Potential new moms are advised (and rightfully so) to rest up during pregnancy. It's all baby bumps and tiny baby clothes for nine months before parents, especially moms, are thrown in the pit to fight the bull, i.e. a newborn. Not to put a scare in to any new moms out there, but no amount of reading or prenatal classes can prepare a person for the challenges of the newborn phase.
What is the 'Newborn Phase'? The first three months are spent in trial and error understanding the needs of a growing baby. These first months are crucial for parents and the baby to develop a bond as a new family unit. According to experts, this phase is considered as the 'fourth trimester', an extension of a three semesters of pregnancy.
During these first three months, each month welcoming a new set of challenges and delights, the mother learns to interpret every coo, cry, and flinch. The transition from pregnancy to baby is what the newborn phase is all about.
Whether this is mom's first, second, or eleventh time at motherhood let's agree it would be a lot more helpful if the baby came with a step by step manual. Tackling diapers and cleaning spit ups all day make moms feel like they are the only one involuntarily enrolled in some sort of an olympiad. Fear not mommy! These facts prove every mama must endure similar failures and feats to come out as a warrior on the other side of the testing newborn phase.
20 Breastfeeding: A Journey Of Letdowns And Meltdowns
Expectant mothers think feeding their baby will come naturally, and it does, with practice. Is the supply enough? Is it too much? Is my baby going hungry? How often should I feed? These are just few of the questions ailing new mothers. Breastfeeding a baby is hard work. A lot of mothers will opt out of exclusive breastfeeding within the first month.
Nursing is all about supply and demand. The more frequent the demand, the more milk you produce. Initially your body produces colostrum which is essential in building immunity in your brand new baby. It is normal for your milk to come in a week from delivering. Don't stress it.
Remember newborns have exceptionally tiny stomachs so they need to nurse often, sometimes as frequent as 10 minutes apart, is understandable. Let's agree you feel like a milking cow but the benefits exceed any difficulties you face temporarily. According to healthy women breastfeeding reduces chances of postpartum depression, returns uterus to its original size quicker, and even helps in shedding those ponds post delivery.
Practice is key; Practice positions, practice patience, practice practicing until it becomes second nature. Stock up
19 It's Not Always Love At First Sight
We have been conditioned to believe the love and bonding between a mother and her baby is immediate and inviolable. Movies, TV shows, books, brochures, all marketing the image of absoluteness of this sacred relationship but is it wrong to maybe not feel the connection instantaneously? No.
Like everything else, this too endures a learning curve or at the least an acceptance period. Some women even feel a sense of withdrawal after giving birth. While it may sound cold, or disquieting, it is as much of a natural response to change as it would be to feel an immediate attachment with the baby.
"I didn’t connect with my son right away. He was this…alien who just landed on me and expected to feed off me. He cried A LOT. But so many family members and friends expected me to just embrace motherhood with open arms, so I smiled and played the part of a happy new mom, afraid that they would find out how I really felt." Betty Boiron, Mother.ly
18 Colic Doesn't Have A Cure, But It Will Go Away After 3 Months
Colic is not a disease hence there is no sure fire treatment. Research shows 1 out of 5, or 40% of infants with this condition. It is when you find yourself attempting to calm a baby with ear-shattering wails for more than 3 hrs a day for 3 days a week. Certain factors such as loud noises, indigestion, bowl discomfort, gassiness, or even poor lighting are said to be colic specific stimuli.
The addition of this mysterious condition makes it all the more tough for a smooth transition in to motherhood. The silver lining is that colic seems to subside after 3 months in most babies. Some mothers will swear by family anecdotes like drinking fennel tea to reduce chances of passing gas through breastmilk. Other methods of treatments include tummy time, warm oil massages, eliminating dairy from mothers diet, and cycle motions to ease out pent up wind in baby.
Sorry mommies! Your baby will fuss, scream, and drive you to the edge and over but trust us when we say this is only temporary. Your baby is as confused as you are. This is the time to shower unconditional love and soothe your newborn every way possible.
