Pregnancy and you blog

Blog: Surviving the first two weeks with your newborn

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. July 9, 2009

During pregnancy it's hard to imagine what labor will be like. During your postpartum stay at the hospital it's hard to imagine what taking the baby home will be like. Even if you've been through this before, you're adding another person to the family and the task may seem overwhelming.

I believe the first two weeks home with a newborn are the hardest. You're recovering from labor and birth — possibly from a C-section. You're sleep deprived. If you're breast-feeding, you may have sore nipples and worry whether the baby is getting enough milk. You have vaginal bleeding and you haven't had to deal with that in months. The list can go on and on.

Most importantly, however, you're learning to care for your baby. The baby doesn't speak any recognizable language and it takes time to learn his or her cues. For example, the baby wanting to suck on anything that comes near its mouth doesn't necessarily mean he or she is hungry. Likewise, the baby screaming and crying doesn't always mean something is wrong. Understanding your baby's needs and preferences is a trial and error system for most parents. I found that my son liked to swing while listening to classic Motown hits.

While you're getting to know your baby, keep these tips in mind:

  • Sleep whenever you have the chance. The dust bunnies will still be there in a few weeks. Just name them and let everyone know they'll be a part of the family for awhile. It's even OK to fall asleep during conversations.
  • Accept help. When people ask if there's anything they can do, give them a job. It can be as simple as watching the baby while you take an unhurried shower and wash your hair, maybe even put on makeup. If you have other children, let someone take them for a few hours or the whole day so you can have some alone time with the new baby.
  • Never refuse a meal you don't have to cook. If someone is staying with you — whether it's your partner, your mom, your sister or a friend — let them wait on you. You deserve it and need it.

Please share with us how you survived those first two weeks.

Jul. 09, 2009