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Being a first-time mom can be both exciting and a little bit scary! We have compiled a list of 9 things you will want to know about newborns before you give birth. While this list won’t cover everything, it covers essential key points regarding personal and baby care.
Umbilical Cords and Circumcisions
Unless your newborn has to stay in the hospital for an extended time after birth, their umbilical cord will still be attached when you bring them home. Caring for the still-attached umbilical cord is very easy. Simply clean around the area with a soft cotton ball wet with rubbing alcohol, and be sure not to cover it with the diaper to avoid pulling on it as your newborn moves around. It will fall off on its own when the time is right (usually anywhere between one and three weeks after birth). If you choose to have your baby boy circumcised, your hospital will give you detailed instructions on proper cleaning and caring for the circumcision site upon discharge.
Your Newborn’s Appearance
You have seen all of the adorable pictures of tiny babies on the internet. The pictures don’t say that the beautiful head of hair your baby is born with may fall out, and their eye color might change! These things happen more often than not, and the hair grows back, just sometimes a different color. The main times you need to be concerned about your newborn’s appearance are if their skin or the whites of their eyes begin to have a yellowish tint or if your baby develops a rash or swelling anywhere (especially around the circumcision or umbilical cord). Any of these situations would require you to take your newborn to the pediatrician.
Bathing Your Newborn
As much as you may want to use that tiny baby tub and bathe them, remember that the umbilical cord and circumcision site should not be wet. You can give your newborn sponge baths with warm water (not hot or cold) once a day to keep them clean without disturbing the healing of these areas. Some babies develop flaky scales on their scalp called cradle cap. If your newborn develops this, you can simply wash their hair gently with a mild baby soap (preferably unscented) and massage their scalp by softly running a baby brush over their head.
Your Newborn’s Feeding Schedule
Whether you plan to nurse or bottle-feed, your newborn is going to be waking up often to eat! Because they are so tiny, they have to eat every one to four hours. Because your newborn’s natural way to tell you they are hungry is to cry, you may produce milk unexpectedly when hearing any baby cry! This is one reason you have more milk than your baby needs. If you feel your baby does not empty your breasts during nursing, you can pump the excess and freeze it to be used later on in a bottle. If you want to breastfeed but are having trouble with milk supply, check out this article on How to Increase your Milk Supply.
Your Newborn’s Sleep
Everyone knows new babies sleep a lot, and first-time moms don’t! Your newborn will only be awake for a total of seven to ten hours a day. It is important to sleep as much as possible while your baby is asleep, especially at night. When you get up with them during nighttime feedings, try to keep the lights off or very low, hum softly while interacting with them, and keep the atmosphere as calming and sleep-inducing as possible. These things are the beginning stages of training them to sleep through the night eventually!
Scheduling With Your Newborn
One contributor to first-time moms being tired is that it’s hard to create a schedule with a newborn. You know you will be waking up to take care of your baby at night. Planning to sleep when they are asleep at night and after their first one or two feedings in the morning will help keep your circadian rhythm in place. If you need to wash laundry, bottles, dishes, pick up around the house, or anything else, schedule a specific time frame during the day to address these things.
Bonding With Your Newborn
Now that your first baby has arrived, a new kind of bonding can take place. Holding your newborn often, especially skin to skin, helps create the mother-baby bond. Talking to them, looking into their eyes, and cuddling them are great ways to bond, which is essential for a baby’s emotional and psychological development. If, for some reason, you are experiencing trouble feeling connected to your newborn, talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression is often a cause of this, and there are many treatments available as it is more common than many first-time moms realize.
When to Call the Doctor
Other than the previously mentioned times you should call the pediatrician, you will also want to call them for any of the following:
- If your newborn’s temperature reaches 100.4 rectally,
- If they are lethargic and not waking for feedings,
- Not having wet or dirty diapers frequently throughout the day,
- If they begin vomiting (not just spitting up) or having diarrhea, or
- If they are straining to have a bowel movement.
You will also want to call your doctor if you begin running a fever or your breasts become painfully engorged and hard.
Support for Mom
Many first-time moms feel like they have to do everything themselves or are not good moms. This is not the case! As a new parent, letting others help creates an excellent relief to your tired mommy-brain and develops a support system you know you can call on in an emergency. It also helps your newborn develop bonds with the people in your support circle.
The most important thing to remember as a first-time mom is that no two babies are the same. Enjoy this new chapter of your life, revel in the small moments, and know that they will grow faster than you could have dreamed!
Now that you have some tips to take care of your newborn, don’t forget about taking care of your own postpartum recovery.