Bringing baby home

By Liz Wilkes, My Midwives

During pregnancy the thought of bringing a new baby home from hospital causes some of the highest anxiety for parents-to-be. As a midwife, I get angst filled questions - “How can I make sure I don’t kill my baby?” which whilst kind of funny, makes me realise how little exposure many people have to new babies in this time where family is often far apart. Of course the time of home coming is highly charged with emotion- you may not know what to do and feel a sense of responsibility like no other. 

The main aspect of baby care is recognising that babies are extremely resilient. They have quite basic needs – food (which in this case is also fluid), sleep, warmth and love. In this day and age it is extremely difficult to get women (and men) who are prepared to leave it at that.  Most people want to know “how much” food and sleep, “what temperature” and whether love means trying to get baby to self soothe or whether you should be nursing baby and not letting it cry. This is where the difficulties lie – there is no ‘one right way’ to mother or to parent. Every baby will need a different amount of food, and sleep, every baby has a different way of settling and sleeping. Some things – such as temperature – are a little easier.  A baby needs to maintain its temperature between around 36.5 and 37 degrees Celsius. Much over 37.5 is a problem showing baby has a fever, and much below means baby could also be unwell. 

The tips below have been set out to try to support new parents in those first days at home with a little one. It is important to contextualise them for your circumstances and to make sure that if you are getting overly anxious, that you have a list of places in your state where you can get support.

  1. Prepare the basics

    Don’t leave it till the last minute to get your car seat fitted. Make sure it is in the car by 36 weeks and practice putting a teddy or doll in and out till you can do it with ease
  2. Make sure your clothes and nappies are easy

    You don’t need lots of special outfits, just basic easy to use jumpsuits, singlets and nappies. Keep the things you can control simple
  3. Do breastfeeding classes and make sure you have a midwife to visit you daily for a week at home. 

    Medicare funds private midwives to come and visit you at home no matter where you have had your pregnancy care. It will usually have a very low to no out of pocket cost and is worth every cent to get you on track
  4. Get some meals and snacks in the freezer

    You need to have as much of a break from household tasks as possible
  5. Babies are quite resilient and if they are cold they will cry, it is better to have it a little cool than too hot. 

    Sleeping them close by is a good way to know what they are doing.  If you have trouble sleeping – get some ear plugs. Ask your partner to sit with baby in the first few hours when you go to bed (i.e. 8-11) so you can get a really deep sleep.
  6. Have a sling or some method of carrying baby that you can rest your arms so that you can walk around and do things. 

    Have a list of small jobs visitors can do (shopping, errands, folding clothes, hanging out washing) people love to help.
  7. Make sure your midwife has given you a list of places to go when you need help

    Ongoing services may include things such as maternal and child health services, paediatricians, through to those who specialise in developmental aspects or sleep, through to various sources of support and care for women with postnatal depression.

Your pregnancy care provider/s should be the key to your initial transition to parenting and should set you up well to be confident on those first nights and days after birth. If you are not feeling confident at this stage it is important to seek out additional support as stated above. It is important to have low expectations around what you will achieve during the first six weeks to six months after birth. It is a time for getting to know your new, challenging roles in life and like any new job it will take time but will be different for everyone.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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