I’m starting with this topic because I know for me and for many other moms, our main concern after our baby is born is our baby’s health. We are constantly asking ourselves (and others) lots of questions: Is the baby getting enough to eat? Is the baby sleep enough? Sleeping too much? Why is the baby’s skin peeling? Is my baby too jaundice? Why is my baby crying even though I just fed him? etc…
Your baby is completely and totally helpless in every way. His main mode of communication is crying. Don’t worry Momma, it will get better.
Since medical experts agree that it is NOT possible to spoil a newborn, respond promptly to your little one’s cries! Yes, I know it will be frustrating that you don’t know why they are crying. Many times I would start crying too when we couldn’t figure out why Ain was crying. In the beginning you just have to use the process of elimination until they are calm (or asleep). We started with seeing if he would eat (breastfeeding was rough the first week – more on that in a later post!). We would check his diaper, and just hold him and pat his back. He fell asleep on us a lot – which is so fun! I loved seeing my sleeping baby fall asleep on my husband’s chest!
It IS very tiring and I’m so glad I had my husband home to help me through the first week especially.
What helped me think about how to help my newborn was that I thought about ways I could bring him comfort and familiarity. He had just gone through a long process and was in this new environment. How could I ease the transition for him?
- Keep the lights a bit dimmer and sounds muted.
- Let him sleep – a LOT.
- Lots of skin to skin contact so he can hear your heartbeat.
- You could also wear your baby – it’s so fun and convenient to be hands free with your baby right against you!!
- Patting his back or butt (to simulate the womb environment when your heart was the constant beating in his life).
- Swaddling him or holding him against you is similar to his enclosed womb environment. (Although, make sure you don’t swaddle him so that his legs are straight. It’s best for baby’s hips and legs for them to be in the “frog-leg” position.)
We did keep sounds muted while Ain slept, but we didn’t keep the house completely quiet – no need for that! Your baby has to get used to sleeping with a noisy surrounding, since they are sleeping almost all the time in the beginning.
Visit the pediatrician early - You will schedule an appointment to see the doctor when your newborn is between 3-5 days old. Since Ain was born in a birth center, we were released the same day he was born. We were able to call up the pediatrician and set up and appointment for the next day.I was so glad we did!!
She was able to confirm what I was thinking about breastfeeding and to let me know that jaundice happens in most every baby, peaking in the first week. She let me know what to look for before calling her and we set up a follow up appointment in 3 days.
I know we’ve all heard the ‘sleep when your baby is sleeping’ advice. Listen to that advice! Short little naps may not seem all that helpful in theory, but they can be lifesavers when getting used to the rigors of new parenthood. If your husband’s around then during the day have him put baby to sleep (or allow baby to fall asleep on him). That way you Momma, can get a longer nap.
When first arriving home with my newborn, I basically lived in two spaces: the living room and the bedroom. I stayed in the bedroom until lunch time. I would nurse Ain in bed and get lots of morning sleep. My husband would get lunch ready and help me move everything downstairs to the living room where I would be until bedtime.
I set up an area in the living room for nursing. Since I have a My Brest Friend nursing pillow it’s easy to nurse on the couch. (*Sidenote: when I look up the link for the pillow I saw that they even have an inflatable My Brest Friend!) We have a large coffee table so we would eat meals around it. My husband also brought up our tv to the living room so we had entertainment that first week and a half. Hanging out in the living room was also great for when friends and family would bring us a meal. I didn’t have to move to say hi to them.
You might want to make a ‘survival basket’ filled with water bottles, granola bars, minty gum, diapers, baby wipes, burp rags, and chocolate! (I had a stash of chocolate covered almonds!) Have it be a basket that is small and light enough for you to take from room to room with you.
NOTE: We were given this advice and I would highly recommend doing something similar. Put a sign up (like the one below) so guests won’t stay too long. As a new mom you are almost always breastfeeding (and you don’t want to wear much) or sleeping, and occasionally changing a diaper (my amazing husband did most of the diaper changes). We set up a time for visitors to come around breastfeeding times, and this is the note we had on our door:
I will have another post just on breastfeeding. But here I just want to say set small goals to stick with breastfeeding. Once I heard a great piece of advice. Set a goal to breastfed for 2 weeks. Give it all you’ve got during that time. At the end of 2 weeks, set another goal of 2 weeks and give it all you’ve got once again. Then, set another goal of 2 weeks and give it all you’ve got. Five weeks was a breastfeeding turning point for me. So, yes, give yourself at least 6 weeks to try breastfeeding. Doing it in 2-weeks at a time increments might help you reach that overall 6 week goal faster.
Secondly, When your milk comes in, nurse, nurse, nurse! This will help diminish engorgement a little. Since Ain wasn’t eating well I would nurse, give him a bottle, then pump. Thankfully I only had to do that for 5 days, then we came up with a breastfeeding solution that allowed us to drop the bottle feeding!! I’ll let you know what that was later this week!
Thirdly, get help EARLY. Take to a lactation consultant. If you are still struggling, talk to another lactation consultant! There are LOTS of things you can try to make things easier for yourself. It just takes knowing them. Don’t worry, I’ll post more about breastfeeding struggles in a later post.
I know you won’t think so when you are going through the early weeks of motherhood, but it’s normal to cry for no reason. I cried every day, for about the first two weeks. I also cried when Ain wouldn’t eat, when he was crying, and in the middle of the night.
Journal or blog about “a day in the life of your baby.” I did this when my son was 10 days old. I wrote what he did, how long he slept that day. I also downloaded an app called “Baby ESP” and recorded when I fed him, changed his diaper and when he slept. This helped me to see if there were any patterns early on, and it’s fun to look back now and see what he was like at one week and two weeks. (I’ve still continued to use this app.)
- Have a list handy for when people ask how they can help, such as: Bring a meal, help with chores (dishes, laundry, mow the lawn, etc.) or babysit (so you can take a shower). Don’t be shy about taking people up on their offers to help.
- Have quick meals ready to go when you get back from the hospital or birthing center. This could be something you cooked and froze before delivery (make them in single servings), or just fixings (think: stuff I can eat in 15 minutes or less) for a PB&J and soup. We had a lot of snacks on hand for me to eat in the early weeks.
- Use paper plates and cups! Now is not the time to feel stressed about the dishes piling up. Even if your partner and/or family are helping out, there are better things they could be doing for you!
- Go outside and get some fresh air and your dose of daily sunshine. Doing so will help you improve your mood. Take along your newborn in a carrier. Aside from being a mood booster, going outside for a walk will also help you shed post-pregnancy weight (improving your mood even more).
Quick Tips: Time to Call the Doctor
Watch for these signs that it’s time to call your pediatrician:
Your newborn’s breathing is faster or irregular
You notice blueness or a darkness on the lips or face
Your newborn has a fever
Your newborn’s body temperature has dropped
You see signs of dehydration (less than 3 to 4 wet diapers in a 24-hour period)
Your baby’s belly button or circumcision area looks infected
Your newborn’s jaundice does not decrease by the fifth day
Your baby is crying a lot or appears sluggish
You think your baby is not looking or feeling well
Read this: All about Newborn Sleep
© 2013, Betsy Pool. All rights reserved.