The First Week with your Baby
By Anne Cavicchi
The first week of your baby's life brings big adjustments for both of you. You are adjusting to being a mother and caring for your baby and your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. It is a time of great joy -- and possibly immense fear! Although you've been preparing for the birth of your baby for months, now he is here and depending on you for everything which can seem overwhelming. Don't expect too much of yourself during these first days! If anyone offers you help -- take it!
During your baby's first few weeks of life, he will be concentrating on getting to know you and his surroundings. Your baby needs to be handled so that life outside the womb seems as little different as possible to life inside the womb. Your baby's needs, while they may seem overwhelming to you, are really simple: food, warmth and comfort from cuddling. Wrap him snugly and warmly, hold him closely, handle him slowly, and feed him when he's hungry. Your baby will have the routing and sucking reflexes as well as tongue thrust. These are needed to get nourishment from the breast or bottle. You can also use this time to bond with your baby with lots of skin to skin contact.
Whether you decide to breast or bottle feed, feeding in the first few weeks is not an effortless process. Try to have early feeding sessions in a quiet setting with as few distractions as possible. Make sure you are in a comfortable position as it takes new babies a while to eat and you don't want to end up stiff and sore. Cuddle and caress your baby as feeding time is a wonderful opportunity to show your baby how much he is loved.
If you are breastfeeding, be patient while you and your baby are getting the hang of it! The benefits of breastfeeding are many and in order for it to be successful, it is important to start out right. Keep in mind though it may take several weeks until you both feel comfortable and get a feeding schedule down.
Most new moms feel and experience:
- Bloody vaginal discharge for the first week or so
- Discomfort or pain in the perineal area if you had a vaginal delivery
- Incision pain or numbness if you had a cesarean delivery
- Abdominal cramping (afterpains) as the uterus contracts
- Elation or depression or swings between both
- Breast discomfort or engorgement
- Fears about your adequacy as a mother
- Profuse sweating after the first couple of days
Although it may be tempting to try to be a 'supermom', now is not the time. The best advice that I received as an new mom was to accept the help of others, eat regular meals and sleep when the baby sleeps. Now it's my turn to pass that advice on to you.