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First Days After Birth

The first days after you give birth can be overwhelming. Your body is recovering from a huge challenge and accomplishment, your brain is full of instructions and anxiety, and your emotions may get the best of you now and again when you try to take in all that has just changed in your life and your family. And on top of all that, you have a wonderful little person who is completely dependent on you to meet their every need. That's a lot to deal with! Here are some survival tips for your first days with a new baby.

  • Make sure you keep a list of phone numbers for your healthcare provider, trusted friends, neighbors, and mom and mother-in-law, so that when you have a question, an answer is easy to find.

  • When you hold your baby, use the palm of your hand to support her neck and back and cradle her head with your fingers. Her neck is still too weak to hold up that relatively heavy little head.

  • Touch your baby when she needs comforting. Sometimes crying means she needs feeding, changing, or burping, but sometimes it just means that she misses you. Cuddling increases the level of beneficial hormones and chemicals released into your baby's system. Another way to quiet a fussy baby is to let her suck on your finger or a pacifier. Rocking, ticking clocks, ocean sounds, and shushing all sound or feel just like being in your womb and can also help comfort and quiet your baby.

  • To avoid upsetting your baby, protect her from loud noises, sudden movements, abrupt changes in environment, bitter and sour tastes, and over stimulation.

  • Work on developing a regular sleeping routine, using white noise from a vaporizer or fan to soothe your baby, or playing a tape or CD your baby likes as part of a bedtime ritual. She will sleep approximately 16 hours every day, in between meals; but as she grows older, she will stay awake for longer periods of time during the day and sleep for longer periods of time at night. Always remember to place your baby on her back for sleep.

  • Your baby will probably want to eat about once every two or three hours, maybe a little less often if she's eating formula. If you're breastfeeding, make sure that your baby gets at least half your areola in her mouth; this will help your milk, or colostrum in the early days, to begin flowing. Your baby will probably wet six to eight diapers a day and have several bowel movements, which will let you know that she is getting plenty of nourishment.

  • Change your baby's diaper before and after naps and meals, and often in between, to avoid diaper rash. Clean all the creases and folds. Make sure to tuck your baby's diaper below the umbilical cord stump and keep that bit of cord clean and dry until it drops off in a couple of weeks.

  • You may sponge bathe your baby once every couple of days. Never take your eyes off your baby while giving her a bath, and babies lose heat quickly so keep the bathing area warm and draft-free.

  • Fill up your diaper bag with diapering and feeding supplies, sunscreen, small toys, snacks, a change of clothing and sweater for your baby, and a camera. You'll be ready to go on demand with a diaper bag near the door.

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