Your baby's first few days

Your baby's first few days

Your Baby's First Few Days

Many new mums worry about how they will cope when they bring their baby home for the first time. It is perfectly natural to be apprehensive but, with a little preparation, you should soon get into the swing of caring for your newborn.

Ideally, you will already have purchased the major items needed to care for your baby - such as somewhere for your baby to sleep, nappies, clothes, a supply of muslin cloths and so on. Take advantage of any offers from friends or relatives to pick up items for you that you might have overlooked.

At this age, your baby's first priority is to be fed and his or her second priority is to sleep. You will soon begin to learn the signs of when your baby is hungry or tired - although sometimes it can be difficult to tell which is which. Either way, the only method of communication your baby knows at this stage is to cry.

Most newborns will sleep for a period of 16 or 17 hours each day and feed every two to three hours, so there is not a great deal of time left for any other activity. It is important for the mother to get as much sleep as possible as well in these early days and weeks and the advice often given is to 'sleep when the baby sleeps'.

Chores such as washing, cleaning and cooking are less important than making sure you are getting enough rest and nobody will notice if the dust is a little deeper that usual for a few weeks - so relax!

In the beginning, there is a good chance that a lot of the sleep you manage will be broken, as your baby will need to feed regularly around the clock, but after a while, you may find that your baby will sleep a little longer at night to allow you some more rest. Of course, all babies are different and you will need to adapt to the demands of your individual child, while at the same time making sure you eat well and look after yourself.

It's really imprortant to accept any offers of help. Don't be too proud to say yes! Your priority at this time is to look after your baby and so the more you are relieved from other duties the better - there's plenty of time for housework later on!

The bowel movements of newborn babies are often an endless source of fascination. The first few nappies will contain black or green, thick and sticky stools as your baby passes meconium out of his or her bowels. These nappies have been known to frighten some parents who were not warned in advance of the likely contents. The colour of the stools will gradually change to a greenish-brown and then yellow. As time goes on, the colour will vary between nappies and depending on how your baby is being fed. However, it is generally somewhere between yellow and brown.

The frequency of bowels movements varies considerably and also depends on whether a baby is bottle or breastfed. However, consult your healthcare provider or doctor if you are concerned about the frequency of bowel movements or if your baby is not producing regular wet nappies. Nappies should always be changed as soon as possible after a bowel movement, and although a wet nappy can be left a little longer, it mustn't be left too long as this can cause skin irritation and nappy rash, which can be painful for your baby.

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