In my classes we not only cover the labour but also cover the early days parenting and care for your precious newborn. I believe that this is as important to couples as how to cope in labour. To start this series of blog posts on early days parenting here is an A-Z of newborn care.

A –  Arms – Fresh from your warm safe womb your baby needs to be held close in your arms to assist her with the transition to this new world. Hold her close, you WON’T spoil her, quite the opposite actually.

B –Bathing – Get the bath fully ready before undressing baby. Get all the items you need first, it will be easier for you and baby. In the early days you don’t need to bath baby fully all the time a simple top and tail will do! If your baby sleeps well after a bath, why not make it part of the night time regime?

C- Crying – Baby communicates to you through cries, it is not something she is doing to annoy and frustrate you, it is all she knows. You will over time learn the different cries and how to act to each of them.

D – Dressing – Don’t overdress baby. The general rule is one more layer that what you are wearing, remember most times they have a blanket on too.

E – Eye and Ear care – Ears are self-cleaning so NEVER stick cotton buds into them! Eyes can be bathed daily using cotton wool and water, one piece per eye. It is normal for babies to have sticky eyes and sometimes a little breastmilk in the eye can help.

F – Fun – Enjoy your time with your baby. If you enjoy her, she too will enjoy you. Don’t stress about the small things.

G- Gums- Newborns are born without teeth and use their gums to feed when breastfeeding. Her teeth are already in the gums

H- Hunger – It is very normal for a newborn to feed every hour or so, however just as we are all different so will your baby be. Some will need to feed little and often others can go for longer periods but will feed for a long time too. You will cope much better if you take time in the first weeks to have your baby near to you for much of the time

I – Illness – If your baby has a high temperature or seems unwell in any way do not hesitate to take her to the GP or clinic. It is always better to be safe than sorry but also trust your instincts too as you get to know your baby.

J – Jaundice – About 50% of all babies become slightly jaundiced within a few days of birth. It is caused by an immature liver having trouble breaking down an overload of red blood cells and getting rid of excess bilirubin. Frequent breast feeding will help as well as allowing baby sometime in the sun.

K- Kisses – Give your baby lots and all over! It is a form of wonderful bonding at this special time in your lives.

L- Love – Feeling exhausted, uncomfortable and unsexy in the final weeks of your pregnancy is pretty normal and will more than likely be followed by similar feelings when baby is born.  It will pass! Give yourself time and love the new you and new family that you have

M-Milk- Mothers own milk is best for your baby as it is made by you for your baby, but don’t feel guilty if you chose to bottle feed. Know your choices, the risks and benefits and whatever your choice, both methods need practice, patience and perseverance.

N- Nappies – Disposable nappies may be appalling for the environment but they are a gift for mothers. However towelling nappies are making a comeback and you can now buy “green” nappies. Don’t stockpile more than a few packs as your little one can and will grow fast.

O – Outings – At first outings may seem overwhelming and daunting, you never know when baby will be hungry, irritable, sleep or enjoy the outing. Start off with short trips to a local shop and build up, before you know it you will realise you are managing.

P- Partners – Sometimes partners can feel left out, especially when they have to go back to work. Communication is key and vital. Why not give your partner a role such as bathing baby and while they are doing that, you go and make a cuppa and put your feet up.

Q – Quick meals – Not all of us can afford to stock our fridge with ready meals but perhaps an option is to cook a few meals of your own and freeze them for later or get used to eating simple meals. If friends ask you if there is anything you need ask for a meal.

R – Routine – Some mothers and babies operate better with routine and others without it. First get used to your baby, get to know her and then work and play with a simple and basic routine if you want.

S- Swaddling – Your baby will be used to the snug warmth of your womb, so try recreating this by swaddling baby. A basic video of this will be posted in due course but you start by positioning baby on top of a blanket then wrap the left shoulder and arm with the right corner of the blanket and then do the right shoulder and arm, cocoon style. Then fold up the bottom half and tuck in around your baby, before you know it you will be  used to doing this with your eyes closed.

T -Time to yourself – This will become your most treasured possession. Take it when you can and even take time for you and your partner as it is vital.

U – Uterus – Your uterus will continue to contract for the first while whenever you breastfeed your baby.

V – Visitors – As much as you want to show off your baby, after a few visitors have disrupted baby’s sleep and feeding you may want to limit them to a minimum. Particularly during the first few days after the birth, perhaps something for your partner to do. Don’t be shy to tell people you are resting or even take a ‘babymoon’ for a week and get to reconnect as a family.

W -Wet Nappies – Your little one should have around 8 – 10 of these per day

X – Xtras – You may find that no matter how precise you are, you may have forgotten something on your baby list. Some couples even forget to take the baby car seat to the hospital when coming home, use friends and family to pick up these things if needed.

Y – Yearnings – All of the books and advice in the world will not prepare you for motherhood. You may find after a few days you find yourself yearning to escape, crying and feeling quite blue, this is perfectly normal. Talk to a friend, cry if you have to and learn to enjoy your new life

Z –Zzzzz- You will have to adapt your sleeping pattern in the first weeks. Catch up in the day while baby is sleeping, don’t worry about housework just do what you need initially but focus on catching up sleep and getting used to your new role

During the next few weeks I will be covering early days parenting topics, if there is  anything you would like to see here please email your question to claire@betterbirthing.org.uk and we will attempt to cover a blog post with that information for you.