Most mamas feel like they’re ready to bring the baby home after those few days at the hospital. You prepared yourself and your home and everything seems in order.
But I can tell you from experience that despite all your preparations you can and will feel very overwhelmed.
You learn so much about pregnancy and childbirth before the baby comes but a lot of what comes after just gets left out and you end up feeling stressed out and lonely.
I want to put everything into perspective in this post and help prepare you just a little bit more. I think it will do you good.
***Just a note: I really enjoyed writing this article for you. I think it’s extremely helpful in painting a real picture of what it’s like during that first week and what you should expect. It also allowed me to tell my story and reminisce about my three babies and I appreciate that. I hope you enjoy it and find it very helpful!
By the way, this post contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What To Expect The First Week Home With Baby
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First Let’s Talk About What You’ll Experience Than We’ll Move On To What To Expect With Your Babe~
The Ride Home Can Be Rough
If you’re especially lucky your baby will sleep on the ride home from the hospital, but very often your new sweetie will cry most or the whole way home.
They cry because they’re nervous in the change of environment or just to relieve stress and that’s ok. Just soothe your baby with soft music and quiet voices.
A screaming baby can be stressful for new parents who are already tired but you’ll soon be home so just take a deep breath and try to relax.
All three of my sweet ones cried as hard as they possibly could on the 45-minute drive home and I was an absolute wreck by the time we finally made it. It sure seemed like the longest ride ever and all I wanted was for my babies not to be scared.
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Hopefully, your ride will be short and sweet and filled with zzzs.
****If you haven’t taken a childbirth prep test I HIGHLY recommend you do. Here’s an online course you can take in 3 hours or less at home.
You Will Miss The Hospital
Once you get home it seems so foreign. After all, everything has changed and you’re truly a different person. Even though you know your home well and you are comfortable there, things are just different, and being at the hospital with so much help was very useful.
You will start to worry about all the things. You will miss the staff. While you were there you could ask them questions and they helped with everything. It was a bit like a clinical bed and breakfast.
This happened with each of my babies births and I learned to appreciate that hospital stay just a little bit more each time.
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I have talked to other mothers and they say they often felt the same way, so enjoy those two or three nights, eat good food, and relax while you’re there.
Making sure you have help when you get home can ease the transition a bit so you’re not as overwhelmed. We’ll talk more about that later.
You’ll Be Really Uncomfortable
I’m going to level with you. The postpartum time is very painful and it sucks. Whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a c-section you’ll be pretty uncomfortable most of the week.
Everything down there is swollen three times its normal size and many women end up with stitches.
You should be prepared for this. Most women don’t even think about it until the baby is born and they’re experiencing it. It’s like we forget all about the consequences birth will have on our own bodies.
But there are a few things you can buy that will make things much more comfortable for you. I have listed them below and if you want to read more about postpartum pain and what to expect you can read this article right here.
**Speaking of Your Postpartum body, if you’re worried about getting your body back and losing the baby weight I recommend the program The Postpartum Cure. It’s very popular and it’s helped many mamas lose weight, and flatten their tummy back out all while increasing their milk supply. It’s an excellent option if you want to get back to your shape quickly and safely. Here’s a link if you want to check it out.
You’ll Feel Sad And Strange
Gosh, I can’t even describe it. You just feel really weird that first week home. The second I came in the door I wanted to burst into tears yet I was elated in every way at the same time.
But I felt super sad too if that makes sense. I know it doesn’t really.
You just need to know that it hits you like a wrecking ball hard and fast and it’s not fun. You’ll be on the rollercoaster ride of your life that first week. Forget your mood swings during pregnancy.
While pregnant your hormones go up at a steady, slowish pace after the first trimester. But once you have the baby your body is flooded with the most intense changes. It’s like being hit by a tsunami that’s 59 feet tall. All I can say is just grab onto something and hold on.
But knowing that a wave is coming can help you feel a little bit more prepared. So at least there’s that.
