Delivering a baby is hard. It's physically exhausting, painful, emotional and overwhelming. And then, in the next second, a brand new mom is responsible for a little life.
Hopped up on adrenalin or in a fog of medication, feeling a rush of hormones and love like she has never experienced, a new mom isn't exactly in the perfect state to begin parenthood, but she has to dive right in. There are a lot of things on her mind — and unfortunately some things float right out of her head.
There are some things she needs to remember right after delivery, and yet a new mom's memory isn't at its best. She will remember to call her mother, certainly, but there may be some other people she needs to inform who get left off the list. And the statistics — and even spelling — may get hazy. She may fall victim to exhaustion and forget about kangaroo care — or on the flip side, she could be so excited that she forgets to rest.
There are so many things to pay attention to and so little room in the brain. It's the perfect time to learn a few lessons and grab a few supplies — and if she misses out, a new mom will regret it. We think it is worth a few reminders for this crazy, amazing period right after the baby's birth.
Here are 15 things to remember right after delivery (which you might forget and regret).
15 Kangaroo Care
This may seem like something you would never forget, but the first thing a new mom has to remember right after delivery is to hold her baby close.
Research has proven that a solid hour holding a newborn to a mother's chest — skin to skin — is one of the best therapies that a newborn could ever receive. It helps the baby maintain her temperature and even out her heartbeat. Breathing improves and the bonding begins right away, with kangaroo care, which is another name for skin-to-skin contact.
A new mom may be tempted the nurses clean up the baby first, but there are more benefits to snuggling that messy bundle of joy than waiting until after she has her first bath. If the baby needs medical attention at first, there are still benefits documented for babies snuggled later in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, so don't worry if you have to wait a bit. But if all goes well, take the time to hold your little one as close and as long as you can, right after delivery.
14 Breastfeed Early
If all works out with skin-to-skin contact, a mom won't have to remember this one at all — her baby will take care of it. If you hope to breastfeed at all, do it early.
In its first days on earth, babies can crawl. That's right, a good seven or so months before a baby is truly mobile, a newborn has a reflex that allows him to army crawl all the way to his mother's breast. The mom doesn't have to do anything, not even point him on the way. He can smell where the milk is and make his way there, latching on all by myself.
Statistically, babies who breastfeed within the first hour of life are more likely to be breastfed at 6 months, so it's a good idea to get started as soon as you can.
13 Baby's First Photo
Many new moms think that they will never forget the moment they first held their sweet little baby. But in the fog of a grueling labor and possible pain medication, things won't be as clear as you expect.
After all that work, the new mother may not look her best, and she may be tempted to wait until after she has a chance to freshen up to take photos. But we recommend going ahead and getting the shot. Besides, even if mom remembers it perfectly, there is someone else in that picture who won't remember a thing, and he will want to see that picture over and over again as he grows up.
It's a memory worth capturing, and no matter if you have a #messyhairdontcare look, it will be the most beautiful shot ever taken.
12 Proper Name Spelling
If a mom and dad have waited until the big day to announce their baby's new name, they better check the spelling. As we've mentioned, the baby's day of birth can be a bit foggy for mom, especially, although dad might feel a bit exhausted and overwrought as well. In all the confusion, Ava can become Ada with one bad keystroke.
We've met more than one dad who had no idea how to spell the baby's name, but he better bone up pretty quickly. By the time the new family leaves the hospital, the parents need to fill out the paperwork for the birth certificate and social security card.
It may seem like a simple thing, but parents need to be on the same page with the spelling of the baby name, and they have to remember each letter for all the announcements to friends and family, paperwork and more. A misspelling could turn into a nightmare of red tape, so be sure to get it right the first time.
11 Get The Statistics
When friends and family learn of a little one's arrival, it isn't enough for mom and dad to announce the birth. They will want to know more.
Even the most distant cousin — at least the female ones — will ask about the weight and height. A 4-pounder will get a bunch of "how preciouses" and a 10-pounder will gain the new mom a lot of extra sympathy. Few people know what the length really means, but that doesn't mean that they won't ask.
These numbers may not seem like much, but a mom and dad will want to commit them to memory quickly, if for no other reason than to answer all of the questions. The statistics are more than just a starting point on a growth chart; they are part of the story of your baby's birth. And that is certainly something that parents will want to remember for the rest of their lives.
10 Time Stamp
It may not seem very important at the time, but the magical moment that your baby drew his first breath is worth noting right from the beginning. The nurses are practiced at checking the clock when a baby is born, and that is important in terms of documentation throughout a person's life. It's important enough to be on the birth certificate, so it is important enough for mom and dad to remember.
The time is something that many people will ask, and an approximate doesn't always suffice. More than one proud parent has been given a surprise baby present that features the baby's birthday and time, and if they passed along the wrong time, it is forever engraved or painted on a keepsake.
The time of birth is something that many families like to hold on to, reminding baby of his late night arrival or mid-morning miracle. A parent may regret it if they don't remember that moment on the clock.
9 Bathroom Barriers
The first trip to the bathroom is a big deal after having a baby. The nurse will tell a new mom to make sure that she calls her before she tries to go, and — seriously — any woman who forgets that will regret it.
Not only is everything a bloody mess, but many women have no idea what to do to take care of themselves. You may be tempted to have your husband help, but don't. You really need the nurse. She'll get you set up with a fresh pair of mesh undies, and doctor it up with an ice pack and some witch hazel pads. And she will fill a squirt bottle with warm water and allow you to use it to wash yourself off. It's a complicated process, and it isn't for an amateur.
