The arrival of a newborn is a wonderful event which requires the involvement of the entire family mentally, emotionally and physically. Below are some tips for the entire family when welcoming a newborn:
Skin to Skin Contact – In the first moments of your child’s life, it’s best to have them lay on your chest to experience skin to skin contact. This helps continue the mother-child bond which began in utero and also gives the baby warmth and security. Try to have skin to skin connection as much as possible when carrying your newborn (this includes the Father) to reinforce this physical bond.
Breast Feeding – This is encouraged as studies have shown that breast feeding help with immune system and neurological development. If there are issues breast feeding, it’s usually because of an improper latch or that the frenulum (skin under the tongue) is too forward (can be check and fixed quickly by a lactation consultant). Massaging the breast can help aid with milk production. Also, make sure that the nipple area is dry (by using nursing pads or gauze) between feedings to decrease the chance of mastitis (red painful rash around the areola). Breast milk also can be used topically on baby acne or any skin issues. Breast feeding does burn a lot of calories, so make sure you are replenishing your fluids and nutrients (especially protein, approximately 70 grams of protein a day), including continuing with your prenatal supplements for 6 months after the baby is born.
Bowel Movements and Diaper Rashes – Your baby should have a bowel movement within 48 hours of being born (it may be hard or soft, both are normal). If any gas or bloating, you can rub a baby’s stomach in a counter clockwise motion to aid with movement. Probiotics (dip your finger in a probiotic powder and have the baby suck your finger) can help with bowel movements and digestion of breast milk. If a diaper rash forms, some great natural creams are olive oil, coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or calendula cream.
Check Ups and Vaccinations – Baby check-ups with your health care practitioner are at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The neurological and physical development is assessed by looking for certain milestones (holding up their head, rolling over and sitting up, crawling, walking and first words). Vaccinations are recommended starting at 3 months and it is the parent’s choice whether they want to vaccinate their child or not (and only their choice).
Nutrition – Once babies become interested in food or they start teething, then that is a sign that they may start eating foods soon. Best is to introduce foods around the 6 month mark (when their digestive tract has developed) with soft pureed fruits and veggies, or rice cereal/porridge. Avoid honey, nuts, corn, simple sugars, and chocolate in the first 9-12 months.
Sleep – Babies are best sleeping on their backs with no pillow or toy in their cribs. They also do best with routine – keep the same bed time and naps time to establish a routine to adhere too.
Happy Thoughts – Babies are incredibly sensitive to their environment. They can sense stress acutely, and high stress environments have been shown to negative affect a child’s mental emotional environment. Calm music, parent-child interaction, walking outside in nature, and other stress reduction exercise are wonderful for the family and baby
Having a child join the family is a wonderful event which should be celebrated and embraced. However, it’s important to take time for your self and do relaxing or creative things that you enjoy, as well as alone time (or “date night”) with your partner to ensure the best health of the entire family unit.