Your baby

That first time

Your Pregnancy - - Contents - YP

ASK A COU­PLE of sea­soned moms, and you’ll hear that some­where be­tween their photo al­bums is a di­ary of mean­ing­ful “firsts”: first smile, first tooth, first step, first poo… But as a new par­ent you soon re­alise there are many more firsts in your child’s life than just th­ese tra­di­tional mile­stones, and ev­ery one of them is loaded with pride, ex­cite­ment and joy – as well as some anx­i­ety and in­se­cu­rity … Ev­ery sin­gle first ex­pe­ri­ence you and your child share is very spe­cial – so cher­ish th­ese mo­ments!


There’s no big­ger mo­ment in your life than the first time you hold your lit­tle one in your arms. You ex­pe­ri­ence a mix of emo­tions: ex­haus­tion, re­lief, joy, grat­i­tude and pride – and over­whelm­ing love when you look into those lit­tle eyes for the first time. Iron­i­cally, your lit­tle dar­ling is no oil paint­ing at birth. Her skin can be cov­ered in an oily white sub­stance called vernix, there can be blood and lit­tle marks on her body and her head might have a strange shape. All th­ese “side ef­fects” of birth will for­tu­nately dis­ap­pear af­ter a few days. Ask to hold your baby as soon as you can af­ter the birth, so that you can get to know each other bet­ter. Con­sider hold­ing her naked body against yours – skinto-skin con­tact keeps her warm, calms her down and helps her reg­u­late her heart­beat and breath. Chat to your lit­tle one while you check how per­fectly she’s formed. She’ll re­act to your voice, curl her lit­tle fin­gers around yours and stare into your eyes.


Of course the cam­era flashes con­tin­u­ously af­ter the birth to cap­ture ev­ery spe­cial mo­ment! Make sure Dad takes photos of your first mom-and-baby mo­ment and when the baby is be­ing weighed, and then ask the doc­tor to take a fam­ily photo. Later, when baby is rested, spruce your­self up a lit­tle (labour pics can some­times be un­flat­ter­ing!) and have some­one take a pic­ture of your brand-new lit­tle fam­ily.


The first time baby comes to the breast is one of the most in­tim­i­dat­ing yet magical mile­stones for many new moms. It's the forg­ing of a very spe­cial bond: your ex­clu­sive time to­gether. A good start is skin-on-skin con­tact di­rectly af­ter birth. This stim­u­lates your hor­mones for breast­feed­ing and will give baby the op­por­tu­nity to seek out your breast. Ini­tially your breasts don't con­tain milk but colostrum. It's a yel­low­ish fluid that's rich in an­ti­bod­ies to help pro­tect your baby against in­fec­tions. Latch­ing cor­rectly is key to suc­cess­ful breast­feed­ing; oth­er­wise your nip­ples be­come ten­der and even start bleed­ing. Tickle baby's cheek with your nip­ple, and she'll open her lit­tle mouth in to­wards your breast. Then bring her head swiftly to the breast, so that a large part of your nip­ple goes into her mouth. If she latches cor­rectly, her mouth will be wide open, her lower lip will curl out and it won't hurt. If you bat­tle, ask the med­i­cal staff to help.


With the first feed comes the first wind! Get­ting rid of those pesky winds might seem tough at the be­gin­ning, es­pe­cially since the lit­tle body is so small and limp. Rest baby over your shoul­der or on your lap, and pat or rub her back with up­ward move­ments. She might bring up a lit­tle milk. If she doesn't break wind af­ter a few min­utes and falls asleep, she prob­a­bly doesn't have wind, and you can com­fort­ably leave your pre­cious child to sleep. She'll com­plain if she's un­com­fort­able.


Your baby's nappy should be changed fre­quently, usu­ally with ev­ery feed. Don't get a fright when she has her first dirty nappy, and it looks like a sticky dark­green or black tof­fee mix­ture. It's nor­mal, and it's called meco­nium. Your baby's stool will only change af­ter a few days. Breast ba­bies' poo will then be mus­tard yel­low with a some­what wa­tery, crumbed ap­pear­ance, and bot­tle ba­bies will have more shaped, light­brown stool. Make sure to give your baby's bum a thor­ough wash ev­ery time you change nap­pies, so no urine or stool re­mains be­hind. Re­mem­ber to al­ways wipe a girl from front to back so no stool ends up in her vagina.