You’ll Be Extremely Tired Yet Energetic
You’ll feel so tired from lack of sleep obviously but you will still have that crazy adrenaline rush you had when you went into labor and had your baby. You’ll also get a rush of those exciting hormones just because you have a newborn. You waited so long and now you get to spend time with her and that’s very exciting.
All three of my little ones wanted to stay at the breast for food and comfort almost constantly when they were first born and I obliged. I didn’t sleep for two weeks straight with all three, no joke. That’s how long that rush of hormones took to wear off.
I would sit up all night with my baby to my chest, skin to skin marveling at what I had created. I was tired and would catch a few zzzs here and there but for the most part, I was pretty energetic despite it all. I felt good! Except for maybe my mood swings here and there and those weird moments where my body was just shifting.
In my interviews with many other mamas, I have found this to be a common feeling so if it happens to you enjoy it! It makes those harder moments pale in comparison.
Breastfeeding May Be Really Difficult
Breastfeeding can be pretty rough during those first few weeks, but it is SO worth it!
But at first, you’re going to have really tender nipples, even if you have a really good latch technique.
If you don’t know how to latch your baby before you start trying the pain will be a lot worse. It’s important that you go into breastfeeding knowing what you’re doing so it will be easy for you and your babe.
Contrary to popular belief, babies don’t know how to instinctually latch onto the breast properly. They certainly know how to suckle but there is a very specific way to latch onto the breast to get the milk.
You don’t just stick the baby’s head straight to your nipple. Please don’t. This will cause terrible pain for you and frustration for your little one and this is why so many mamas give up on breastfeeding.
I highly recommend you take a breastfeeding course. There’s an online video course called Milkology that’s only $19. She has a pumping class too. This is the best way to be prepared for breastfeeding because you cannot count on the staff to teach you how. See The course here.
Some hospitals will indeed have a lactation consultant but many do not so be prepared.
You should equip yourself with some breastfeeding tools that will ease the transition from tender nipples to breastfeeding-conditioned nipples. They will also help tremendously.
The list of things you’ll need is below:
- Medela Hydro-Gel Breast pads
- Or Gel Pads from Lansinoh
- This nipple ointment
- Breast shells
- nipple shields
- This Pillow right here
- Boppy Breastfeeding Pillow
- This breast pump right here
- breastmilk freezer bags
You Should Have Someone There To Help
It’s important to have someone there to help you because you will be sore all over. You’ll also want to fawn over your babe instead of cook dinner or doing laundry. So have your own mama or mother-in-law do the traditional week stay after the baby.
Your partner can help some but he or she likely won’t be able to do it all so outside help is good.
If nothing else you could hire someone from Care.com or something. It may not be as personal but it will certainly be helpful.
Your Partner Will Struggle Too
Your partner will feel almost as overwhelmed as you. He or she will be elated, nervous, stressed, and full of crazy emotions. Maybe not quite like the hormonal Tsunami, you’re feeling but it will still be a lot for your partner to handle.
Just having your little one there and realizing how everything has changed and how you’ve both changed too is enough to knock a strong person over. After all, you’re parents now and it’s a big deal!
So expect some help from him but cut him some slack. This is when that extra help will come in handy. He will want to fawn over the baby as well. He’ll be happy to help but he may not be able to handle it all.
Now Let’s Talk About What’s Going On With Baby~
Your Baby May Develop Jaundice
Infant jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation (preterm babies) and in some breastfed babies. Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
Severe jaundice (when levels of bilirubin are high, usually above 25 mg) that is not treated can cause deafness, cerebral palsy, or other forms of brain damage. In rare cases, jaundice may be a sign of another condition, such as an infection or a thyroid problem.
It does happen in full-term healthy babies though too. It happened in all three of mine. If it does happen they’ll have your baby lay on a special light bed or wrap them in a light blanket to reduce the bilirubin. They do this if the Jaundice shows up while you’re in the hospital and you may have to stay an extra day to help bring levels down if it stays elevated.
