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At Home with Your Newborn

You are finally at home with your baby! These early days and weeks are about spending time together and bonding. You will learn new things about your baby every day, and they will learn about you, too.

Take as much time as you can to talk, cuddle and play with your baby. The connection you build with your baby helps them feel secure and loved, and that’s what they need most.

At home with baby

Adjusting to Your New Lives

As your family welcomes the new baby, your daily routines will change. If your family includes a partner or other children, you may want to talk about these changes. This is to help everyone get used to your new family structure. It’s normal for older children to want more attention. Be patient with yourself and other family members, and find ways to share the chores and joys of parenthood.

How to Get Time Off From Work

You may be able to get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without losing your health benefits or your job, using Family Medical Leave. This is different from sick leave. Ask your employer if you qualify, or contact the U.S Department of Labor.

Try to Get Enough Sleep

For the first few months, you will spend most of your time taking care of your baby or resting. New babies need to be changed and fed every few hours, so you will need to get up several times during the night. If possible, try to catch up on your sleep while your baby sleeps. If you can, share overnight care duties with your partner, caregiver, family or trusted friends.

Health Signs to Watch For

Postpartum depression

Along with joy and excitement, parents of a new baby may feel sad or afraid at times. The “baby blues” are normal for a while after a birth, for both mothers and fathers. Postpartum depression is when sadness, fear or worry don’t go away or get worse. It is a common medical condition related to the hormone changes that happen after a birth. It does not mean you are a bad parent or a weak person. Postpartum depression can start any time in the first year after a birth.

You can get information and support from the Postpartum Support International Helpline by calling or texting 1-800-944-4773. If you are worried about how you feel, talk with your doctor. Postpartum depression can be treated.

Other health issues

In addition to postpartum depression, childbirth can have physical and mental health effects up to a year after delivery. If you feel unwell after giving birth, tell your doctor about your symptoms. Keep asking for help if you do not feel better after treatment.

These are some of the symptoms that mean you should call your doctor:

  • Headache that won’t go away or gets worse over time
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Changes in your vision
  • Fever of 100.4° F or higher
  • Swelling in your hands that makes it hard to bend your fingers or wear rings
  • Swelling in your face that makes it hard to open your eyes all the way
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain or fast heartbeat
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • Severe belly pain that doesn’t go away
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding or bad-smelling discharge
  • Severe swelling, redness or pain in your leg or arm
  • Extreme or sudden tiredness
  • Feelings of fear, worry, or panic that don’t go away
  • Feelings or thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby

The First Things First Parent Kit was developed in partnership with Health Research for Action/UC Berkeley. © 2022 The Regents of the University of California. Additional video, graphic and other content © 2022 First Things First. All rights reserved.

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