What to do once your baby is home
Most first-time parents are anxious and concerned right after they take the baby home. It takes about six weeks for most couples to feel better about having a baby. Here are things you can do:
- Hug your wife a lot. Tell her she's doing a great job.
- Be patient with the baby and with your wife. This is new for all of you and takes some getting used to. Respond with affection and try to figure out what they need. Remember, you cannot spoil a baby with too many cuddles or attention.
- Ask friends and family for help with cleaning, shopping, meals and caring for other children. Everyone needs help with a new baby!
- Try to rest whenever you can.
- Help out with the baby during feeding time. If your wife is breastfeeding, you can bring her the baby and help them get comfortable.
- There is no one else like a baby’s own father, so don't let anyone push you away from your baby; not your wife, your mother or mother-in-law, or other family and friends. It’s easy to feel excluded or that you aren’t doing things right. Spend time each day with your baby, including some alone time, and you’ll find you better understand their needs and so you can better cope and stress less.
- Watch our How to videos on holding and carrying baby, changing diapers, swaddling, giving baths, baby massage, holding baby skin-to-skin and soothing your crying baby.
- Most babies love to sleep on their dad's chest; just make sure you stay awake to keep baby safe.
Emergency! When your baby needs first aid
Baby will inevitably get sick; the average is 6-12 times in baby’s first year. Hand washing (for 20 seconds with soap) is the easiest and most effective way to keep germs away, especially before/after diaper change and food preparation. Getting your baby fully immunized is critical to ensuring he stays healthy and avoids life-threatening illnesses; click here to see what immunizations baby needs.
When should your baby get urgent care?
Call your baby’s doctor or get to the hospital right away if your baby:
- Has blood in her vomit or stool.
- Has trouble breathing, breathes really fast (more than 60 breaths in a minute), or has a blue tint around the nose, lips, fingernails or skin.
- Has a seizure. When a person has a seizure, his whole body or parts of his body move uncontrollably. Sometimes the person stops breathing.
- Has eaten something like detergent, soap, bleach or bug killer that causes vomiting, diarrhea or trouble breathing.
- Is hard to wake up or is unusually tired.
- Has a rectal temperature above 38C or below 36.5C.
- Is injured and doesn’t stop bleeding.
- Has one or more apnea episodes. Apnea is an interruption of breathing for a short period of time.
- Has yellowish skin or eyes
Watch these videos from the British Red Cross to learn how to respond in the following emergency situations:
Unresponsive & breathing
Unresponsive & not breathing
For more videos on emergency first aid from the British Red Cross, click here.
When can your baby get care during regular office hours?
Call your baby's health care provider during regular office hours if your baby:
- Is eating less than usual or shows other changes in appetite.
- Is regularly crying, irritable or unable to be comforted.
- Has frequent diarrhea. This can be hard to notice in breastfed babies as they usually have soft stools. Contact baby’s doctor if your baby's stools are especially soft or watery for 6-8 diaper changes.
- Is constipated and doesn't have any stools.
- Vomits (more than just spit up) more than 2-3 times a day.
- Has a cold that doesn't improve or gets worse after a few days.
- Has a rash.
- Has fewer than six wet diapers in 24 hours. This can be a sign of dehydration. Other signs of dehydration include sunken eyes, sunken soft spot (called the fontanel) on the baby's head, or lack of tears when crying.
- Has fluid draining from her ears.
- Has a tender navel or penis. Look for any redness, bleeding or pus in these areas.
- Is paler than usual.
- Is less active than usual.
Breastfeeding: your role
Supporting the health of your family is a great responsibility: you want to make healthy choices. This is why you, the father, should encourage your partner to breastfeed. Studies show that the attitude of the baby's father is the most important factor in whether or not a mother begins and continues to breastfeed. Here are some ways you can support your wife to breastfeed:
1. Encourage her
Let her know how proud you are that she is giving baby the very best start. You can avoid her getting discouraged and deflect any criticism from family or friends, especially about if baby is getting enough milk. This is a natural concern, but you can reassure her and others in a number of ways:
- Baby has 3-5 wet diapers and 3-4 soiled diapers by 3-5 days of age. Baby has 4-6 wet diapers and 3-6 soiled diapers per day by 5-7 days of
age. After 6 weeks, the number of soiled diapers may decrease to one every few days.
- Baby is being fed 8-12 times a day, or every 2-3 hours, in the first few weeks.
- Mother can see or hear baby swallowing.
- Baby appears satisfied and content after feeding.
- Mother’s breast softens during the feeding.
- Baby regains birth weight within two weeks. Don’t worry if baby loses weight in the first few days after birth as babies normally lose up to 10% of their birth weight in those first few days.
2. Help her
This includes doing household chores, helping with other children, or soothing baby when he is crying. This will help your wife to get rest, which is very important for new breastfeeding mothers.
3. Know some key facts
- Almost every mother can breastfeed and breast size makes no difference. Mothers will almost certainly have enough milk, as long as she stays hydrated (drink plenty of water) and nurses often (the more she nurses the more she will produce).
