Woohoo, you've just had a baby! The first week is an exciting and busy time as you get to know your new little one. There are a lot of things to learn and lots of changes happening in both of your lives. This post will give you a rundown on what to expect during baby's first week. Keep in mind that every baby is different, so don't be alarmed if yours doesn't follow this timeline exactly. Enjoy this amazing time!
For you: Healing
You will probably be pretty tired from the delivery, so it's important to get as much rest as possible. Your body is going through a lot of changes and needs time to recover. You may have some vaginal bleeding and discharge, which is normal. You may also have soreness in your vagina, perineum (area between the vagina and anus), or episiotomy (if you had one) site. These will all heal with time. You’ll be quite sore, but hopefully, you’re well-stocked with recovery aids to make it easier. Check out this guide for the best postpartum recovery products, some of the most important being a water bottle to squirt on yourself while you use the bathroom, witch hazel pads to put in your giant underwear, and lots of pain meds.
For baby: Sleeping
Many new moms are surprised at how much downtime they have with a new baby, who can sleep up to 16 hours per day according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. This sleep is usually in increments of 1-3ish hours at a time, including during the night, so listen to the masses of people who will tell you to sleep when baby sleeps, because you're going to be cycle-sleeping for a while.
For you: Cycle sleeping
Speaking of cycle sleeping, you’ll want to develop a night-time routine as you adjust. Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your mental health, but if your mother, sister, friend, or other loved one offers to stay a few days to help out after the baby is born, take them up on it. This will allow you to get some longer stretches of sleep at a time. If it’s just you and your partner, take turns getting up to change and feed the baby if possible, so you can each get a little more sleep.
For baby: Jaundice check
It’s likely your baby was checked for jaundice at the hospital, but sometimes it doesn’t develop until a few days after birth, according to the AAP. Your pediatrician may ask you to schedule a checkup a few days after your baby is born to have their bilirubin levels checked to make sure jaundice isn’t a problem, so expect this appointment during the first few days home with baby.
For you: Your milk comes in
Most women’s milk comes in within 3-4 days after birth, but it could be sooner or later. Your breasts will probably feel firmer and bigger. As you work toward a positive breastfeeding experience, consider calling in a lactation consultant to make sure everything looks good. They can usually come to your house and can evaluate your baby’s latch and answer any questions you have or address any concerns.
For baby: Losing weight
It's not uncommon for babies to lose 5-7% of their birth weight in the first week. Don't worry, they will start gaining it back soon enough. In the meantime, continue to breastfeed or give formula as often as baby seems hungry. If you are concerned about your baby’s eating habits or weight, call your pediatrician.
For you: Dealing with visitors
Visitors can be either a real help or a real burden. You might be feeling a little stir-crazy by now, so it's okay to ask people to come back another time if you need some time to yourself. Or, if you do accept guests, be sure to set boundaries on what you’re comfortable with. Consider starting with just family visitors up front, and then introduce your baby to friends as you start to feel a bit better.
For baby: Real poop
When your baby was first born, he/she probably still had some meconium to work out of his/her system. Meconium is that black, tar-like poop you probably saw in the hospital. But now that you’ve been nursing for a few days, you can expect baby’s poop to change drastically. Newborn poop is usually yellow and seedy, but the color can vary, according to the AAP.
For you: Contracting uterus pain
Your full-term uterus doesn’t just shrink back to normal immediately after birth. It takes days, even up to a week for it to contract back down, and it can be painful, especially when you breastfeed. Listen to your doctor when they advise you on taking pain meds. Even if recovery “down there” doesn’t hurt as much anymore, keeping on your meds schedule can help with this pain that can last for up to a week after birth.
For baby: Umbilical cord falls off
The umbilical cord will usually fall off within 5-10 days after birth, but the timeframe for the umbilical cord falling off can vary by a few weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic. Until it falls off, be sure to sponge bathe around it and monitor the umbilical cord for any problems. But once it falls off, you’re free to give your baby the first bath in the tub, which is such a fun and adorable milestone!
For you: Bonding with baby
Don’t give up the skin-to-skin after you leave the hospital, as this is still one of baby’s favorite ways to cuddle and it has a lot of benefits for mama and baby. Also, pay attention to your baby’s cries. Try to decipher the difference between hungry cries, tired cries, uncomfortable cries, etc. Your baby also loves the sound of your voice, so sing and talk while you let him/her study your face. And don’t forget tummy time!
For baby: Spitting up
Spit up can be frustrating, as it often seems like baby spits up more than he/she digests. But don’t worry, it’s normal and manageable. To reduce spit up, the AAP recommends feeding baby before he/she gets too hungry to prevent too much air from being swallowed as they gulp. Also, make sure you burp baby after each feeding and keep him/her in an upright position for a while to help with digestion.
For you: Nursing pain
Although breastfeeding sounds easy and natural, you’ll be surprised at how much it hurts. You may start to feel some pain while nursing, particularly if baby is not latching on correctly. This is normal and will usually go away within a few days as you both get the hang of it.However, do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a lactation consultant for tips to improve latch and hold to minimize the pain and make sure all is well. Just remember, it does get better.
For baby: First bath
Assuming the umbilical cord has fallen off, your baby is ready for the first real bath! Seeing their reactions to the water is adorable, and it’s so fun to wash them and gush over their cute little body. You can sing and play with them as you wash them, then snuggle to warm them up and take in that intoxicating clean baby smell… that is, until they poop again.