You have been waiting in anticipation for the arrival of your precious newborn baby for nine months. As the day approaches, you wonder how you will be able to take care of a tiny human. Will you know when to feed the baby? How will you know what he or she needs? And how do you take care of yourself and recover from birth? Or perhaps you have given birth and you find yourself in a blurry, sleep-deprived fog. Maybe you are overwhelmed with all you need to do to care for this little one. How do you focus on what is most important? Well, we are here to help you navigate those first few hazy weeks of parenting with some back to basics tips.
Importance of the First Two Weeks Postpartum
The first two weeks are an important time for both baby and mom. Mom’s body has just completed one of the most miraculous accomplishments it will ever undertake, growing and giving birth to another human. Her body needs time to recover, heal, and adjust. It’s important that mom get the rest and nourishment her body needs to recover. If she is also breastfeeding, her body is making the milk that she needs to nourish her newborn. This requires good nutrition and adequate rest.
The first two weeks are the time in which the mom’s body does the most healing, establishes the breastfeeding relationship and milk supply, and bonds with the baby. The mother-baby bond is strongly established now. Immediate skin-to-skin contact right after birth is the best thing to do for establishing that intimate, physiological bond with the baby. If for some reason it’s not possible to have skin-to-skin contact in the first hour or so, then it can happen at a later time and bonding will still occur. Placing the baby skin to skin is the best way to regulate the baby’s body temperature and encourage mom’s milk to come in.
Keep It Simple
Once you have arrived home from the hospital or place of birth, it’s important that you keep things as simple as possible. Mom, your job is to take care of your baby and yourself. Period. This is not the time to engage in big projects around the house or even to take on the responsibilities of running a home and carrying for older children. This is a time to engage the supports you have in family, friends, and your partner so you can get the rest your body needs. Staying in your pajamas all day is one of the best ways to help yourself remember that rest and self-care are the top priority next to holding, hugging, and caring for your new bundle.
Having meals brought in by a church ministry, friends, or family is another way to decrease your household duties and focus on self and baby care. Take-out and delivery are other options for streamlining meals. Dads or partners are often needed to help with caring for the baby. Diaper changes, holding, rocking, and perhaps feeding are often jobs that new moms find helpful for partners to do.
HALT is a great acronym for new parents to remember in the first few weeks postpartum. It’s important that new moms never become too:
Helping mom with the baby so that she can take a shower also goes a long way towards helping her feel better also. Sleeping when the baby sleeps is so important. Newborns have erratic sleeping schedules for a while. Taking a nap when the baby is napping is a great way to get more of the precious sleep that you need.
Taking care of a newborn baby can be overwhelming, especially if the baby is fussy. As the mother, you know your baby better than anyone, but it also takes time to learn your baby’s cues and what they mean. Keeping the baby as close to you as possible will help you notice early hunger cues such as lip-smacking and squirming. Holding and wearing your baby helps regulate his/her body temperature, digestion, heart rate, and respiration. It also helps establish your milk supply if you are breastfeeding. Newborns have irregular sleep schedules. Following the baby’s cues now makes for a more relaxed and rested mom and baby.
Taking care of yourself and your newborn are the most important things you will do in your first couple of weeks of parenthood. Keeping things simple, resting when the baby rests, feeding yourself well and engaging support are the best ways of starting your parenthood off on the right foot.