This first week with baby I concentrated on healing and bonding with baby.
What do you feel is important in the first week? What tips do you have for postpartum healing? How do you bond with your newborn?
Babies spend a lot of time sleeping and eating the first week and I strongly encourage mama to do the same!
I’m a terrible sleeper and usually just cannot nap. However, this is the one week I’m just so pooped that I need and enjoy a quick daytime snooze.
I’m fortunate enough that my husband is around this time and able to use some of his vacation time to stay home with me. He is seriously a Superman and makes my life a gazillion times easier. His parents stayed with the toddler while I was in the hospital and my mom visited for a few days when we first got home. All four grandparents have pitched in with home repairs, babysitting, frozen meals, cleaning, etc. It is definitely nice to be living close to family this time around instead of halfway across the country.
Graciously accept any and all help offered during this time.
Be good to yourself because the quicker you heal, the better you’ll be able to care for your family!
We have a toddler girl, too, so she also needs a lot of attention during this time. We are trying to maintain her routine as much as possible, allow her to help in age appropriate ways (picking out clothing for baby, counting his toes while he nurses, getting his diaper), and also give her some individual time with Mommy and Daddy. She has a doll and she enjoys feeding, burping, changing, and swaddling her dolly (and assorted stuffed animals).
Bonding with baby begins even before birth and it is never too soon to start enjoying your baby.
In the first week, one of the biggest bonding activities is eating! I breastfeed so we spend a lot of baby’s waking time in this activity. If you do not breastfeed, feeding time is still a perfect time to relate to baby. Breast or bottle, baby should be held during feedings. And, if baby’s awake, you can also rub baby, talk to baby, and gaze at baby.
This is the beginning of the bond of trust for me and baby. He expresses hunger; I meet his need by feeding him.
Although it is tempting to “get stuff done,” I try to really enjoy this time and remember that feeding my baby is one of the most important activities I can do this first week. So many vital things happen during mealtime and baby learns that eating is a social activity that nourishes the soul as well as the body.
I am up and about so I am also wearing baby in a sling. If you are still in bed, then another caretaker can do this (a great opportunity to bond with another parent or grandparent) or it can certainly wait until you are feeling stronger!
In baby’s sling, he can eat, hear my heart beat, feel the familiar rhythm of my walk, enjoy a swaddled feeling, and gaze into my eyes. For me, I get to keep baby close and comfy while having my hands free. And it is much better for my back, too, then carrying him in my arms all the time.
The cradle hold is ideal for newborns, so I’m using my favorite ring sling (and some mamas like pouches, too). Hard carriers have low weight limits, are usually limited to one position, and are not very ergonomic for baby or for the parent. If you like the idea of a front pack, try a wrap, a mei tai, or a soft structured carrier, instead.
Touch is so important for babies. I’m sure everyone’s heard about the studies of babies who were fed, but never touched. Without touch, a baby may die or suffer serious developmental delays.
Besides, who can resist touching that silky soft baby skin?
During baby’s first week, he also gets his first sponge bath at home. Babies don’t need to be bathed everyday, but keeping baby clean is important for his healing and it is another good time to bond. I love washing and rinsing each part carefully and then wrapping him up in a soft, warm towel. It is also his first massage! Some people are suckers for baby shoes…me, I can’t resist a funny hooded towel.
The first week can establish the pattern for bonding. At the same time, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, so try not to dwell on missed opportunities and instead focus on the joys ahead.
There are other activities you can do with your baby right from the start–like reading, singing, and dancing–but if you are not feeling up for much activity, just take a break and cuddle. Your love and food are the real essentials. I’ll focus more on these sorts of additional activities in week two.