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WHAT TO EXPECT

The first few days

Although babies' feeding and sleeping patterns differ, a good way of understanding what life can be like with a newborn baby is to read an account of a typical day for two first-time parents.

Steve and Sarah have a daughter Isabella, who is just 13 days old. Steve works from home and Sarah is on maternity leave.

7am: Isabella wakes up and has a long feed lasting about an hour.
8am: They all go back to sleep.
10-10-30am: Steve gets up, showers and gets dressed, while Sarah feeds Isabella. Then Steve looks after Isabella while Sarah gets up.
11.30am: Breakfast for Sarah and Steve. Steve takes the dog out.
1pm: Isabella has another feed. She feeds almost every hour during the afternoon and is usually awake between feeds. "Milk is Isabella's main need at the moment and I can't give her that so I feel as if I'm the less-important parent," Steve says. Sarah doesn't agree: "Steve does other important things like changing her nappy, talking to her and cuddling her. He's also keeping the household running, doing the cooking, washing up, washing and looking after the dog."
5pm: Isabella sleeps for a couple of hours. Sarah and Steve talk over mutual concerns or watch TV. Sometimes they just nap. They're averaging about five hours' sleep a night and are unbelievably tired.
7pm: Isabella wakes and has another feed then goes back to sleep. She hasn't had a bath today. Sarah and Steve have given her two baths since she was born: "One thing we've learnt is that the most important thing is to have everything you need to hand and not to panic."
8pm: Isabella sleeps while Sarah and Steve have supper. She wakes for another feed during the evening.
11pm: Sarah and Steve go to bed.
12.30am: Isabella wakes for a feed.
3am: Isabella wakes again for a feed.

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