Bringing your baby home

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Getting ready to bring a new baby home causes some stress for most parents.  The questions care providers face which seem funny at first glance but often mask a really important concern that new parents may have – that they have very little experience of new born babies before they have their own.  There are many services now available throughout Australia to support new parents and this includes the option to have your own midwife to visit you at home after baby is born.  Having this person on call 24/7 allows you to have your own ‘Dr Google’ who knows you at your fingertips through the first few weeks and can be explored by the links at the end of this article.

My top 5 tips will give you an outline of some strategies to make this early period a little easier.

  1. Prepare the basics – don’t leave it till the last minute to get your car seat fitted. Make sure it is in the car by 36 weeks and practice putting a teddy or doll in and out till you can do it with ease.  Have some form of bed, cot or insert for bed ready.  Have a method to transport baby around – either a capsule, carrier or pram and practice using it before baby arrives.
  2. Make sure your clothes and nappies are easy – you don’t need lots of special outfits, make sure your clothes include the easiest jumpsuits, singlets and nappies. Even where you are considering using cloth nappies full time, consider using disposables for a week or two just to make things easier.  Your clothes needs to include a range of sizes but not too many of the small sizes.
  3. Attend breastfeeding classes and make sure you have a midwife to visit you daily for at least a week at home. Medicare funds private midwives to come and visit you at home no matter where you have had your pregnancy care.  It will usually have a very low to no out of pocket cost and is worth every cent to get you on track.
  4. Consider the early weeks. Have some meals and snacks in the freezer – you need to have as much of a break from household tasks as possible Have a list of small jobs visitors can do (shopping, errands, folding clothes, hanging out washing) so that any visitor can tick something off the list when they come to visit.  Make sure they are waiting on you, rather than you on them, by having all the items for cups of tea, drinks of water etc on the bench so they can help themselves.
  5. Sleep is a priority, but don’t count the hours. Many women make how much sleep they can tell their friends they did, or didn’t, get almost a badge of honour.  Don’t count the hours.  Do rest during the day every day for at least 2 weeks and preferably 6 weeks.  In terms of their beds and bedding babies are quite resilient and if they are cold they will cry, it is better to have it a little cool than too hot.  Sleeping with a baby close by is a good way to know what they are doing.  If you have trouble sleeping – get some ear plugs.  Another excellent way to share the parenting is to ask your partner to sit with baby in the first few hours when you go to bed (i.e. 8-11) so you can get a really deep sleep.

Often new parents will worry about the drive home – it will be OK.  Some parents will sit next to bub, but remember, baby won’t break.  Some babies love driving and fall asleep with the motion of the car.  Others dislike it a lot and cry every time they are settled in the car.  Sitting next to baby may be helpful if the crying is very challenging.  It is important to take your time, breath and embark on this amazing new phase of life slowly and steady.

Liz Wilkes has been a midwife for 24 years and is the Managing Director of My Midwives.  My Midwives provides midwifery continuity of care to women in Brisbane, Melbourne and Toowoomba.  Liz is presenting a special short form antenatal class series at the Baby To Toddler Show 

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