What to Expect the First Two Weeks at Home with Your Newborn
The first 2 weeks at home with your newborn baby can be joyful and exciting, but there can also be uncertainty as you both get to know each other.
For parents, leaving the hospital will feel like a relief as you are able to transition back to the comfort and familiarity of living, bathing, and eating in your own home—but in reality, the work has just begun. For newborns, leaving the hospital will be the most exciting and unfamiliar moment up to that point of their short lives. Read to learn more about what new parents can expect during their first 2 weeks back at home with a newborn.
When learning how to properly feed your newborn, expect a learning curve. Practice makes proper parents and soon you will be able to determine the ideal time and amount to feed your baby.
One thing that new parents will learn is that newborns aren't physically capable of consuming a large volume of food, which is why they like to eat frequently. While it may seem like a lot, it is common for your baby to eat 8-12 times per day, or roughly every 2-3 hours in the first weeks. Mothers should also be aware of "cluster feeding" where your baby wants to feed every hour or two for a shorter period of time, followed by longer stretches of sleep.
Don't hesitate to ask your Methodist doctor to evaluate your baby's feeding pattern to determine if development seems normal.
Did you know that most newborns are expected to lose weight in the days following birth? This initial weight loss is the result of the loss of amniotic fluid that is carried with the child during birth.
While it may take a few days for your child to return to birth weight as you master the art of breast or bottle feeding, most newborns are back to birth weight within 10-14 days of life.
Be sure to schedule regular checkups and physicals with your Methodist doctor throughout your newborn's early life and into childhood to monitor your child's weight.
Your newborns baby's stool may appear different from time to time. Parents must understand the causes of these variations in color and consistency to make sure the baby's digestion is normal.
For the first few days, expect your baby's stools to appear greenish black and sticky. This is known as meconium. After the meconium has passed, stools will become a
yellow-green color. Breastfed babies typically have yellow "seedy" stools while formula- fed babies exhibit a darker, yellow and creamier stool.
Some babies will have a stool after each feeding, while others may only go a few times a day. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor to help you decide if your baby's stools appear normal.
Changes to your child's skin or eyes may also be noticeable during the first two weeks at home. Jaundice is a mostly harmless condition that is characterized by a yellowish tint to the skin or eyes in newborns. Almost half of all newborns will have jaundice, and it typically goes away on its own.
Healthy feeding schedules are more important for newborns with jaundice. This is because breastmilk and formula eliminates bilirubin in the baby's body, the chemical that causes jaundice. Contact your Methodist doctor if your child's jaundice is getting worse, or you baby is feeding poorly.
Another change that parents will observe during the first few weeks of their newborn's life is the loss of the umbilical cord. It is expected for your child's umbilical cord to dry out and fall off on its own, but until that happens, try and keep the stump clean and dry.
When diapering your child, avoid covering the umbilical stump and fold the diaper under the area if necessary. A soft washcloth can be used to clean the area if the cord gets dirty, but avoid using rubbing alcohol. Gentle sponge baths are ideal for newborns until the umbilical stump has fallen off completely.
Let your doctor know right away if your newborn appears to have an infected umbilical stump.
Bathing can be a very messy and difficult activity for parents and their newborns, especially during the first few attempts. Luckily, most newborns only need to be bathed a few times a week.
Make sure to gather everything you need before you begin washing your newborn. Never leave your child unattended in the water. Use a flat, warm surface such as a towel on the table to comfort your child before and after. Always start at the head and work your way down, only exposing the parts you are actively washing.
Parents must also become familiar with identifying warning signs and other changes in their newborn's physical behavior that may indicate a cause for serious medical concern. Always keep your pediatrician's phone number in a place that is easy to find and remember. General signs that it may be time to call your pediatrician include:
- Fever of 100.4 or higher
- Irregular breathing patterns
- Dehydration, lack of urination
- Infected umbilical stump
Trust your instincts! If you feel something is wrong, call your doctor.