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Baby's here! So what's the next step? Here's how to manage leaving the hospital and the first few days back home
The day has finally arrived – you're bringing your baby home from hospital. While undoubtedly exciting, it's natural to feel a little apprehensive, so here are some tips to help you both feel right at home.
While you may feel a little nervous, remember that you wouldn't have been discharged unless it was felt you were both well enough to leave hospital. You'll continue to be supported at home with visits from a community midwife and health visitor, so let them know if you're feeling unsure about anything. Practise putting your newborn's car seat in the car before they arrive, so you're confident about using it when you bring them home from the hospital.
Arriving home with baby
Although you may be expecting your baby to spend a fair amount of time exercising those lungs, it's likely your little star may be very quiet for the first 24 hours or so, as they recover from birth and adjust to a new environment. Speaking softly and keeping baby close to your heart will help them feel comforted, as these are all familiar experiences. Put skin-to-skin time, feeding and sleeping at the top of your to-do list; these are the things that will help you bond and feel good.
Sleep when your baby does
Be kind to yourself. If your baby is napping, feel free to catch up on some sleep, too. Don't be tempted to tackle the washing-up; it really can wait for when your partner or friends and family offer to help out. Making sure you feel well rested is a much better use of your time.
Introducing your new arrival to family and friends can be lovely, but you shouldn't feel obliged to welcome a constant stream of visitors, or play host when they come round. Make it clear that you'd be delighted for them to bring food or make a cup of tea. Ask visitors to wash their hands before holding baby, and to hold off on visiting if they have a cough or cold. Don't feel obliged to wake baby if they're asleep, and tactfully cut short a visit if you think they're growing tired or becoming overstimulated. There will be plenty of occasions for your friends and relatives to come back and spend time with your new family.
Mum-to-mum top tips
‘If you can, have someone pop in before you arrive home with a few essentials – milk, bread and hopefully a cooked meal for dinner that night!' advises parenting blogger Charlotte Doyle. ‘Make sure everything is set up and ready – you won't want to be faffing around with the Moses basket linen when you're sleep-deprived. Keep nappies, wipes and other key supplies in lots of rooms – living room, the nursery and your own bedroom, at least. Lastly, don't feel you have to say yes to every visit request. Take things at your own pace, and don't feel bad about saying no if you need to rest.'
By Jo Walsh