17 Sleep Is For The Childless, But Babies Can Learn A Schedule At 10 Weeks
Sleep is a luxury parents are deprived of. It's almost as if newborns punish their parents for having slept comfortably all the years leading up to their birth. Jokes aside, do not expect an 8 hour night sleep with a newborn.
The biggest challenge of the newborn phase is possibly the irregular, chaotic sleep schedule (or lack there of) they abide by. A newborn is said to clock in 14 to 16hrs worth of sleep but none of those are at a stretch or in coordination with mom's schedule. It's a false statement when people say 'sleep like a baby'. Babies don't sleep. Period.
They nap in clusters over 24 hrs, specifically avoiding night winks. A newborn has no sense of day and night, so let's not fault them for a disruptive timetable.
One way to get some sleep in is to strategize your sleeping habit. Rearrange your routine to align with the baby's instead of trying to schedule your baby to yours. A baby can be sleep trained starting at 10 weeks. Introduce the concept of day Vs night to your baby by keeping activity during the day and creating an environment of comfort at night. Dim lights, white noise, and a bath is the equation to adhere to. God Speed!
16 Every Week The Baby Has a new milestone, so mom faces a new challenge
The reason a baby is considered as a newborn until 3 months is because there's something new to discover (or endure) each week. Majority of 'firsts' happen during this phase. From the first real #2 to the first voluntary smile.
Each milestone is paired with a challenge for the parents (read: mom). With growth spurts aplenty, moms are always on stand by with pampers, ointments, wipes, cloths, and whatever the mission of the moment demands.
The first week your baby will recognize your voice and instantly associate it with comfort and safety. Through weeks 2-4 they learn to focus their sight on close objects and get some control over their movement. At around 6 weeks your baby will flash a deliberate heart consuming smile, successfully erasing any memory of fatigue and disconnect of the previous weeks. Gradually the baby's neck becomes more stable and they learn to hold their head up, high and confident just the way you'll raise them to be someday!
A helpful way to keep track of all the developments all the while staying informed of what to expect is to install apps such as Ovia Parenting. Apps such as these help to maintain a record, and keep you from feeling isolated too!
15 Postpartum Pains Are A Thing And They'll Last For 6 weeks
As women it's remarkable the way our bodies constantly evolve. To accommodate another human inside of you is no easy feat. It took 9 months for the body to change its dimensions, squeezing and stretching organs to make room for fetal development. So, it's understandable to expect the body to take it's natural progression towards recovery.
Postpartum pains can unfortunately stay permanent if you neglect to care for the body the way it needs. There's every form of pain to deal with, from cramps to joint and muscle aches. Women are pulled into baby caring vortex that they forget to care for themselves. Ultimately they overlook any resting opportunities and add further stress.
It is absolutely vital to rest through the 6 weeks following birth. It's even worse if the delivery was not a natural one. Stitches need time to heal. Your body is most vulnerable in this phase. Not only is it weak, but it's undone. After undergoing traumatic birthing measures, tend to your body with empathy. There is no shame in seeking external help nor is it selfish to focus solely on yourself and the baby.
14 Forget About Your Figure For At Least 6 Weeks
Out with the old, and in with the new. Even if it means substituting the little black dress with nursing clothes. Although on an average women lose 12 pounds within 24hrs of delivering, it is still advised to avoid checking the scale before hitting the 6 week mark.
Sarah B. Krieger, MPH, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says "New moms should not weigh themselves during the first two weeks, when you still might be establishing breastfeeding and "your hormones are starting to come down."
Women expect to exit the labor room bustier, and flaunting a size zero waist. That's not happening anytime soon ladies! While it may be daunting to see a chunkier version of yourself staring back from the mirror even 3 months postpartum, know that it is a true reflection of your evolution as a unwavering mother. Remind yourself to not wallow over the persistent baby pooch, or fuller thighs. If a healthy diet is maintained along with an active lifestyle then fret not, you will size down to pre-pregnancy weight within a few months. We promise!
