Why don't babies come with a manual?
New moms and dads, as well as parents of older kids, often complain that kids "don't come with a manual". Joking aside, it seems like some of the famous parenting books have indeed turned into a parenting manual. Just yesterday, I was chatting about parenting and blogging with a new dad at a dinner. "Oh," he said. "If you blog about babies, you must know about that book, 'What To Expect When You're Expecting'! My wife follows all the advice in there."
There are a few great books about pregnancy and babies out there, and they all contain useful advice to be sure. The thing is, you are the expert on your baby. You may be new to the game, but if you are a sensible person you can usually figure out how to handle a situation for yourself. If you find that suggestions given in a book, or by your baby's pediatrician, or your mom don't work for you and your baby... then feel free to ignore their advice and to listen to your own intuition. When you really don't know how to deal, seek out information from various sources and decide how to handle the issue at hand.
Should you take your baby out?
In many cultures across the world, it is customary for moms and babies to stay indoors (often actually in bed) and recuperate. Postpartum recovery does take time, and you will probably want to get breastfeeding going in a relaxed manner, get to know your baby and her sleeping patterns, and heal from childbirth. Most moms in developed countries won't have the wish or the support network to enable them to stay indoors all the time for over a month. Still, many are reluctant to take their newborn outside. Is that necessary? Unless you are taking your baby to a place with a lot of people, you will not have to be too worried about germs. And as long as you dress your baby appropriately, there is no need to be concerned about weather conditions. Getting some fresh air and sunshine each day is great for your baby the vitamin D will certainly do him some good. As for you, going for a walk outside most days will help with weight loss after pregnancy and getting back in shape. It will also, even more importantly, help prevent postpartum depression. Don't forget to take care of your needs, as well!
Trying to be supermom?
So, you've just given birth and you are at home with your new baby, "doing nothing all day". Of course, it is your responsibility to take care of the laundry, scrub the whole house clean, and to cook a great meal for the whole family. Right? Actually, we're pretty sure maternity leave is not meant for that. New parents will find their house in a state of (controlled?) chaos some of the time, and that's something you have to get over because it will be even worse when that sweet baby is a toddler believe me! Don't feel guilty about spending time with your baby, and either doing a minimal amount of housework, or enlisting the help of relatives, friends, or a professional cleaning service.
Too many guests
Babies are cute! That means everyone from grandparents to coworkers are going to want to come over and visit, either while you are still in the hospital or as soon as you arrive home. They want to offer gifts, and will often ask if they can help you around the house or with meals as well. Most of these folks will be extremely well meaning, and you will feel bad about saying no. Your baby is only tiny for a little while, and there is no shame in saying that you are not able to entertain guests at this time. If you really want to see a person, go right ahead. If you don't, do not feel guilty for delaying their visit until the baby is older, or limiting the time they can stay if you do want to have them over. They should understand.