The moment you have been waiting for for the last nine months is finally here! Congratulations on your brand new bundle of joy! As much as expecting parents become experts on handling newborns from a myriad of parenting books and advice from friends, relatives and even strangers, you will quickly come to realize that actually parenting a tiny human is another ball game. Here is the advice I, as a family doctor, give to new parents.
What to expect for baby at the hospital and in the next few weeks in terms of medical procedures/appointments?
Shortly after your baby is born, they will get measured and weighed, and a pediatrician will perform a full physical exam to make sure that nothing is amiss and that your precious baby looks perfectly normal. In Singapore, newborn babies get two vaccines at birth: BCG (for tuberculosis protection) and the first dose of the Hepatitis B series. Your child will also get an injection of Vitamin K to prevent bleeding issues that could arise otherwise. There is also a blood test involving a small heal prick to check for jaundice and some congenital diseases. Your stay at the hospital will give you a chance to get acquainted with each other, to get lots of support to initiate breast feeding or to learn how to bottle feed (whatever your choice is), and you will become an expert at changing diapers and give your baby a bath by the time you go home. After you bring the baby home, the pediatrician will give you an appointment to follow up in the next few days for a weight check and to see how things are going at home from a feeding/sleeping/elimination point of view. After that first follow up, you are welcome to continue care with your family doctor as many of us are very experienced at seeing kids and babies. Childhood vaccinations are also a very important part of medical care in infancy, and we are happy to accommodate whichever schedule you might prefer.
What to expect at home, as a family?
I usually tell expecting parents to plan to limit the number of visitors in the next few weeks. Only allow those who you know will be helpful and whom you will be totally comfortable with to visit you during this adjustment period. Keep your expectations low in terms of maintaining a clean house or a schedule of some sort, and delegate as much as possible. Sleep deprivation, adjustment to your new parenting role and the hormonal roller coaster can wreak havoc on a mum’s mental health, so stay alert for signs or symptoms of postpartum depression. Mum will also have a follow up appointment around 6 weeks postpartum with her obstetrician, to see if she is recovering normally. After that appointment, you are welcome to continue care with your family doctor to discuss things like mental health, breastfeeding, contraception, sleep issues, etc.
Overall, becoming a new parent can often feel like an intense and overwhelming experience, but know that you are not alone and come talk to your family doctor who will be more than happy to be part of this wild, glorious ride that is parenthood!
Dr Méli Noël is a Canadian trained doctor based at IMC Jelita who has experience in maternity care and delivering babies. Please call 6465 4440 to make an appointment.