General Care

Childbirth is more than just the physical process of delivering the infant into the world. It can be a very stressful and emotional time with very important implications for the infant’s future growth and development. Childbirth can, and often does, happen without much planning or preparation yet becomes a meaningful event for any family.

Planning for a healthy environment likely began either before pregnancy or shortly after learning you were expecting a baby. Careful prenatal care including diet and exercise, as well as what to avoid, such as alcohol and tobacco, provided your baby with a healthy “internal” environment. Now you must consider the “external” environment including the potential for exposure to cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in children. In short, the ill effects of tobacco are not limited to pregnancy, but continue throughout life.

Preparation consists of planning for the new baby, buying a crib, bedding, blankets, clothing and diapers. It means discussing roles and responsibilities of parents and siblings, grandparents and other helpers. For mother it means proper exercise and nutrition under the care of her obstetrician, and if possible, attending childbirth classes for both parents.

In spite of careful preparation, the excitement of the birth, the sharing of the experience with your partner and family, and even the presence of a very special baby, most mothers experience a natural “letdown” during the first month.  Sometimes this occurs during the first few days after going home from the hospital. It is accentuated by “all the things that need to be done”, not just that you have a new baby in the home. These “baby blues” are both natural and frequent. Many mothers will have a tendency to cry, feel inadequate, and have doubts about their appearance.  They feel inefficient, always behind schedule, and never able to catch up. This may sound discouraging, but remember, these feelings usually last a few days to a few weeks. The return of hormones to normal levels will help. However, organization of a daily routine, plenty of rest and support from your partner and family will minimize frustration and shorten this trying period.

Frequently, it is beneficial to have someone who can help you for a week or two.  This may be a relative or close friend, but no matter who comes to help, remember that this is your baby and you will be the one responsible for the care, rearing and training. Do not let the helper assume the care of the baby. Let them do the housework, take care of other children, cook and take care of you.

You will receive advice from everyone you know concerning how best to care for your child. Listen to the advice, read and think about topics discussed in this booklet, other books and watch how others care for their babies. Take care of your baby with love, concern, careful thought and common sense. You can’t help but be a success!

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