How does that saying go… about the drive home from the hospital with a newborn baby? It will be the longest, most cautious drive of your life. Or something like that.
Well, enjoy the ride … because there’s a whole new world waiting for you at home. It’s a good one, for sure. But with your new bundle of joy, your once-familiar family routine will take many a detour. New directions abound. That’s a universal truth.
According to healthychildren.org, most healthy newborns go home within two or three days of birth, once they are able to breathe well, maintain body temperature and feed well (and soil their diapers accordingly!). And when they are ready … well, you’ll get used to it.
So you, your stuff, your partner, your baby, and all of the baby’s stuff are ready for the ride, right? (More stuff for baby should be waiting at home, but we’ll get to that later.)
Just don’t feel rushed out the door, warns familydoctor.org: Get all of your questions answered before you head for home. Also gather all paperwork, follow-up instructions and phone numbers you’ll need for reference. And make sure you’ve scheduled your baby’s first appointment with the pediatrician, as newborns should have their first official checkup within a few days of birth.
Regarding clothing, both you and baby should be comfortable, preferably dressed in non-constraining apparel. Be careful to avoid overdressing your baby — or yourself, for that matter. Although you’ve likely been enticed by a plethora of cute-as-can-be baby clothes, kidshealth.org warns of potential stressors surrounding picking out that special outfit.
“Chances are much better that you’ll bring home a calm, contented baby,” they say, “if you don’t spend a lot of time at the hospital trying to dress your newborn in a complicated outfit that requires pushing and pulling your baby’s arms and legs.”
In warm weather, they suggest dressing your newborn baby in a cotton T-shirt and pants; if it’s cold outside, something a bit heavier, and possibly with the feet covered, as well as a hat and a blanket (not near baby’s face).
For when you’re out the door, this is worth repeating: It’s never safe to hold a baby in your arms while traveling in an automobile. In fact, it’s against the law. You should already have purchased or borrowed the proper style of car seat. The pediatricians at familydoctor.org describe the two kinds of car seats for babies: infant-only seats, which eventually must be replaced, and convertible seats, which can accommodate both infants and older children.
They also suggest babies released from intensive care may require more than standard restraint; that particular event may warrant hospital staff pre-approving your pick (as would be the case if your baby has any other special needs). See our car-seat blog for details.
You’ve arrived at your destination. Now the real fun — and work — begins.
Again regarding stuff for baby, smart mommies will have stocked up in advance. Sites like baby-checklist.com really break down you and your newborn’s needs surrounding clothing, feeding, diapering, bathing, First aid, etc. Basically, if you’ve properly stocked your baby’s nursery, you’re ready to hunker down and be a great mommy. You’ll learn as you go, too, and get plenty advice along the way.
You and baby should be just fine during this special time. Qualm any concerns you have with preparation and information. And know that, as another saying goes … babies don’t come with instruction manuals.
There are, however, some important things you should look out for that could be of concern. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests you know when, in fact, a call to your pediatrician is necessary, before or after their first in-office appointment:
Your job from now on is to take care to take care. This includes taking control of your surroundings — you and your baby’s bonding environment — by limiting visitors so you can adjust to each other’s new schedules. (Your baby will make the rules, you realize? And that’s OK.)
Experts at the Mayo Clinic also recommend you try to go with the flow, relaxing your standards surrounding, say, household chores if necessary, and expecting “a roller coaster of emotions.” They also suggest getting out of the house when you need to and not forgetting to continue to nurture other relationships — with your spouse and baby’s siblings, for example.
As always, accepting help when you need it is a good thing. Asking for more when you need it is even better.
Just focus on meeting your newborn’s needs, and you both should be just fine. Although many sleepless nights await, this time will pass quickly. Try your best to capture every moment you can.