It’s time to bring your new baby home and adjust to life as a first-time mother. Nothing is more extraordinary than having your first baby. This special time can give way to an overwhelming wave of emotions and what feels like a never-ending list of important things to remember. We’ve gathered some advice, tips and tricks for helping first-time mothers feel confident in caring for their newborns.
By the time you’ve given birth to your bundle of joy, you’ve more than likely decided whether or not you want to breastfeed. Breastfeeding provides many benefits for you and your baby. It is widely recommended to optimize your baby’s health and development. However, breastfeeding is a learned process.
Here are some ways you can improve your chance of successful breastfeeding for the first time:
- Try to breastfeed within the first few hours of birth. Simply put, the sooner the better.
- Plan to meet with a nurse or lactation consultant immediately after birth. They specialize in aiding with this learned process and ensure that your baby is latching on properly.
- Make sure you have purchased nursing bras prior to giving birth and choose a size that is 1 – 2 cup sizes larger than normal. Your breasts will more than likely increase several cup sizes due to milk production.
- It is advised to not introduce other bottles, nipples or pacifiers until your baby is well established with your breastfeeding regimen.
- Stay hydrated for successful milk production.
- Know your baby’s hunger symbols. It could be anything from forming their mouth to search for your nipple (commonly called “rooting”), putting their hands in their mouth or looking extremely alert.
It is also crucial to have safe sleep practices in place for your baby’s health and development. Always remember: “Back to sleep, tummy to play.”
Your baby should always be placed on his back when they go to sleep. This is the safest position for your child. Putting your baby on his back reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and allows him to have the best possible oxygen intake while they are sleeping. A firm crib mattress with a fitted sheet only is the best possible environment for a newborn. Avoid placing loose objects in the crib such as stuffed animals or blankets, as these items are a breathing/choking hazard for babies.
Tummy time is important for your baby to develop strong muscles. Tummy time should occur while your baby is awake and being watched. For the first few weeks after birth, your baby should spend 2-3 sessions per day of 3-5 minutes each on his/her tummy. As your baby grows older, he will need more and more time on their tummy to build strength. A great opportunity for tummy time is immediately following a nap or diaper change. Place age-appropriate toys within their reach to help keep them entertained and learning. As they get older, place toys farther out of reach to encourage movement and development of crawling skills.
Due to the recent questions and concerns about vaccines, the first year of doctor’s visits can be stressful for first-time mothers. However, these vaccinations are crucial for your baby’s health and yours.
We’ve listed some common misperceptions below:
- Concern: “These vaccines will overwhelm my baby’s immune system.”
- Fact:Vaccinations will protect your baby from twice as many diseases. The antigens in these shots help build antibodies in the immune system and fight future infections.
- Concern: “The side effects of vaccines seem worse than the actual illness.”
- Fact: It takes 10-15 years and many studies for new vaccines to make it through all four phases of safety and effectiveness testing before they are approved. Each new vaccine intended for children is first tested in adults, then in children, and all new brands and formulations must go through the same process. The FDA then scrutinizes the data to ensure the vaccine does what the manufacturer says it does—and safely. No agency or company will invest that money in a vaccine that causes worse health problems than it prevents.
- Concern: “Vaccines don’t really work. People get flu shots but still get the flu!”
- Fact: There are different strains of the flu. It is impossible to know of strains that don’t exist yet. The bottom line is that vaccines have meant far fewer deaths, hospitalizations, and disabilities than at any other time in history.
Becoming a mother is a beautiful experience and one of life’s greatest gifts. Cherish these moments with your baby while taking the proper steps toward healthy growth for you and your newborn. At Infirmary Health, we promote a family-centered birthing experience through childbirth education classes, nutritional counseling and comfortable birthing rooms. For more information, give us call and so we can better serve you.