BABY AT HOME
New babies eat (between eight and twelve times in 24 hours), poop and wee (on average four wet and one soiled nappies per day), and sleep (up to 20 hours a day, but usually only for one to four hours at a time). They also make strange movements and noises, most of which are perfectly normal. And they cry. “Feeding the baby before a nappy change and bath time really helps. They cry less and cooperate more when their tummies are full,” says Inga.
The very first bath at home can be stressful. Luckily baby doesn’t have to be bathed every day. A daily top and tail is enough during the first few days at home. This basically means using a warm, damp facecloth to gently wipe the face and neck folds (where milk or moisture accumulate). Lastly wipe the private parts. When you do bath your baby, pick a time of day where you’re all feeling, relaxed, calm and happy. Before you start, gather together all the items you’re going to need (cotton wool balls, baby soap or shampoo, aqueous cream, nappies, bum cream, a towel and a new outfit) and have them nearby so you’re not rushing around to find anything. Never leave your baby alone in the bath – not even once she’s able to sit on her own. Drowning can happen in a matter of seconds. Also make sure the room is warm, as newborns can’t regulate their temperature very well.
While you’re going about your day, try to soothe your baby by recreating the sensations of the womb wherever possible. Remember that she has spent her entire lifetime, up to now, in the safe, warm and cosy confines of the uterus. Now she’s suddenly been thrust into a very different environment, and she needs time to get used to this new space. Swaddling, swaying and shushing (white noise) are great ways to do this.
Sleeping when baby sleeps is probably one of the most important things you should try to do now.
The second-most important piece of advice for new moms? Do things your way. “Every baby and family is different, so do what works for you. Don’t feel obligated to listen to all the advice every aunty, granny and neighbour gives. No one knows your baby better than you do so trust your instincts. Your emotions and hormones are also all over the place, so know that it’s okay to have a good cry when you need to,” says Nicole le Roux from Welgemoed, mom to nine-month-old Luke. “Keep yourself hydrated, especially while breastfeeding, and try to get as much rest as you can – forget about dishes, laundry and cooking. Have some meals made and in the freezer before baby comes. Be prepared ahead of time – this helps!”
Many new moms go home to their own mothers for a few weeks after the baby is born, to have some help and to get some input on how to do things. If this isn’t your cup of tea, you can choose not to. You can also ask your mom to come to you. If you’re a single mom ask a trusted friend, sister or your mom to help out. Try to talk about your expectations of what your baby’s dad’s role and responsibilities will be before baby arrives.
Write down some ideas together so you’re both on the same page. For example: Mom will sleep when baby sleeps, so Dad will do the burping and nappy changes – a perfect time for bonding. Leave Dad to work out his own special way with the baby. Don’t supervise or make comments on how he’s doing things.
Fathers are great at keeping too many visitors (politely) away for a while. Your job is not to entertain guests during this time, but to rest and bond as a family. However, if you feel lonely and in desperate need of company, invite someone over for a short visit.
Lastly, remember that you’re a couple! Yes, your lives are now filled with nappies, wipes, sleeping schedules and breast pads, but try to carve out some time for just you two (even if that’s something as simple as a cup of coffee and a chat while baby sleeps). Work together as a team in your new roles as parents – you’re in it together.