Your baby is about to arrive and your first week of parenthood will soon begin, so what should you expect? Unfortunately, a lot of the advice that you receive during pregnancy stops at labour, which can leave you literally holding the baby and wondering about exactly what happens next. Keep reading to find the information that you need to help you to make the most of a week that will feel equal parts magical and maddening.
Birth is kind of a big deal. Your baby grew for nine months in a consistently warm, quiet and somewhat cramped environment and the relatively cold, loud and large outside world will come as a bit of a shock. What they need from you the most while they adjust is warmth and reassurance. This means lots of snuggles for both baby and parents, which is also the best way for your new family to bond.
Newborn bodies are so small and they are developing so rapidly that they will never actually ‘sleep through the night’, at least not in their first few weeks. This is because their baby tummies are so tiny that they can only take in a small amount of milk at a time so they will need you to feed them very frequently. In fact, many newborns need to feed every two hours, up to 12 times a day and sometimes for an hour at a time. We’re sure you can do the maths on that one… This unfortunately means that you won’t get very much sleep during that first week so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, because you probably will.
No, we’re not just talking about nappies. During their first week of life, your baby’s appearance is going to change a lot. If you receive any assistance during labour such as forceps or suction, any swelling or bruising that baby had after birth will start to go down and heal, and within 10 days their umbilical cord will darken and fall off completely. After a week, your baby will start to look more like a little person and you will get a hint of what their features may look like when they grow up.
The baby bubble is real, but it’s okay to burst it. If you feel physically able, take your newborn with you to a local cafe, restaurant or park, either strapped to you in a baby carrier or tucked up in their pram. This is not only an easy way to introduce your little one to the outside world, but you can also reintroduce yourself to ‘normal life’ and even show off your beautiful new baby to passers-by. As daunting as leaving your home may feel, your baby will never be this small and portable again, so make the most of it!
Baby’s crying, you’re crying, everyone is crying. The period after birth is a lot for young families to deal with as you adjust to life with a new little one. For mothers, the moment the placenta leaves your body it takes with it all of that comforting oxytocin, and the hormonal come-down postpartum is no joke. Keep an eye on yourself and your partner for any signs of depression or anxiety during this time and take friends and family up on any offers to help out with cooking or cleaning. For new mothers in particular, make sure that you have an ample supply of nursing and menstrual pads as well as big, supportive knickers to help your hardworking body to feel as comfortable as possible during this time. And remember, whether you’re in a partnership, co-parenting or flying solo, you can absolutely do this!
While the pandemic continues, we know that pregnancy, childbirth and the early weeks of parenthood will feel especially difficult for many families. Whether you’re attending appointments on your own, spending less time than expected in the hospital after labour or worrying about when your next health visitor’s appointment will be, we understand your anxiety. Now more than ever, we are sending love and we are here for you with the advice that we hope will help you to feel less alone. Remember, you’ve got this!
My 1st Years x