There’s much build up to the actual birth of a child, and many parents find themselves flustered when it’s time to take the newborn home. Don’t worry. While that first week will be full of gazing and laughter, it’s otherwise pretty uneventful in terms of your baby’s development. It’s been a crazy nine months for him, too; so, for the first week you can expect him to sleep most of the time. Take advantage of this quiet time to prepare for the longer nights that lie ahead. In other words, when he sleeps, you sleep!
One of the first milestones you’ll have with your new baby that first week is his first bath. Well, sponge bath. Take your time choosing a baby wash; it’s important to choose baby wash that is paraben free. Be picky about fragrance because you’ll likely remember the smell for the rest of your life.
Another routine you should establish in the first week is your baby’s diaper routine. During those first days, the baby may not cry to tell you something’s wrong. It’s important to develop a good diaper routine, as the frequency and quality of evacuation is a good indicator of digestive and urinary tract health. The rule of thumb on wet diapers is 2 to 3 per day, and by the end of the first week this may increase to as many as ten! For soiled diapers look for 3 or more dirty diapers. Breastfed babies will typically have more frequent stools than bottle fed babies.
During the first week, your baby will be sleep when it’s time to change his diaper. He may even sleep through it! During an initial diaper change, your baby will likely be passing meconium, a dark, tarry waste leftover from when he was in the womb. This can be tough to clean, as it has a waxy quality. Petroleum jelly can be helpful. Your baby’s stools should become softer and lighter colored as he adjusts to breast milk or formula.
Whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding, your baby needs regular nourishment. At one week, babies nurse frequently and fall asleep mid-suckle. You cannot nurse too much (though you may tire of it). The rule of thumb is to count wet and soiled diapers. This is your best indicator of nourishment since you can’t actually see the amount of milk your baby is swallowing. Generally lactation consultants will advise offering your breast every two to three hours. Bottle fed babies will feed every two to four hours, taking less than an ounce at first and working up to about four ounces. In either case it is best to let baby feed on demand and not try to force a feeding.
The first week is all about getting to know each other and sleeping. Routines do not need to be made just yet, so take it easy. This is your chance to recover before you start your new lifelong journey as Mommy!