Life With A New Baby – What To Expect
It goes without saying that life with a newborn can be tricky – there’s sleep deprivation to deal with, potential feeding issues, and of course, adjusting to having a baby to care for 24/7. Here’s what we wish we knew the first time around.
Life with a new baby is both exhilarating and exhausting; it’s the best time of your life, and it can also be the hardest. And while everyone will tell you that you won’t sleep, and that babies are notoriously difficult, not many people will explain why. Here are a few things that may happen in your first few weeks as a mom. Rest assured that things will get back to normal (well, a new version of normal!) soon, and that these challenges are universal.
When your baby first arrives, she will be hungry. She will also have a very small stomach, and so won’t be able to eat much at any given time. So she will feed very frequently, for short periods. This is called cluster feeding. It can be exhausting, and can also make some moms feel as if they are not producing enough milk. This isn’t true (if your baby is gaining weight and wetting 5-6 diapers a day, she is getting enough milk) and in fact, many experts believe cluster feeding helps boost milk supply. While your baby is cluster feeding (which, don’t worry, only lasts a few days!), ensure you rest when you can, feed in a comfortable position, and stay well-hydrated. Try to make the most of the feeds: binge watch a favorite series or download some new books onto your Kindle.
About three or four days after your baby is born, your milk will “come in.” Until this point, you’ve been producing colostrum, a nutrient-dense “practice milk”. When your milk comes in, your breasts may feel engorged, sore and tender. Breastfeeding often can help minimize this, as it regulates your supply. You can also apply heat or cooling pads if this helps. Some women say going without a bra is more comfortable during this period.
Many moms find it tricky to get their baby to “latch” (ie position the baby’s mouth properly over the nipple). When latching is an issue, breastfeeding can hurt, and your baby may not be getting enough milk. Lactation consultants can help here, but you can also try tickling your baby’s bottom lip with your nipple, and when your baby opens her mouth, aiming your nipple at the roof of her mouth. Don’t be afraid to pull your baby off your breast if she hasn’t latched properly; finding a good position can take time, but it will come. To remove your baby from your nipple, gently slip your little finger into the corner of her mouth to pry her lips off your nipple. Never just pull her off as this could cause damage to your sensitive nipples.
Your baby may also have reflux – a condition where babies spit up a lot of milk and experience pain while feeding. If you think your baby might have reflux (they are screaming and arching their backs during and after feeds), see your doctor immediately.
OK, so all those rumours you’ve heard about babies being sleep thieves… well, they’re right. Newborns need to feed regularly – around once every two hours. Yes, even at night! So for a while (the first few weeks for many), you’ll be up every few hours at night, too. This is tiring (to say the least) but it doesn’t last forever. In the meantime, sleep when you can, ask for help (don’t wait for it to be offered) and take care of yourself. Eat well, drink lots of water, and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
In the days after your baby’s birth, you’ll experience a wide range of emotions, all of which are valid and normal. You may be elated and excited one moment, teary and irritable the next. This is normal, and though it is difficult, it’s nothing to worry about. The baby blues should subside within a few days. If they don’t – or if you start to feel worse – see your doctor, who can help.
Things that help
- Limit visitors. You don’t need to invite everyone around to see the baby until you are ready. Don’t be afraid to say no to people, they will understand.
- If you do accept visitors, ask them to bring food (your baby has enough cute clothes; soups and nutrient-dense stews are a better gift).
- Before your baby is born, make a batch of freezer meals to help you through the first few weeks. Stock up on healthy snacks, too – you will be hungry!
- Set up “feeding stations” around the house, with wipes, a water bottle (for you), diapers and swaddles.
- Outsource as much as possible. For the moment, let somebody else be responsible for your cleaning, laundry and so on.
Newborn products we love
Here are our top picks for 7 must-have new baby items which you will find absolutely indispensable!