Congratulations on the birth of your baby!
Your little bundle of joy is finally here, after all that waiting and preparing. Is life feeling like a crazy blur as you get settled at home with your 1 week old? Chances are, you’re tired and sore and maybe a wee bit overwhelmed, but also pretty intrigued by your adorable new son or daughter. Get the scoop on what the first few weeks with your baby will be like.
Let’s take a closer look at your newborn, shall we?
Soft spots: Your baby has two soft spots called fontanelles on her head, which will close up as the bones in her skull grow together over the next two years. One is at the top of her head and the other is triangular in shape at the back of her head. Though you may see the fontanelles pulsate, they are covered by a thick membrane that provides protection from everyday handling.
Head shape: Your baby’s head may look elongated if you had her vaginally; babies’ heads are designed to squeeze a little to assist in their journey through the birth canal. It won’t be long before her head shape looks more like you had expected. In the meantime, make use of some of those cute hats you got as shower gifts!
Skin: If your baby’s skin isn’t all peaches and cream, don’t worry. A newborn’s sensitive skin is prone to rashes and splotches that will vanish almost as quickly as they appear. Most new babies’ skin will also peel in the early days, especially on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Umbilical cord stump: Your baby’s umbilical cord stump will fall off in the coming days. You don’t have to do anything special to care for it, just try to keep the area dry — you may want to give your baby sponge baths instead of bathing her in the tub until it does fall off.
Genitals: In both boys and girls, these often appear large and swollen, and the scrotum or the vulva may look red and inflamed. The cause is the maternal hormones entering baby’s bloodstream. Don’t worry — your baby’s caregiver has checked that everything is normal, and the swelling will soon subside.
Breathing: Have you noticed that your baby breathes in an irregular pattern? She may have a couple of short breaths, followed by a seemingly interminable interval where she doesn’t seem to breathe at all, followed by a long deep breath. Or perhaps she grunts and snorts so it seems like she’s having trouble breathing. Uneven breathing like this is normal in newborns and will regulate around the end of your baby’s first month.
Baby care 101: early essentials
She’s here — now what to do with her? If you’re a first-time parent, you may be wondering exactly how to care for your baby. It’s not all intuitive! Here’s some diapering how-to. Plus, should you give your baby a bath in the tub yet? Get answers to all your baby-bathing questions and a step-by-step guide to baths.
Tips from the trenches
“For the first week or so, just getting out of your PJs is a major accomplishment, and squeezing in a shower is a feat that should be awarded a prize. Really!” -Susie, mom of three
Another thing that’s not necessarily intuitive is breastfeeding. It often takes about six weeks to establish your breastfeeding relationship with your baby. In the meantime, it can be a bit of a challenge. Learn how to get things off to a good start in the first week and 10 ways to prevent breastfeeding problems.
Visit our breastfeeding section for answers to all your questions about nursing.
Taking care of you
Your body is working hard in the weeks after delivery, and needs time to recover. Learn more about what your body is doing postpartum, how to ease discomforts, and important tips if you had a Caesarean section. Go easy on yourself right now. Make rest a top priority and get as much help as you can.
The best advice you can get is from other parents who’ve been there (and survived to tell the tale!). Check out the savvy tips in our new parent survival guide.
This article was originally published on Oct. 20, 2011.