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What to Expect on Your Baby’s First Two Nights at the Hospital

May 01, 2022

If you are awaiting your first baby’s arrival, this is for you. Also, if you’ve had multiple babies but those first couple days were a blur, this is for you (and you are SO not alone in feeling that way!). 

Knowing what to expect the first couple days with your new baby will help you feel prepared for the hospital stay and the transition back home. As a pediatrician and father of six littles, I feel fairly qualified to give my 2 cents. :)

First of all, you will have what you need. I’m always happy to review hospital bags or lists with expecting parents, but the bottom line is that everyone always has what they need—and then some. Parents have been delivering babies long before Amazon Prime and all its types of sleepers and pacifiers and bottles. 

That said, I know you’ll want to take pics of your new babe, so bring a cute outfit or two and whatever else you envision—if that’s what you like to do! But as far as needs, the hospital’s got you covered—diapers, swaddles, pacifiers, baby shampoo. Oh, and do bring a car seat, but you don’t need to bring it into the hospital upon arrival—you’ll be able to run back out to the car to get it before baby goes home!

So what, exactly, will you do with all that time in the hospital? Once baby’s here, you’ll want to spend those first couple days doing these three things:

  • Rest
  • Recover
  • Feed Baby

Baby will likely have an alert period right after birthday, and that’s a great opportunity to feed (get that latch down, if breastfeeding). And then … babies tend to have a period of about 24 hours of almost hibernation. They’ll be resting after stimulation of delivery and the busy outside world. You’ll probably think you have such an easy, chill baby! 

Take this time to rest and recover yourself—you’ll need it! Because Night 2 is typically a little different. Baby might start cluster-feeding, which is great for helping milk come in. But it can be exhausting, and it’s exactly why I say to rest up the first 24 hours, when baby tends to be sleepier!

More on cluster-feeding: This is when baby will want to be fed every 60, 30, or even 10 minutes. This is totally normal and healthy. Breastfeeding moms won’t have milk to offer right away; usually by the time you leave the hospital, though, it’s starting to come in. Babies jump-start this process by frequent nursing. It’s pretty incredible, really! Once milk is in, it’s important to know that emptying of the breasts helps to make more milk. So again, baby’s frequent demand for nursing is only helping your body give baby what they need!

One last thing. Even with all of baby’s demands to eat around the clock, they will lose weight before leaving the hospital. Most babies lose about 5-10% of their birth weight when it’s time to leave the hospital. That is OK and to be expected. Babies are born with extra fluids because milk doesn’t come in right away and this keeps them hydrated until then. We’ll do a checkup in the office a few days after you’ve returned home to make sure hydration and weight gain is on track!

That addresses the top questions I get from parents about the first couple days with a new baby, but if you’re someone who wants to prepare beyond those first couple days, take a look at my Brand New Baby course

I want to leave you with this: I don’t think anyone feels fully prepared to begin their parenting journey, and yet, by nature, you are exactly what your baby needs. Don’t forget that last part! 

Dr. B

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