Expert advice for bringing baby home safely


What if I can’t breastfeed my baby? How will I get enough sleep? How do I use a car seat or a breast pump? All these questions and many more may be swirling in your head as you prepare to go home and begin the joyful journey of caring for your newborn. Cortland Regional’s maternity and women’s health experts have some advice to help new moms (and babies) make the transition from hospital to home safely, comfortably, and confidently.

There are no silly questions
Olga Levitskiy, nurse manager for Cortland Regional’s maternity services, encourages new moms and their partners to ask lots of questions before leaving the hospital. “This is a life changing event. It isn’t until moms go home that the real work of caring, feeding, and nurturing their baby begins,” says Levitskiy. “A lot of times moms can’t focus on all of the information until they get home and then they’re overwhelmed.”

Breastfeeding is best
Breast milk has nutrients that are easy to digest and antibodies that protect against illness, making breastfeeding one of the best things that moms can do for their babies. But, breastfeeding is not always easy to master, especially for first time moms. Cortland Regional’s maternity team has six certified lactation counselors who can help you get off to a good start and offer support once you go home. Cortland Regional also works with community services like La Leche League and the Cortland County Breastfeeding Partnership to provide ongoing guidance to moms.

Baby’s first car ride
Under New York state law, any child under the age of four riding in a car must be in a federally approved car seat. Cortland Regional maternity nurses Bailey Riley and Danielle Wood are Certified Child Passenger Safety technicians who help families get baby ready for that first ride home. They advise parents to bring their car seats in at time of delivery so they can learn about proper installation and use.

“Just trying to figure out which direction to put baby in can be confusing,” says Wood. “We’re here to help them practice and get comfortable.” “I remember when I first had to think about how I was going to get my firstborn home,” Riley says. “To now be in a position where I can help ease new parents’ anxiety about keeping their newborns safe is so rewarding.”

Lean on your support system
With a new baby comes the joy and excitement of friends, family and neighbors wanting to visit. It’s a good idea for new parents to set up some ground rules in advance, says Mary Borra, Cortland Regional’s Certified Nurse Midwife. “If mom has a significant other or is relying on a family member, I tell that person that they are the gatekeeper. They control the visitor stream so that mom can recover and get the rest she needs to care and feed baby.” This is especially true for moms recovering from a C-section or a difficult labor and delivery.

And if visiting family or friends offer to cook a meal or help with the baby, “Take them up on it,” says Levitskiy. “New moms need self-care, and if that means having a family member do some laundry so you can take a shower or a nap, don’t be afraid to accept.”

The “baby blues” are real
“Childbirth is a new experience that you can’t practice for. Everything that mom is doing is new and she needs to go easy on herself,” says Mary Borra. Between adjusting hormone levels, lack of sleep, and all the other changes a new baby brings, many moms experience post-partum depression, mood swings, anger, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your provider for help. Borra makes a point to see moms who are struggling with depression at any point within a week of giving birth.

Safe sleep for you and baby
Moms and newborns need their rest, and the desperation to get a fussy baby to sleep can lead to unsafe habits. Tammy Small, Cortland Regional maternity nurse, certified lactation counselor and childbirth educator stresses that moms and babies should sleep separately. Sleeping with babies has been shown to increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). When putting your baby down to sleep, “always follow the ABCs of sleep – alone, back, and crib,” says Small. Babies should always sleep alone in their cribs and on their backs without blankets, toys, or pillows. If your baby falls asleep on a bed, couch, or in their car seat, put them in their crib to finish sleeping. “Knowing baby is sleeping safely helps new moms relax and catch up on the rest they need,” says Small. “It’s a win-win.”

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