Top tips to help you get through the first week with your baby
Here's a guide to what to expect when you bring your new baby home for the first time
Quick points for mum
Don’t neglect yourself and give your body time to recover
Be patient – feeding takes time to pick up
And when supporting mum
Do as much around the house as you can
Ask mum what she needs and how you can help
The first week as a parent can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve pulled together top parenting tips and advice to help you adjust to your newborn baby's routine.
Feeding your newborn
Feeding your baby is a wonderful way to bond with your new arrival.
- It is recommended that mums exclusively breastfeed for the first six months
- The first milk you produce is called colostrum and is full of important protein and antibodies
- It may take a little time for both of you to settle into it and get the hang of how to feed, how often and how much. Read more breastfeeding tips
- Spend as much time as possible nourishing your baby’s development
- If for any reason you’re unable to breastfeed, you can read our tips on bottle feeding here
Newborn nappy changing
Don’t be surprised when you open those first baby nappies.
- The first greenish black poos are meconium – it’s very sticky and hard to clean but doesn’t last long
- Soon baby’s poo will become a lighter mustard colour, which is perfectly normal
- Breastfed babies will have less smelly poo that is a bit runnier than formula fed babies
Body changes after giving birth
It took nine months for your body to grow a baby so getting back to normal is going to take a little time.
- You may feel contractions as your womb continues to shrink
- It’s normal to bleed for up to two weeks, turning from bright red to brown. If you’re overly active, it may briefly start up again but will taper off with rest. If it continues to be heavy and bright red again, contact your GP, midwife or hospital for advice
- You may also feel sore around your vagina, especially if you had tearing or an episiotomy – ask your midwife if ice packs would be helpful
- You might also feel uncomfortable going to the toilet but this shouldn’t last long. Drink plenty of water and add more fibre to your diet such as fruit, vegetables, rye crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts or seeds
- Try to set aside 10 minutes every day just for you and let someone else look after the baby while you relax
- Sleep helps your body and mind repair itself after birth – so make sure you catch a nap when baby sleeps
- Speak to your midwife if you feel you aren’t healing or don’t feel right in any way at all
“I asked visitors if they wouldn't mind stopping in at the shops for me on the way to see us. Everyone was really glad to help.”
Dealing with visitors after birth
Everyone will want to meet the new baby. But lots of visitors can be tiring.
- Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ – friends and family will understand if you’re not up to a visit
- Keep visits short and tell friends and family when it’s time to go
- Give visitors things to do that will help you out around the house
- Spread the visits out – you’ll appreciate the company and help more over the coming weeks
Babies bring lots of joy but they can also bring the baby blues. It’s so common that it's considered normal.
- 85% of new mums and dads will feel irritable, emotional or even burst into tears for no reason
- If these feelings persist or get worse, it could be postnatal depression – around 10-15% of mums and dads suffer from this
- Discuss your feelings with your partner — and your doctor, midwife, or healthcare professional — so you can get the advice and support that's right for you
Support for new mums
There are plenty of people around you who can form a postnatal support team to lean on as you settle in.
- Family and friends will only be too happy to help – just let them know what you need (and when!)
- In the early days your midwife and other healthcare professionals will be able to give you lots of support and advice on postnatal care
- Check out your nearby postnatal groups to chat with other new mums
- Find out about all the local breastfeeding support and resources available to you
How to support mum
In those first weeks, mum needs strong support, positivity and encouragement from those around her. Here's how you can help:
- Become informed about breastfeeding. The more you know, the more you can support
- Ask mum how she’s feeling, ask how you can help and try to anticipate her needs. Her breastfeeding experience will be more positive if she knows someone is listening and supporting her
- Kindness, patience and encouragement will go a long way
- Make meals and offer drinks to help mum eat right and stay hydrated, so her body heals and produces milk
- Help out with household chores, running errands or preparing healthy meals
- Join mum and baby during a feed – to bond, and to learn baby’s hunger cues – and change nappies too
- Cuddle, hug, play, and provide emotional nourishment to your baby
- Offer to look after baby and let mum have time on her own, for a bath, walk or simply to sleep
“When she’s breastfeeding, I top up her water and make sure she’s got snacks.”
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The best way to feed a baby is to breastfeed, as breast milk provides the ideal balanced diet and protection against illness for your baby and also many non-nutritional benefits for both baby and mother. We recommend that you speak to your healthcare professional when deciding on your choice of feeding your baby. Professional guidance should also be sought on the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding. If you do choose to breastfeed, it's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Infant formula is intended to replace breast milk when mothers choose not to breastfeed or if for some reason they are unable to do so. A decision not to breastfeed, or to introduce partial bottle-feeding, will reduce the supply of breast milk. If for any reason you choose not to breastfeed, do remember that such a decision can be difficult to reverse. Using infant formula also has social and financial implications which must be considered. Infant formula should always be prepared, used and stored as instructed on the label, in order to avoid risks to a baby’s health.