Babies can be a little misleading when you meet them that very first day (or night depending on their birth time). They cry a little at first, feed and then sleep and sleep and sleep. You are a little surprised by how quickly they eat and how much work it is to wake them up for every feeding when at the hospital. You even get to thinking that this is just the personality of your little one. Easy going, calm, and the best sleeper ever. Woo hooo!
Then you go home.
Your quiet baby is not so quiet anymore. Feeding seems like they stretch into one another. They don’t want to be put down. And hello! They found their voice.
Tired from the Birthday Party
Babies feel contractions just like the labouring parent. All of that squeezing, over hours of labour makes babies tired, just like their parents. You will want to sleep, and same with your baby.
They are born into this world and have stimulus everywhere. So many lights and shadows to take in. The faces of their parents who they have been hearing for months. Sounds that are no longer absorbed by their mother’s body. Touch of their diaper, blanket, and skin to skin. All of these sensations are brand new, and the brain is creating new pathways to make sense of all of it.
Doing it all on their own
We tend to take for granted all of the bodily functions our bodies do for us every second of the day. Think how easy it is for us to take in breaths, filter our blood, eat and go to the bathroom. During pregnancy, your baby has all of this taken care of by you. Your baby needs to learn how to do this spontaneously on their own once their umbilical cord has been cut. Talk about an overwhelming first day of life!
Your baby will receive a lot of medical care in the first 24 hours. Within the first 2 hours, your health care provider will administer a vitamin k shot, antibiotic eye ointment followed by their first weight check and newborn exam. Sometimes babies need a little extra care in the neonatal intensive care unit as they learn how to function on their own. Before you leave the hospital, your baby will have their blood work taken to make sure they are thriving in the first 24 hours. As you can imagine, this is a lot for your newborn to adjust to. They likely will want help to cope with all of the new experiences.
Baby is the VIP
Visitors are pretty excited about your new addition. While we normalize passing the baby around for snuggles—these are a lot of interactions for them. Whether at the hospital or once at home, visitors will want to see your baby. Taking in so many new faces can overstimulate them, taking a little more help to ease back into sleep.
The Next 24 Hours
Every baby is a little different, however it takes between 24-48 hours before babies are no longer tired from all of the new activity after their birthday party. They are now caught up and ready to eat around the clock. Every 2-3 hours from the start of each feeding. However, it is very common to cluster feed even more frequently than that to help bring the breastmilk in for babies who are breastfeeding. This means that they are now the complete opposite of the day before.
What to do?
Plan for your arrival home to set out on the best foot forward. Having someone to take care of all of your needs so that you can rest and focus just on learning the needs of your baby. Family and friends are great options to help with food preparation, and holding your baby in between feedings. A postpartum doula does that as well, but the true focus is on-the-job training. Helping you fast track your newborn care, feeding and putting routines into place to help you find your groove.