Just like labour, the thought of the first 48 hours of newborn life can be overwhelming (to say the least) for first-time expectant mamas.
And even if it isn’t your first baby, the initial moments of any baby’s life can differ drastically from child to child, making the unknown a bit scary each time you creep towards the end of your third trimester.
But worry not, friends! Because regardless of how birth happens and what your baby is like in those first few hours, I can tell you that there are a few things you can be prepared for. And THAT, dear mama, is what we’re chatting about today.
Have you heard of the “Golden Hour”? It’s the first hour after the baby is born and is the ultimate time to do skin-to-skin and attempt your very first breastfeed. It’s a magical hour that I’ve been honoured to witness numerous times, and I can tell you, mamas - it never gets old!
This is the perfect time to get to know your baby, give him or her time to smell your skin and let baby hear that familiar beating of your heart from their new home on the outside.
For more pro tips, check out this 8 tips to latching your baby at the breast free printable!
Aside from the importance of skin-to-skin contact, getting close to baby helps him or her get familiar with your features. At the time of birth, babies can only really focus on things about 30 cm in front of them - the perfect distance to get a good look at you if you’re holding them in the crook of your arm.
You might notice that your newborn’s eyes aren’t very coordinated, but this is nothing to worry about, as it takes some time for their eye muscles to strengthen. The only thing you need to watch for in the first days of baby’s life would be signs of jaundice, which shows up as a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes.
For more pro tips, check out this helpful guide to hand-expressing colostrum & storage tips.
Many new parents think they’ve hit the baby jackpot in the first 24 hours because their newborn is sleeping so much - and others can see this as a cause for concern.
Now, there are no hard-and-fast rules about newborns, but after working with them for years, I can safely say this: babies who come from moms who received medications while in labour are generally sleepier in the first 24 hours. So, if you’ve had an epidural, narcotics or a caesarean, don’t be surprised to find your baby sleeping a lot.
It’s a bit of a slap in the face for some new parents when their baby fully wakes up after birth. For the first day, it seems like you’ve got the sweetest, quietest baby ever.
And then they wake up. And they are hungry!
Expect to breastfeed a lot on the second day. Get all the help that you can with latching because this is a very common time that first-time-moms damage their nipples. And if there’s anything you don’t want, it’s to breastfeed with damaged nips - trust me!
I know it can be hard to wrap your head around this - but all that white gunk (called vernix) that was on your baby’s body when he or she was born is protective. It protected baby’s skin in utero and it continues to be protective when earthside.
And remember - the first bath takes a lot out of a new baby. They cry, shiver, poop, pee… and then sleep. Many babies sleep through at least one feeding after all the excitement of a bath. So to help increase your chances of breastfeeding success, skip it and do it later.
There are many things you need to know how to do before you head home. Here's a fun game of Heading Home Bingo to help you remember it all!
Is knowing all of these things going to make you love the first 48 hours of your newborn’s life?
I have no idea.
But at least it will help to give you the best chance at finding out. There’s nothing worse than not knowing what to expect, and feeling the constant worry that you don’t know what is right or wrong, good or bad, when it comes to your first newborn baby.
So hopefully this helps you to relax a bit and enjoy the first precious hours with your new baby. Because by that point, you will have earned every moment of them, Mama.