The First Few Weeks of Parenthood
Being at home with your newborn baby is usually a wonderful time but it can also be chaotic and exhausting. Life with a new baby is demanding and unpredictable.
This makes it hard to find time for your own needs – even things as basic as having a shower or making your own meals. You’ll be tired, and sometimes overwhelmed. It may feel as if you have no control over your life.
This is normal. It doesn’t last. By six to eight weeks, you’ll start to get more organised. By three to four months, everything will be more settled.
Arrival Home Checklist
In the first few weeks following the birth of your baby you will need to have lots of changes of clothes for your little one, especially lots of soft comfortable cottons for all the sleeping they will be doing. When buying, make sure you purchase a mixture of size 0000 and 000 as each baby is a different size.
- 4 long sleeve bodysuits
- 4 short sleeve bodysuit
- 4 pairs of pants (comfortable cotton or yoga pant style)
- 4 long sleeved cardigans or jumpers (cardigans are easy to get on and remove)
- 2 dressy outfits for going out
- 2 warm jackets
- 4 all in one outfits (soft cotton ones not terry towelling)
- 10 singlets or singlet suits
- 3 cotton hats
- 3 pairs of mittens (these are great for wearing when they are sleeping)
- Lots of socks and/or booties (they always seem to get lost)
- 3 sleeping outfits (zip growsuits are a great option)
- 2 sleeping bags
How to survive the early weeks
- Try and rest or sleep during the day when the baby sleeps.
- Do as little as possible. Keep housework to a minimum (you and your baby are more important).
- Get your partner to bath and change the baby – it gives you a break and helps the baby get to know both parents.
- Remember your relaxation techniques and use the techniques if you feel edgy or when you want to rest.
- Save energy by sitting down to do things. Sit on the floor or lounge to change a nappy and sit down to fold laundry
- Keep food simple, as you won’t have time or energy for much cooking. The simplest meals are often the healthiest, such as salads with some lean grilled meat or fish, canned fish or cold chicken with wholegrain bread. Snack on fresh fruit and yoghurt.
- If friends drop in, ask them to give you a hand if there are things to do like shopping or putting out the washing. Most people like to feel useful.
- Fresh air and gentle exercise such as taking the baby for a walk can help you feel less ‘housebound’.
- Remember that if you don’t care for yourself, you’ll be in no shape to care for anyone else. All new parents need support, especially if you don’t have family close by or you’re a single parent. Don’t be afraid to ask for, and accept, help.
Getting back into shape
Don’t expect to get back into your old jeans just yet. Accept that your belly will bulge for a while and the skin may look loose – but it’s not forever. Healthy eating, regular exercise and time will get you back into shape.
Being active with a new baby is easier than you think.
- Entertain your baby by letting him/her watch you do your postnatal exercises.
- Go for regular walks with the baby in a sling or pram. Walking helps you get fitter and stronger, and gives you energy. Babies like getting out and seeing new things. It helps them learn about their world.
- Join a pram-walking group. These are groups of new mothers who get together to walk, talk and have fun. They’re a great way of getting out and meeting people, lifting your mood and getting back into shape all at the same time.
- You can find more information about setting up a pram-walking group
- Find out what other activities are available in your area – some community exercise programs and gyms offer childcare.
- Ask at your Community Health Centre.
Reducing the risks of SIDS
It’s important to know how to put your baby to sleep in a safe position to reduce the risk of SIDS:
- put your baby to sleep on their back from birth, not on their tummy or side
- keep your baby’s head and face uncovered while sleeping
- keep your baby smoke free before and after birth
- provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby, night and day:
- safe bedding (no loose bedding, pillow, doonas, lambs-wool, bumpers or soft toys)
- safe cot (should meet current Australian Standard AS2172)
- safe, clean mattress (should be firm, flat and the right size for the cot)
Sleep your baby on their back, from birth
The risk of SIDS can be reduced by sleeping a baby on their back. Babies are more likely to die from SIDS if they sleep on their tummies or sides. Unless suggested by a paediatrician, do not put your baby to sleep on their tummies or sides. Healthy babies placed to sleep on their back are less likely to choke on vomit than tummy-sleeping infants. The side position is not recommended for babies as they can roll onto their tummies during sleep.
When your baby is awake, it’s important to vary the baby’s position from lying on the back. Tummy play is safe and good for babies when they are awake and an adult is present. When carrying your baby alternate the arm you carry them with so your baby can practise looking both left and right. Babies over the age of 4 months can usually turn over in their cot. Babies may be placed in a safe baby sleeping bag (i.e. fitted neck and arm holes, and no hood). Put them on their back but let them find their own sleeping position.
The risk of sudden infant death in babies over six months is extremely low.