Holding your baby in your arms for the first time is a moment that words simply cannot describe. But what happens after those initial emotionally charged moments following labor and delivery pass? Read up on the first tasks you should be prepped for as a new parent.
Food for thought
For such a tiny person, baby sure does eat a lot (or at least often!). Whether breast- or bottle-feeding, you can expect your growing tot to eat a minimum of every three hours during the first week. And remember, the clock starts when you begin each feeding, so even if it takes an hour to complete a meal, you will need to start the next session just two hours later. Of course, newborns don’t usually carry a watch, so if you notice hunger signals—like rooting or vigorous finger-sucking—go ahead and begin the next meal, even if it’s only been an hour.
Burp it out
Getting a good burp out of your baby after each feeding is a must if you want to avoid revisiting the food she just finished. Try out these three positions to figure out which work best for your babe—just be sure to have a burp cloth within reach!
Shoulder: Prop baby on your shoulder with one hand supporting her bottom. Pat or rub her back until you get a good burp.
Sitting: Sit baby up on your lap, supporting her head by placing your hand under her chin. Pat or rub her back while leaning her slightly forward so she doesn’t fall backward.
Lap: Lay baby across your lap with her head on one leg and her tummy on the other. Make sure her head is turned to one side and pat or rub her back with one hand while supporting her body with the other.
You know you’ve officially become a mom when another person’s poop becomes a frequent topic of conversation! During the first week alone, you will notice a variety of surprises greeting you in baby’s diaper. Here’s a rundown of what you’re likely to find.
Meconium: Sticky, tar-like; black or dark green
Transitional Stool: Grainy; greenish yellow or brown
Normal Breast Milk Stool: Seedy, curdy, creamy or lumpy; light yellow to mustard or bright green
Normal Formula Stool: Slightly formed; light brownish to bright yellow to dark green
Right after your baby is born, she will be wide-eyed and watchful for about an hour while she takes in her new surroundings and studies your face. Don’t get used to this prolonged period of alertness though—it will probably be the longest stretch that your baby spends awake for several weeks. For the remainder of the first week of life, your baby will spend about 90 percent of her time sleeping. The other 10 percent of the time will be spent in varying stages of alertness, but expect to see your baby fully alert for only about 3 minutes out of every hour, or about an hour total each day. Become familiar with your newborn’s six states of consciousness to make the most of your time together during the first week.
Quiet Alert: The ideal time to interact with your baby; she will zone in on your face and soak in the world around her.
Active Alert: During this transitional time between quiet and fussy, your baby will kick her legs, flail her arms, and maybe even make some noises. Objects will capture her attention more than faces.
Crying: Though it can be equal parts frustrating and heartbreaking for parents, your baby cries in order to communicate with you. As you get to know your newborn, you will become better able to decipher whether she is hungry, bored or uncomfortable.
Drowsiness: The state somewhere between awake and asleep. You will know your baby is drowsy when she stretches or yawns or her eyelids become droopy.
Quiet Sleep: During this heavy sleep, which alternates every 30 minutes with active sleep, your baby will become very relaxed and seldom stir. (It’s during this type of sleep that new moms often check to make sure their babies are still breathing!)
Active Sleep: Also called REM sleep, you might notice your baby making sucking noises, stirring, smiling or frowning during this more restless type of slumber.