A lot of first-time parents have made the same discovery: Leaving the maternity ward with your first child feels surreal. You just can't really believe that you're allowed to take the bundle home with you. It's a big deal, and everything has changed. And what are you supposed to do about nappy changes, the shrivelling navel, the child's dry skin, their first bath or the child's sleep? Not to mention all of the hassle trying to get breastfeeding going.
It takes a while before all the practical stuff works, and before you (both) feel like the daily routines are falling into place nicely.
Euphoria, fits of tears - or a bit of both
There's no guarantee that you will be euphoric straight after childbirth, not even in the first few days. As a new mum who's just given birth, it's normal for you to feel very tired, be a bit sore and worry about going to the toilet after the birth, as well as being generally a bit confused (how can such a little person take up so much of your time?). The hormone changes in your body can make you feel low or start you off crying for no reason. It's neither strange nor unusual.
And it also takes a while for you to get used to each other, you and your child. The same applies to any possible partner - they're probably happy, tired and confused, but perhaps not quite as physically exhausted.
If that little baby has an older sibling at home, you'll also need to spend time making sure that he or she is part of the process, so that sibling jealousy can be turned into pride.
Forget all your obligations!
You (both) should use those first few days and weeks to let your feet touch the ground and create some sort of routine in your life/lives after the huge change that has actually just taken place. And not least to enjoy having another member of the family.
The time it takes to return to your normal routines varies from family to family.
Try to forget all your obligations. The most important thing is having the time to get to know each other, you and your newborn baby. Get some rest while your child's asleep. Switch your phone off occasionally. And say no thank you to too many visitors. Your child will be just as cute in a couple of weeks, and by that time you'll know each other a bit better.
Let your partner deal with most of the daily chores. There are good reasons, by the way, why you shouldn't be in crowded spaces with your newborn baby. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) infections are particularly common during the winter months, and they can cause severe symptoms in babies. RSV is extremely contagious, for example, through sneezing and direct contact.
So relax and try to enjoy the moment and your time together as much as possible
Calm and routines are important
Being full, dry, warm and having close physical contact with mummy and daddy are the main essentials for a baby. They sleep most of the time. But having you and the other people around them cuddle and chit-chat with your child is one of life's highlights. Little children can't be spoiled when it comes to closeness and love. Familiar things and daily routines that are regularly repeated, a short massage or a recurring lullaby gives the child everyday security.
Give your child loads of physical contact. Carry them close to your body and let them come further and further up as their neck grows stronger, so they can look over your shoulder.
Have a read of our article The newborn baby from head to toe – about things like vernix, the palmer grasp reflex, how much they actually see and why babies have such cold feet.
You can also read some facts about what happens at the paediatric clinic and your child's vaccinations.
The first few days at home with your baby
Home again, but with a little bundle in your arms. Huge congratulations and welcome home! There's a lot that probably isn't what you had expected at the beginning, but you'll soon get used to it.