After the birth - your body
The first few days with your baby can be a very emotional time for you and your partner. There is a lot to learn and do. There is the excitement of getting to know your baby, but you will also be tired and your body will be recovering from labour and the birth.
Keep your baby close to you as much as you can. Your partner should also spend time holding and being close to your baby. They may feel a little left out, especially if they have to leave you and the baby in hospital and return to an empty home. They may need support and encouragement to get involved. The more you can both hold and cuddle your baby, the more confident you will all feel.
How you feel
You may feel tired for the first few days, so make sure you get plenty of rest. Even just walking and moving about can seem like hard work. You can find some tips on coping with stitches, piles and bleeding.
For a lot of mothers, the excitement and the pleasure of the new baby far outweigh any problems. But you can begin to feel low or rather depressed, especially if you are very tired or feel you cannot look after your baby in the way you would like.
Giving birth is an emotional and tiring experience and your hormones change dramatically in the first few days. Some women get the 'baby blues' and feel weepy around three to five days after giving birth (make sure you and your partner know the signs of postnatal depression). Feeling weepy can be worse if your labour was difficult, you are very tired or you have other worries.
Some women worry because they don't love their baby immediately. It is not always love at first sight. You may just need to give yourself time - you can still care for your baby and provide all the warmth and security they need.
What you will need for baby
Bringing your baby home will be an exciting time. From clothes, bedding and car seats, here are a few hints on what you should have ready.
Babies grow very quickly. All you need for the first few weeks are enough clothes to make sure that your baby will be warm and clean.
You'll probably need:
- six stretch suits (all-in-ones) for both day and night, or four stretch suits and two nightdresses (nighties) for the night - use socks or bootees with the nightie if it's cold
- two cardigans, wool or cotton rather than nylon, and light rather than heavy - several light layers of clothing are best for keeping your baby warm
- four vests
- a shawl or blanket to wrap your baby in
- a wool or cotton hat, mittens, and socks or bootees for going out if the weather is cold - it's better to choose close-knitted patterns rather than those with a loose knit, so that your baby's fingers and toes won't get caught
- a sun hat for going out if it's hot or the sun is bright.
Health checks for babies
Shortly before or after your baby is born, you'll be given a Child Health Record booklet. In Australia, this usually has a blue cover and is often called 'the blue book'. This is a way of keeping track of your child's progress.
Wherever you are and whatever happens to your child, you'll have a record of their health and progress which can be shared with health professionals. However, each state and territory has slightly different names for this book.
When you visit a clinic, your doctor or a hospital, your baby's healthcare professional will use the book to record your child's weight and other measurements, vaccinations and other important health information.
You can also add information yourself. It's a good idea to record any illnesses or accidents and details of any medicines your child takes. Don't forget to take the book with you when you take your child for a review or vaccination. Also try to bring it if you have to go to hospital emergency or a medical centre.