Diaries Of A New Dad: Sailing Through The First Week
The first week of the baby could be quite stressful, especially for the dads. Anticipate these five things to make the first week easy for you.
If there is anything more stressful than childbirth, it would be the first week after delivery. This is particularly the case when it is your first child. I always knew that my responsibilities would increase with the arrival of the child, but when I held my son in my arms, who would depend on us for every small thing for months to come, the feeling was ineffable. What followed was a string of events that were overwhelming and exhausting at the same time! I was overjoyed to hold the baby but was concerned about my wife who was exhausted at the end of the day.
Reflecting back, I feel that I could have been better prepared had I anticipated these five things. I hope these would help you if you are expecting the baby soon.
#1 Managing your energy level
Unless you have an elective C-section, the time to pick up the bags and rush to the hospital is unknown. Keeping the bag ready helps, though no one tells the dad to pack some energy bars for himself!
I recommend packing some good quality snacks with the hospital bag. You have a lot of running to do, especially if you are the one staying overnight. Keeps some dry fruits and some energy bars handy. You can also keep some coffee and dairy maker if you feel exhausted suddenly.
The baby would sleep for most of his first night. That is probably the last full night’s sleep you would get for a long time! Use a nursery for that night and catch a snooze.
#2 Perfecting the art of breastfeeding
I am much more involved in my child’s nutrition than my dad was in mine. If your wife decides to breastfeed, she would need your help in doing so. Even though it is a natural process, both the mother and the child would have to learn how to do it effectively. Your wife would not only need your moral support but also would need some physical help in positioning and latching the baby.
I recommend talking to a lactation consultant if your hospital has one. In addition, you can also watch some videos on the internet. There are a few things you need to know about feeding like the hold, a good latch, the stages of milk production, how to burp the baby, and what to do when he regurgitates.
You have a lot of help available at the hospital, so make use of it. Your mums may not have the most updated knowledge about breastfeeding. So it pays to watch and practice the holds beforehand.
Read on to know more
#3 Anticipating jaundice and weight loss
Jaundice is quite common in the first three days, but it would cause you much stress if you are not aware of it. It is caused due to a process of preparing the baby for the outside world. It is also seen frequently in breastfed babies.
While you need not worry about jaundice as it resolves on its own, solutions are also readily available. It is wise to check if the baby’s eyes appear yellow. In such a case, consult your doctor for the next steps.
Similarly, there is some weight loss in the first few days. The babies generally recover the loss in about a week. You should not worry if the baby is feeding properly.
4# Keeping a tab on the output
The one thing you may think you are prepared for, but you have to experience it to understand fully the gravity of is changing diapers! My wife could not bend much after the surgery, and so, I was in charge of the poops and the pees. I would lose the individual counts and then we would get worried!
Keep a chart handy and make a note of both. Also, notice the change of the colour. The poop must change from tarry black to yellow in about a week. If it is green, the kid is probably not getting enough hind milk, or there might be some infection. You need to discuss that with your doctor.
#5 Beating the zombie mode
It is your choice to sleep separately from the baby and the mother. Otherwise, you would have to wake up every two to three hours for the feeds, diaper changes, burping and putting him back to sleep. However, if you team up with your wife and divide the work, the task becomes much easier. That said, don’t expect any quality sleep. My kid cluster fed on his sixth day. He demanded a feed every hour, throughout the night! And that was very tiring.
Expect such scenarios and steal some sleep if you can. I would help my wife with the initial latch and then catch a snooze. After he was done, I would then burp and change his diapers while my wife slept. That way, we were relatively fresh during the day.
The good news is, you get used to the routine in no time. By the end of your paternity leave, you are back to your productive self.
The first week is a time of confusion, overwhelmed emotions, frustration and elation. It is the time when it starts feeling real. Being prepared is the key to sailing through the first week with the least amount of stress.
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