1. Use waking techniques while feeding. Most newborns are sleepy as can be, especially when nuzzled up against you. But particularly in the first couple days, you’ll need to make sure your baby is awake during feedings at least every one to three hours so he takes in enough nutrition. The longer he goes without enough food, the more sleepy he will become! It’s normal for your baby to pause 5 to 10 seconds or so during a feed. But if he doesn’t resume, use some of these waking techniques to stimulate him: unwrap him from blankets, nudge his cheek with your finger, rub arms and legs, blow lightly on the top of his head, or place a cool washcloth against his skin.
2. Don’t Worry! From the non-Gerber Baby-like appearance to trouble breastfeeding you’re very likely to run into at least a few unexpected and worrisome surprises in the first few days with your newborn. But try your best not to stress. Once your baby is born, the hospital staff will take care of both of you and help you achieve any goals you may have whether that be breastfeeding or skin-to-skin bonding. But keep in mind that if for whatever reason that doesn’t happen right away it’s ok, common and there’s plenty of time and resources to help you do so in the hours and days that follow. Just trust your instincts and seek support whenever you need it.
3. Perfect Your Swaddling Technique. Because it resembles a womb-like atmosphere, babies love being swaddled snugly. Learn this technique early on and use it often—it’ll help you tremendously to soothe and get your baby to sleep once you’re home! Your baby may resist and cry at the process of being swaddled, but once done, sway to calm her and put her down—she is likely to go to right to sleep.
4. Ask Questions. While at the hospital (approximately two to four nights depending on method of delivery) your experienced care providers will be there to help you every step of the way. Take advantage of this time with them and learn all you can. Ask your guests to adhere to visiting hours so that you’ll have time not only to rest and bond with your baby, but to absorb all of the new information you have access to. The hospital’s goal is to help you get off to a good start with your baby and educate you about feeding and newborn care, so ask questions, no matter who repetitive or basic they may seem to you.
5. Rest. The cliché “sleep when baby sleeps” is probably the most useful piece of advice a new mom can get. Getting enough rest is so important for your postpartum physical and emotional recovery and is essential in taking care of your new baby. This means taking advantage of hospital quiet time and limiting visitors both in the hospital and at home. If you have a hard time limiting visitors, simply ask your friends and family to bring freezable home-cooked meal instead of gifts or flowers, or provide them with chores and errands to do so you can focus on what’s important—the health and well-being of you and your newborn.