Although you’ve been keeping them safe in your belly for nine months, when your baby arrives it’s important to establish a bond with your new baby outside of the womb.
New parenthood can feel like a steep learning curve, and it’s common for parents to feel a little at sea when it comes to caring for their first child.
Here are some tips and tricks to care for your baby in their first few weeks of life.
Be Selfish with your Time
In the days after birth, it's common for friends and family to want to say hello to your precious new addition. But don't be scared to hold off on those Zoom parties and video calls for a bit so you and your partner can take this special time to bond.
Spend time talking to them, making eye contact and practicing safe skin-to-skin with a Joeyband™. All of these things can help you and your newborn get to know each other.
Breastfeed as Soon as Possible
Breastfeeding seems to go more smoothly for women who nurse within an hour of delivery - also known as the "Golden Hour". Studies and research (like this Stanford one) have shown that a newborn baby who maintains skin-to-skin contact with its mother during this period is more likely to latch on to the breast. Don't be afraid to request help if this doesn't happen immediately - most hospitals have lactation consultants on staff.
As well as helping the colostrum (the first, nutrient-rich breast milk to protect baby) to flow more easily, skin-to-skin contact will help mom produce more of the hormone Oxytocin, which improves milk flow and bonding. It’s also been shown to help moms breastfeed longer by building milk supply and strengthening the bond with the baby.
If skin-to-skin contact continues for the following hours, days and weeks of your baby’s life - especially during the Fourth Trimester, your baby is not only more likely to breastfeed exclusively and for longer, but will also let you know when they are ready to feed.
Remember, during the first six weeks it's essential to let your baby nurse whenever he wants. Don't worry about having enough milk—the more your baby eats, the more you'll produce.
Sleep Close to your Baby
James McKenna, Ph.D., Director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at University of Notre Dame in Indiana, says babies being close to their mothers regulates their heart rate. It can also develop their immune system, regulate stress levels and can make breastfeeding easier.
A bedside or freestanding (but nearby) bassinet is a good option. Various experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, advise parents not to sleep with their babies because of the danger of suffocation.
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