Congratulations on your new baby! There’s really no way to prepare for the complete elation -- or the utter exhaustion -- you’re going to feel once you leave the hospital and arrive home with your new little person.
Caring for your newborn baby
Finally holding close the baby you’ve been feeling move inside you for months is an incredible feeling! But when you bring your baby home, how will you know when they’re hungry -- or tired? How do you bath the baby? And how often do you need to change their nappy?!
What to expect
These are all very common questions for first-time parents. The first few weeks after bringing a baby home can be overwhelming, exciting and exhausting all at once, so it's not unusual for new mums to feel a little out of their depth.
"While it's common for new mums to get the baby blues, depression is way more serious and can sneak up on a busy new mother without many warning signs," says Alex Brooks, Executive Editor of KidSpot.com.au.
If the time arrives and you feel like can't cope, visit your doctor right away for advice and treatment.
In the meantime, read on for some useful advice on what to expect when you bring your newborn home: you'll be much better prepared to handle your new charge if you have an idea of what you're in for!
The first week
Your baby is still getting used to his or her new environment. All of the sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming when you're a few days old, so don't expect too much from them in the early days! Initially your baby will only be able to focus on objects that are within 20-40cm of their own face, so hold them close for cuddles and make eye contact -- but not for too long, as they quickly get tired.
Babies sleep - a lot!
They don't go down for long periods -- most babies sleep for around 3-4 hours at a time -- but the average newborn should sleep for roughly 16 hours per day. You should take the opportunity to nap when your baby sleeps, as you may not be getting a full night's rest overnight for quite some time.
"Feeling rested, energised and ready for the day is a long lost dream for most mums," says Brooks, "[but] lack of sleep makes us tired, cranky and can contribute to depression."
Don't feel compelled to spend your time cleaning, cooking, communicating with relatives or doing household chores when you could be getting some shut-eye: remember, it's vital for your own health and for your baby that you're as well-rested as possible.
Colour and consistency matters
You'll be surprised at how obsessed you suddenly become over the colour, consistency and frequency of every bowel movement your baby has! If your little guy or girl is feeding regularly and doesn't appear to be sick, then you can expect them to do 6-8 poos a day.
Your newborn's first stools, called meconium, will be a thick, sticky, tar-like consistency, but after it begins feeding it should range in colour from brown to tan green to grey. If there is any blood present in the stool or it changes colour and or consistency very frequently, it would be worthwhile checking in with your doctor.
Cleaning the umbilical cord
Your baby's umbilical cord will likely fall off by itself within a week or two, and it's best if you let it happen naturally -- don't pick at the stump or touch it too frequently, as you may cause irritation. According to www.kidspot.com.au, the best way to keep the umbilical cord clean is to wash it three times a day with plain water or rubbing alcohol. Discharge, which may contain a small amount of blood, is normal, but if it oozes excess discharge that is foul smelling, or there appears to be redness surrounding the cord, consult your doctor.
Post partum depression
You just brought home your new baby and things aren't what you expected. Is it post partum depression? Watch this video to find out more.