13 Breastmilk Isn't Really Affected By What You Eat
Keeping check of what you eat becomes second nature after pregnancy but for breastfeeding mom's consumption equals results. To regain strength the rule of thumb is to eat healthy, and avoid weight loss diet. However, some women will have to be careful of what they eat since it directly affects the baby. Or so the popular belief. This only applies to breastfeeding mothers of course. The truth is, there is no evidence to link colic to food intake of the mother, research still believes some foods have a way of passing gas through mothers feed. Breastmilk is 80% water so be sure to stay hydrated. Doctors advise breastfeeding mothers to drink a glass of water before every nursing session.
There is no certain list of foods a breastfeeding mother should avoid. Gassiness in babies is normal, and nothing you do will cure it one hundred percent. Newborns have immature digestive system which is the root to all the fuss and ache.
Breastfeeding mothers or not, it is important to maintain a healthy diet for your own sake. Your body is in a constant state of change and recovery, from pregnancy through birth and months after it. Your supply and composition of milk is largely unaffected by what you eat. It is still better to reduce caffeine intake, and avoid excessive spice.
12 PPD Is Real
Do I even love this baby? Am I even fit to be a mother? I don't want to do this. These are thoughts of a woman silently going through postpartum depression. Unfortunately most cases go unreported and untreated.
'Baby blues' is the cute term used to describe a condition that should be taken seriously. Postpartum depression is not a cookie cut illness, it isn't 'one size fits all', the severity of symptoms vary from woman to woman. Most women go through the motions feeling nothing or with numbed emotions. PPD occurs from a combination of hormonal, environmental, and emotional factors. It is best to seek support if any of the symptoms extend past 2 weeks. It can be treated through counseling or even by initiating open, and free communication. A woman should be given the right kind of attention and not be bombarded with instruction or un-welcomed advise.
Postpartum depression is real. Read these words and take initiative of your own physical, mental and emotional health.
11 Baby Or Career? You can't give 100% to both
Having to choose between two kinds of work, the baby kind and the money making type, always makes women question themselves in either roles. It becomes difficult to give 100% of yourself when you're only beginning to understand your role as a mother. Which is where maternal leaves come in play.
It gets complicated prioritizing when you have worked so hard to build a professional image, and then to suddenly remove yourself from it to paint a new one. It isn't easy to stay home for long hours cooped with a baby whose language you don't share (yet). But, you will regret not giving the attention your baby not only deserves, but has a right to.
"It’s complicated. I was conflicted. I loved my job and was starting to miss it, but I loved my baby and was definitely going to miss her. No matter—FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) time was over—the choice was made." says Benita Staples
Of course it does not have to be a choice between either and or, but a lot of thought should be given before making a decision which will ultimately decide the dynamic between you and your child. Try to put your job on hold just a little while longer, and savor these moments when your baby needs you absolutely and wholly.
10 Crying Is Not Just For Babies: Moms must let it out too
Hormones play a major part in popularizing the 'moody woman' image. Throughout our lives we are faced with phases of non compos mentis because of the rise and drop in hormone levels. The hardships of the newborn phase pushes you over the edge. The newborn phase does not bring changes for the baby alone, as a mother you begin altering parts of yourself to break ground in to this new role. This means plenty of 'letting go'.
As a new mother myself, and someone who never cried easily, I assure you it is perfectly normal (even necessary) to cry your eyes out if that's what it takes to get back on the saddle and ride out in to the sunset. Your newborn cries around the clock which can send you in to fits of anxiety. Theres a million things on your mind, a million other responsibilities biting at your nails, and before you know it you feel the pressure building around your eyes. Let it out. Let it all out.
Take a few minutes. Find a spot. Cry.
There is no shame in emotionally draining yourself only so you can emerge whole and reassured. Here you go momma, a tissue for your tears!
9 Supplement The Milk Supply
It seems like there's a lot of food and diet surrounding the birth of your brand new child. Grandmothers, mothers, neighbors, friends, everyone reminding how important it is to 'Eat!". And, it is true. Your body needs it more than your baby does. Our bodies automatically supply breastmilk with the best of the best while offering us leftovers to function on. This is why it is just as important to take supplements to stay healthy.
