As new parents, it is hard to believe that we are sent home alone with a brand new little life. Should there not be a test we should have to take before hand or something? But here we are, thrown into the deep end of parenting. For many, this is cause for panic. However, if we just knew a bit about what to expect, we can make this (often) daunting task a little less scary. Let me walk you through a few things to expect in the first 48 hours with your new baby at home.
Newborns tend to sleep the majority of time in these first couple of days at home. You can expect that they are likely to sleep for up to 18 hours in a 24-hour period. However, this is in two- to three-hour intervals. It is normal and, in fact, recommended and healthy for a new baby to eat every two to three hours throughout the day and night. Because of their small stomach sizes, a baby is only eating one to three ounces of milk per feed. This amount of ounces of milk per feed is often recommended as it helps baby regain their birth weight, continue on a healthy gaining curve, and to try and avoid jaundice.
As mom’s breast milk comes in (on day three or four), and baby becomes more efficient at feeding, some babies can start to eventually increase that length of time in between feeds in the night. But be cautious, if your baby is small or is showing signs of jaundice (which can be seen or evident often on the second day), these are reasons that you keep a strict feeding schedule of every two to four hours. In other words, it is a really good idea to find ways to rest and rejuvenate, because your sleep will not be what you are used to for many more months.
Most newborns are very content and because they sleep the majority of the day, you will think you won the lottery by getting the best baby ever! So in the first 48 hours, you can expect the household to be pretty calm. However, to sprinkle a little reality into the mix, let me prepare you. There are two crucial points to consider when we talk about crying newborns: Day two-and-a half is one of them. For those who are breastfeeding, this is just before mom’s milk comes in; your baby will behave as if they are wanting/needing constant feeding.
As a new mom, you may start to doubt your abilities to breastfeed your baby and may wonder if you are starving your baby. But take heart; this is simply nature’s way of stimulating your milk production. You will find as you survive these eight to 12 hours of crazy that your milk production will start and that feeding will become much easier, and your baby will become more satisfied. The second critical point is the next four to six weeks. This is often the building of the most your baby will cry in a 24-hour period. At this point, most babies’ schedules will calm down, and you will find their crying is more limited and easily decoded.
There is good and bad involved in the diaper-changing arena during the first 48 hours after birth. The good? Your babe will only need to be changed a few times a day. For the first day, you can expect to see one to two wet diapers and one to two soiled diapers. Day two, you can expect to change about two wet diapers and two soiled diapers. Not so bad, right? The bad part is the kind of soiled diapers you will experience.
In the first two to three days, your baby will dispose of meconium, which is black, tar-like poop. It is thick and sticky, and is often difficult to clean up, especially for a rooky. To help ease the cleanup, use some Vaseline to coat your baby’s bottom.
By day three, your cleanup will be easier. Expectation should be that each day increases output. On day three, expect three wet diapers and two to three soiled diapers. On day four, expect four wet diapers and two to four soiled diapers and so on until day seven, where you can continue to expect six to eight wet diapers and three to five soiled diapers.
Once again, your newborn will spoil you in the first 48 hours, sleeping over 18 hours a day. What takes a lot of getting used to is the breakings up of these sleep patterns. Most babies will only sleep two to three hours at a time, day and night. This is due to the small size of their stomachs and the most efficient way breast milk is metabolized. They need to take in calories regularly. New babies are not always the best at establishing their own sleep patterns.
As new parents, it is important to know the signs of sleep readiness and have an environment of safety and comfort to encourage good sleeping. If your baby displays yawning, rubbing their eyes, turning away and fussiness, chances are they are tired. It is a good idea for future sleep patterning or training to help teach your baby to fall asleep on their own. To get your baby sleepy, you can rock them, feed them, and play music for them, and it is recommended to put them into their beds when they are still awake.
Better success is found with babies who wake to get themselves back to sleep if they are in the same place they fell asleep in. For example, if you put your baby to sleep rocking them in your arms but wake up in their crib, they are less likely to fall back asleep on their own because they woke up in a different location from where they fell asleep. But by putting them into their crib or bassinette sleepy but not asleep can help them feel more comfortable going back to sleep on their own if they wake and are not yet ready to stay awake.
The first 48 hours at home with your new baby can be daunting but are a great building block to help you acclimatize to your new surroundings as a new parent. As you learn your baby’s cues and personality and get more comfortable with your role as their parent, you will begin to develop a confidence that will propel you through a fantastic parenting journey.
Sharon is the owner of Calgary Birth Essentials, and has over 16 years experience educating and supporting families having babies in Calgary. Calgary Birth Essentials offers small group and private prenatal classes, birth doula services, and lactation consultations. For more information, visit calgarybirthessentials.com.
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