You've gone through pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and now you're ready to go home and begin life with your baby. Once home, though, you might feel like you have no idea what you're doing! Newborn babies do not come with an instruction manual, and you're bound to have lots of questions about their behavior and appearance, to begin with.


You'll probably spend a large part of the first few days after birth looking at your baby. If you notice anything that worries you, however small, speak to your midwife. Within the first 24 hours, a health professional will offer to give your baby an injection of vitamin K. This is to prevent a rare but serious blood disorder. Your baby will also have a thorough newborn physical examination in their first 72 hours. Among other things, their eyes, heart, hips, and testicles (in boys) will be checked for possible problems.





1. Breastfeeding your new baby
In the beginning, it can seem like you're baby is constantly feeding, but gradually you and your baby will get into a pattern and the amount of milk you produce will settle. Feed your baby as often as they want. This is called baby-led feeding. Let your baby decide when they have had enough.


2. Washing and bathing your new baby
You do not need to bathe your baby in the first few days. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands, and bottom carefully instead. This is sometimes called topping and tailing. Choose a time when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm and get everything ready beforehand. You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy, and, if necessary, clean clothes.


3. How to change your baby's nappy
Babies need frequent nappy changes. Do not leave them in a wet or dirty nappy for too long because their wee and the bacteria in their poo may make their skin sore and lead to nappy rash.



4. Helping your baby sleep
It's normal for new babies to only sleep for 2 to 3 hours at a time through the night, as well as during the day. One reason is that newborn babies are not tuned into day and night yet. Babies also grow quickly in the early months and they have very small stomachs. This means they need to feed little and often. As your baby grows, they'll gradually start to need fewer night feeds and will sleep for longer at night.


5. How to tell if your baby is seriously ill
It can be difficult to tell when a baby is seriously ill. Above all, it's important to trust your instincts. You know your baby better than anyone else, so you'll know if their appearance or behavior is worrying.


6. Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS is rare, so do not let worrying about it stop you from enjoying your baby's first few months. Putting your baby on their back to sleep, in a cot in the same room as you, for the first 6 months is one way to reduce your baby's risk even further. Not smoking during pregnancy or breastfeeding, and not letting anyone else smoke in the same room as your baby, will also help protect them.





Sleep deprivation combined with the constant demands of caring for a baby can test your limits. The challenges of having a new baby can take their toll, but while you are focusing on your bundle of joy, don't forget to take care of yourself. Here are a few important steps to take.




It's important to always take care of your own health as much as you are taking care of the baby's. We recommend following up on any conditions identified during pregnancy, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and focusing on good nutrition rather than weight loss.



Chronic sleep deprivation doesn't only lead to exhaustion, but it can also interfere with your memory, your mood, your concentration, and your ability to cope with your new responsibilities. It can also make you more susceptible to illness. One of the most common mistakes young couples make is they both get up with the baby. New parents are better off dividing the night into shifts. They should take turns. One should stay up and one should sleep. The one who is up should take the baby to a totally different part of the house if necessary.



Quality time away from your child is just as important as quality time with your child. Making plans with other adults, particularly new parents who understand what you are going through, can prevent feelings of isolation and give you an emotional support systemWorking out, walking, reading a book, sitting down with a close friend. It can be almost anything that relaxes and centers you and takes you away from the immediacy of someone else's needs. But most importantly, spend time with your partner too!





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