Just welcomed a new baby? Here’s what to expect after birth

So the stork has a special delivery? Here’s what to expect of your new arrival in the first 24 hours and beyond

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Becoming a parent is a daunting prospect. You bring home your bundle of joy and suddenly you’re responsible for a tiny person.

Before birth, it’s important to be well prepared and confident to avoid feeling too overwhelmed.

“There’s nothing worse than starting a new job, you’re so nervous, you don’t know where the bathroom is; you don’t want to feel like that when you’re holding your baby for the first time,” says Sally Stacey, a childbirth educator in Abu Dhabi. “You’re going to be making monumental decisions in the first 24 hours so you want to have done the research beforehand rather than make a decision out of fear.”

The mother-of-two conducts Baby 101 workshops at Bodytree Studio, and knows about the importance of preparation first-hand.

Having had one child in New Zealand and another in Abu Dhabi, the British expat is keen to share her knowledge about everything from breastfeeding to post-birth procedures in UAE hospitals that parents may not be aware of.

It’s important to be positive about parenthood while learning everything from breastfeeding and bathing to massage, swaddling and common skin conditions.

Post birth

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So what can you expect in the first 24 hours?

“In the UK you’d have skin-to-skin contact for one hour straight after birth. It’s really important for bonding and breastfeeding. Also babies that are taken away tend to go into critical melt down.

“What’s standard procedure in hospitals here is that babies get taken to the nursery for a couple of hours or at least washed, wrapped up and brought back to mum.

“Also, the vaccination programme is very different to Europe. In the UK, babies aren’t given vaccinations for the first two months because it’s quite a system overload whereas over here you have them in the first 24 hours. A lot of these vaccinations aren’t given in the UK anymore unless you’re a high-risk family.”

Sally also says that now the recommendation is not to bathe a newborn for the first six days as their skin is covered in immune-boosting vermix that needs to be absorbed.

Breastfeeding

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Although it’s UAE law to breastfeed, Sally says there’s little information here for nursing mothers.

“If you give birth here you’re discharged and that’s it, there’s going to be no follow-up, so it’s important that you know how it works.

“So many women say ‘I don’t think I’ll be able to breastfeed’ but 98 percent can, they’re just not taught… Twenty years ago all mums breastfed and there was a more positive attitude towards it. Today, if you want to breastfeed it’s hard to face those challenges if your peer group isn’t supportive.”

Sally emphasises the importance of learning why breastfeeding works the way it does, how to do it and how to troubleshoot.

Remember that babies have tiny stomachs so feeding round the clock is normal; a newborn requires about a half teaspoon of milk per feed in the first 24 hours.

And while World Health Organisation guidelines recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first year, Sally says if you need to, you can introduce a bottle but only after four weeks to avoid nipple confusion.

“Only 10 percent of doctors have lactation training. So when a mum takes her baby to see a paediatrician because she’s worried, the doctor will automatically prescribe formula because they don’t understand the practicalities of breastfeeding.”

If you have any breastfeeding concerns, visit a lactation consultant, or contact La Leche League, a group of mothers that specialises in advice for expectant and nursing mothers.

Parenting styles

When it comes to parenting, Sally says you can’t really make mistakes, just do what
works for you and your baby.

Naturally, everyone will have their own style, but Sally is an advocate of attachment parenting.

“Attachment parenting is basically wearing your baby, feeding on demand, letting them sleep on you. Basically holding your baby all the time!” she laughs. “It’s exhausting but it’s for such a short time.”

Sally’s also an advocate of a less strict routine, saying that while many people believe babies should have structure, research actually shows that it causes “a reduction in breastfeeding rates, intellectual ability and emotional stability”.

“They must have contact with the mother to keep up her supply of breast milk, but also for survival instincts. They wake up frequently to check that you’re there. They’re 100 percent reliant on you.”

That’s a daunting realisation, but don’t panic! “Follow your instincts,” Sally says. “At the end of the day, love your baby, hold your baby and make the most of it.”

For more information on Sally’s services and to stay up to date about her up coming Baby 101 workshops at Bodytree Studio, contact: absolutemamauae@gmail.com, absolutemamauae.com

WORDS Rachael Perrett
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