(I’ve decided to flood this article with newborn pictures, just to make sure I pull on your heart a bit.)
You can learn a lot about someone’s parenting by asking them when they first went out in public with their newborn. You will hear everything from waiting 8 weeks to just hours after delivery. There truly is no right or wrong answer; however, know that taking baby out in public is very different from taking baby outside. Fresh air and Vitamin D is necessary, so don’t bottle yourself up in a bedroom for a month after having baby.
I have birthed three babies, and tend to be very lax on bringing my babies out. I am pretty healthy, breastfeed and babywear so I throw caution to the wind and am out with baby ridiculously early. How early? Don’t judge me.
Our first born was born at a birth center. We didn’t know the gender, and when my husband caught her and cried, “We have a daughter!” my heart leapt for joy. After that, I realized that I needed pink in my life IMMEDIATELY. We left the birth center about 3 hours after she was born and all I could think about was shopping. Why online shopping didn’t cross my mind, I don’t know. Less than 24 hours later, I was in line with bows, onesies, and the sweetest socks I had ever seen. (Remember, I asked you not to judge me!)
This was really early, and I was crazy. I felt great after a natural birth, and carried scarlett in a sling very close to me. I wasn’t gone long… Well, actually, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant afterward and grabbed a beer. That was my first breastfeeding in public experience too! Proof, if you don’t believe me:
Ok, insert all of your crazy words to me here. I know, I know. I was crazy (I admitted that already).
Mind you that it was August, and in Florida. With baby #4 arriving in March, in Northern Virginia, this won’t be happening! However, we will not sit at home for weeks either.
Tips for Taking Baby Out:
Dress Appropriately: It is WINTER. Your baby will need more than a onesie on, but less than you’d think, especially with babywearing. Car seat safety states never to put a winter coat (or the like) on baby while in the seat. Instead, use a blanket over baby once she is buckled in properly. You can also use a blanket in a carrier while baby is attached to you to ensure she is warm enough. Make sure that you are dressed warm, but can access your breasts to nurse if needed.
Breastfeed: Breastfeeding provides all the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs to grow and stay healthy. Breastmilk is also like magic. It creates new antibodies for whatever environment you are currently in. (How cool is that?) Baby’s immune system takes 6-8 weeks after birth to fully develop, so breastmilk is essential!
Breastfeeding in public can be a challenge for a new mom. Do not worry about strangers, worry about baby. I recommend sitting in front of a mirror at home and practicing your nursing position, shirt lift technique, etc. It will boost your confidence!
Babywear: NO ONE should be touching your newborn without your consent. A brand new baby needs no one but mama. Carrying around the absurdly heavy car seat is bad for your back, potentially harmful to baby (NEVER set it on top of a shopping cart!), and a bold invitation for strangers to approach you. My absolute favorite carrier for the newborn stage is a ring sling. You want baby to be high on your chest within kissing distance from you. YouTube has wonderful tutorials for teaching you how to properly babywear and feel confident about it! (Also read about babywearing here: http://mybabysheartbeatbear.com/blog/babywearing-for-beginners/ )
Boost your Immune System Naturally: (Read specific immune-boosting ideas here: http://mybabysheartbeatbear.com/blog/10-ways-to-naturally-boost-your-little-ones-immune-system/ ) Make sure you are eating well and taking extra supplements through the winter (Vitamin D, etc).
Short Trips: Don’t over do it, especially if you are still bleeding from labor. If you had an unmedicated birth, you may feel on top of the world, but keep in consideration all your body has gone through. Walking around will feel fine, but you will hit a wall and need to sit. Make sure there are benches or chairs nearby to rest.
Be Prepared to Leave: Crap happens. Typically it happens when you are in public. So does spit up, very loud crying, clothing malfunctions, and all the emotional needs (for mama and baby). There is no shame in leaving after only 5 minutes. Maybe you thought you were ready, but changed your mind. Maybe a stranger gave you an odd look and you feel uncomfortable. Who cares – you leave and make yourself happy again (Get yourself an ice-cream cone on the way home).
Tend to Baby: While you may be out to see friends, socialize and celebrate the birth of your baby. Or you may just be shopping for something pink, you are now a mom. Welcome to parenthood. Do not ignore your crying newborn. Hold her close the entire time. Take time to site and nurse her, change her diaper, or just love on her. Please don’t just stick a binkie in her mouth and continue on your way.
Don’t Go Alone: This is a recipe for disaster. Have your partner, family member, or close friend ride with you (You can sit next to baby) to the destination and help with anything you need. You can also divide and conquer if you need to leave earlier than expected. One can get the car while another stands in line. Or you can sit while someone finishes whatever is needed before leaving.
Know your Location: Well-ventilated areas will be your best bet to bring baby. Stores, malls, or other venues are a breeding ground for airborne illnesses, as fresh air is not well circulated. I know that it’s winter, and outside activities are hard to come by in most parts of the country, but if the day is nice, bundle up and meet friends outside. If you are dying to get out and the weather is not cooperating, just limit our trip and nurse baby whenever possible. (Or go to a friend’s house!)
Know your Baby: If you have a preemie and are already stressed, it’s definitely worth waiting a bit before going out. That being said, please keep boosting your immune system and breastfeed like crazy. Invest in a great ring sling (or other newborn carrier) and go out when you are ready!
Listen to Your Gut: Don’t go into public if you are not comfortable. Wait a few months until baby has created her own schedule and you are comfortable with nursing. It’s ok! I won’t judge if you won’t.
Invite People to You: I highly recommend this strategy. People love to visit, pamper mama, and bring food and gifts!
When Baby #2 entered the world in a beautiful homebirth (2 weeks early), we invited friends over for a BBQ two days later! I didn’t have to worry about getting beautiful, as everyone was just thrilled to stop in and meet baby boy. It was the best of both worlds. I felt like a human and socialized with other adults, but didn’t have to get off of the couch. I did go out on day 3; we visited the chiropractor before our first newborn pediatric visit.
With Baby #3, we did the same thing. We hosted Thanksgiving a few days after his homebirth. He surprised us 3 weeks early, and it was a shock he was even born in November. Everyone was thrilled to see him and pamper me.
No matter when you choose to step into the public world after giving birth, go confidently and know that you are a rockstar mama!