Once your baby is born, you might be bombarded with advice, all good but possibly overwhelming. Here are the five most important things you should know:
1. Breastfeed as soon as you can One key to breastfeeding success is letting your baby nurse as soon as possible after delivery—doing so helps “prime the pump,” so to speak, and gets you used to the process with assistance from a nurse or lactation consultant in the hospital. It also gives your baby precious colostrum in the first few days after birth (the precursor to mature breast milk), which is packed with immune-boosting antibodies. At first, your baby might just nurse lazily and not seem to eat very much; that’s OK, because he’s getting the colostrum he needs and also is stimulating your milk production.
Another important key is “rooming in”, meaning having your baby stay in your hospital room with you instead of in the nursery, so he can nurse on demand, meaning as often as he wants, usually eight to 10 times in 24 hours.
2. Be ready for the ride home If you can get these things together before you leave for the hospital, great. If not, have your partner bring them to you:
A car seat Contact a certified child passenger safety (CPS) technician to show you how to install the seat correctly; visit seatcheck.org to locate a CPS tech near you. And remember these five basics when putting your baby in :
- If it’s cold out, put your baby in the seat first, buckle him in, then put blankets on top of his body; if he’s dressed in too many layers, the car seat harness may not fit properly.
- Make sure the harness is snug against your baby’s hips and shoulders.
- The chest clip should be level with your baby’s armpits.
- The car seat must be installed at a 45-degree angle so that your baby is in a semi-reclined position; his head must not flop forward.
- Once the seat is installed, check it. It shouldn’t be able to move more than 1 inch in any direction.
A heading-for-home baby outfit If your best friend gave you a Dior fleece one-piece, fine, just as long as it’s not too hot. Generally, dress your baby as warmly as you dress; infants cannot regulate their body temperature as efficiently as adults, and you don’t want him to get sweaty, which can lead to chills.
3. Take care of yourself Birth is exhausting and meeting the needs of a new baby is harder when you have physical aches and pains. If you had an episiotomy or tore during delivery, have a bottle of warm water on hand or take frequent sitz baths in warm water, and try icing the area as well. Take your pain meds as you need them (and remember that nursing will help with the cramping as your uterus returns to normal). Nap when your baby does, accept all offers of help (especially food) and make an effort to devote a tiny bit of time to yourself every day. Even a 15-minute walk can help recharge you. If you feel blue or depressed for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor; about 10 percent to 20 percent of new moms experience postpartum depression and the right kind of support works wonders. 
4. Learn the baby care basics
- Bathing A newborn doesn’t need a full body bath every day (how dirty can he get?); a sponging is fine. But when you do give your first bath: make sure the room is warm, fill the tub with a few inches only of warm water and ease him into the tub gradually, feet first; he may startle easily, so lean him backward gently. Wash his body first, paying attention to the genital area, behind the ears, and the folds under the arms and neck, and wash his hair last so that he doesn’t get cold. Use a cup to quickly rinse his entire body with warm water, then wrap him in a warm hooded towel to dry off.
- Soothing Your baby’s first crying spell can be distressing. Rule out the obvious: Check to see if his diaper is soiled, if he’s too hot or cold, or if his diaper or clothing is pinching. Let him suck on your breast, a bottle, your finger or a pacifier. Re-create a womblike environment by swaddling him securely in a blanket with his arms tucked inside. Then hold him snugly on his left side or stomach and rock her gently; make “shushing” sounds as you rock. Walk, rock, sway, take a car ride or put him in an infant swing.
- Sleeping Keep your baby in the same room with you at first, in a bassinet or crib designed for baby; it will help both of you sleep more soundly, and also helps with breastfeeding. Always put your baby to sleep on his back, and don’t expect him to sleep through the night for a while — more likely he’ll wake up to feed every two or three hours – but don’t worry, he’ll regulate his sleep with yours eventually. Keep him busy while it’s light outside, and develop a soothing bedtime ritual of bathing, reading and rocking.
- Know when to call the doctor Your pediatrician is there to help you, so don’t hesitate to call if you notice these changes in your baby :
- Changes in eating, such as refusing to nurse
- Very watery stools
- Excessive sleepiness or unresponsiveness
- Excessive irritability
- A red or swollen rash anywhere on her body
- A fever of 100.4˚ F or higher in an infant 2 months or younger; 102˚ F in babies older than 2 months
- Redness or swelling at the base of the umbilical cord
- Discomfort (e.g., straining) when she moves her bowels
- A distended abdomen or vomiting (as opposed to spitting up)
5. Mind your relationship Your partner is just that, a partner. Be patient,and kind, and keep talking. Make a point of looking each other in the eye each day. And as weird as it might seem, do schedule a date night at least every two weeks.