by Stephanie Finn, MS, RN, CPNP
You're feeling both completely amazed and completely exhausted. You've just been handed your little bundle of joy and you are headed home with your beautiful newborn. You are ecstatic, in love, lovesick, unsure of how to feel, and maybe sore. It all happened in a flash. All is well, and you've made it through; ready to rest, recover, and snuggle with this amazing creation in your arms. As you begin this nesting journey, you may have some anxiety about what to expect at home. This is a normal experience for many new parents. Here are a few things to expect, and some tips on when you may need to call your pediatrician.
Baby will sleep. Baby will sleep a lot. You, the exuberant parent, may not. You can expect your newborn to sleep at least 16 hours a day, waking every 1-2 hours to eat if you are breastfeeding, and closer to 2-3 hours if you are formula feeding your baby.
Most babies nurse for 10 to 15 minutes at each breast during their feeds. If you are feeding them from a bottle, you will notice they start to become full after eating 2-3 ounces. Get ready for what will feel like a 5-minute nap and then you will restart this feeding process. Don't worry – you will get more sleep down the road! It is 100 percent worth it, as you know. Your baby will also have at least six wet diapers, and then around day four, you will start to see 4-5 poopy diapers or more each day. Aren't you so glad you asked for diapers at your baby shower?!
Newborns will lose some weight the first week of life and start regaining it again after that. Keep going to your well checks and have your pediatrician monitor this to ensure baby stays on track. If your baby is not gaining weight, but is feeding regularly, please take your baby in to see your pediatrician immediately to rule out any serious abnormalities.
Another thing you will notice with your little bundle of joy, new noises! You will hear lots of noises coming from your baby and feel like you are checking on them every second to be sure they are ok. This too, friends, is a normal part of the new parent experience. Grunting, hiccupping, sneezing, crying, squeaking...these are very common. Of course, call your pediatrician if you have concerns over any of these noises and they will be happy to speak with you or see your baby in person if needed before your next checkup. Know that your baby will cry if they want to be held, if they are hungry, or if they need a diaper change. They may cry if they need to be burped or if they are tired and want to be rocked. Over time, you will learn exactly what they are asking for, or you may even go through a list in your head or one written on your refrigerator to remind you of things to check. That is ok! You have the built-in wisdom
to do this, so be patient with yourself.
When to call your pediatrician
If you ever suspect any illness, cannot soothe your baby, if your baby has a fever or if you have other concerns, it is important to immediately call your pediatrician for guidance. You are equipped and can reach out for support when needed. Parents, we are all in this together!
Stephanie Finn, works at CentreSpring MD providing an holistic approach to child and family wellness as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. She guides parents to understand the basics of caring for newborns, from bonding, sleep and feeding schedules, to when to visit a physician and understands what works for one child and family may not work for another.