The time has come. Your new little bundle of joy has finally entered the world and is ready to come home from the hospital. It's one of the most exciting yet also stressful times in your life. This little human is all yours and you're tasked with helping them to thrive! Here are some things you can expect when you first welcome your little one home:
Sleep deprivation: Trying to adjust to your newborn’s sleep schedule can mean less sleep for you overall. Newborns typically sleep for 2-3 hours at a time before needing to feed, according to Stanford Health Children’s Medicine. We know this can be challenging, so don't be afraid to ask for help! Whether you and your spouse make a schedule and try to trade off, or you ask for help from your parents or relatives — sleep can be achieved! We promise, your loved ones will jump at the opportunity to hang out with your new addition while you take a much needed nap.
Feeding: Alongside waking up every few hours comes feeding. Because newborns have such small stomachs it's important that they're fed every 2-3 hours. Whether you're breastfeeding or formula feeding, it's important to establish a consistent feeding schedule so that your little one continues to grow at a healthy pace. It's also helpful for you to know what times throughout the day you can expect to feed so that you have supplies ready to go.
Diaper changes: Have you ever changed a diaper before? Now is a great time to learn! Newborns go through roughly 10 - 12 diapers a day. To avoid diaper rash and irritation, it's important to change your little one's diapers regularly. Keeping extra diapers and wipes on hand at all times will help this process move smoothly.
Crying: Babies cry — there's no getting around it. It's one of their only methods of communication in the early days! Hungry? Cry. Tired? Cry. Wet diaper? Cry. Scared? Cry. You'll learn the subtleties of what certain cries mean over time. Don't worry if you're not getting it off the bat, it's basically like learning a new language! Try soothing your little one with a rocking or bouncing motion to help ease their stress.
Bonding: The first few weeks at home are an integral time to bond with your little one. According to Stanford Medicine, skin-to-skin contact helps to regulate your little one's body temperature and heart rate and promotes overall bonding. Take advantage of the snuggles while you can! Talking, singing, and making eye contact are all additional ways you can continue growing the attachment with your newborn.
Visitors: New additions to the family come with an influx of loved ones wanting to meet and greet. The good news? You're in charge! Let all the visitors swing by if you need some extra support or limit the visiting hours and number of people if you need a break or want to protect your little one from extra germs. The choice is all yours and you're allowed to change your mind and preferences at any given point.
So, what should you expect when you bring your little one home? Happy moments. Sad moments. Proud moments. And frustrating moments. But, in the end, the good moments always outweigh the not-so-good moments. Every smile that spreads across your little one's face makes it all worth it! Before you know it, the first few weeks are over, and you'll basically be a pro at this whole "parent" thing.