Important things to know when you bring baby home from the hospital
The first few days of bringing home baby are the toughest. You’re exhausted from birth, possibly breastfeeding, and of course, lacking sleep. That’s why in the days leading up to your due date, it’s essential to plan ahead and get yourself prepared mentally and physically for the precious new addition to the family.
I recently gave birth to my second child in Germany, seven years after my first, who was born in America. When you give birth in America, you’re sent home from the hospital after a few days with your baby to try and figure everything out yourself. In Germany, they assign you a midwife to come to your house every other day for up to six weeks after your birth. Not only did I gather tons of helpful information from her, but my bringing home baby worries were put to ease without having to make unnecessary trips to the doctor's office. You know, those moments you see a tiny red mark on your baby you're pretty sure it has some sort of fatal disease?
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My midwife was very helpful in answering all of my questions that I know are questions of yours as well. So, from her mouth to your ears, here are some fantastic tips I learned from her.
This advice is given on behalf of the success I had form her advice, not because I am a trained professional, midwife, nurse, or doctor. Always consult with your healthcare provider if you have any questions regarding your baby.
1. When to bathe your child.
I know it’s a common occurrence in hospitals to take your baby right away after birth for a bath. I can’t tell you enough how unnecessary this is. Your baby’s skin is so sensitive at this point and cleansing with any kind of soap or even water won’t be beneficial. Not to mention, the first hours of your baby being in the world, are the most critical bonding times for you both. My second baby was put on my chest right away after birth to give us immediate skin on skin contact. This made breastfeeding a breeze, and he latched on right away! After the first initial bonding time, they took him off for a few brief moments to check his vitals, but he was brought back to me right away. Not worrying about a bath at that moment gave us the freedom to just enjoy our new baby. I know in America this might not be an option due to lagalities, but I'm pretty sure you can request for you baby not to be bathed.
“It’s not necessary to bathe your newborn as soon as you bring him or her home, or even for several weeks for that matter. Newborns really don’t get dirty, and bathing them too often can remove the protective oils on their skin and dry it out. This leaves them more susceptible to irritation, inflammation, and infection,” says Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH, a family physician and coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year.
2. When to use soap and what kind is best.
I know this sounds a bit extreme, but unless your baby is peeing all over himself a lot, or smelling of sour milk, I found that just using warm water was enough to get him clean. I only use a very mild and sensitive soap for around his butt, and his neck folds about once a week. I find these are the places that get the dirtiest. If I can avoid cleaning his whole body with soap, I will. I find that soap dries out his skin and causes irritation. If you do use soap, this is what I would recommend that you can get on Amazon for a great price.
3. Diaper rash remedies and how to prevent them.
Why is it that baby’s get diaper rash so easily? Up to the point of birth, their skin has been in an enclosed and perfect environment in your belly, so it’s no wonder when they are exposed to new chemicals, softeners, bleaches and whatever is lingering in the outside world.
My baby, two days after I popped him out, unfortunately, acquired a severe diaper rash directly around his tiny little butt hole. It looked like small sores, surrounded by raw redness. I was sure he was allergic to something I was eating, due to the fact it was directly around where his runny sharts would sit on his skin, no matter how often I tried to keep it clean. His butt got so sensitive that every time I changed his diaper, he would scream in agony. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for either of us.
After much research on google, I found myself preparing to take dairy, soy, gluten, nuts, and seeds out of my diet to see if it helped. I told my midwife what was going on and she pointed me to a couple of options that, to my surprise, healed the diaper rash and had prevented it ever since, without requiring me to change my diet.
Along with the fact that there are no exclusive studies to support the case that what you eat will cause your baby gas, allergies, diaper rash, etc., she implored that his diaper rash was most likely caused by the chemicals in his pampers diapers that he was allergic to. Pampers, being one of the worst when it comes to unnecessary chemicals, was indeed the culprit. I immediately switched to an off brand that was not only cheaper but was also free of unnecessary chemicals.
After a few days of switching, the diaper rash was cleared, and I was thankful I hadn’t stressed myself out, even more, trying to figure out what he might be allergic to in my diet.
In a nutshell, here's what I did to heal my baby’s diaper rash and keep it from coming back.
1. Figure out if your baby is allergic to his/her diaper. Until you figure out which brand is best, you can also lay a cotton pad or gauze as a liner to protect the areas that are the most sensitive. I did this until I found a good brand that my baby wasn’t allergic to. Also, make sure they aren't allergic to the liner! The most natural brands you can find, the better.
2. Don’t use diaper wipes! Fill a small Tupperware container with cotton pads, (not balls) dampen them, and seal it closed. Until your baby starts eating solid foods, their poop isn’t going to cause a diaper rash by sitting on their skin, so just using water to clean will suffice. By mixing in a little coconut oil (which is a natural antibacterial cleanser), you will create a barrier to protect the skin. Coconut oil is an amazing natural cleanser for your baby’s bum.
3. If your baby has a diaper rash and you need to protect their skin from their poop, then use a minimal amount of diaper cream. If you put on too much, it won’t let their skin breath, which is needed for the healing process.
4. If your baby has a diaper rash, let them be naked and free from a diaper for at least 30 min at a time per day. This is probably going to allow healing the fastest.
5. If your baby doesn’t have a diaper rash, don’t start using diaper cream. It really isn’t necessary. I guarantee you, unless you’re planning not to change their diaper all day, a little poo sitting on their bum will not cause a diaper rash. You can put a tiny bit of diaper rash cream or coconut oil on their bums if you’re planning not to change their diaper through the night.
4. Use the 5 S's to calm your baby.
One of the most helpful books I read for what to do to calm your baby was The Happiest Baby on the Block. It explains the 5 s’s. Shushing, sucking, swaddling, swinging, and side-lying. This book is not only for those of you whose baby suffers from gas or are colicky but for any situation when you need to calm your baby. This book was a life saver for us. I would recommend it to any new parent.
5. Don’t overdress your baby.
It is more dangerous for your baby to get overheated than it is for them to be too cold. Overdressing your baby is directly linked to SIDS. A good rule of thumb is dressing your baby similar to what you would wear. If you’re cold, your baby is most likely cold. If you’re too warm, your baby is too warm. Baby’s also like to sleep in cooler temperatures. Most people think that the warmer the room is, the better. Baby’s sleep best in temperatures from 65 f to 70 f. Follow safe blanket and swaddling procedures to ensure he is warm, but not overdressed.