Pregnancy and motherhood is the most memorable yet stressful journey for every woman. Not just physically, you feel drained emotionally because of this new role. But, because of your maternal instincts, most of you blend well into this responsible situation beautifully and gracefully. 

So, congratulations. You just had a baby! Relax and don’t stress out. It’s ok!

Newborns are little fragile munchkins when they are born and their first month makes a lot of difference in their future progress.

Here are few steps which will help you and dad ( and extended family) in your journey, during this crucial period of learning and manage your parenthood: 

1. Babies need to be fed well, every 2 hrs if exclusively breastfed or 3 hrs if formula fed.

Breast milk is the best for any baby and it is species determined. So no doubt mom’s milk is the best for her baby. What makes breast milk the best is not only that it is easily available, but it is extremely nutritious, protecting babies against dreadful conditions like lung infections, tummy bugs, asthma and other autoimmune diseases. Its ingredients being proteins (whey proteins mainly) which are very easily digestible, rich in vitamins and immunoglobulins and is known for its sweetest taste! For the mother: "It helps you to bond well with your mini-me and protects you as well, from breast and uterine cancers and definitely economical ( I will say a priceless first gift for your baby!)". 

Next best to mother's milk, is a formula milk, which has been prepared manually with a  chemical composition almost matching breast milk, though not the best, but definitely an option if breastfeeding is an issue to mothers any time. 

Do not give cow's milk to your baby till he /she is a year old, because its proteins are very difficult to digest and it’s high sodium load, is not good for your baby’s growing kidneys. Babies on cow’s milk since birth is at risk to suffer from eczema, asthma, food allergies and anaemia as well.

What mothers have to do:

  • Your breast needs to be accessed during pregnancy to correct nipple issues which could hinder feeding after birth.
  • You are usually advised to drink lots of liquid and a balanced diet and sometimes, a pill by the obstetric team to improve milk production after birth. 
  • Feed your baby every 2 hours, each breast at a time and keep a check of wet nappies which should be around 5-6 / day, which will help to give indirect estimate whether you are able to feed well and your baby is enough hydrated.
  • A well-fed baby will regain birth weight in 2 weeks of life and there on will consistently gain weight which needs to be monitored by your paediatrician at regular intervals through her stages of growth. 

2. Cover your baby well

Your baby's skin is very immature for the first weeks of life( 2 weeks for a term baby and longer for a premie). So she can’t withstand cold /too much heat during this time. Ensure she is well covered with mittens and socks, swaddle well, making sure she is not hot.

Maintain room temperature around 27 degrees. A pink coloured palm and a sole is an indicator that your baby is warm.

If your baby is not covered well, she might not put on enough weight as she might be using it to maintain her body temperature.    

3. Don’t fret for the jaundice    

Your baby can get jaundice in her first week of life and it's absolutely normal for them to do so. The usual causes are totally different from the adult causes of jaundice which usually range from infective hepatitis A, B and other major problems.

Your baby usually gets jaundice because of Immature liver enzymes, the lifespan of baby ‘s blood cell being shorter and breaking quickly leading to high levels of jaundice, feeding issues etc. 

Most of the jaundice reduces to normal limits in a week and no treatment is necessary. 

If your baby looks jaundiced your doctor will monitor blood levels for it, and keep you updated if treatment is needed which is followed as per special jaundice charts 

High jaundice levels are detrimental for the newborn brain and can result in a irreversible damage, this being the main reason why paediatricians are quite serious about managing it, as it is a completely avoidable condition by early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Myth of exposure to sunlight for long hours is no longer recommended as babies have higher risk to develop skin cancers, and overheating  when exposed to light for long duration 

4. Bath and oil massage    

Your baby needs to get a bath daily, first being after approximately 24 hrs. Keep bath time, short, atmosphere warm and preferably daytime. Try to avoid organic soaps and preferably use hypoallergenic body washes and judicious dabbing of coconut/olive oil prior to and after a bath. Massages are best advised after 2-3 weeks of life and preferably by the mother or a family member. 

5. Cord care

Babies umbilical cord needs to be kept dry after a bath daily initially. Watch for any redness or pus discharge which are some danger signs for you to visit a doctor. The cord will fall off by 10- 14 days, and once it does, do not apply anything to it and keep it dry  

6. Vaccination is a boon

Few parents are wary about vaccinations, mostly influenced by misguided information from media and newspapers. Present day vaccination covers most of the common yet dreadful diseases, babies could get, and provides protection against them getting serious complications because of these diseases and has saved a lot of lives as per statistical data and Cochran review. We are polio-free and that’s a great achievement today and that’s because of the success of immunization schedules. 

Therefore, help us in eradicating a lot similar dreadful conditions by sticking to the schedule.

Side effects: Every medicine has a side effect. Similarly, vaccination can have mild side effects which you can clarify at the time you are called for your baby checks. 

7. Vitamin D supplementation

Your baby will receive oral vitamin d drops at discharge which needs to be given at least for 2 years and later as per requirement and growth until 5 years of age. Rickets is a completely preventable bone disease of childhood and most of the mothers are vitamin d deficient today. Hence, vitamin d is recommended at discharge for all babies. 

These are the few important, yet crucial steps to be taken care of, in the first few months of life, for a healthy, happy and a growing baby.