I remember the helpless feeling I had with my firstborn. Everything I had read and studied for had prepared me for birth, but now I was home with my baby and I had nothing. Nothing to refer to, no “what to expect book” to help. I sent my mum in law out to buy me the “what to expect in your first year” book within the first week we were home as I was so used to having something to refer to. This came with no manual and I was clueless!
People expect this happy, smiling, coo-ing baby to come out and when they are niggly, or crying, or seem unhappy we worry. Of course we do, it’s natural. The wait till our 6 week check up with the Pediatrician seemed endless and I had a growing list of concerns and queries to raise with her during our visit.
Two kids later and safe to say I am a little more confident in my abilities and what newborns come with, though I have seen first hand there is still a huge “gap in the market” on newborn behaviour and as a new mother, what to expect.
So here are some things I urge every mum to be or new mum to read, these are the things that I wish I had known with my firstborn (please note I am not a medical doctor, these are just my first hand experiences, if you truly are worried about something it’s always better to get a professional opinion):
- Breastfeeding takes a while to get into – You and baby will take at least 3 weeks getting to know each other and finding your groove. Your nipples will feel like hot razors are running through them and when your milk kicks in you will feel like you have hard rocks attached to your chest. It’s excruciating, and you may cry BUT It does pass and it does get easier, trust me. It’s the one thing you don’t want to give up on, even one day of breastmilk is better than none at all.
- Babies will cramp – Breastfed babies (I can only speak from this experience), will experience cramps and winds. It’s more frustrating for parents I think then it is for the babies, but please know that this is (mostly) normal. Unless baby is not putting on any weight, or you notice blood in a stool at all, it’s nothing to worry too much about. Yes it’s hard seeing a little baby in discomfort and cramping, but it will pass. Remember, their intestines have been 100 percent sterile, every single thing they ingest (through you) is new. Their digestive systems adjust to all the new nutrients in their bodies. Their muscles have to form. Please have patience and give them time. You can relieve some of your newborn’s discomfort by rocking her, carrying her in an infant carrier, or holding her in an upright position.
- Baby skin issues – a baby’s skin will flake and peel, it’s completely normal, especially around their hands and feet. I mean they have been in fluid for almost 10 months, of course it’s going to adjust! You can also almost guarantee rashes, acne or skin irritations. From heat rashes, to baby acne or blocked pores all babies experience unsightly skin at some point. DO NOT pick those little white spots. Baby acne will typically clear up on its own but sometimes you may need a little steroid cream for help.
- Reflux is more common than you think – again, largely in babies that are breastfed because of the consistency of your milk. It typically passes in the first 3 – 4 months. Your babies tummy has to settle into a rhythm. Until this happens, milk can sit in the stomach and then come back up in a reflux action. It can be related to some babies not having sufficient enzymes as well, and sometimes the little valve between the oesophagus and stomach, is underdeveloped which will cause him frequently to spit up or vomit. As baby grows and develops, it will pass, unless they have a medical condition and aren’t gaining any weight. Sleeping on a wedge helped us tremendously with our kids, as does holding baby upright.
- Newborns will want to nurse A LOT. They “eat” a ton, but it’s not always for nutrition, it’s for comfort. For that reason I always encourage new mothers to feed on demand. DO NOT time your feeds. This is crucial to build up an adequate milk supply as well. This little soul has been connected to you for 9 full months and is suddenly no longer joined to you. They want to nurse to feel close to their mama’s again, to feel your heartbeat. Newborns also only a eat a little at a time, so expect many, many feedings each day and night ( a teaspoon amount in those first few weeks ).
- You cannot “SPOIL” a baby – so Hold your baby, for as long as they need.
Hold them. And do it as much as you want. I promise you will not start any bad habits. They need you, and won’t always be that tiny. Those newborn cuddles fly by quicker than you think and you will long for that feeling again. So hold them mama, for naps, at bedtime, when you’re watching TV. Let them sleep on you, its bonding time you will never get back and it releases happy hormones. This is your maternity leave for a reason, embrace every breath and get to know each other.
- Let them sleep! PLEASE DO NOT worry about routine or sleeping patterns, until at least 3 months. Newborns sleep something like 18 hours a day, and when they aren’t sleeping they are feeding or burping or trying to pass gass. So let them sleep (unless of course they are sleeping longer than 5 hour stretches in the day, then pick them up to feed them).
- You need a degree on poops – There is no greater force than that of a baby pooping. Those rocket fueled gas bubbles that can propel poop across the room. The sound that vibrates the windows 🙂 It’s all about the gas coming out and their tummy muscles developing. If you can see your baby straining, sometimes wiping a babies bum also stimulates the colon. If I saw my little one cramping I would open up her nappy and wipe her bum with a little cotton wool and water, it’s almost always sure to get some poop out!
- You baby is tougher than you give him credit for – God has created this perfect little human being, and aside from any physical or mental ailments or disabilities, their bodies can handle more than we give them credit for. Yes, newborns are tiny and vulnerable and fragile and helpless, but trust in them, and trust in you.
- Time will fly by quicker then you think. I feel like I gave birth to my youngest a month ago, but its already been 4.5 months. Time is flying and I am already missing those newborn cuddles. Don’t rush time away. Every day that passes is another day conquered. Give your baby and yourself a break. This is the most trying period in your life, and we often don’t expect all the “hardships”. Bar any illness and as long as baby is gaining weight and is healthy, trust yourself. You got this mama!