Your baby’s first six weeks at home: Week one


Congratulations on the birth of your new baby. The last week has undoubtedly been a big blur of excitement and joy, mixed in with some pain. No matter how well labour and delivery is managed, there are inevitably periods of discomfort. Try not to focus on this, though.

What’s important is that you and your baby are well and healthy. Everything else is a bonus.

Here’s a practical guide to the first week with your newborn.

But my baby’s birth was not what I wanted!

You may find yourself reflecting on your labour and your baby’s birth. Perhaps it was not what you hoped for. Many new mothers feel a sense of disappointment about their baby’s birth. With time, you will process your own experience and make sense of it.

If you find yourself ruminating and thinking obsessively about your baby’s birth, then speak with your maternity care provider. Getting feedback and perhaps even a debriefing session can be immensely helpful for new mothers.

What can I expect in week one?

The big focus this week will be settling in at home. Maternity hospitals have varying protocols about discharge timing.

You’ll probably find you’ll try to keep the same feeding, sleeping and self-care routine which you’ve been doing when you were in hospital.

You may feel frightened, anxious, unsure, confused or a combination of all of these. It’s common for new mothers to feel an almost complete lack of confidence about caring for their new baby. Be kind to yourself. With time and practice you will become calmer and more confident.

Week one tips for Mum

  • Eat well and prioritise your meals. Good nutrition is important for new mothers to help their body heal and for lactation.
  • Eat plenty of fibre-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables and grains. Constipation is common in new mothers, especially when breastfeeding.
  • Drink plenty of water. Have a water bottle handy when you’re feeding and make a point of checking the colour of your wee. Dark yellow/orange urine is a sign of dehydration.
  • Avoid too much internet checking about what’s normal and what’s not. Establish a good source of evidence based information, such as Kidspot, and stick with that.
  • Shower twice a day. No matter what type of delivery you had, it’s important to maintain good body hygiene. Change your clothes at least once a day including your underwear.
  • Change sanitary pads regularly. If you have a very heavy blood flow, pass clots, or your vaginal discharge is smelly, get checked by a doctor.
  • Concentrate on yourself and your baby. If you have older children, accept all reasonable offers of help and support with their care.
  • Sleep whenever you can. Don’t expect your baby to be in a regular sleeping routine.
  • Make sure your comfort needs are met. Keep warm, nurture yourself and be kind. Don’t expect to be anything other than tired and emotional. These are very early days.
  • Cry if you need to. You’ll find you’re more emotional than usual and cry easily. Keep the tissues handy and avoid self analysis. Your hormones are to blame.
  • Give into your cravings for sugar. Breastfeeding mothers yearn for sweet treats. Within reason eat whatever you want, just don’t go overboard.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Soap is as good as antibacterial wash. This is the number one way to reduce cross infection within a household.
  • Expect each day to be a little different to the one before. There are no guarantees in parenting so avoid setting yourself up for disappointment.

Week one tips for Baby

  • Expect your baby to be a little less settled than they were in hospital. Adjusting to life at home is not restricted to new parents.
  • Just go with your baby’s flow. Feed them when they’re hungry and settle them when they’re tired.
  • Expect your baby to feed a lot, especially if they’re breastfeeding. Eight or more breastfeeds in 24 hours is normal.
  • Don’t expect a predictable routine of feeding and sleeping. Your baby is still getting used to independent life and it can take up to six weeks for patterns to develop.
  • Keep an eye on your baby’s umbilical cord. Dry it after bathing and try to keep the cord stump clear of their nappy. If it becomes red or smelly, check with your GP.
  • Make an appointment with your local child health nurse. Tell them that this is a new baby appointment. You may be entitled to a home visit.
  • Expect a lot of dirty nappies. If your baby is getting plenty of milk, the inevitable result will be full nappies. You’ll become an expert in changing in a very short time.

What makes things easier in week one?

  • Online shopping if you need things.
  • Not leaving the house unless you really have to. Limit your social activities until everyone is settled.
  • Asking for help. Don’t be a martyr; new mothers are not meant to do it all on their own.
  • Limit visitors. Your focus this week needs to be on you and your little one. Keep visits short and prioritise your own sleep/rest otherwise you’ll be exhausted.
  • Encouraging and allowing your partner to care for the baby as well.
  • Asking other responsible adults to drop off and pick up older children from kindy/school etc.
  • Prioritising what has to be done in the house and what can wait.
  • Eating easy meals which don’t require much preparation but which are still nutritious.
  • Having a couple of areas in the house which can be used as baby change stations.

The days are long but the years are short with parenting and this first week will pass in a blur. Take the time to just sit and enjoy your baby this first week. In among all the care iving you provide, the most important is that you allow yourself time to fall in love with your baby.

More week one tips …

  • Take lots of photos.
  • Ignore what doesn’t matter in the household.
  • Adopt the mantra “People first”. Mess can wait.
  • If nothing else, make your bed. This will help you to feel that you’ve achieved something important when it comes to housework.