What It’s Really Like To Have A Newborn
There is no better feeling in the world than hearing your baby’s first cry after being born. While you are holding your newborn for the first time, there will be a rush of emotions and probably some tears. Congratulations, you are now a new parent.
You spent nine months preparing for your little one’s arrival and now here they are. Maybe you took parenting classes or went to Lamaze, and you have their nursery all set up and ready to be used. Clothes have been washed and are neatly put away, and car seats have been installed. You and your significant other did everything possible to prepare.
But, what’s it really like to have a newborn?
The Hospital Stay
The days following birth often leave new mothers and fathers in a haze. While in the hospital, you may think that you will have free time to catch up on your favorite television show, or snuggle up with your newborn and read a good book.
The reality, though? The days that follow a birth at the hospital are exhausting. Nurses come in every few hours to check your vitals, as well as the baby’s, and they will press on your stomach to check on the uterus. They do this to check and see if the uterus is shrinking back to its normal size. They will check for vaginal bleeding and look for clots. If you had a c-section, your OBGYN will stop by at some point to examine your incision. If you had a vaginal delivery, doctors may examine your stitches afterward depending on the severity of your tear.
The first night with your newborn is bliss – for most new parents, their baby will sleep well during the night. What no one tells you is that the second night is recognized as the “baby’s awakening.” It’s the moment when the baby realizes they are no longer in the warmth of their mother’s womb. They are being picked up and examined by strange people, they are surrounded by unfamiliar noises and they are cold. During the second night, some newborns cluster feed – a series of feedings that are usually back-to-back over the span of a few hours.
Nurses weigh the baby during your hospital stay, but what they don’t always tell you is that it’s normal for a baby to lose weight after birth. This can leave some parents feeling distraught that their newborn isn’t gaining despite cluster feeding.
Society paints breastfeeding as a beautiful bond between mother and child. It is, but learning to breastfeed is the hardest thing a new mother will have to do. A newborn may not be able to latch properly due to a tongue or lip tie, which leaves the baby and the mother frustrated. Mothers may also worry that they are not providing enough colostrum during the first few days of breastfeeding.
Mothers who choose to pump once their milk comes in will have to stay on a schedule. If a mother doesn’t pump for a few hours, the breasts can become engorged and lead to mastitis.
There is always the possibility that a mother’s milk may not come in, and the new parents will have to feed their newborn formula. If parents use formula, there are many options available. The wide variety can lead to anxiety about which formula may be best for the newborn.
Whatever method you choose, remember that “fed is best.”
There is a lot of information available to parents regarding safe sleep, breastfeeding versus formula, and vaccinations. It can be overwhelming to make decisions as new parents, and don’t be surprised if you receive unsolicited advice, which can add stress to the new family. Parents may even wonder at some point if they are enough for their new baby.
You can never really prepare for life at home with a newborn. No amount of parenting books or classes will make you feel like you are ready. No one is ever 100 percent ready to be a parent, but that’s okay. Remember to take care of yourself, communicate with your partner and snuggle your little one as much as you can.