A Short Guide for New Parents in RECOvery
Being a parent is a big responsibility. It is not easy, but parenting can be highly fulfilling. Expecting parents may be experiencing a wide range of emotions, but ultimately, they will have to formulate a plan for caring through the pregnancy and for the little one after the arrival.
Before the Birth Checklist
There are several things you need ready before a baby is born. These include decisions you as parents will need to make, as well as actual items.
- Decide on a hospital and insurance. If you are looking to have a home birth or something similar, have your midwife or helper prep you for the day and help set up your birthing plan.
- Decide on housing and the work/home schedule you and your child will be adjusting to.
- Decide if and how long you will be breastfeeding. Buy formula or pumping equipment early.
- Decide on transportation to and from the hospital and whether you will have help. You will definitely have to purchase a car seat, as it is illegal to travel with infants who are not strapped in a proper car seat.
- For babies assigned as male, decide on circumcision or not.
- Have the necessities set up at home, like a crib, blankets, burp cloths, some toys and books, lots of diapers, a changing station, a small tub and bathing materials, bottles, all-weather clothes for your baby, first aid/medication for fever, a baby monitor, and pacifiers.
- Have the things that will make you as a parent comfortable as you comfort your child. This may include a nursing shirt, rocking chair, a swaddle, a stroller, or an infant carrier. Also have prints, words of love, and words of affirmation up on the walls or somewhere where you can see them. Being a new parent in recovery can be difficult, and having words of affirmation to remind you that you can do this can be helpful.
At the Hospital
After you give birth and get to officially meet your baby outside the womb, several things will happen.
- The umbilical cord is cut. The doctor will then help the mother clear out the placenta, uterine lining, and any other fluids left in the womb.
- At the same time is newborn screening. Newborns are analyzed for certain conditions and irregularities that could lead to problems if not caught early. For example, if the newborn is struggling to breathe at birth or has a heart defect, they may immediately be taken to intensive care to help them stabilize.
- Circumcision may follow the newborn screening or may be done around the same time.
Easily Identifiable Conditions
Before and after you leave the hospital, you will need to keep an eye on changes in your baby signifying certain conditions. These listed are perfectly treatable but may require a doctor’s visit for further care and instruction.
- Feeding: Infants must be fed at least every two hours, and it can stretch to a little more as the baby grows. Babies will tell you they are hungry when they put their hands in their mouths or cry in hunger. If your baby is not eating or struggling to eat, take them to the doctor straight away.
- Urinary and Bowel Movements: Infants will normally pee every one to three hours. A newborn will normally have green, sticky feces for the first few times pooping. Their feces should turn brown and remain soft or have some fluid. If you are noticing drastic changes in bowel movements, talk to your doctor.
- Umbilicus Care: The little black clot where the umbilical cord was should remain clean and dry. Take your infant to the doctor if there is pus or redness.
- Colic: Colic is a condition where your baby will cry, scream, and be overly inconsolable. This is due to gas and stomach issues. Talk to your doctor to confirm the cause. The colic should disappear after a few months.
- Diaper Rash: Diaper rash is common and occurs on the skin around the diaper. Use diaper cream and consult your doctor if it gets worse.
- Spitting Up: Vomiting is common in babies and may happen when you burp them. Have a burp rag ready and hold them in an upright position for a little while after feeding. You may still put them to sleep on their backs, and they will not choke. If your infant is not gaining weight and is spitting up constantly, take them to the doctor straight away.
- Jaundice: Jaundice is common and often not serious. Jaundice is a result of the liver not working at full capacity yet.
- Sleeping: Infants will not sleep through the night, as they need to be fed. Eventually, as they grow, they will make it through the night. Infants should nap often throughout the day, as their little minds are growing. If you are having trouble with a sleep schedule or your baby is not sleeping, talk to your doctor.
- Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression is a natural occurrence of depression and depressive symptoms after having a baby. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling the effects of postpartum depression.
For more information on feeding, sleeping, conditions, and more about caring for your baby, visit the National Institute of Health’s guide for new parents and infant care.
The most important thing any new parent in RECOvery can do is to enjoy their baby. Contrary to past beliefs, there is no such thing as a spoiled baby. Nurture and bond with your young child as you watch them grow. Babies grow much faster than you think, and even though the first few months are challenging, you will get the hang of it. You’ll have challenging times for sure, as recovery is no cakewalk, and neither is parenting. Ultimately, you are this baby’s lifeline and source of comfort and joy. You can do this. If you need extra training for sobriety strategies before the baby comes, contact our alumni at RECO Intensive. We know parenthood is hard, and recovery is too. Our professional staff and experienced alumni can answer questions and help you to develop strategies for success when your baby comes. Call us today at (561) 464-6533. Let’s get back to a brighter future.