What to prepare as you leave the hospital, adjusting to new roles and managing visitors.
It’s normal if you feel a little anxious to bring your newborn home. Find steps to prepare for this adjustment.
Car seats are effective at saving lives and reducing injury when used properly. It is the law to use a car seat on every ride. As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure your child is in their care seat – even in a taxi. Taxi drivers are exempt from making sure children are properly secured, but parents are not.
Answer these questions about the car seat you plan to use:
- Does your car seat meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards? The underside of the car seat must have the Canada Transport National Safety Mark. It is illegal to import and use a car seat that does not meet Canadian standards.
- Is the car seat rear-facing?
- Does your baby’s weight and height meet the manufacturer’s limits for your car seat?
- Do you know how to position your baby safely in the car seat?
We recommend that you not buy a used car seat. If you do choose to buy a used car seat, answer these questions:
- Do you know its history?
- Has it been in an accident?
- Is there a recall on it?
- Is it expired?
- Do you have your car seat user manual?
Your first days at home
Learn more about how our public health nurses can support you and what to look out for in your first few days at home with your newborn.
Ensure you have safe sleeping environment for your newborn to decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Proper positioning of your baby and use of surfaces can help prevent suffocation during sleep.
Feeding your baby
Find information on feeding your baby.
Bathing your baby
This video demonstrates how to give a new baby a bath. It includes tips and tricks on how to turn bath time into an enjoyable experience for both baby and the parent or caregiver.
Register your baby's birth online
- Apply for your baby's first birth certificate
- Enroll your baby in the Medical Services Plan for B.C. residents
- Apply for Canada child benefits
- Apply for your baby's social insurance number
Register your baby's birth online
Secure and easy way to register your child's birth.
Adjusting to new roles
Bringing home a new baby brings new demands on your time. It can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself and your relationships with others.
You will be operating on much less sleep as the baby will be up many times throughout the night to feed, diaper, burp or just cry.
Take a moment every day to ensure as a new mom you:
- Eat at least three meals and healthy snacks if hungry.
- Get some physical activity. Walking, swimming, yoga, and Mom & Baby fitness classes at the community centre.
- Take a break just for you: nap, walk, read, take a bath.
- Speak with friends or family about how you are feeling.
- Share the work of taking care of the baby with your partner, sometimes planning each others roles and responsibilities out before the baby comes can help with the adjustment and each feel like you have a role.
Up to 80 per cent of women experience baby blues in the first few days after having the baby. Some may experience tearfulness, tiredness, and feel sad, helpless, have mood swings or even be irritable.
These feelings can be caused by a drop in your hormone levels after birth, tiredness from labour and birth or your lack of sleep with caring for your new baby. Generally these feelings do not last long and go away within one to two weeks.
Check your symptoms
If you are concerned about developing postpartum depression, talk to your health care provider.
Dad's adjustment (useful for mom as well)
This is the start of your journey in your relationship as parents. Bringing home a baby involves physical and emotional adjustments that can also change your relationship with your partner.
Communication is key. Change in a relationship can cause stress and conflict or can make your bond even stronger.
Take time for your relationship to:
- Talk about your expectations of each other as parents.
- Talk about each other’s roles in sharing the household chores, finances and care of the baby.
- Use your network of family and friends to help out when needed and to give time for just the two of you.
- Talk frequently about your feelings as you adjust to being a parent. Everyone changes at their own pace and it is important to check in where each other is at.
Visit our New Dads section for more tips.
It’s important to set visiting guidelines before your baby is born. As you recover and adjust to your new role, you (both) will need plenty of sleep and rest. Managing visitors can help.
Here are some guidelines you may want to give your visitors:
- Please do not drop in unannounced.
- Do not visit if you are sick.
- Wash your hands before touching the baby.
- Do not smoke in the house.
- Consider whether your vaccinations are up-to-date.
Managing advice from others
You may find that being new parents puts you on the receiving end of a lot of advice and perhaps a bit of criticism. Sometimes the advice can be helpful, sometimes not. The criticism can also hurt. The important thing is to decide what is right for you. Sometimes it can help if you gently explain to family and friends that there are some decisions only you and your partner can make and some things that you prefer to do on your own.
The first week or two after you bring your newborn home may be the most exciting time of your life. It could also be one of the most hectic and stressful. It is wise to plan for adequate and nutritious food when you return home with baby.
You may want to prepare and freeze large batches of meals a few days before your due date.
Also, ask partners, family and friends in advance to help you with grocery shopping and cooking during the first few weeks after birth.
Each sibling may react in different ways to the new baby. Some may love the baby and others may be angry. Many children will go back to acting like babies themselves for a while.
If you have given birth to multiples, review this resource guide designed for multiple-birth families.
Pets are a member of the family and will take time to adjust to the arrival of your baby. It’s recommended that you do not get a new pet right before your baby comes home.
If you already have a pet, take steps during the pregnancy to prepare your pet.