Bringing Baby Home From the Hospitalby Katlyn Joy
Perhaps nothing in your life will you be preparing for harder than to bring home that lil' bundle of joy. However, there is probably nothing in life you can be less prepared for the realities of than life with a newborn! Don't let that discourage you, rather realize everyone whether old pro or newbie is ever quite ready for those first days (and nights!) at home with your brand new baby.
Before You Leave the Hospital
- Find out when your baby's first visit with the pediatrician is scheduled
- Practice swaddling baby with the help of a nurse
- Iron out any breastfeeding issues with the nurse or a lactation consultant
- Make sure your car seat is properly installed and inspected by hospital staff
- Get discharge instructions and ask questions. Ask about anything you feel unsure of, no matter how silly it sounds
- Request a number to call if problems or concerns arise in those first few days at home. Many labor and delivery departments in hospitals or birthing centers are well equipped for such situations and are glad to give a contact number.
- Babies, especially newborns don't get all that dirty. The first year your baby won't need more than a few baby baths a week. However, a tub bath isn't given until after the umbilical cord has dried up and fallen off.
- Use mild unscented baby bath or soap.
- No special lotions or powders are advised. Just simple gentle soap and warm, not hot, water.
If your son was circumcised you'll get special instructions on caring for that area. Generally that will mean keeping petroleum jelly or a supplied cream on the tip of the penis and changing a bandage or gauze pad after diaper changes the first few days. The penis will likely appear a little yellow or perhaps raw or sore for up to a week, but real redness should subside in a few days. If it becomes more red, you see pus or it appears to ooze from the wound, or see swelling contact the doctor.
The umbilical cord area may be swabbed with alcohol each day or you may be instructed to keep your hands off it all together, depending on your physician's preference. Don't expect the stump to fall off for two or three weeks. Until then don't submerge baby in water. If the cord area becomes red or swollen or you notice a foul smell, call the doctor.
Umbilical hernias are common with newborns. This abdominal bulge around the navel is not painful or harmful and will likely disappear on its own by the toddler years.
The soft spot or fontanelle is an area of mystery and concern to new parents. It's actually just the area where the skull has not completely grown together. You may see it bulge when baby fusses or cries. That's perfectly normal.
Jaundice is another common newborn issue. It is caused by the accumulation of bilirubin, or waste products flushed from the body by the liver, and can appear around the time you take baby home. While baby will be checked for the problem prior to release, you'll likely be briefed if the doctor thinks baby may be at risk.
Feeding your Newborn
Feed your newborn at least every 2 to 3 hours. A breastfed baby will nurse for about 10 to 15 minutes on each breast at every nursing session while a formula fed infant will generally take 2 to 3 ounces at each feeding.
Expect at least a few soaked diapers a day and probably one or more bowel movements a day. These first dirty diapers will look oddly black and nasty as baby will be passing meconium. Occasionally babies will have a little blood in the diaper do to mother's hormones passing through the system.
Expect baby to sleep about 16 out of a 24 hour day. Babies usually sleep in 2 or 3 hour segments. Baby may have days and nights confused so help by not having bright lights or too much activity during later evenings.
You and your baby have a getting to know you period which is all part of the bonding process. No parent pair is exactly alike. You might be in love at first sight, or find yourself staring emotionless at this new seemingly alien life form. Both reactions are common and perfectly normal.
What Not to Worry About
- Sneezing. Newborns often sneeze, it doesn't indicate an illness.
- Noisy breathing. Newborns are notorious for this and it can sound frightening at times if you don't know better.
- If your baby, even your son, has liquid leaking from the nipples it's OK.
- Swollen or even bleeding genetalia is expected due to hormones.
- Bumps, rashes, and marks on the skin are common in the newborn days.
- If anything concerns you call your health care provider and ask. It is better to ask than worry.
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