Your baby is here! See what to expect your first few days at home.
Bringing a new baby home is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Don't worry - you'll do fine! Here's what to expect the first few days at home with your baby.
Delivering a baby is hard work, and you did it! Now that you're home, it's important to care for yourself as lovingly as you care for your baby. That's especially true if you had a C-section. Get plenty of sleep, and make healthy food choices. Have visitors only when you feel ready. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help when you need it.
You may also be having emotional highs and lows. Your hormones are changing, and while you are in love with your new baby, being a new parent is exhausting!
If you have deep feelings of sadness, difficulty sleeping, irritability, changes in appetite, and trouble concentrating, these may be a sign of depression. If you are worried about the way you have been feeling, it is important to tell your doctor about your concerns. WIC can also help you connect with the services you may need. The National Helpline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-662-HELP to refer you to local support networks and resources.
After you return from the hospital or birthing center, continue cuddling your baby to help them adjust to life outside of the womb. Skin-to-skin time with your baby will also help regulate your hormones and help with breastfeeding.
You will take your baby to their first check-ups this week. Your doctor or nurse will answer any questions you have about your baby and breastfeeding.
In the first few days at home, it will seem like all you're doing is caring for your baby. As your milk transitions from colostrum to mature milk, your baby should nurse early and often-about 8-12 times every 24 hours. Since babies don't feed on a schedule, it's best to watch your baby for hunger signs and not the clock.
You can see if your baby is getting plenty of milk by tracking the color, texture, and frequency of poops and wet diapers. If it seems like your baby is too sleepy to eat, not making enough wet or dirty diapers, or isn't eating at least 8 times a day, talk to your baby's doctor.
In the first week or two at home, your baby may go through a period of rapid growth, referred to as a growth spurt. If this occurs, your baby will need to eat more often—probably every hour. If you're worried about milk supply, just follow your baby's lead. Your body will adjust to baby's needs.
Remember, while this seems like a lot, it's only temporary. Asking your family and friends for support can help you get through it. They can change diapers, run errands, and snuggle with your baby while you get some rest. That way you only need to focus on feeding your baby.
Feeding your baby in those early days isn't easy. If you face challenges, you're not alone. New moms often ask these questions:
- How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
- What should I do if my breasts feel too full or uncomfortable?
- What if my baby doesn't latch well?
- What should I do if my nipples hurt?
- How can I tell when my baby is hungry?
- What if my baby wants to eat around the clock?
Where to Find Help
There are many ways to get help:
- Contact your local WIC clinic.
- Call the Office of Women's Health (OWH) Helpline at 800-994-9662 to speak to trained breastfeeding counselors.
- Ask your family and friends—maybe your own mom, sister, grandma, or best friend-about what worked best for them.
- Ask Dad or other family members to help, too.