Things I wish I knew before my Baby was born

Kangaroo in pouchRead books.

Acquire the knowledge but most importantly arm yourself with the confidence that the parental instinct that bonds you with your baby is the most important thing and the basis for any parenting decisions.

Take one last trip “à deux” before baby comes but plan it early enough if you are aiming for an active holiday. Too much walking too late can be seriously uncomfortable.

Sleep.  There won’t be many opportunities when baby is here – not for a while.

Labour isn’t much fun, but we eventually, conveniently, forget the pain so that we can be pregnant all over again, a few years down the road.

Newborn Babies are hard work. The first few weeks are very much about survival and adjustment. Exhaustion and the shock of having our world turned upside down can be aggravating.

Be kind to yourself, you have just started the most important task you will ever do.

Sleep when you can.

Ask for help and invite your visitors to bring you a healthy ready made meal!

Being born is hard work. Babies have a whole new world to get used to and they are completely dependent on you at this stage. They need to be reassured that you will be there for them. Holding baby against your chest will allow them to hear your calming heartbeat.

Wrapping baby snugly in a light cotton blanket is a good way to comfort them and make them feel secure. It reminds them of the coziness of the womb. See below for link on how to ‘swaddle’ your baby.

It really doesn’t matter if your baby isn’t in a routine in the first few weeks. You will need time to get used to each other. Besides, baby’s regular growth spurs will throw newly established routines out the window on a regular basis.

It is normal for small babies to cry more in the evening and it is normal for new parents to be upset when their newborn cries. Crying is the only way a baby can communicate its needs to its carer. Although it will seem like trial and error at first, you will soon learn to interpret the different sounds a baby makes.

Reasons why baby may cry:

I am uncomfortable (too hot, too cold – wet nappy)

I am in pain (I may have wind in my tummy, burp me)

Just checking that you will always be there to look after me (hug me)

I am hungry (feed me)

Food and sleep are the most important things in your newborn’s life. Baby will feed around the clock during the first few days. After the first week or so this will go down to six to eight feeds a day.

Baby can sleep up to 17 hours in a 24-hour period but he will break up his sleep into eight or so naps. This is your chance for a nap too. Leave house work for later.

Breast-feeding may hurt at first but its advantages are well worth the pain. It is good for your baby, it is free, doesn’t involve sterilization and is ideal for traveling. Take advantage of it if you can. It does get better.

A newborn’s latch on a breast is surprisingly strong, it takes some getting used to. Do ask for a midwife’s advice from the beginning to avoid nipple sores. She will tell you about colostrum, about alternating sides and how to increase your milk production.

Newborns cannot see very far but they love to look at your face, so hold your baby close to let him study your expressions while you talk to him. Position him in different areas of the home to stimulate his senses.

At birth, a baby can make out light, shapes and movement and will turn her eyes towards a window or a source of light. Hanging pretty colourful objects such as ribbons or small toys near the cot is an easy way to get baby to entertain herself.

Mothers: help fathers help you, and make them feel indispensable for their newborn too. We had nine months to get used to the concept, their nine months start at birth.

Fathers: you may come home to a tired mother who cannot wait to pass the baby on to you. Accept to play your part graciously, even if you just had a long day at the office. Mother and baby need you.

Babies love to be held, caressed, kissed, stroked, massaged, rocked and carried. Touch is an important and soothing way to calm your baby. When they are upset try holding them while standing up or take them for a drive around the block. You wouldn’t be the first parent doing this in the middle of the night!

When a newborn feels that his needs are met, he feels understood and loved.

Belonging and significance are what all human beings strive to feel. It is the basis for a happy and emotionally balanced life.

Becoming a parent is a challenging and wonderful journey of self discovery. Enjoy the ride as much as you can. It goes by quickly even if it is sometimes hard to believe when you are in a sleep deprived state.

 

Resources:

“What to Expect the First Year” Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg

USA – Zero to Three: Parent guides

Birth to 3 months handout with spotlight on “crying”

UK – Baby Centre: Newborn Care

Newborn looks like this

First 24 hours with newborn

How to swaddle a baby in a blanket

 

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