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Along the emotional road to parenthood you have surely asked yourself the same theoretical questions as millions of new parents before you. Will I be a good parent? How will I cope? You will be surprised how fast these concerns will turn into practical questions. How will I get baby home? Am I ready for this? However, when preparing to leave the hospital you will be surprised how fast these concerns will turn into practical questions. How will I get baby home? What do I still need to get for the first week? What will we be both wear? Read on to find out how to be prepared in any situation.

Leaving the Hospital

Most mums these days pack a hospital bag filled with essentials long before contractions start. With all the excitement however, don’t forget to bring clothes for the trip home. There is no point in packing your size 10 jeans either. Plan to bring loose-fitting and roomy clothes, preferably with a drawstring waist for comfort. Plenty of mums are still wearing their maternity clothes two and three weeks after birth and for the next two to six months, be prepared to wear clothes that are at least two sizes larger than your pre-pregnancy clothes.

Babies are frequently over-dressed for the trip home. There is a knack to dressing a baby and will take you a couple of weeks to get the hang of it. Avoid too many layers or complicated outfits as too much pulling at your baby will stress him. Stick to a babygrow, a hat to keep his head warm and keep a couple of baby blankets to hand, which can easily be added or removed to keep him comfortable.

Before leaving the hospital, ask for the direct number of the maternity ward and the name of a nurse or two (and their shift hours) that you call from home if you have an important question. And if you haven’t already made arrangements with your baby’s health care provider, make sure to ask when the baby’s first checkup should be scheduled before you leave the hospital.

The Trip Home

You may have spent much of your adult life to date practicing brain surgery or engaged in astral-physics research but do not underestimate how complicated it can be to get a baby into a correctly fitted car seat.

Car seats are a legal requirement and definitely the safest means of bringing your baby home – it is never safe for one of you to hold the baby in your arms while the other drives. No matter how superstitious your are, if you buy only one item before your baby is born, ensure it is a good-quality car seat. You or your partner should take a bit of time installing the car seat before you go into hospital to make sure it is correctly fitted – plenty of shops will help you do this if you are having difficulty. Some mothers prefer to settle the baby into the car seat while still in the hospital, and then install the seat in the car with the baby already in place.

Do not forget that you should never place the car seat in front of an airbag. Pediatricians also advise against leaving the baby in a car seat for several hours.

Feeling Emotional

Depending on your labour and delivery experience, you are likely to be feeling drained, sore and very tired – and of course your hormones are likely to be all over the place as well. Your partner may be feeling a little left our or confused and awkward and you are both likely to be nervous and excited about the enormous changes and challenges ahead.

Add to the mix a couple of potential siblings, visiting friends and family and perhaps even an attention-starved pet or two and it would be hard to understand how anyone wouldn’t feel emotional and stressed!

The key is to keep everything as simple and laid-back as possible. Keep visitors to a minimum for the first few days, no matter how eager they are, in order to allow you some time to find your feet and develop a routine.

Feeling Worried

Worrying about your newborn’s health is the most natural thing in the world. Your baby will boast plenty of lumps and bumps in the first few months and unless your are psychic, you will find it frustrating trying to interpret his cries. However, where your baby’s health is of concern, you can never be too careful. If you feel you need to call your G.P. you should do so, especially if you notice something unexpected or different. If you notice any of the following signs, call your G.P.:

  • Symptoms of dehydration (crying without tears, no wet nappies in 6 to 8 hours);
  • Rapid or laboured breathing (call 999 immediately if your baby begins turning blue around the lips or mouth);
  • Repeated vomiting or an inability to keep fluid down;
  • Bloody vomit or stool.

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