Your First Week With A Newborn: What To Expect

31 January 2023

In the first week after you bring your little one into the world, they will be adapting to life outside the womb at the same time that you will be adapting to life as a new parent. We know you probably can’t wait to finally hold your baby in your arms, but you may also be a bit nervous about what caring for a newborn in those first few days will really be like. To help ease your mind, we’ve put together this guide on what to expect during your first week with your newborn.

You’ll want to use your first few days in the hospital wisely

During your first few days with your newborn, you’ll likely still be in the hospital as they monitor you and your baby. Your nurses, doctors, or midwives will be available to show you how to care for your newborn. Use this time wisely and ask as many questions as you want, so you feel more confident in the first few days at home as new parents. These first few days are also crucial for your recovery, whilst it’s a very exciting time, do try and keep your visitors to a minimum. Since you will have some extra helping hands around, take advantage of this help and catch up on sleep while you can.

Your body will be in recovery

Whether you’ve given birth vaginally or via a C-section, your body will take time to recover. In the first week, you’ll likely feel sore across your entire body, like you’ve just run a marathon. You may also notice some after effects such as bleeding, perineal or belly pain, swelling, cramps, constipation and hormonal shifts. Remember, recovering isn’t just about sleep! While you’ll certainly want to sleep, your recovery journey should also focus on slowing down, nourishing your body, staying hydrated, and letting your body recover on its own time. Don’t forget about you!

Your days will consist of eat, sleep, nappy change, and repeat

The first few days with a newborn isn’t much more than a bubble of feeding, soothing, sleep, and nappy changes. Here’s a breakdown on what to expect for each:


Your baby will sleep around 14-17 hours a day in the first week, but it won’t be for very long stretches. Every 2-4 hours, your newborn will wake up to feed. Since your baby won’t be able to sleep for long stretches during the night, you’ll want to try to catch some sleep when they’re sleeping – whether it’s during the day or at night. It’ll also be important to ask your partner to watch the baby, so you can sleep, or ask a family member or friend to come over, so you can nap.


Your baby will feed every 2-4 hours, meaning around 8-12 times every 24 hours. Breastfeeding or formula feeding can be difficult in the first few days, as both you and your baby are new to this, but you’ll eventually get the hang of it. Since your baby’s tummy is the size of a marble in the first couple of days, they may not eat as much as you think they would. As they grow, they will start to gradually consume more and more.

Nappy care

A newborn’s nappy is a good indicator of whether or not your baby is eating enough. In the first few days after birth, you should expect to change around 2-3 nappies per day. By the end of the first week, this should increase to about 5-6 nappies. These numbers may be more or less, depending on if your newborn is breastfed or formula fed.


Along with sleeping, feeding, and changing nappies, you’ll do a lot of soothing in the first week with your newborn. As your baby gets used to the loud, weird world outside the womb, you can expect some tears. Usually, your newborn’s crying will indicate one of four situations: they’re hungry, their nappy is dirty, they’re too hot or cold, or they need you close for reassurance. When it’s the latter, you’ll do a lot of cuddling, smiling, talking, singing, and more to soothe your newborn.

Your baby’s appearance may change

Right after birth, your newborn may have a cone-shaped head, swelling, or bruising from travelling through the birth canal or from any birthing tools, like forceps. You may also notice their head looks a lot bigger than their body. Over the next week, your baby’s appearance will start to change as their heads round out and any bruises or rashes fade. A baby’s eye and skin colour can also change. Their eyes will also get less swollen in the first few days. One thing parents don’t usually expect is their newborns to drop weight in their first weeks – this is perfectly normal! In fact, all babies lose around 10% of their body weight in the first week, but will likely gain it back by 2-3 weeks.

You’ll need to take care of the umbilical cord

One thing to pay close attention to is your baby’s umbilical cord. Once born, your baby’s umbilical cord will be clamped and cut and will remain on your baby for around 1 to 3 weeks, until it becomes black and then falls off. While it’s still intact, you’ll need to treat this area with care and try to keep it dry. Keep the front of your baby’s nappies folded down to expose the stump to air, thus keeping it dry. You can also opt for a sponge bath in the first few weeks to keep the umbilical cord stump dry.

Your baby will be noisy

Including crying, your newborn will make little noises like coos, grunting, hiccupping, coughing, snoring, and whistling. This comes down to them learning how to breathe and eat outside the womb. If your baby stays in a cot beside your bed, you’ll likely hear these types of noises throughout the night.

You’ll be able to communicate and bond with your baby

Even though your newborn will spend most of their time asleep or feeding, you can still communicate and bond with them. Use feedings and wake times as a time to connect through skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, and talking and singing to them. Whilst they can’t see too far, newborns love looking at faces, especially their parents. Connecting with a newborn is all about showing love, so soak up all the newborn cuddles you can.

You and your partner or another support person will need to rely on each other

The first week with a newborn isn’t easy. You and your partner will both be sleep-deprived as you learn how to parent, which can cause a whirlwind of emotions. Not to mention that mums’ hormones will also be balancing back out, which can cause high high’s and low low’s. During this first week and the coming months, make sure you check in on your partner, recognise signs of postpartum depression, and ask for and accept help when you need it.


Whilst finally meeting your baby is such an exciting time, it’s also a bit nerve racking as you and your partner start to navigate your new roles as mum and dad. Don’t be hard on yourself or compare yourself to others – just do the best you can and that will be good enough. We hope that with this list of things you should expect in the early days and it helps you feel a bit more confident with your newborn.

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