It’s important to keep an eye on it when you leave the hospital as well. It can show up a few days later sometimes. That’s why it’s important to keep those appointments with the Pediatrician.
Jaundice can be hard to see, especially in babies with dark skin. If you’re unsure, gently press the skin on your baby’s nose or forehead — if jaundice is present, the skin will appear yellow when you lift your finger.
Your Babe’s Brain Is Developing So Fast
Your baby may be small and sleeping a lot but they are already learning so much. She will soak up everything she hears, smells, sees, and touches.
Your baby will close his hands involuntarily in the grasp reflex and will startle at sudden loud noises. She’s also likely to have sudden jerky movements while asleep. This can be alarming because she’ll throw her little arms up above her head suddenly but it’s totally normal so don’t worry. All babies do this.
Your baby will learn to communicate with you quickly through body language. This will begin in the first week so pay attention to what your sweet babe does.
Your Babe Will Look Weird
This is a big one. When most people think of babies they think of soft, round, and pink with bright little eyes. But this isn’t the case right after birth. They look very mashed and their little faces are flattened out quite a bit and their features can be very swollen.
After all, they were in a tight little space in that amniotic sack so everything was pushed down.
Here’s what to expect:
Your baby’s head may be cone-shaped if you had a vaginal delivery and especially if you had a vacuum-assisted birth. My first little boy was vacuum-assisted and his head was long and he had little swollen lymph nodes on the back of his head for weeks. That scared me a bit but Doc said he was just fine.
Your baby’s head will go to a normal shape within the first month or so but take care that your child doesn’t get a flat head from laying too much. As a side note, you can read this article on how to avoid flat head, as your baby grows so they don’t end up needing a helmet.
Your baby may also have pretty scary-looking bruises on their head if he/she had vacuum or forceps used.. These will fade too but they do increase the risk of Jaundice so keep an eye on that.
Your baby’s facial features may be swollen and it can look a little freaky. But they will take on a lovely shape as your first few weeks progress.
The baby’s genitals will be swollen as well. This is from the hormones you passed on to your baby before birth and it’s nothing to worry about. It can be alarming but they’ll go down quickly.
The Umbilical cord will look pretty gross. It will gradually dry, become black and then fall off, usually within the first 10 days.
Try to keep the umbilical cord clean and dry. If the area around the umbilical cord looks red or is sticky, let your pediatrician know.
There Will Be So Much Poop
Babies poop so much in those first few days. They are getting all the meconium out.
Meconium is the earliest stool that babies have and it looks like black tar. It’s made up of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus: intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water. They will poop this tar-like substance for about half the week.
All my babies pooped about 15 times a day for the first 3 days just getting this stuff out. It was So. Much. Poop. I could barely enjoy my little one between constant diaper changes.
After your breastmilk comes in the poop will turn to a dijon mustard yellow and they go after every feeding. This is a good indication that your babe is getting enough to eat.
She May Get Really Rashy And Have Gooey Eyes
Your baby will very likely get rashy and his eyes will run. They can develop all sorts of rashes, which typically aren’t serious.
Common rashes include cradle cap, diaper rash, heat rash, eczema, milia, and dry skin. My first had all of them.
Your little one may get gooey eyes too. This is a sign of a clogged tear duct and it usually gets better on its own.
You’ll Be Seeing The Doctor A Couple Of Times
Your Pedestrian will have you come in every couple of days at first and then the appointments will stretch further and further apart until they land at every six months or so. These are important so they can check to make sure your baby is gaining weight and eating well.
They will also check to make sure your baby doesn’t get Jaundice and give injections that he needs so don’t put them off.
I know it’s tiresome to keep going when you’re tired and you just want to be home but you have to do it.
Things Will Get So Much Easier After That first Week. Your body will adjust and your babe will adjust to her new home. A routine will eventually set in and you’ll get more rest. It’s all so worth it. Hang in there and enjoy these special ( but sometimes ) difficult moments. It’s all part of the package 😉
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