- A mother’s early milk, called colostrum, is the only food a baby needs. It is filled with important vitamins, minerals, proteins and immunities to help your newborn stay healthy. Between the third and fifth days after birth, the mother will start to feel fullness in her breasts, indicating her milk has come in.
- Breastfeeding within one hour after birth has been proven to increase breastfeeding success. In addition, the first few weeks are the most important as this is when milk supply is established. So your support and encouragement in the first few weeks is extra important.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, so if possible, do not give your baby water or formula during this time. Feeding the baby anything other than breast milk interferes with a mother’s ability
to produce enough milk. The WHO recommends breastfeeding baby until two years of age and beyond and this is also supported by the Quran (paragraph 233).
- Breastfeeding produces hormones in your wife that help her bond with her baby, which means she will understand what baby needs much better. It will build her confidence as a mother.
- Breastfeeding doesn’t make breasts droopy, but pregnancy may cause them to change size and shape after having a baby. When pregnant, breasts increase in size and the ligaments that support them may stretch and it is this stretching that can result in slight sagginess. This will happen whether your wife breastfeeds or not.
- Understand the great value of breastfeeding, and why "Breast is Best":
|Breastmilk is healthliest for baby
- Breastmilk has EVERY vitamin, mineral and other nutritional element your baby needs. Formula can’t properly reproduce the vitamins in breastmilk, like iron, for the baby to properly absorb it.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
- Breastfed babies have less diarrhea, constipation, and colic than babies who are not breastfed.
- Breast milk contains antibodies to fight infections.
- Babies may have less risk of becoming obese, having diabetes, and developing other diseases.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, allergies, and certain cancers.
- Breast milk contains special ingredients to promote brain growth.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant death from other causes.
- Breastfeeding is more than just food. It is the most effective way to settle baby when she is scared, tired, hungry or over-stimulated.
|Breastfeeding is healthiest for mother
- Breastfeeding helps mother’s uterus shrink and reduces bleeding and risk of post-partum hemorrhage.
- It may help the mother lose weight faster.
- It reduces her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis
(brittle bones) later in life.
- It helps her fight the ‘baby blues’ and can prevent or limit the effects of post-partum depression.
|Breastfeeding saves money
- It saves on formula, bottles, utilities, and medical bills. The cost of formula alone for a year is €1,000+ in Kosovo. It is completely portable; you don’t need to find clean water, warm up the milk, or clean bottles!
- It reduces sick days used by working mothers.
- It’s good for the environment because there is less trash and plastic waste.
Adapted from United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (2002).
4. Get help
It can take time for a mother to learn how to breastfeed. If your wife is uncomfortable or experiences pain while breastfeeding, it may be because the baby is not latching on correctly or because the breast is engorged with milk. Many new mothers need help in the beginning. Contact us, we can help with qualified and personalized breastfeeding advice.
5. Get involved
Some fathers may feel left out if their partner breastfeeds the new baby, but there are many other ways you can be involved bond with your baby:
- Babies love skin-to-skin contact with their fathers!
- Talk, sit, sing, rock, read to, burp, or diaper the baby.
- Teach your baby there is a world outside of mommy. Make some time in the day just for you and your baby. Forging your own relationship with your baby will enrich both your lives--and Mom's, too.
- If you see
the baby searching for mother’s breast, sucking his fist, or making sucking noises, take him/her to mother for a feeding. Look at your baby’s tiny fist and remember that it is about the same size as her stomach! Baby will need to nurse often (every 2-3 hours) in the first few weeks of life.
Calming your baby
During the first few months, babies cry about 1.5 hours per day for a whole range of reasons: hunger, pain, fear, tiredness, or they just to be held. Persistent crying can cause huge amounts of stress and exhaustion so it’s important to find a way to calm your baby. Fathers can play an invaluable role here, taking over when mothers feel overwhelmed.
If your baby cries, try the following:
- Check to make sure he isn't hungry.
- Check to make sure he has a clean diaper. If not, change it.
- Look for signs of illness or pain. Check if he has a fever over 38C, swollen gums or an ear infection.
- Rock the baby or walk with him.
- Sing or talk to the baby.
- Offer him a pacifier or a toy.
- Take him for a ride in a stroller.
- Take him for a ride in the car. Be sure baby is secured in the car seat.
- Swaddle the baby by wrapping her snugly in a receiving blanket.
- Play soft music or turn on TV. Be sure the sound is low and soothing.
- Run the vacuum cleaner, put on the clothes dryer or run water in the bathtub or sink. Some babies like these rhythmic noises.
- Hold the baby close to your body. Breathe calmly and slowly.
- If nothing else works, put the baby in his crib on his back, close the door and check on him in 10 minutes.
