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What to Expect With a Newborn

Updated on December 12, 2012
My daughter Indiana with her father.
My daughter Indiana with her father.

You've made it. You carried the little bundle of joy in your belly for 9 months. You've made it through the doctor visits, belly rubs, baby shower, and the oh so great delivery! Here you are in the hospital dying to get the okay to pack your belongings and take your little one home for the first time. How exciting! Right? I remember how excited I was to bring my daughter home. It didn't hit me until I got home that I wasn't quite sure what to do and how often to do it or where to even begin. It can be very overwhelming, but it's really not that bad once you get a nice little schedule going. You'll get into the rhythm rather quickly. Having a newborn at home can be one of the most stressful, yet most precious moments you will never forget.

She liked to sleep in this. It kept her from spitting up a lot.
She liked to sleep in this. It kept her from spitting up a lot.

The first few weeks of motherhood

Dealing with a newborn takes a lot of patience and love. In these first few weeks especially, they tend to sleep more than anything. They'll wake up for food and a diaper change and then lights out. Here are some things for you to read if you are expecting to have your first child soon and aren't sure what to expect.

  1. Be ready for limited sleep- Newborns are not going to sleep through the night for a long time. Usually months later. In the first few weeks they are only going to sleep for a maximum of 1 to 3 hours at the most. 3 hours and you're lucky! So be ready to wake up to a screaming baby all night for awhile.
  2. Wash your hands often- Babies don't have a strong immune system built up yet, so it's very important to keep hands washed. Don't be afraid to let others know to wash theirs before holding your little one. They will understand.
  3. Support the head and neck- Make sure to support these parts as they are not able to support them on their own yet.
  4. Bottle feeding- If you are bottle feeding most babies only drink 1 to 2 ounces for the first week or two. Do NOT microwave formula as it can leave hot spots that can burn the babies mouth. Instead try leaving a gallon of water out at room temperature. If that's how you start the baby off, they will be use to that temperature.
  5. Burp often- Take a pause every couple of minutes and burp them. You can do this over the shoulder. Make sure to put a spit rag on your shoulder and pat their back. You don't want them to suck in a lot of air and not burp them until the end because they may end up just spitting up everything they just drank.
  6. Spitting up- I actually had a big problem with this myself. Keep in mind my daughter was not diagnosed with acid reflux. She spit up a lot. I learned that when we layed her flat she spit up a lot and this scared me, I thought she might choke in her sleep. So we resorted to a baby bouncer. Make sure the straps work and the baby is fastened in tight. If they do spit up a lot, they may find comfort and be able to sleep longer in this position, rather than lying flat.
  7. Clipping nails- I find the best time to do this is when they are sleeping. It cuts down on the risk of accidentally nipping their skin with the clippers.
  8. Bath time- When they are this little, the easiest thing is to buy a baby bathtub for the sink. They are very convenient and rather cheap. You wont need much water right now. Just enough to lather them up. Make sure to wash around the umbilical cord so it doesn't get infected. Don't use soap on their face, just use a warm, wet washcloth. Also, keep in mind they aren't doing much to get dirty so don't bathe them every day, it'll dry their skin out. But, clean their face and bottom with a washcloth every day.
  9. Changing diapers- They will need changed often, usually every time they wake up for a bottle. They have very delicate skin and get rashes very easy if a wet or soiled diaper isn't changed right away. Try and stay away from baby powder. Research has been done showing that it isn't good for their lungs. Instead try Desitin. It works very well on rashes.
  10. Be ready for crying- And I mean lots of crying. This is their only way of communication. You will hopefully be able to distinguish the difference between a hungry cry and a i'm wet cry.
  11. Monitoring wet diapers- You want to make sure your baby isn't dehydrated. Sometimes when they are sickly they won't drink as much.
  12. Last but not least- Enjoy these moments. At the time, I know it can be stressful. But when they get older you'll miss these precious moments of holding your tiny baby. This is a priceless moment and I hope you find all the joy in the world with your new baby.

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