8 A Pretty Important Pill
While we are on the subject of the bathroom, as soon as she can, a new mom needs to start taking a stool softener. It may be a little while before she goes after giving birth, since labor and delivery cleans you out completely. But believe us, when it is time, that stool softener will be important.
A majority of women who give birth vaginally tear down there during the process. And while the action wasn't exactly going on in the rectum, it still faced some trauma through that tearing and stitches. That can make defecating pretty intimidating, and a woman will not want to push to get anything out again so soon.
Even for mothers who give birth via C-section, the epidural can make things, um, hard to pass. Believe us, if you forget your stool softener, pretty soon, you will regret it.
7 First Dirty Diaper
One last note, while we are talking about bowel movements. This time, luckily, we aren't talking about mom. This is about the baby. We want to warn you a bit about the first dirty diaper. The first wet one can be intimidating for a new mom, we know, but the first dirty one is a lot worse.
The first poop is unlike anything that will happen afterward. It's a dark, sludgy system that looks and feels a bit like tar. It's like this because of the amniotic fluid that your baby ingested in the womb, and that part has to get out that first day.
A new mom needs to remember about the meconium or she will be pretty startled by the first diaper. She may want to pass the job off to the dad, as it is pretty hard to clean up. But luckily it flushes out, so to say, pretty quickly.
6 Learn From The Nurses
No matter whether a woman gives birth in a hospital or at home, she is going to have some after care for at least a short while. With a new squirmy infant, she needs to remember that her caregivers, whether a nurse or a midwife, are experts. If she doesn't take the opportunity to learn from them, she will definitely regret it.
Listen up, because this tip will help you get through the first few weeks. Remember to learn how to swaddle. Practicing on a doll before the baby is born is not like the real thing, when a little one can kick his way out or pull the blanket over his face. The nurses are pros, and they will have amazing tips to get through the first few weeks, when newborns love to sleep in the tightly wrapped blanket. If you let the nurses do the work and don't let them teach you, you will regret it.
Depending on how long labor lasted a new mom may have skipped a few meals while she waited on her baby's birth. And if she had pain medication, she may be nauseated for a while. But it's still important to get some food in her after all that work. If not, she could be pretty shaky in moments that are important.
There will be many moments in the next two weeks when a mother's own nutrition will be the last thing on her mind, but it is very important — even more so if she is breastfeeding because she has to consume extra calories to keep up her milk supply.
A breastfeeding mom should also consider continuing to take prenatal vitamins for a couple months to make sure that her milk has the right nutrients for her youngster. A balanced diet is important for both baby and mom.
4 Ask For A Lactation Consultant
The most successful breastfeeding moms start off well, and the best way to do that is to get help from the very beginning. That's why it is so important for a new mom to remember to ask for help from a lactation consultant right away.
Many hospitals have full-time lactation consultants on staff, and often nurses are trained and certified lactation consultants as well. There are also independent contractors, many of which are covered by insurance companies, so if a mother asks right away for help, she should be able to get it within a day or two.
Even if you think that breastfeeding is going well on the first day, it's a good idea to have a consultation at the beginning. A professional may notice an issue with the latch that could cause pain eventually. And what every mom could use a few pointers, whether this is her first baby or her fifth.
3 Tell Your Boss
Lots of people are waiting for the good news of a baby's birth. The baby's new grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins may be at the top of the list, along with some of the parents closest friends. But there is one person that needs notification that may not be at the top of your list. It's still important, so pretty soon, you need to tell your boss.
You can wait an hour or two, but if you are expected at work, it is a good idea to let people know as soon as possible so your work can be covered. The same applies to the baby's dad, of course, but especially if mom is planning to return from maternity leave, she won't want to burn any bridges on the way out.
You should also let your office HR person know as soon as possible as well. She is responsible for getting any leave paperwork together and can also get your baby added to your insurance plan.
2 Take Home The Baby Supplies
Many women don't know this or don't think about it when they leave the hospital, but all of the things that are in the baby's bassinet have already been paid for. They won't be reused because of the possibility of passing germs. So please remember to take them home or you may regret it.
That includes the first stash of diapers, some lotion and maybe baby shampoo samples. And don't forget the nasal aspirator. Many new moms are intimidated by this tiny device, but if baby gets a cold, she'll need some snot sucking, and it can help her breath easier.
The supplies for mom are also up for grabs, and while you may be able to buy witch hazel pads at the store, those perfectly shaped ice packs and mesh undies are harder to find. Remember to grab a few days worth of supplies or you will regret it.
The rush of adrenalin that accompanies the accomplishment of pushing out a baby can make a new mom feel full of energy and capable of lifting a truck. But she has to remember that her body has gone through a lot and it needs some extra TLC. If not, she could end up hurting herself, and she could regret that.
Too much work right after delivery could cause a cervical prolapse, where the cervix becomes unsupported and collapses out of the vagina. Besides, a woman may be more shaky than she realizes, and it would be a tragedy if she were holding the baby and got dizzy or weak.
Within a few days of delivery, a new mom is in the exhausted rhythm on life with a newborn, so it is very important that she remembers to rest while she can. Her body needs the time to recover and get back to top working order soon.
We recommend that all new moms remember to rest right after delivery. They deserve it.