Approved by the What’s Up Moms Medical Advisory Board
S So they actually let you leave the hospital… with a baby. We know, it’s still sinking in.
The first week of baby’s life can bring with it a lot of Big Feelings, and whether you’re delirious with sleep deprivation or still running high on adrenaline, this is an intense time. You’re caring for your own tender body (oh, no one told you about ice-laden maxi pads?) while adjusting to life at home with this new tiny human – and your newly defined family unit.
Your main task right now: feeding your baby. She’ll have lost some weight since birth, but now the ped wants to see her gaining back to her birth weight. If you’re breastfeeding, your milk will be coming in. You’ve probably never paid much attention to your boobs before, but right now they’re the legit main event. There will be soreness, engorgement, leaking… things will be going a little haywire. Hang in there. It takes time to get into a rhythm, and the majority of new moms need help learning the ropes – either from a lactation consultant or a good friend (a good friend with whom you can let it all hang out). The good news is that babies are born with a built-in sucking reflex, so now you’re helping her learn the correct (read: most comfortable and effective) latch. If you’re formula feeding, you’re also on for round-the-clock feedings – and you’re busy choosing bottles and nipples and selecting formula.
When baby’s not eating, she’s generally sleeping – but whatever she’s doing, you’re on call for her every whim. It can be a shock to your system to suddenly have this new, fluid relationship to time (day, night… it’s all the same), not to mention a round-the-clock care-taking gig, but rest assured: this phase does not last forever. Try to embrace the unstructured-ness of this particular moment and know that it will pass.
Don’t be alarmed at baby’s first poops. Their earliest stool, called meconium, is sticky, black, and tar-like (upside – it doesn’t smell). Within a few days, as your babe starts getting milk, the consistency will morph to dark green, then to mustard-y with a seed-like texture (breastfed babies) or beige with a paste-like texture (formula-fed babies). It is at once probably not as gross and grosser than you expected.
You’ll notice baby’s jerky arm and leg movements (the Moro Reflex), so to keep her from constantly startling herself, swaddle her, especially for sleeping. And when you put her down in the bassinet or co-sleeper, remember “back is best” and keep the area free of pillows and any loose bedding to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Oh, and if you’re feeling the pull of to-dos like hospital paperwork, housework, or friends and family eager to visit, try to resist. It all can wait. Anyone gives you flack about that, send ‘em to us.