What to expect on your first night home with baby
I remember the long ride in the wheelchair, down the hospital corridor, with my brand-new baby tucked in my arms. I remember looking up at my husband walking beside me, pushing a cart loaded down with all the accessories need for a two day stay at the hospital. I distinctly remember transferring my sore body into the front seat of the car while baby girl was placed in her car seat behind me.
But most of all, I remember arriving home and thinking “Now what do we do with her?!”
Being home with your baby for the very first time can be both exciting and unnerving. You have left the protective cocoon of the hospital. I had a huge stack of discharge paperwork and a fond farewell from the nurses and staff. I thought to myself…I am expected to know how to do all of this and take care of a baby!?! The answer is yes.
Eventually, after some rocky moments, mixed with some fear and a little bit of freaking out on occasion, mother instinct kicks into high gear. After all, you grew that baby, and you can feed and care for your baby like no one else.
Here are some things you can expect that first night, and some ideas to help you make it through.
- You might feel sweaty, emotional, and sleep may be difficult after the exhaustion and excitement of the past few days. You may feel super wired and super tired at the same time. You may want to cry a lot (hormones and heart crushing baby love results in a potent mix of emotions). Your imagination may go a little wild with fears, and you may feel anxious. This is normal! But trust your instinct. If you truly think something is wrong call the doctor.
- Your milk may be starting to come in and your breasts may be full and uncomfortable and drippy. It’s a brand-new breast when the milk fairy comes. Baby may act like they have never met that breast before even if breastfeeding went smoothly while you were in the hospital. Most babies have a bit of a learning curve. Just feed as often as you can. You can pump or work some milk out if you need to get more comfortable, and don’t delay calling your lactation consultant if you need help. We are available 24/7 at The Women’s Hospital.
- You may feel just plain uncomfortable. Full breasts, soaking sweats, incisional or perineal discomfort, and the fact that everything seems to hurt more at night. Remember to take care of your needs, too. Make sure you feed and hydrate yourself, take your pain relievers, and follow your post delivery instructions.
- That age-old advice to rest when baby rests is totally legitimate advice, so take it to heart. Rest is important, so nap whenever you get the slightest chance even if it’s for 10 minutes.
- Babies are up around the clock. They feed every two to three hours and might have some fussy periods. To sleep all night is NOT typical, and is actually not good for baby’s feeding or mom’s milk supply. Babies need to eat at night as well as during the day. Most babies have their fussier time periods during the evening and night time hours.
- People who offer to help you out really do want to help you! So remember to take them up on the offer and use this time to rest up and take care of yourself.
- Last but not least, trust yourself. You won’t, but you should. Your mother hen instincts are there, even if you don’t trust them yet. You’ve got this, Mom!