There is also a technique that many parents have used worldwide to calm their baby and put him to sleep in minutes. This approach turns on baby’s calming reflex by doing five simple steps that imitate their mother’s womb: the 5 S’s: 1) swaddle, 2) side, 3) shush, 4) swing, 5) suck. Watch this video to learn the technique in just a few minutes.
It is important that you respond to your baby quickly to reassure them that they are not alone. Don’t worry, you can’t spoil her with too much holding. Studies have found that babies who were held and carried often cried much less. They also end up being much more independent toddlers, according to research by Johns Hopkins University, one of the world’s leading public health institutions.
If your baby cries longer than usual and nothing you do soothes him, call your baby's doctor to see if there is a medical reason or if he's sick. He may have colic (intense crying for more than 3 hours a day, which occurs in about 1 in 10 babies).
Remember, NEVER shake your baby. If you begin to feel very frustrated, put the baby down somewhere safe and step away. You can also call a friend or relative for help. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to cause lasting brain damage in a baby, which results in shaken baby syndrome (SBS). SBS is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. The average age of the victims is between 3 and 8 months. In most cases, the person who hurts the baby is a young male in his early twenties. He often is the baby's father or the mother's boyfriend. About half the babies who have SBS die.
Your wife’s physical and mental health
Having a baby puts a tremendous physical and emotional strain on your wife so take a read through What to do once your baby is home to learn how you can help. Help her to eat well (have healthy food in the house, don’t skip meals, and ask family and friends to prepare you meals) and get enough rest; remember, she can’t effectively care for baby if she is too stressed or exhausted.
Your wife could be more emotional after giving birth due to hormonal changes, pain from the birth, lack of sleep and other emotional adjustments to motherhood. “Baby Blues” last for a few weeks after birth and go away on their own. But if they don’t and you think your wife is getting worse rather than better, she might have postpartum depression (PPD) and need help. Around 15% of women have PPD sometime within the first year of birth. If you think your wife might have thoughts of harming herself, or her baby, contact a doctor immediately. For more information about PPD click here.
If your wife has any of these physical warning signs within the first month after birth, call her doctor immediately:
- Passing a blood clot larger than a lemon or heavy bleeding that soaks a maxi-pad in one hour.
- Fever of 38C or higher.
- Problems with urination (burning, blood or inability)
- Vaginal discharge that has a very foul or fish-like odor.
- Increased pain at site of episiotomy or tear.
- Sore, reddened, hot area on breast along with fever or flu-like feelings.
Sex and intimacy after baby
Both you and your partner are getting used to having a baby around. Your wife may be just as nervous about being a parent as you are. Make sure you talk to each other. Talking about your feelings can help keep you both from feeling hurt and frustrated. As soon as you can, make time for just the two of you. Ask someone you trust to take care of the baby for an hour or two and go for a walk or out to dinner.
Generally, it is OK to have sex 4-6 weeks after birth, although not everyone waits that long, and not everyone is ready that soon. If your wife had a difficult birth, she might need longer to physically recover. Even if she is ready physically, she might not be ready emotionally. Having a baby is a hormonal rollercoaster for your wife, and she may need more time to adjust. She also might be afraid of pain and could be tired from the demands of her newborn. Even if you don’t have sex, you can still be intimate; stroking, kissing, masturbation and oral sex are all be options if your wife is interested.
Your wife might feel self conscious of her body after having a baby. So remind her that she is beautiful, and make her feel like a woman. Generally, it takes first-time mothers 6-12 months to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, and don’t be surprised if your wife still ‘looks pregnant’ for a few months after birth. Sex might also feel different. Often women experience vaginal dryness due to hormonal changes (not because she isn’t turned on by you), so use a lubricant. Let your wife control the pace and show you what is the most comfortable position for her. She may be sensitive, sore, or scared of pain. Don’t worry, your sex life will return to normal soon enough.
Paternity leave in Kosovo
Following is what is currently allowed for under Kosovo law:
- Paid leave for childbirth or adoption: Two working days (Article 50)
- Unpaid leave for childbirth or adoption: Two weeks at any time before the child reaches the age of three (Article 50)
- Maternity leave: 45 days up to 12 months (first 6 months – compensation is 70% of basic salary, next 3 months – compensation is 50% of average salary, last 3 months – unpaid) (Article 49)
- Mandatory maternity leave: 28 days before expected delivery up to 6 months (Article 49) Parental leave: After the lapse of the mandatory maternity leave, if the parents so agree, the right to maternity leave can be used by the child's father (Article 49)
- Paternity leave: If the mother of a child has died or abandoned the child, or for other justified reasons is not able to take care of her child, the rights are the same as mother’s (Article 49, 50)
- Child in need of greater care – one parent: Upon the expire of maternity leave, right to work half of full-time working hours until the child is two years of age if the child (Article 52)
Law No. 03/L–212 on Labor, http://www.assem- bly-kosova.org/common/docs/ligjet/2010-212-eng. pdf. Source: State of the World’ Fathers, Balkan Review, Care International Balkans & MenCare
Category: Baby & Mother