I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in those first few weeks at home with my newborn. Overwhelming unconditional love, the intensity of emotion, was more than I expected. But as intimidating as the whole journey seemed, instinct kicked in, and being a parent quickly became the most natural thing in the world. Of course, I was tired from labor and delivery, but somehow it didn't matter.
As new parents, we were 100% focused on taking care of our new baby. Obviously, I tried to rest when my son rested, to eat well and be smart about visitors. I got some great advice from more experienced moms, and I learned a ton every day as our baby started growing, changing, and discovering his new world. I thought I'd pass along some of the tips that were most helpful to me.
I hadn't held a newborn in a while, and I was surprised how unsteady he was at first. I had to fully support his head and neck until he developed the strength to hold it up by himself. I found that just cradling his head in the bend of my arm or with my hand worked as a comfortable position.
Now, whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, just remember that this will be a big part of the time you spend together in the first few months. I found I was feeding every couple of hours around the clock. Using a support pillow and trying to take time to mentally relax when feeding really helped.
Now, I mainly breastfed, and although it was harder than I thought, we got the hang of it pretty quickly. Getting the position right and finding a comfortable latch was tough, but after just a few feeds, we seemed to figure things out. But we also bottle fed. And bottle feeding gave me a chance to share this special time with dad and with his grandparents as they were able to take over a feeding from time to time.
The first poop was also a surprise. It was thick, dark greenish, almost tar-like. Well, it's called meconium, and it fills the intestines before birth and usually expels in the first 24 to 48 hours after the baby arrives. It was sticky and tough to clean. But gentle baby wipes definitely helped.
Once it cleared his system, things were more normal. His poo slowly became softer, lighter in color, and more watery, so don't be alarmed. This is all quite normal.
Now as a rule of thumb, plan on changing diapers after every time he sleeps and after every feed in addition to when they are wet or have pooped. I found if I kept a wet diaper on him for too long, his skin was likely to get irritated. Changing him regularly, and high quality diapers like these, kept him dry and protected his delicate skin. They even have this blue line which appears when he's wet, letting us both know that he might need to be changed.
Now, the umbilical cord just fell off by itself after a couple weeks. But before it did, we kept it dry mainly by keeping the diaper from covering it. Our doctor recommended we swab it with alcohol every few days to clean it. Be sure to check with your doctor to get their recommendation. Now, if the cord becomes smelly, oozing, or mushy, you should see your doctor right away.
There was the one other big surprise those first few weeks, how much he slept. He slept a lot, but it was more like two to four hour naps and then wake up to eat, which I learned is perfectly normal. And my other children did the same thing. As babies sleep, their minds work on the things they've done that day, and there's so much brain and physical development happening while they sleep. I looked forward to our mornings together and realized how important it was to get an uninterrupted night's sleep.
This is just a bit of what I've learned about these incredible first weeks with a newborn. It can seem like a lot, but don't worry. The love and care you give them is just what they need. You'll find your own rhythm and routine in no time.
On behalf of Pampers, this is Kathleen Fisher with Howdini. Visit Pampers YouTube channel for more parenting tips.