This post is also available in: Svenska
Facts and advice about the first weeks with your newborn. Written by pediatricians for parents.
Many people begin by ordering a birth certificate. But it is just as important to plan for the first weeks with your newborn as it is to order that certificate. This post is about preparing for a good start to life with a newborn. About skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, bottle-feeding and sleep.
When a baby is well after birth, the midwife will put the baby skin-to-skin with a parent. If the birthing mother is well and has the strength, the baby can stay with her. If she doesn’t, the baby can be with the other parent.
Skin-to-skin contact has many benefits. It’s cozy, it helps keep the baby warm, and the parent learns the baby’s hunger signals. When the baby is in skin-to-skin contact, it only has a diaper, a baby cap and a little baby blanket on their back.
You can leave the baby skin-to-skin contact for a long time if you enjoy it and just pause when the parent is going to sleep.
Keeping a Newborn Baby Warm
A newborn has difficulty regulating their body heat. Therefore, it is important that the midwife dries the baby thoroughly (a wet baby becomes cold faster) and that the baby is left skin to skin or wears clothes.
A newborn has a large head relative to the body. A lot of heat can be lost via the head, therefore it is a good idea to have a cap on your newborn.
Feeding a newborn
A newborn baby will soon need food. You can give the food as breast milk via breastfeeding or bottle or formula via bottle. A child lying skin to skin will often start pecking their head and gaping. These are hunger signals. Then give the 5-10 ml breast milk or formula via a bottle. The first time with a baby will be a lot about making the food work. Let it take its time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Sleeping with your baby for the first time
A newborn has no circadian rhythm but sleeps for a few hours at a time evenly distributed over the day. The need for sleep varies from child to child, but is always greater than that of adults. The first time a baby sleeps is not always at night and they will sleep at least as much during the day. This is a challenge for most parents.
If you’re two parents, try to share the responsibility. Please take every other night each. If one mother is full-time breastfeeding, she can breastfeed every night. But the other parent is allowed to take general care of the baby during the nights.
How are you as a parent?
The first moments with your baby is very special. As a birthing mother, you have immense hormonal changes that don’t exactly help against those emotional storms. But whether you have given birth or not, the transition is complete and combined with sleep deprivation and a sense of responsibility. It’s not uncommon that your mood hasn’t peaked.
It’s perfectly normal. But if you feel that you do not see any joy in life, that you do not know how to cope, then you may be experiencing postpartum depression. Fortunately, there’s help available.
In Sweden, it’s your children’s medical center. In other countries speak to your midwife of medical doctor.
Call them as soon as you get home from the hospital. A midwife is employed specifically to help you take care of your newborn baby. She or he can provide invaluable support for new parents. In the first week in Sweden, midwives make home visits. You don’t have to clean up before the visits. Don’t bake buns. It’s not a form of control. It’s an opportunity for you to ask questions about the baby and your well being. But, of course, anyone would be happy if they were invited for coffee. Even instant coffee if that is what’s available.