Within 24 hours af­ter her birth the pae­di­a­tri­cian will ex­am­ine your baby for the first time. Your doc­tor will check your baby from head to toe for pos­si­ble prob­lems. He'll check that her head cir­cum­fer­ence is pro­por­tional to her weight and length, if there are cataracts or other eye prob­lems and also make sure her nasal pas­sages are clear and that her tongue is not stuck too tightly to the floor of her mouth. He also checks that the palate is fully formed, that her lit­tle heart beats nor­mally and that air flows freely to the lungs. Fur­ther­more, he checks that all her or­gans are where they should be, her hips are prop­erly in their sock­ets, that the sex or­gans and legs and feet are nor­mal. You might not be present for the ex­am­i­na­tion, so chat with him about any­thing you're un­sure of.


It's time to get the pre­cious cargo home – your first car ride to­gether as a fam­ily! Pro­tect your lit­tle one by safely strap­ping her into her car seat and en­sur­ing it has been in­stalled 100 per­cent cor­rectly, in the mid­dle of the back seat if pos­si­ble, as this is the safest spot for chil­dren. If you feel you can't leave your child alone in the back, sit next to her.


You were two when you left for the hospi­tal, and now you're sud­denly three. Re­gard­less of all the an­tic­i­pa­tion dur­ing preg­nancy, it can be a strange ex­pe­ri­ence. You'll prob­a­bly catch your­self star­ing at the lit­tle hu­man for hours on end. How in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful is that lit­tle face? Many par­ents wel­come a stream of vis­i­tors dur­ing those first days, which can be quite ex­haust­ing and can take its toll in com­bi­na­tion with lit­tle and in­ter­rupted sleep and changes in rou­tine. It might be best to put the phone on silent now, lower your stan­dards and re­lax as much as you pos­si­bly can.


Baby's first bath at home is of­ten daunt­ing, even if they metic­u­lously demon­strated how to in hospi­tal. That lit­tle body can sud­denly feel ex­tra slip­pery, and if baby also starts scream­ing the mo­ment you un­dress her, it can be ex­tremely un­nerv­ing. Find com­fort in the thought that it does be­come eas­ier the more you do it, and be­fore long it will be one of the high­lights of your day to­gether. Make sure you have ev­ery­thing within reach be­fore you start the bath­time rit­ual. Al­ways test the wa­ter with your el­bow – it must be luke­warm. Bath her quickly, as a new­born can eas­ily feel cold. Re­mem­ber it's also un­nec­es­sary to bath a new­born baby ev­ery sin­gle day, as long as you just keep the im­por­tant bits clean: pri­vate parts, face and folds around her legs, arms and neck. Fol­low the bath with a mas­sage if she en­joys it.


You're scared you won't wake up when your small per­son cries. Your boobs are sore and un­com­fort­ably full. The re­al­ity of new par­ent­hood only sinks in that first night home alone with your baby. You'll prob­a­bly get up ev­ery five min­utes to lis­ten if she's still breath­ing, like thou­sands of moms be­fore you. Con­sider a mon­i­tor if baby sleeps in her own room. Don't switch on the light when you change her nappy at night (in­vest in a night light), and don't talk to her. Work quickly but gen­tly, so that she comes to un­der­stand that nights are meant for sleep­ing.


It'll do you and your baby a whole lot of good to get out of the house and spend some time with friends. Plan your first out­ing for a time when it's calm, and keep it short. Be sure to pack a nappy bag with at least one ex­tra set of clothes, a burp­ing cloth, nap­pies and wipes.


It's time to take your baby for her first set of shots – an ex­pe­ri­ence that can be trau­matic for mom and baby. You may be tempted to give baby painkiller syrup be­fore you go, but it's not rec­om­mended or nec­es­sary as it can in­ter­fere with vac­cines. Rather breast­feed for com­fort. Use the visit to the clinic to make sure she's grow­ing like she should be, drink­ing enough and to sort out small nig­gles.


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