Bringing a baby home from the hospital is an exciting and challenging time in any parent's life. Many of the things that you once took for granted will now all change, and suddenly your life comes second to the little bundle in your care. Still, the challenges of the first few months can be managed, and with a little planning and patience you'll be able to navigate this period successfully.

Nerves and anxiety

The addition of a baby to your house can bring with it a whole range of emotions and feelings. Try to keep things simple – your baby’s main needs are sleep, feeding, cleaning and love. By focusing on these priorities you can compartmentalise the rest of your chores, duties and anything extra your baby needs.

Your house doesn’t need a drastic change

Very young babies don’t need to come home to a baby-proofed house. While they’re newborns, babies will pretty much stay where you put them. Although it’s best to keep them in arm’s reach when they’re not in their cot sleeping, babies won’t be crawling around, putting things in their mouths and opening cupboards until later in their first 12 months.

Be open with seeking support

Feeling overwhelmed is natural, however, and sometimes you just need an extra hand. Be open to seeking help from friends and family and maintain your lines of communication. You’ll have a whole support network of people who’ll jump at the chance to make life easier for you, and you’re fortunate to live in a country that puts a lot of time and resources into maternal and paternal health. Use these, and never be afraid to pick up the phone if you’re feeling stressed or just a bit blue.

Medical care

You’ll be booked in for visits from a maternal and child health nurse soon after your baby is delivered. These visits enable you to get a good idea of how your baby’s growth and development are tracking and whether there are any issues that need to be managed. Observe your baby and get to know their routines and normal patterns of behaviour. If things start to veer away from this, trust your instinct and seek medical attention. Remember that newborns are particularly vulnerable to what we would consider otherwise minor issues.

Look after yourself

Although all your attention will naturally be drawn to your baby’s needs, your needs are important too. Your baby will rely on you now and for many years to come, so make sure you take care of yourself.

Do things that you enjoy and things that relax you. Take every day as it comes but also plan things to look forward to. Whether just a few hours’ break with your baby in a trusted friend or family member’s care, or a social engagement out of the house, these occasions are a good opportunity to destress, take stock and recharge your batteries.