For first-time parents, bringing your baby home from the hospital is a significant milestone as it will mark the start to your parenting journey. However, adjusting to a new family member at home may be challenging. There are new routines to learn, such as figuring out an optimal sleep schedule, understanding what your baby needs through unclear body language, establishing your baby’s feeding times, and sacrificing personal time in order to care for your new bundle of joy. Even so, the stress and emotional lows you may feel is normal to many new mothers. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself, and those around you, when your newborn arrives home.
While it may seem your baby needs you all the time, newborns tend to sleep for a total of 16 hours or more throughout a day. However, they sleep for periods of 2 – 4 hours as they require feeding every few hours once the milk in their bodies has been digested.
Getting your baby into a regular sleep schedule may take longer than you expect. Your newborn will not be able to tell night from day as they have been in your womb all this time and have not adjusted their body clock to life outside yet. You can help your baby set his/her body clock in about 3 months by ensuring that their sleep schedule is consistent.
You can also try to keep stimulation to a minimum at night so that they are calm enough to sleep for longer. Reserve baby talks and baby exercises for daytime so that your baby can adjust to being awake for longer during the day. At night, you can keep light low or close the curtains to your room so your baby can recognize it is night and fall into deeper sleep.
If you need to get in some “me-time” while your baby is sleeping, try surfing the Internet or watching movies in a separate room. You can also plan your time ahead and give yourself a 10 minute break to do things you like or to rest while you watch over your baby.
Get your husband involved
As a new mother, adjusting to new routines while caring for your newborn can be taxing, both mentally and physically. Don’t be afraid to ask for help watching over your baby so as to make some time for yourself to rest or even breathe! A close family member, such as your husband can help to take care of your baby.
Before the baby comes home, get together with your husband and talk through baby duties that the both of you can be in-charge of. Your husband can handle duties such as diaper changes, bathing or entertaining your baby. He can also be helping you out in chores, cooking meals or putting your baby to sleep.
Your husband may sometimes make mistakes or may not know how to perform his duties well, or in the manner that you prefer. You can patiently guide him or give him tips as he learns to do so. Trust your husband to learn and pick up the skills to care for your baby and remember to give him encouragement along the way so he stays motivated and appreciated when he helps out with his baby duties.
Caring for your newborn is a taxing process of constant adjustments and pressure on your patience and even mental and physical strength. As a result, there can be tension between your family members or your husband due to exhaustion and lack of time for each other. Plus, if you and your husband are first-time parents, you may be feeling guilty for not doing enough for your baby, which adds on to the stress and pressure.
To prevent this, plan some time together with your husband to talk and communicate your feelings with each other. You can also take this time to appreciate each other for the effort and work that both of you are putting in to taking care of the baby. You can do this at the end of the day when you both are less stressed and have calmed down from the day’s work.
Ask for help
Apart from your husband, you can also seek help from close ones such as your parents, in-laws or friends as the pressure of caring for your new bundle of joy as new parents may be too overwhelming to handle for you and your husband.
When your friends or family offer help, it’s best to let them know what kind of help they can do for you. You can ask them to buy meals, do grocery shopping, help out with laundry or even watching over your baby while you take a break. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child! Be sure to let them know you appreciate their help as well.
Connect with other new mothers
Sometimes, your close ones may not understand the struggles you are going through and it may be difficult to explain your feelings to them. Remember that you are not alone! There are many online communities where you can get tips on caring for your newborn and also as a way to connect with many other new mothers like yourself. Don’t be afraid to voice out your concerns or share some issues you may be thinking about; you may even get valuable advice from other mothers and make new friends too!
Bringing your baby home for the first time is an exciting but also anxious point in parenthood. While there can be many considerations you need to take when you bring your newborn home, remember to take things slowly and give yourself and those around you time to adjust the new routines of a newborn. It’s important to also watch over yourself and make sure you are in the right state mentally and physically in order to care for your baby the best you can.
Ben-Joseph, E. (2018) A Guide for First-Time Parents. KidsHealth from Nemours Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/guide-parents.html
Early Childhood Development Agency (2020) SLEEPLESS NIGHTS! BUT IT IS ALL WORTH IT NOW THAT BABY'S HOME. Ministry of Social and Family Development. Available at: https://www.babybonus.msf.gov.sg/parentingresources/web/Newborn/NewbornWell-Being/NewbornDaily_Care/Newborn_Sleepless_Nights?_adf.ctrl-state=e91gw2zcn_22&_afrLoop=31801521874867890&_afrWindowMode=0&_afrWindowId=null#%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Dnull%26_afrLoop%3D31801521874867890%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3D5qg7o1dn7_4