When your inside baby becomes an outside baby, it can be incredibly overwhelming. They were dependent on you to take care of yourself during pregnancy, and now they are dependent on you to take care of them as a newborn. It’s helpful to think of these first few months as the “fourth trimester”. Until just recently, your baby was attached to you 24/7! It’s reasonable to expect that the transition away from that constant attachment may not happen overnight, but it can be exhausting for the new mama.
There are many aspects to taking care of a newborn baby, from breastfeeding to diapering to bathing, etc. For now, let’s look at four tips for making the first couple weeks easier on both you and your new baby.
1. Feed on Demand
La Leche League International breastfeeding experts agree that it is important, in the first few weeks and beyond, to feed your baby whenever he or she shows signs of hunger. Here is a great summary of feeding cues from KellyMom.com. The important thing to note is that crying is a late cue; early cues include opening the mouth, sucking on anything, and “rooting” (nuzzling around looking for your nipple). Be on the lookout for those signs, but also don’t beat yourself up if your sweet baby does start crying, especially in the middle of the night. Newborns are very sleepy and often hard to read. Thankfully, it doesn’t usually take much beyond a nipple in their mouth to calm them down. If you’re having trouble with breastfeeding, please seek help from a certified lactation consultant.
2. Practice Kangaroo Care/skin-to-skin
Spending time skin-to-skin with your newborn has been shown to have many benefits, especially within the first few hours after birth. Even later, this can be a great way to bond with your baby, calm him or her down, and to increase your milk supply. If possible, having daddy do this with the baby is also very beneficial!
As nice as it would be to just be able to cuddle and do Kangaroo Care with your baby all day and night, it probably isn’t possible; eventually, Mommy needs to pee! So when you do need to put baby down, swaddling can be a great comfort to him or her. Remember, she was just in the increasingly tight space your womb provided, and probably very warm and comfortable there. Swaddling is best during the first 2-3 months. Here are some safe swaddling tips from Parenting.com.
4. Hire a Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula can be a lifesaver to the new and overwhelmed mama. She can provide you with many different services immediately and for several weeks after the baby is born. Some of the help she can give include breastfeeding support, answering newborn care questions, light cleaning and cooking, and just holding baby while mom gets some sleep. According to the American Pregnancy Association, research has shown that everyone benefits when there is a support system, such as a postpartum doula, in place. Care for Mom offers postpartum doula services and more.
For more information on hiring a postpartum doula, or on other services provided by Care For Mom, click here to contact us.