08 Nov Newborns: It Takes a Village
It’s finally time for the baby to arrive…. Now what?!
Having a newborn can be one of the most joyous times in a young family’s life, but it can also be scary and new. Here are some tips to know what can be expected in this exciting time in the hospital and then in the first few weeks at home.
In the Hospital after Birth
The hospital staff never trusts babies! Transition from being in the womb to the real world is difficult, so the first couple of days in the hospital after delivery are very busy. The baby will have many tests done, including a hearing test, a “newborn screen” blood test to check for serious silent diseases, and a congenital heart disease screen by checking the baby’s oxygen level. It is also routinely expected that every baby get the first hepatitis B shot prior to delivery.
The baby will be checked by the nurses and pediatricians often during your hospital stay after birth, and everyone will watch your baby’s intake of breastmilk or formula closely. The number of wet and dirty diapers the baby has every day for the first week is very important, so keep a count in the hospital and during the first few days at home! (There are lots of smartphone apps available now to help you keep track.)
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig
Per the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, newborns need to be seen by their pediatrician very soon after their discharge from the hospital. I usually see them within 24 hours after discharge. But why is it so important that they see the doctor so soon after leaving the hospital? There are a few reasons. For one thing, babies can lose too much weight and become dehydrated quickly. Another concern is that jaundice, or yellowing of skin, can be serious, and this sometimes occurs right after babies get home. Even though these problems are checked in the hospital after birth, they often don’t become a problem until the baby is 3–5 days old, when the baby is already home.
The emotions associated with a newborn can surprise us all. Stoic men may cry at the sight of their daughter who “has his eyes,” or they may be overwhelmed by the difficult recovery a spouse endures after childbirth. Any woman who gives birth can be susceptible to postpartum depression with the drastic hormone changes the body endures, in addition to the sleep deprivation and fatigue that every new parent goes through. Talk to your family members, spouse, your doctor, or your baby’s doctor if you are having any feelings that aren’t what you expected or that are different from your norm.
The phrase “It takes a village to raise a child” is very fitting for any family. Ask friends, family, and any visitor to take part in the joyous event by being helpful. Something as simple as running to the store to get some more baby wipes, or having some healthy snacks to nosh on between breastfeedings can make the life of a new parent less stressful. Every new parent needs a little bit of TLC, too, and often they get lost in the shuffle as everyone focuses on the baby. Asking a friend to make a healthy meal, or a coworker to check work-related emails for a couple of days can real help a family focus on the new baby and feel less overwhelmed.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help or for someone’s opinion. Chances are they, too, were once a first-time parent and could give you some tricks of the trade to help make your life a little easier so you can enjoy these precious moments! They really do grow up fast!
If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding your newborn, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.