Skin-to-skin, baby’s first photos and taking care of you.
Remember that the people around you are part of your team, and they want you to do well, so really take advantage and ask questions. Lots of them! No question is silly (and it's okay if you need to ask it a few times because you keep forgetting the answer). I promise, you are not “bothering" anyone—they want to help you.
If you have a lot of questions about the postpartum period now, we've included an entire segment on it in our birth class.
We spend a lot of time thinking about birth: We take classes, read books and listen to everyone's birth stories. Then the baby comes (go you, awesome lady), and there is this moment of “Um, now what?" Now love on your little one, mama!
Here are 9 important things to do on your first day of motherhood.
See a lactation consultant.
Ask if there is a lactation consultant you can see before you go home from the hospital or birth center.
There may also be one who can visit you at home.
Even if breastfeeding is going really well, it never hurts to get a few extra pointers to set you up for success long-term.
See visitors... or don't.
If you've been with Motherly for a little while, you know we are big on reminding you that this is YOUR BIRTH. That carries on into the postpartum period.
You are under no obligation to entertain people after you have a baby, so please don't feel like you have to accept visitors.
If you want to, lovely! Go for it (especially if they bring food). But if you feel like you want to spend the time hunkered down and bonding with your baby, that's totally okay.
Pro tip: If you are leaning more towards not having visitors in the hospital, feel free to copy and paste this as your Facebook status or text message update—“Our baby is here and we couldn't be more delighted! Thank you so much for all the warm wishes. We are spending a few days resting, falling in love and adjusting to being a new little family, but we can't wait to introduce her to you soon!"
Take (at least) one mental snapshot of your baby.
I have had three babies, and I'll be honest—while I can recall some things, those first days are kind of a whirlwind, and I don't remember each and every moment.
But I made a point of permanently remembering one moment with each of them after they were born.
With each of them it was a moment that just the two of us shared, during a rare quiet minute alone together. I'll share my moment with my firstborn, my daughter: My postpartum room was shared, so my husband couldn't stay overnight with us. We were alone in the room that first night (except my roommate on the other side of the curtain), sleeping, and she woke up crying (as babies do, of course). I JUMPED out of bed, went to her little plastic bassinet and remember being overwhelmed with emotion and pride. This was the first of countless times in her life she would be calling for me to comfort her, and it was breathtakingly beautiful to bear witness to.
(For tips on taking actual photos, check out this article.)
We know, this one seems pretty obvious. But it's just so essential.
You'll have a lot of adrenaline coursing through your veins after you give birth. You may want to call everyone, post a bunch of pictures on Instagram and just dive into your new role as mama.
But the more sleep you can get, the better off you will be, both short and long term. Study after study after study show just how important sleep is to a new mom's emotional and physical health. Your baby may be pretty sleepy those first days too, so take advantage, and sleep when she does.
Pro tip: Don't be afraid to ask your partner or support person to snuggle the baby for a while so you can close your eyes.
Handle some business.
There are a few action items you'll have to take when your baby is born. These include:
1. Putting him/her on your insurance: They won't do it automatically, so you have to call. You usually have 30 days to do this, but we suggest doing it right away so you can cross it off the list.
2. Make their first pediatrician appointment: The hospital pediatrician will let you know when that first appointment should be, based on how everything is going. Then you'll just place a quick call to your pediatrician's office to let them know the baby has been born (yay), and to get on their calendar.
3. Fill out the birth certificate. This is usually done before you get discharged from the hospital. You'll probably have at least a day, though, so if you're waiting to see him before you officially name him, you've got time.
Start skin-to-skin contact.
Thinking about doing skin-to-skin with my babies still gives me all the feels. It's just one of the most lovely experiences we get to have.
Skin-to-skin is when you put your naked (except for a diaper) baby against your bare chest, and then a blanket over both of you, and then just cuddle and breathe in that new-baby smell. In addition to being delightful, skin-to-skin helps regulate your baby's temperature, breathing and heart rate, and it helps promote milk supply and breastfeeding.
So get naked, and get cuddling!
Pro tip: If you aren't able to do skin-to-skin right away, your partner or another family member can do it!
Eat. All. The. Food.
You know, the foods you couldn't eat when you were pregnant. The ones you have been CRAVING for nine months. Eat 'em up real good. (I may or may not have, but definitely did, have the local sushi place's number programmed into my husband's contact list weeks before I actually gave birth....)
You'll probably find that you are ravenously hungry shortly after you give birth.
I mean, you basically just ran a marathon, right? Fueling yourself with delicious and powerful foods will help so much as you enter this next phase—you'll need the energy to take care of your baby, TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF and also to make breastmilk.
Eating food with fiber (like fruits and veggies—inspiration here), and drinking a lot of water will help make post-birth bathroom trips easier. And people love bringing new moms food! So bon appetit, mama!
Write down some things.
Birth is the most intense natural experience we have as humans. It's exhilarating and exhausting and then you get a baby! So it's not uncommon to forget something about your experience. When you have a quiet moment, jot down a few quick memories, notes or questions you have as you reflect on your birth. You can add the note to your baby book and look back on it as you celebrate your little one's birthday each year (sniff). And while we're on the subject...