What to Expect in the First Week with a Newborn
Week One: Expectation vs. Reality
I was grossly unprepared for how the first week with my newborn was going to go. Of course, there was the added complication of Covid-19 being a total nuisance. So, I cut myself some slack there. Yet, I found myself very surprised each day of the first week. On day one, I thought that I would have my baby, they would put her on my chest, we would breastfeed immediately, they would clean her off, and then we would all drift away into a peaceful sleep. However, that idea was far from what actually happened.
Going home was another naive vision in my head. It wasn't as warm as I thought it would be. However, that was largely caused by both Covid-19 and my nurse for that afternoon. She wasn't the kindest, so there was little care or compassion when it came to my discharge. The virus also made it uncomfortable because my husband could not reenter the hospital once he left for the car, so he had to take everything in one trip and the hospital staff was rushing us.
Then, when we got home, there was a rush of overwhelming emotions as I realized that I no longer had the immediate help of nurses and doctors. This feeling, however, didn't last too long. I soon grew to love having this uninterrupted time at home with my daughter and husband.
All in all, though my experience was not even close to what I imagined for nine months, it was still beautiful and exciting. I wouldn't trade my experience for anything because it was unique to us. It was an experience that I will forever cherish and reflect on as my baby girl grows and develops.
At the Hospital
When my baby was born, they had my husband cut her cord and they laid her on my chest. We had skin-to-skin bonding for about 20 minutes before they took her to measure and clean. Then, they returned her to me for more bonding and the nurses and doctor left the room so we could all have an hour or so together as a new family. Breastfeeding didn't happen for almost 4 hours after my daughter was born. Yet, it all worked out because she latches fine and she is well nourished. So, when you have your little one, be prepared for a unique adventure. If your labor is slower and you have time to ask, it may be wise to discuss what the process will be with your nurse. That way, you have few surprises.
I truly thought I would get sleep after she was born. Be warned - you will get very little sleep. Of course, when your baby is hungry or needs changing, they will wake you up. However, that's not the big reason why you get hardly any sleep. The nurses assigned to you will be in every hour or so to check on you and/or your baby. So, if they come in to check on you, you will be woken up so they can check vitals and such. It's exhausting! Unfortunately, I don't really have any advice on this. Just hang in there and know that you will get more sleep when you get home... eventually.
I promise you that things get easier when you get home. No one is coming in to bother you every hour and you are now in your comfortable bed with much better food. However, be aware of your emotions. I had a breakdown a few hours in when it finally clicked that we were on our own with this fragile, tiny human. It can be very overwhelming. Be sure to have someone with you at all times in the first week and tell them when you feel overwhelmed and emotional. You will need the support.
The first week at home is the time you will need to get to know your baby and begin establishing a routine for you and baby. As you get to know your newborn's needs and begin to recognize their cries, parenting becomes more and more smooth. Just be sure to carve out time to shower, brush your teeth, and put on a fresh set of clothes. These simple things can easily slip away from you but are a great way to mentally recharge.
Your Baby in the First Week
To my surprise, the first week is fairly uneventful. Your baby will eat, sleep, poop, pee, and have a few hours a day of alertness. When your baby is awake and paying attention, that is a golden opportunity to get 8 to 15 inches from their face as this is the distance that your baby can see clearly. Once you are up close, you can talk or sing to your little one. That is about all you can do in the first week because, as most people know, a day-old newborn can't do much.
You may have heard a thousand times to sleep when the baby sleeps. For me, I was unable to do that during the day due to a lack of fatigue (which is ironic considering I spent my whole pregnancy completely exhausted and with insomnia). To be honest, daytime sleep wasn't necessary because my newborn only woke up two or three times during the night to eat. I would go to bed around 10 pm and wake up around 7 or 8 am with feedings about every three hours. As long as I was able to get her to bed quickly, I could fall back to sleep fairly quickly so that I'd feel refreshed in the morning.
Though this time is not filled with a lot of activity and major milestones, it is a memorable time as you really get acquainted with your little one. Pay attention to your baby and their needs. Every day, you will become more and more familiar with their cries, facial expressions, feeding schedule, and sleep patterns.
Are you a new mother or expecting?
© 2020 CatG