The excitement at the birth of a baby can quickly turn to fear when it’s time to spend the first night at home with your baby. Some women even find the thought scary, especially if it’s your firstborn. What if something goes wrong? What if you simply don’t know what to do? I’m going to go over some tips that I hope will help you not only survive, but cherish that first night home together with your new child.
Basic Needs First
No matter what kind of baby gear you have ready and no matter what you’ve been told about bringing your baby home, it really is very simple. Your baby is going to need nourishment, warmth, diaper changes, and last but for sure not least – you! Babies need the scent of their mothers and the warm touch that only she can bring. If you forget all the other supplies and gear waiting to be used, I hope that you can take a breath and realize, that your baby just needs you.
Just Say No To Guests the First Week
Unless you want to visit and show off your new baby, I encourage you to set some ground rules in a kind way for your friends and family. It’s ok to say that you need a week to rest and bond with the baby. It is going to be hard to take a nap with your baby when he or she sleeps if you are entertaining guests. It’s ok to ask for a little space that first week. There will be lots of time to share your baby with others soon enough.
Have Diapers Ready
Make sure to have a plan for diapers. If you are using cloth diapers, then have everything ready to go. If you are using disposable diapers, make sure to have enough on hand for the first few weeks. The last thing you need is to run off to the store or have to send your spouse out to pick up diapers. I guarantee your baby will need some diapers, so you might as well stock up ahead of time. Don’t forget the baby wipes, and diaper cream too.
Freezer Meals Ahead of Time
The great thing about freezer meals is that they can be prepared months in advance for when you need them. If you are into food preservation, you may always be stocked up. But if you aren’t, then before your baby is born is a great time to get some meals in the freezer. Having ready-made meals available will make those first few days go by much smoother. This is especially true if you already have young ones at home.
Have a Plan For Pet Introductions
Don’t leave anything to chance if you want a smooth transition from the hospital to home life. Make sure to take the time to introduce your dogs and cats to this strange little creature that you brought home. A few moments now of healthy and supervised introductions will go a long ways towards squashing out jealousy from pets before it takes root.
Have a Sleeping Plan Ready
Think about if your baby will be sleeping in his or her own bed or with you. Be prepared to be flexible. I had planned on having my daughter sleep right next to our bed in a little bassinet. However, that first night home, every time I placed her down to sleep, she would wake up and cry. When I held her, she’d go right back to sleep. My daughter ended up sleeping by my side from that first night and the next several years. She never did sleep alone, and I’m glad about that. It made night nursing so much easier. I didn’t even need to get out of bed to feed her. Make sure to have a sleeping plan ready ahead of time, and think about how flexible you may want to be with this plan.
Be Caught Up on Laundry and Chores
If your nesting instincts kicked in before your child was born, then the chances are good that your house is in tip-top shape. It does help to have laundry done and chores caught up on as much as you can before bringing your baby home. When your little one comes home, it will be much more rewarding to spend your time cuddling him or her, resting and taking photos, than doing household chores. Plan on giving yourself a break after childbirth.
Have Baby Bathing Supplies Ready
Your baby will need to be cleaned up every day. Because the umbilical cord stump will still be drying out and on your baby, he or she should not be submerged in water. However, you can and should give your baby gentle sponge baths with warm water, in a warm room. Have a washcloth ready along with unscented wipes to wash around folded areas such as the neck folds where breast milk may accumulate.
Take Care of Your Body
Focusing all the attention on your newborn is easy. After all, it wasn’t long ago that he or she took their first breath. Your baby has gone through enormous changes to adapt to the outside world. While this may be true, remember to take care of your own body. You have just gone through childbirth; whether it be natural or c-section, your body just did something amazing. You may have stitches, and your milk will be coming in. Just when things seem to be settling down, about 48 to 72 hours after birth, you may experience engorgement and an extremely large chest size. This is all normal. Make sure to relax, hydrate yourself, and get plenty of rest.
Take A Breath and Soak In The Moments
Make sure to shake off the stuff that’s not important and relish in these moments that will fade all too quickly. Take photos, record notes, and spend lots of time cuddling. Remember that this is not some exotic animal that you brought home. You won’t need to read up on what it needs to eat, and what temperature the habitat needs to be. You are this baby’s one and only mother. There is no one in the world more equipped to care for this child than you. I like to remember that God choose me for my child. What an incredible privilege. Enjoy the moments and take the time to soak it all in.
I wish you the best of luck as you get through the first couple of hectic days and nights!