Bringing Home Baby | Fit Pregnancy

Bringing Home Baby

New Dad Adrift


Moms have a clearly defined role when their babies are born: Breastfeed, cuddle and take naps with the baby. But fathers often aren't quite sure where they fit in. Your husband probably is wondering if he should be proactive and offer to feed the baby with a bottle of pumped milk, change diapers, rub your neck or just stay out of the way and keep quiet.

Umbilical Cord Clamping


Research shows that routine clamping of the umbilical cord immediately after birth, rather than waiting for the cord to stop pulsating, deprives the baby of red blood cells and iron stores. A literature review in the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health looked at nine studies that had been done over the past 20 years. This research suggested that immediate clamping may reduce the amount of red blood cells a baby receives by 50 percent.

Ready for Sex?


No. "It takes at least three to six months for your genitals to get back to normal," says Laura Berman, Ph.D., director of the Berman Center in Chicago and co-author of For Women Only (Henry Holt & Co.). A perineal tear or episiotomy can cause a tight feeling in the vagina, which can persist even after the site has healed (usually four to six weeks after a vaginal birth). To help combat the tightness, you or your partner can gently stretch the area using fingers that have been well lubricated with K-Y Ultragel or Astroglide (available at drugstores).

Mood Swings


It's normal to experience a roller coaster of emotions after childbirth, says Steven Dubovsky, M.D., professor and chairman of the psychiatry department at State University of New York in Buffalo. Not only are your hormones still running high, but your entire life has changed. You have a new identity and more responsibilities. You might be overcome by the magic of childbirth yet regret that it did not go as planned (especially if you had a Cesarean section). You might feel insecure about being a parent.

You're the Expert


More than 490 parenting books are available at But there is only one real authority on your baby: you. "The key is to focus on your baby and learn his rhythms, needs and temperament," says Libby Colman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and the author of seven books on pregnancy and parenting. She suggests that for the first two weeks after giving birth, you should spend time with just your baby and partner. Later, being around people who have children of similar ages and a similar parenting philosophy can help reaffirm what you're doing.

Know Your Limits


You can enjoy visits from family without compromising your own well-being or that of your new baby. You just have to set limits for yourself and others. Try to lower your expectations, think "less is more" and do only as much as you want. Ask that no more than two family members visit at a time, or that each one bring something you need.

Nipple Confusion


Nipple confusion can be a problem for many breastfed babies if they are given a bottle too early, even if it's filled with breast milk. Here's why: Infants coordinate their jaw, cheek and swallowing muscles in a specific way when they are breastfeeding. With a bottle, their feeding patterns are completely different--a bottle, for instance, gushes milk into a baby's mouth, and the child needs to move his tongue to control the flow. Not so with the breast.

Newborn Sleep


The average newborn sleeps a total of 14 to 18 hours a day, older infants from 13 to 14 hours, says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center, Children's Hospital in Philadelphia and author of Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep, revised edition (HarperCollins). "The best way to judge whether or not your baby is getting enough sleep is to look at his behavior throughout the day," Mindell says. "If he sleeps 11 hours and is perky and happy, that's enough."

Shedding woes


I started losing a ton of hair a few weeks after my baby was born. What causes this, and when will it grow back? "You can thank estrogen for both your lustrous locks during pregnancy and the greater-than-normal hair loss after childbirth," says dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Normally, your hair has three cycles: growing, resting and falling out. During pregnancy, high estrogen levels cause nearly all your hair to be in the growing phase.

Worrying About Baby's Fever?

Most new parents can agree: There's probably nothing scarier than your baby's first fever. Actually, anytime your child has a high temperature. Babies can't complain, so a fever is often your baby's way of letting you know something's wrong. But according to health experts, the treatment for your baby all depends, The New York Times reports.