7 things not to do in the first 7 days after giving birth

You’ve given birth. Your bundle(s) of joy are here, and hopefully happy and healthy. It’s a time for celebration. And reflection. And just about everything in between – those hormones of yours are going into overdrive.

Hormones take a long long time to settle down after giving birth (see my post Hormones). But the first few days (until you’ve gone through the ‘baby blues’) are particularly fertile ground for doing things that you’ll really really regret once you’re back to your usual self.

As my baby blues hit on days five through seven, here are seven things that I would advise not doing in those first seven days with your new baby(ies):

  • Name your child(ren). This might sound strange, but if you have not decided on a name pre-birth, or drawn up a shortlist, those first few days are definitely not the time to be looking up new names. In your euphoric / overwhelmed state you might find that ‘Crystal Cherry Blossom’ sounds lyrical, and both you and your child will have issues later on. Agree with your partner that (if allowed in your country) you will not register the name until at least the second week.
  • Allow too many visitors. Everyone is going to want to meet your new addition(s), when you’re likely to be exhausted and adjusting to new your new reality (in between bouts of euphoria). Of course you’ll want baby to meet (most of) them, but seeing lots of people will wear you out. Very importantly, don’t forget the politics of visiting – I was very very glad I had twins when both grandmothers turned up at the hospital at the same time to meet the babies – there was one baby for each! Those first few days are not the time to be grappling with these sorts of issues. Decide who will visit and when before the birth, and make sure daddy / sister / best friend is under strict instructions to enforce the list.
  • Argue with anyone. Easier said than done, but if you get into an argument chances are you’ll say something you’ll regret. If possible, nod, smile, and signal frantically to daddy / sister / best friend to hustle the offending person out of the room. Try not to have phone calls that deal with more than ‘We’re all fine, talk to you later’. Text messages are great way to get out of calls that you don’t feel like taking.
  • Let anyone you don’t completely trust give you advice. As soon as you have a baby, the world and his wife will feel it’s their right to give you unsolicited advice. You will get used to this eventually, but in those first few days it’s likely to be a major bone of contention, especially if you don’t particularly value the advisor. This is another case when you need someone acting as a human shield, or, if stuck with an advisor who keeps harping on, pull out the ‘but the doctor said…’ card.
  • Get formal photographs taken that include you. Seeing your newborn will make you want to preserve every cute little feature. That’s fine, but don’t bother shelling out for professional photographs of you with baby. While baby will undoubtably look adorable, you are likely to look wiped out. Stick to buying a good camera for the beginning, and have professional family photos taken when you’re feeling more the thing so that you can actually display them.
  • Decide on birth announcements. Another one that is best decided either pre-birth, or when you’re feeling more normal, lest you fall foul of some shockingly bad design that suddenly looks cute. Or ditch the formal written announcement and just post on Facebook. Job done.
  • Send daddy out to buy several iterations of the same item that you’ve suddenly decided is essential. After buying four swaddling blankets pre-birth, I had a panic that we’d need more once I saw the babies swaddled in their hospital cot. Cue sending Multidaddy out to buy every swaddling blanket he could find. Result – there are probably about ten that we never used.

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