When you first bring your baby home, you might be surprised by how little she seems to act like a baby. Newborns are quite distinctive from older infants, emitting curious sounds, smells, and idiosyncratic behaviour reserved only for the earliest days of life. Here’s what to expect for the very beginning of babyhood.
Your baby will need to be close to you for at least the first six months—for the waking hours and sleep. And during sleep, there won’t be much quiet time; newborns are noisy! Because their airways were filled with fluid in-utero, their bodies will need to clear out the excess. This means plenty coughing, spitting up, snuffling and sneezing. But don’t be alarmed at the strange cacophony; this is normal, and babies are quite efficient at clearing their breathing passages.
The initial period after birth will be somewhat uneventful. For the first few weeks, your little one will mostly be asleep—only waking every three to four hours for milk and cuddles. At this point, the window of wakefulness is very short; just ensure your baby is getting in a good feed before nodding off. Avoid trying to set up a routine yet; newborns’ internal clocks are still wonky with the adjustment to life outside of Mum—enjoy the break from schedules and surrender to the chaos for a bit!
Your baby’s umbilical cord stump may ooze clear fluid or even bleed slightly; don’t worry, this is normal and the stump usually falls off on its own when baby is between seven and 10 days old. Gently clean the area around the stump with fresh, damp cotton wool, and then keep dry. If the area looks red or swollen, call your doctor to check for possible infection.
At around the two week mark, your bundle will begin to emerge from chrysalis—becoming more interactive, but also more work. Colic or reflux may manifest now, but take heart that these conditions tend to resolve within a few months.
Newborns should also start to last longer between feeds now, and at eight weeks, they will be able to hold their heads up without help. Best of all, at six weeks or so, a smile might make an appearance…to get you through your new demanding role! (Also; your heart will probably burst—you’ve been warned.)