If this is your first baby, you might worry that you are not ready to take care of a newborn. You're not alone. Lots of new parents feel unprepared when it's time to bring their new babies home from the hospital. You can take steps to help yourself get ready for the transition home.
Taking a newborn care class during your pregnancy can prepare you for the real thing. But feeding and diapering a baby doll isn't quite the same. During your hospital stay, make sure to ask the nurses for help with basic baby care. Don't hesitate to ask the nurse to show you how to do something more than once! Remember, practice makes perfect. Before discharge, make sure you — and your partner — are comfortable with these newborn care basics:
- Handling a newborn, including supporting your baby's neck
- Changing your baby's diaper
- Bathing your baby
- Dressing your baby
- Swaddling your baby
- Feeding and burping your baby
- Cleaning the umbilical cord
- Caring for a healing circumcision
- Using a bulb syringe to clear your baby's nasal passages
- Taking a newborn's temperature
- Tips for soothing your baby
Before leaving the hospital, ask about home visits by a nurse or health care worker. Many new parents appreciate somebody checking in with them and their baby a few days after coming home. If you are breastfeeding, ask whether a lactation consultant can come to your home to provide follow-up support, as well as other resources in your community, such as peer support groups.
Many first-time parents also welcome the help of a family member or friend who has "been there." Having a support person stay with you for a few days can give you the confidence to go at it alone in the weeks ahead. Try to arrange this before delivery.
Your baby's first doctor's visit is another good time to ask about any infant care questions you might have. Ask about reasons to call the doctor. Also ask about what vaccines your baby needs and when. Infants and young children need vaccines because the diseases they protect against can strike at an early age and can be very dangerous in childhood. This includes rare diseases and more common ones, such as the flu.
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