The First Weeks with a Newborn Infant: 10 Recommendations

Childbirth can be exhausting. There are ways to prepare for this time period and ways to reduce stress during the first few weeks after giving birth.

In the final weeks of pregnancy stock up on basic household needs and staple items (like we have been doing through the pandemic). During the first few weeks after childbirth shopping may be difficult to squeeze in. You may want to have a supply of paper plates to simplify mealtime clean-up.

The first two days after giving birth should be spent resting and getting to know the baby. It is important to sleep and recuperate. Women who do not get adequate sleep these first two days may develop a sleep hunger that persists.

When you go home with your newborn, be aware that an infant has no concept of night and day. One of your first tasks as a parent is to teach your baby that daytime is for socializing and nighttime is for sleeping. You can get this message across by keeping lights dimmed and avoiding any interaction other than feeding or soothing at night. This practice will help your baby have his longest sleeping stretch at night

In order to feel good, it is important to eat balanced meals, but when you are home meal preparation time is limited with the new tasks of caring for an infant. In the final weeks of pregnancy plan ahead. Whenever possible cook double amounts and freeze extra for meals later. Mornings are usually the best time to organize the evening meal.

Recognize that time for household chores will be limited after the baby is born and begin to organize priorities. Which household tasks are most important to you? How long do they take and how often do they need to be done? By developing some priorities, you will avoid being overwhelmed. Low priority items can be left for the late afternoon when an infant may have a fussy period.

If you have a two-level home be sure to have a changing table and nursery supplies on the first level. Climbing should be minimized at first. Following a cesarean section, stairs should be avoided for two weeks. In that case, have all of your living needs on one level, temporarily. 

Observe your baby and get to know his/her personality. What is her favorite sleeping position? What techniques are most soothing: rocking, being snuggly wrapped, sucking, music? Every baby is an individual and has preferences. As you get to know your infant and begin to read his cues, parenting will become easier and increasingly satisfying.

As your baby grows include her in your morning activities. Place the infant seat in the room where you are working. An alert baby enjoys companionship.

Communicate with your partner specific ways to be helpful. Talk about expectations that you have of each other. How do you see each other’s roles?

Keep healthy snacks available. Fresh fruit, carrots, celery, yogurt, cheese and granola bars provide a quick nutritious boost.

Photo courtesy of Carlo Navarro on Unsplash.

This post is shared with #Alittlebitofeverything Link-up

Birth During the Pandemic

Yesterday I listened to a couple take about their birth experience. They had planned to have a home birth. Having had the experience of assisting at home births, I thought their choice was good—especially during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, the mom needed to be transferred to the hospital after many hours of labor. Soon after arriving she had a cesarean section. I was pleased to hear that they placed the baby on her chest, skin to skin in the operating room—a soothing and a bonding moment for mom and baby.

The baby was then taken to the neonatal intensive care unit due to a low blood sugar. The mom was tested for covid and although she had no symptoms, she tested positive. As a result, neither she nor or husband was allowed to go into the nursery. They were separated from their newborn for ten days.

It saddens me to hear how covid has affected procedures in hospital birth care. The couple has returned home with their baby. They are redeeming time together, bonding with their baby.

So many things are more difficult during this time. My heart goes out to new mothers who are recovering from the emotional experience of birth. How did it feel to be attached to monitors and intravenous lines with care givers coming in with masks and face shields? Did they have a support person with them throughout labor? As they think about the birth experience, they are in a process of physical recovery.

Recently I found a file with notes that I had shared with my Lamaze classes.

The physical changes that occur in a woman’s body in the days and weeks following birth are enormous. The uterus which has grown to a two-pound sac at the time of birth will reduce down to a two-ounce muscle in six weeks (hence the after-birth pains).

Vaginal drainage (lochia), which lasts about two weeks, marks the healing process of the uterine lining.

During pregnancy a woman’s blood volume has gradually increased, supporting the growing baby. In the first week after birth, approximately five pounds of excess fluid are lost through urine and sweat.

Following birth there are major hormonal shifts. Estrogen and progesterone drop off markedly and prolactin levels peak. The body prepares for breast milk production. All of this happens after the exhausting event of labor!

In a future post I will share ways to prepare for the recovery period following childbirth.

Note: photo is courtesy of T. Adriaenssen

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: REDEEM

Midwife: With Woman

With my third pregnancy I chose a new medical practice. I chose a practice that included an ob-gyn doctor and a certified nurse midwife. Even though my previous births were cesarean sections, followed by complications I wanted the perspective of a midwife in my care.

During my prenatal visits I saw the doctor a couple times, but the majority of my appointments were with the midwife. We talked about my history and the current pregnancy. We discussed whether I should go into labor (some benefits for baby) or schedule the cesarean section (optimal for having all medical personnel ready).

Unfortunately I had both a horizontal and vertical scars on my uterus. At one time I was advised to avoid another pregnancy. We talked through the risks and eventually I agreed with the midwife that it would be better to schedule the surgery.

The day of surgery my midwife was in the operating room with me. Her role was emotional support. My husband was there too.

Midwives have a special place in childbirth care. Their training, skills and practice are focused on the health of women and infants. They are more sensitive to the emotional aspects of labor and birth.

The term midwife originated in Middle English, the combination of mid [with] and wife [woman]. To be a midwife is to be with woman.

Midwife: With Woman
Midwife gives Virgin Mary first bath: courtesy of http://welcomecollection.org

The prompt for the Five Minute Friday community is: WOMAN