All being well, once your baby has been born and you have marvelled at this wonderful miracle you can have a well-deserved rest. Many babies will also want a good long sleep once they have been fed. Maybe just a few sucks at the breast about a teaspoonful of colostrum (first milk) will be enough. They will have had a cuddle and know that all is right with their world and will fall asleep.
Boring, we know, but the following day after you have had your baby it’s time to start on those pelvic floor exercises. Better a toned pelvic floor than a leaky bladder and big knickers. (Try and think of a trigger to remind you to do it, like when you are washing your hands or changing the baby.)
Before leaving the hospital with your little one
Partners: have your home clean and tidy to welcome your partner and baby home; a few flowers wouldn’t go amiss, nor would something nutritious for her to eat on her return. A clean fresh bed for mum and clean sheets on the baby’s Moses basket or cot will be appreciated. You can always enlist the help of relatives and friends to do this with or for you.
It helps to keep visitors at bay or to an absolute minimum. Skin-to-skin helps your baby adjust to the world in the warmth of mum or dad’s arms. This keeps baby warm, helps their breathing and calms, soothes and regulates their heart rate and nervous system.
Code word ‘exit!’
How about a code word or sign for if things appear to be going awry, so your partner or friend can interject or change the subject (or you can throw them out of the house!)?
The paediatrician (baby doctor) will examine your baby before he or she leaves the hospital. In a home birth situation this may be done by a senior midwife or your GP.
Remember the car seat and have it already fitted
If you are collecting your partner and baby in a taxi, ensure the taxi has a suitable car seat fitted.
Take a spare blanket and a hat for your baby to take them into the outside world. Maternity hospitals are very hot places and the British weather is unpredictable.
Visiting time at the hospital – what to take
- Honey (Manuka, if possible). Mum can have a ‘neat’ spoonful or one in hot water to soothe her throat. (She may have a sore throat from effort or using gas and air)
- Nibbles, such as biscuits to keep at bedside
- Drinks in cartons or bottles of water to have at bedside. Hospitals are very warm places
- Cream for piles
- Arnica cream for bruising of the front to back bottom
- Disposable paper knickers and maybe some additional maternity sanitary pads
Bringing mum and baby home
Have your home clean and tidy to welcome your partner and baby home. A few flowers wouldn’t go amiss and something nutritious for her to eat on her return. A clean fresh bed for mum, and clean sheets on the baby’s Moses basket or cot. You can always enlist the help of relatives and friends to do this with or for you.
Dads don’t be surprised if you are exhausted by the exciting experience of your baby’s birth. When relatives/friends ask ‘what can I do’? one possible reply is ‘cook us a dinner and bring it round (and a spare one for the fridge/ freezer)’.
When you get home
The following day your midwife will visit you and your new family at home. She is there as a great resource for all of you as well as making sure you and your little one are well and thriving. If, in the rare event that no one visits, please ring the number on the front of your maternity notes ( the hospital will provide you with these when you are discharged.)
Keep calm and have a cuddle
You can still have some skin-on-skin time when you get home. This will help calm both mum and baby. Lots of holding, cuddling and stroking helps you to get to know each other. A massage and swaddling may help to calm and soothe some babies.
Keep drinking the water
It’s easy to forget to drink and to keep yourself hydrated. But, beware: you may end up with a headache which can make parenting more of a challenge.
A tropical heatwave?
No need to keep your house as warm as the hospital. Around 16 – 20 degrees centigrade is the best temperature for mums and babies. Mums may feel a little cold as they have lost the warmth generated when pregnant. Save on your heating bills and put on a jumper or wrap yourself in a lovely blanket.
Be kind to yourself
Baby care is not always as easy as it’s made out to be and as new parents we are all on a steep learning curve. Even if this is your 2nd or 3rd baby they are all different and what worked for number 1 may not work for this little one. It all takes time and a not inconsiderable amount of patience.
Create a nurturing cocoon
A “babymoon” may be just the ticket for you and your new family. Keep the world at bay for a day or few days, enjoying this special time.
Visitors will be keen to see you and your little bundle. They may be expecting cups of tea and biscuits. Avoid feeling like the butler, by asking them to bring a cake and make you a cup of tea when they arrive.
Consider leaving the answerphone on or making appointments with friends and family who want to send their congratulations on the birth of your new baby (or maybe babies!).
Bringing home your new little bundle or greeting your little one at home is a wonderful time, although it can also be a little daunting. Roles have changed and you are now a new parent. Time for yourselves as a new family gives you space to discover how you are as a parent and get to know your little one/s.
What can newborns do?
Assuming all went to plan and your baby is full term and healthy, parents are often surprised just what their little one can do. Amongst other things they can:
- Suckle and have a very strong sucking reflex
- Protect their sleep – they are used to the noises in the home and may initially startle at a noise, but they will soon go back to sleep
- Recognise their parents’ voices and those of other older children (presumably ‘in the family’?)
- Copy some facial expressions
- Lift their heads up momentarily
LINK: The Social Baby
Mum knows best
Trust your instincts. If you think your baby is poorly, take him/her to see a doctor. You know your baby better than anyone else and doctors will always be happy to check if a baby is okay.
What a difference a day makes!
All babies are unique, and their appearance will change rapidly over the next 24 to 48 hours.
The waterproof vernix (white greasy covering) will disappear.
Any bruising or slight misshapenness will lessen.
Some babies are very sleepy and others more wakeful.
Skin-to-skin helps you understand and respond to even small feeding cues.
Midwifery support for mum
The midwife will:
Feel if your uterus is getting back to its pre-pregnancy size
Check any stitches
Take your blood pressure
Be there for emotional support
Give you breastfeeding and feeding support
Give advice on minor problems, such as constipation
Remind you about your pelvic floor exercises – start these as soon as you can within 24 hours of birth
Getting help and support
A midwife can be contacted via the labour ward ( 24 hours a day) and the phone number written on your notes. Midwives usually visit every few days up until day 10. In special circumstances they may visit until day 28. Call NHS Direct for any medical related queries.
LINK: NHS Direct
For dads and birth companions
Tricky births can affect dad, too. Here is some further information for dads and partners:
LINK: Birth trauma