The First Few Days
You made it through your pregnancy and birth, and now your baby is finally here. The first few days are quite an adjustment, but your baby is quite the capable little being – he or she knows how to suck without knowing why. He can see in greyscale from the time they are born, but their focus is limited to about a foot (or the distance between your breast and you face).
She can look into your eyes and briefly hold your gaze. They will recognise your voice, and talking to them softly may calm them down. She can smell and will be familiar with your scent after the fourth stage of labour.
She is more robust than she looks after the months of kicking and stretching before her birth. Your baby was born with reflexes such as grasping, walking, rooting and the startle reflex, all designed to get her on track as fast as possible. Now she is here with you, and holding her close will make her feel secure now that her world is bigger than the limited space in your womb.
Immediately after your baby is born, she may look a little odd. Her head may be a little misshapen if she was born vaginally. She may look squashed, wrinkly or even bruised from the birth. There may be marks on her face if she had an instrumental birth which will disappear within a few days.
Her hands and feet may look a little blue. This is all perfectly normal. Within the next few days, her skin will smooth out a little, and her head will become rounder. The creamy white substance that protected her skin in the womb (vernix) will disappear.
New parenthood can hit people in a variety of ways. Some may be besotted with their baby from the moment they are born. Others may take a little longer to adjust to the role and the new person who has turned their world upside down. A mix of emotions including excitement, exhaustion, fear, worry, happiness and love, will make these first few days challenging.
This time is also challenging for partners and siblings. They have to face to the reality of the entirely new role and responsibility of parenthood, being a big brother or sister, or just having to share things, including mum! Everybody reacts to this time differently, so it is essential to remember the strategies you developed before the baby was born to tackle issues that arise during this considerable period of adjustment.
Dr Janelle McAlpine (PhD), Clinical Midwife
Photo by MillaF, used under license from Shutterstock.com