Baby's First Day
I can't believe it. Those are the words that may cross your mind most often as you look at your new baby and try to grasp the miracle that's occurred. In your eyes, they're perfect, but there may be some physical characteristics you didn't expect. For example, your newborn's head may look big compared to the rest of her body, and she may look kind of "scrunched up." This is normal - after all, she has been growing in pretty tight quarters for the last nine months. Her arms and legs will straighten out as they grow. Their skin may look red, pink or even purple with rashes, blotches or tiny white spots. All of this will most likely clear up in the next few days or weeks.
Getting to Know You
You may be surprised at how alert your baby is. Her eyes will be open and, although a newborn's vision may be a little blurry, she can see you and she will probably spend a lot of time studying you. She's using all of her senses to get to know you and become attached to you.
It's fine to have grandparents, siblings and other family members visit, but try to limit the number if you can. Baby's first days should be calm and low key, and you'll also want to cut down on the risk of exposure to infections. Just as important, you need your rest and time to bond with your new addition.
If you've decided to breastfeed, you can get started the first time you take your baby in your arms. At first, you'll probably feed your baby every two to three hours around the clock. If you bottle-feed, you can usually start within a few hours of delivery.1
What Happens Next
Check Out Time
Leaving the hospital is a big event, but it's a good idea to make it as easy on yourself as possible. Bring a comfortable, loose-fitting outfit with a drawstring waist for you, and something for the baby that doesn't require a lot of pushing and pulling of arms and legs to put on.
Before you leave, find out when baby's first checkup should be scheduled, and get the answers to any other questions you may have, no matter how trivial they may seem.
Every state requires new parents to have a proper child safety seat for the car before leaving the hospital, so make arrangements to buy or borrow one ahead of time. Even on short trips, you should never hold your baby in your arms.
If you borrow a car seat or buy a used one, look for one that's less than 10 years old, has no missing parts and has never been in an accident. Make sure the label showing the expiration date, manufacture date and model number are still attached so you can check it for recalls. If you're unsure of the seat's history or it shows signs of wear and tear, keep shopping.
Mom I'm Home
Bringing a new baby home for the first time can conjure up lots of emotions ranging from ecstasy to sheer panic. You'll settle in quickly, but be ready for an adjustment period.
The baby's crying will be one of your first hurdles. Young babies typically cry for one to five hours per 24-hour period, and there may be nothing you can do about it. These painful moments should gradually decrease after the first several weeks.
You can expect your newborn to sleep about 16-17 hours a day for the first few weeks, but only for two or four hours at a time. It doesn't matter to the baby whether it's day or night, which means you probably won't get much uninterrupted sleep either. Your baby could be sleeping through the night as soon as six weeks, but a lot of babies don't get there until they're five or six months old.2
To keep things calm and quiet, try to manage visitors so you're not overwhelmed with too many at once. Try changing your voicemail greeting so it gives details on the baby's arrival and lets callers know you'll call back when you can.