How to cope in the early days with your newborn baby.
It's a well used cliché. “Nothing can prepare you...” but it is absolutely right. You can read books and articles, humour your mother in law, hear fantastic stories from close friends, but until your warm and purple wet baby is placed in your arms, you will remain as ignorant as can be.
My first baby seemed tiny though she was a good 7lb 8oz. Her body was like a little bag of sugar and her tiny hands grappled with the air and clasped together. She was a plum purple with big dark eyes.
Those early days when you are nursing all of the time, you feel so female, so natural, and perhaps a little overwhelmed. That tiny person is your responsibility and her life depends on you.
Good god, you cannot know tiredness until you have lived a month of wakeful baby. The high pitch, the furious little fists, the knees jerking up to the chest. Or perhaps the more placid noise of “I am awake. Where's the milk?”
Whatever noise it is, it's a subtle as a saucepan being crashed over your not so rested head....time and time again, until you are so unbelievably tired that when you sleep, you dream that you're awake and you've lost the baby under the covers somewhere. So you start rummaging about under the duvet much to the surprise of your (also shattered) husband.
“Where's our baby? Where have I put her? Oh God is she under here?”
He immediately leaps up fearing the worst until both sets of eyes reach the tiny (smiling) baby safely in her Moses basket, content and unabashed.
Newborn babies are magical because they are yours, they belong to you as much as your right arm, or belly button does. You feel a great maternal love for them and want to protect and comfort them. This is most probably why we don't pick them out of their Moses basket and launch them out of the window, as if anything else pushed you emotionally and physically to the degree that a newborn does, it would definitely get the window treatment.
Feeding and sleep deprivation
There is an immense amount of pressure on new mothers to breast feed their infants and of course it is the most natural and obvious choice, yet it is not so easy as perhaps the numerous smiling images suggest.
Your baby will root around for the nipple and feed, taking in the nutrient rich colostrum, often named 'liquid gold' for all the goodness it contains. What you may not be quite so prepared for is the great length of time it seems to take baby to have his feed. (If he latches on at all) Midwives will tell you that the baby will break off when he's ready, but it's seldom as straightforward as that. The topic of breastfeeding is so complex and contradictory that I really cannot give it justice here, all I would wish to do is stress to any new mother that your baby's health is paramount but so is yours. If you can find a way to meet the needs of both, using midwives, family or friends do it, but trust your instincts too.
My little girl was happy to stay 'attached' for hours at a time. I had thought that she was feeding the whole time and was terrified that if I 'detached' her, she might waste away in front of me! Well I WAS extremely tired, and sleep deprivation can do strange things to our minds. Anyhow this leads very nicely on to the next paragraph.
Pacifiers, soothers, baby plugs, whatever you wish to call them, they're the same thing and WHAT an invention they are.
When I realised that all my tiny daughter wanted was to suckle. I, for the first time reached for a dummy. Her cherubic little mouth took that silicone teat and sucked it furiously until a relaxed expression took hold of her and she settled into a deep sleep. Ladies, If a £2.49 dummy can give you 3 hours of deep contented sleep, it'll be the best two quid you ever spent.
To roll this very brief hub into some succinct advice. Three things I wished I had known in the first 3 weeks
- Dummies can help you sleep as well as your infant. Health visitors strongly advise getting breast feeding properly established before introducing a pacifier, but it is certainly something to look forward to.
- Babies are designed to cry. Chances are, if they're fed, winded, comfortable and secure, they're just crying for fun.
- Producing milk is hilarious and will create comedy moments when you least expect it. But it's also quite nice as you feel so proud that the bigger your baby gets, it's entirely down to your juice!
If you have just had your first baby, congratulations and enjoy!