper nutrition that can only be given by food. It is also encouraged that you do not limit their feedings for the first week, to provide them with as much food as possible and whenever they ask for it. Newborns go through some pretty intense growth spurts their first week, and their first few months and this will all require regular and intense feedings.
1 Too Much
The last entry here is more just an overall what not to do, and that it too much of anything. This is when you want to relax and enjoy your new little one. Don’t worry about the dishes and the laundry and order dinner whenever possible. Nothing is more important in life than the bonding time you will have with your little one.
Just sit and put on Netflix and binge watch your favourite TV show, and cuddle up with your newborn. The visitors can all wait and come visit the baby after a couple weeks, and when they do come make sure they bring a meal, and try and get them to do something around the house for you. Nothing is more important than the healing of mom and the growth of baby, and those should be your first priorities.
Sources: bellybelly.com, familyshare.com, parents.com