My baby's first day home from the hospital was both one of the best and worst days ever. I was so relieved to finally be home with my newborn, but I was also exhausted, tired, and scared out of my mind. I didn't know what I was doing and, as a result, questioned everything... including my ability to be a mom. Then I learned that there are people who can make and break your baby's first day home from the hospital, and realized that for better or worse I was not alone.
Like, for example, my mom. When I brought my daughter home from the hospital, and she was up all night breastfeeding and screaming, my mom calmly recommended that we give her a little formula and call the lactation consultant for help. Little did I know that our rough first day at home was a direct result of my baby not getting enough to eat. While I took care of my daughter's needs, my mom pretty much took care of me, which is just what I needed when I was recovering from childbirth.
There's also the hospital staff. While I didn't actually bring them home with me, having the staff prepare me for my return home made a huge difference; a lesson I learned after my second baby was born. Before I left the hospital with my first child in my arms, I didn't receive what I thought to be an adequate amount of information. In fact, all I was given was a one page sheet of discharge instructions. After my second baby was born, though, I pretty much demanded that my baby's doctor, nurses, and lactation consultant send me home with information on how to know if my baby was getting enough to eat, and instructions for how to get help if he wasn't.
And that's, honestly, just the beginning of the list of people who will end up directly impacting your first day at home with your new baby. From wannabe visitors to neighbors to everyone in between, it won't take long for you to learn that the whole "it takes a village to raise a baby" thing isn't hyperbole, but an accurate representation of life as a new mom.
You might have a partner who is willing to take a night shift so you can actually get a solid couple of hours of sleep during your baby's first night home. On the other hand, you might have a partner who is seemingly unaffected by your baby screaming all night long, and sleeps through the night while you feed, change, and soothe the baby solo. I have had both kinds of partners, so I feel safe saying that who you're decided to co-parent with can make or break your first night home from the hospital.
The Clerk At The Liquor Store
I don't know about you, but after 10 months of abstaining from alcohol, and two days of labor followed by a painful recovery from birth, I needed a beer. Most specifically, I wanted a specific beer that of course wasn't available when I gave birth. Fortunately for me, and my husband, the liquor store clerk, recommended an alternative. It was absolutely wonderful.
See also: Anyone who delivers food to your house. I wanted to hug them all.
Your Baby’s Doctor
Your baby's doctor might be willing to field random calls from a stressed out new mom the day she brings her baby home from the hospital, or she might tell you that it's no big deal and make you feel as though you're overreacting. I probably don't have to tell you that if you have the latter, you might want to find a new doctor.
The Discharge Nurse
Just like about every other profession on the planet, some nurses are awesome and others simply aren't. I hope that you get a discharge nurse who treats you with care, and gives you all the information you need to confidently feed your baby, know if they are getting enough to eat, and what to watch for when it comes to jaundice and dehydration.
Babies are different, y'all. Some babies will come home from the hospital, sleep well, and will make you forget you have a newborn, and others — like my first — will cry for two days straight. You don't actually know which kind of baby you are going to have beforehand, of course, so it's best to plan for the worst. Oh, and stay calm.
Your Lactation Consultant
The first time I brought a baby home from the hospital, I was bound and determined to exclusively breastfeed and never let my baby have a single drop of formula. After all, the lactation consultant I saw told me that my baby's latch looked great and that I would make the amount of milk she needed. I didn't.
The second time around, however, I had a lactation consultant who told me that it was not only totally OK to supplement with formula, but in my case it was necessary. Using formula actually saved my breastfeeding relationship with my baby.
My mom was amazing when I brought my babies home from the hospital. I don't honestly know what I would have done without her. She cooked meals, took care of my older children, and helped take care of me after I had my babies.
My rules for people visiting my home when I'm recovering from childbirth are pretty simple — get vaccinated, bring food, don't expect to hold my baby the whole damn time (unless it's so I can take a shower), and get used to seeing my boobs because I am not leaving the room to feed my baby. No new mom should have to ask for these things, either.
While it's much easier said than done, the best advice I could give any new mom is to relax. In the end, you are the one who will ultimately make or break your first day home from the hospital. You can do this, but you need to take it easy and recover at the same time, get some sleep, eat and drink well, and ask for help when you need it.