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Bringing your baby home is exciting! It is also terrifying.
As soon as the baby is on the outside, it’s a whole person that you have to keep alive all the time.
How do you even begin? It starts with coming home from the hospital.
Things to Know Before Bringing Your Baby Home
You do not have to be an expert in childrearing to bring a baby into this world. You don’t need to be licensed or following any type of training whatsoever.
It’s amazing that any of have managed to survive into adulthood, and yet here we are.
The fact that you are looking for the things you need to know before bringing your baby home is a good indicator that you’re on the right track.
1. You Don’t Have to Be Perfect
The first thing you need to know is that you absolutely do not have to be perfect.
There are no perfect parents and you are not the exception that rule. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to lose patience. You are going to think you are going crazy.
All of these things are perfectly normal for a first-time parent.
The reality is that being a new mom is a messy, sloppy, wonderful business with a lot of ups and downs.
Recognize your mistakes and learn from them, but don’t let them define you. Embrace the bad days along with the good.
2. You Do Need a Car Seat
This is a simple one, but it’s one you have to know.
Despite what you might have heard, hospitals will let you leave without a carseat, but that doesn’t mean you should.
If your baby will be getting into a car, whether it is yours, a friend’s, or an Uber, the car seat is necessary for safety.
A car seat reduces the risk of injury in a car accident by approximately 80 percent.
Car seats are also handy outside of the car. Infant car seats usually have bases that stay in the car with detachable carriers.
These carriers are used to carry your baby, rock your baby and supply a safe space for babies outside of the car. Ideally, you will have a stroller and car seat combo that is ready to use before your baby is born.
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3. The Early Days Are Painful
Lack of sleep and worry are pains that you might expect. You can also expect actual, physical pain.
If you deliver your baby vaginally, you have a 90 percent likelihood of experiencing a perineal tear.
These tears can require stitches or even surgery. Some moms may have an episiotomy. This is a surgical procedure that requires stitches and healing time.
If you have a c-section, you have undergone major surgery. You will be stitched, glued or stapled back together.
The good news is that you will have a longer hospital stay than a vaginal birth. The bad news is that you will still be healing for up to two months while taking care of a newborn.
4. Your Emotions Will Change
When you are pregnant, your body produces hormones to keep you and your baby healthy.
After the baby is born, you will experience a sudden drop in progesterone and estrogen. This decrease in hormones is often referred to as the baby blues.
You will find yourself crying at random intervals or feeling extremely sad for no apparent reason.
You might also experience great anger or feelings of abandonment. All of this is normal for new moms.
The baby blues can start immediately after your child is born but they don’t usually kick in until about two to three days later.
They should fade away after your hormones regulate, which will happen in a few days or up to two weeks.
5. Newborns Go Through a Lot of Diapers
It seems like a strange thing to focus on, but it is one of those facts that people tend to overlook when preparing new parents for their first child.
A baby’s first poops are disgusting, black, tarry, nightmare fuel. Even worse, it keeps coming.
You’ll think you’re finally done with the meconium, and then another load heads your way.
Luckily, this type of poo only lasts a couple of days. Unfortunately, your adventures in diapering have only just begun.
Newborns will use up to 10 diapers every day. Whether you choose to use disposable or cloth diapers, be prepared to go through a lot of them.
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6. You Don’t Need All the Gadgets
The baby industry is huge. It rakes in about $214 billion USD per year.
Some of this expense is on items you must have. Clothing, diapers, pacifiers, bottles and safety equipment might fall in this category.
Some of the income also comes from gadgets that no parent truly needs.
Items that you truly don’t need include wipe warmers, baby food processors, diaper disposal systems, baby timers, formula mixers or bottle warmers.
You might want them, which is great, but if you don’t have them, your baby will be fine.
In addition, you don’t need to buy dozens of outfits for your newborn. They probably will outgrow them before the first wear.
7. Breastfeeding Is Not Easy
Breastfeeding is so hard, which is a little-known fact.
You only find out that breastfeeding is not intuitive when you realize you can’t figure out how to feed your baby. You will feel like a failure and a bad mom.
At least, that’s how I felt. I’ve had these boobs for a long time and it was embarrassing to realize I didn’t know how to work them.
The best thing for you to do is ask for a consult with the lactation consultant as soon as you can.
Your hospital will have one on staff who will walk you through the entire breastfeeding process until you feel comfortable.
8. Post-Partum Depression is Real
Post-partum depression is not the same thing as the baby blues. Post-partum depression is a long-term condition that occurs in about 10 percent of new moms.
It may appear as soon as the baby is born or it can take up to a year for the condition to rear its head.
This disorder requires professional help that might include medication and/or psychological counseling.
Post-partum psychosis is an extremely rare condition that occurs in about 1 out of every 1000 births.
Feelings of paranoia, hallucinations or a desire to hurt the baby are signs of post-partum psychosis.
Women who suffer from post-partum psychosis are often already suffering from a mental health illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Those with a family history of these illnesses are at risk as well.
9. People Have a Lot of Opinions
You already know that, throughout your pregnancy, people around you love to give you unsolicited advice.
That doesn’t stop when you have your baby. In fact, it increases with every day.
You will hear opinions ranging from how to diaper your baby to whether or not they should be allowed to wear shoes.
You don’t have to ask for advice. There is always someone lurking in the shadows, eager to tell you that you are burping your baby wrong.
My strategy on unsolicited advice and unhelpful opinions is to smile politely, say thank you, and then move on with my life.
I try to tell myself that their heart is in the right place even if they are rude and insulting.
10. Your Loved Ones Want to Help You
You will need help. Accept it when it is offered and ask for it when it isn’t. Having a baby is the most physically demanding thing you will ever have to do.
You deserve to have some time to recover after the baby is born. If your neighbor offers to cook dinner, let them.
If your mother-in-law offers to hold the baby while you nap, take a nap.
Relish this time, because when those babies turn into teenagers your helpers will hide and you won’t blame them.
You are starting a new journey. It will be wonderful, but you need to be prepared.
These are only some of the many exciting and surprising things that await in the days ahead.
Do you have thoughts on what to expect after the baby is born? Share in the comments!