by Dr Kiran Rahim
Whether it's your first or fourth, bringing home a new baby is an exciting time! The journey home may be full of nerves, anxiety and a thousand questions, especially if you are a first time parent!
Whilst there is lots of information on how to physically prepare for your new-born baby, e.g. car seat, pushchair, bottles, nappies etc, many parents know little about what to expect in those first few weeks of life.
Even if they have been there before, the newborn haze can leave you feeling out of sorts! All those months of preparing, packing your bags, planning your take home outfits all lead up to that very special moment; bringing baby home.
But what happens now? How do you care for baby? How do you know what’s normal and how to adjust to life with a new born baby? If only babies came with manuals...
Newborn Feeding and Weight loss
As a general rule, babies should be fed on demand, i.e. whenever they are hungry.
How much your baby feeds and how often will vary baby to baby but in those first few days of life, baby should be fed every 3-4 hours (or more if they want to!). Look out for cues that your baby is hungry such as rooting, sucking fingers and crying!
If you are wanting to breastfeed baby, then offer both breast and let baby suck 10-15m on each side. If baby is taking longer than 45minutes to 1hour to feed, consider seeking the support of a lactation specialist or a breastfeeding midwife as baby may need support with feeding. If you are planning on giving baby formula than 2-3ounces per feed is a good place to start. Remember not to overfeed baby with formula as it can lead to vomiting!
If your baby is very sleepy and difficult to wake for feeds, its time to call a midwife or take them to see a Doctor.
Most babies will lose weight once you bring them home and this is all VERY normal. Usually a community midwife will weigh your baby regularly in the first two weeks of life.
It is normal to lose up to 10-13% of their birth weight in the first two weeks of life.
That said, most babies are back to their birth weight by 2weeks of life. If your baby is continuing to lose weight, is very hungry or doesn’t have many wet nappies, please consult a Doctor.
Posseting and Vomiting
All babies posset and vomit at some point in those early weeks. Some bring up milk after every feed whilst others, only a handful of times. This is sometimes called spitting up.
If your baby does this a lot, it may be a sign that they need burping more often than other babies, for example in between each breast or halfway through a feed. Some babies are easy and burp themselves whilst others needs a little more back rubbing and gentle patting.
If you are concerned that baby is vomiting a lot or large amount, then do consult a midwife or a Doctor.
The most important thing to remember here is that baby poo comes in all types of shades and consistencies.
Even experienced parents can be caught off guard by just how colourful baby poo can be! As a generic rule, newborns should produce one wet diaper for every day of life for the first few days of life. They can poo anywhere between 3-10times a day, which is a LOT!
The first day or two of life, baby’s poo will be a greenish-black, tarry, sticky stuff called meconium. This is made up of the amniotic fluid and other things baby swallowed inside the womb. The more the baby feeds, the less meconium you will see! Eventually it will turn green before it changes to the colour you can expect!
For breastfed babies, this is a bright yellow colour, creamy in consistency with tiny seed-like flecks in it and a sweet smell. Breastfed babies can poo several times a day, up to 15, and occasionally there poo may be slightly green. As long as baby is well, like their normal self, there is no need to worry.
For formula fed babies, parents can expect a dull yellow-brown poo, a bit like peanut butter that is soft and smells closer to adult poo.
Occasionally, baby poo can be black if your baby is on iron supplements, especially if they were born early. If the poo is black and baby is not on iron supplements, or if you notice blood at any point, it is important you get them reviewed by a Doctor.
Newborns can sleep for hours and it is normal for them to rest for 16-18h a day. What is important is that they wake up for feeds and have period of alertness. Most babies will sleep for stretches of 2 to 4hours.
Remember the ABC of safe sleep:
- Babies should sleep Alone
- Babies should sleep on the Backs
- Babies should sleep in a Cot
Your baby should be placed on a firm mattress without any fluffy bedding, duvets or pillows.
There is no right or wrong time to introduce your baby to friends and family. It is important that you take time as a family to rest, bond with your baby and settle into a routine that suits you.
When the time is right, anybody that will meet your baby should be well in themselves and not had any recent illnesses. It is important they wash their hands before touching baby. Lots of people want to kiss and cuddle a newborn baby which can be incredibly scary for parents. It is okay to set boundaries and let visitors know beforehand what you are comfortable with. Ideally, nobody should be kissing baby on the face or head.
Extra caution should be taken with cold sores and kissing babies. If you or anyone visiting has an active cold sore or has had one in the last 7days, please do not kiss baby and make sure the sore is covered. Newborn babies are particularly susceptible to the virus that causes cold sores and it can make them very ill. The best way to protect them until they get their own vaccines is to make sure visitors are vaccinated, particularly children and that they are well.
Bringing your baby home is just the beginning of a very exciting journey called parenthood. It is full of joy and all sorts of emotions that can be incredibly overwhelming.
Please remember that it is okay to ask for help and to speak to others about how you are feeling. Parenting is hard work!
Have a read of my blog on the Fourth Trimester to know what to expect in the first few months of life and when to seek help from a healthcare professional.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram page TheMunchingMedic.
I wish you all the best on this exciting new journey with your precious little one.
Dr Kiran Rahim