Your primary physician or OBGYN will prescribe calcium, vitamin, and iron supplements to be taken over the next three months so that your body does not fall deficient of any vital nutrients. Food alone will not be enough. Rather let's put it this way - you won't be eating much anyway caring after your little one. Women tend to get careless about themselves trying to do what is best for their babies. Well, reality is you are what is best for your child so you need to eat well, and stock up on those supplements!
Ready the grocery cart because it is time to scourge the pharmacy isles for some tasty Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Calcium and an assortment of delicious Vitamins! Yum!
8 It May feel like you're going bald, but the hair will come back
This might be the saddest bit about giving birth. Bid adios to the luscious mane you acquired during pregnancy because like a cat you'll soon begin to shed. A lot. The reason is the fall of estrogen levels in the body after giving birth which force hair follicles to go in to resting period. During pregnancy estrogen level shoot to their highest mark whereby prolonging the hairs growth stage.
29-year-old Alicia Midey’s hair started coming out in alarming clumps.“I knew it was a part of the postpartum process, but that didn’t make dealing with the bald spots around my hairline easier. It was worse than it had ever been with my first two children.” - Todaysparent
According to David Salinger, Trichologist (specializing in scalp & hair), the hair shedding should reduce considerably 6 months postpartum and by one year it will revert to its original thickness. This phenomenon is called postpartum alopecia and is common in 90% women giving birth.
It may be hard dealing with clogged drains, and cleaning out the hairbrush with clumps of beloved locks but have patience, it will come around soon.
7 Fear Of Going Public Only has to last 3 months
A baby who hasn't been familiar with anything but the inside of a womb tends to be aversive towards the openness of the world. Their biological strategy to overcome the overwhelming world is to cling to the warmest, and only person they find comfort with- mom. For mom this means limiting trips to the mall or a night/day out with the girls.
Taking your newborn out is frightening for more than just for the fear of their sporadic crying. It is also because new parents instantly adopt to nesting habits. It's not only convenient, but necessary to succumb to temporary house arrest to protect your baby against unnecessary exposure to foreign bacteria. The first three months is when the baby builds immunity. So, the less contact the better.
While it sounds impressive to be the sacrificial parent surrendering to a life of monotony (just till the baby can be put in a play pen with company his age!), it is difficult to limit a thriving social life. Some mothers complain of forgetting how to communicate with adults by the end of three months!
6 Yes To Help, No To Visitors
It cannot be repeated enough times in every baby article, blog post, and listicles - accept the help offered! Don't try to hero out on your own because it truly does take a village to raise a child.
Visitors will stream in through the front door when the baby is making headlines in today's news, however, only a handful of close friends will actually provide the necessary help you desperately need. It is not rude to turn away visitors politely, and make it known you desire privacy at this time more than paparazzi wanting to flood their social media with scrumptious photos of your little one in his/her onesie. Believe it or not there are certain etiquettes your visitors should be following when visiting.
According to Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert, the invitation to visit should be prompted by the new parents and not initiated by the visitor themselves. Basically, if the person at the door does not have food in hand, you are allowed to turn them away!
5 You'll become more paranoid than ever, so relax
A newborn changes a million faces in a short span of three months. As exciting as it is to embark upon this journey with your new baby, it does send a mother in to fits of self doubt. The slightest of cough, a prolonged sneeze, or even a gassy smile can have a mother searching through Google for all possible signs and symptoms. After days of struggling to establish a sleep pattern, your newborn suddenly decides to sleep 5 hours straight and now you find yourself worrying over this unprecedented phenomenon.
There is just no end to the string of concerns you will have as a mother in the first three months getting to know your new baby. Each baby comes with his/her own fresh set of worries to have mum bite in to her once perfectly manicured fingernails.
4 Something (Or Someone) Is Always Leaking
There is a great 'ick' factor to the newborn phase. After nine months of bidding periods adios, lo and behold you find yourself facing postpartum bleeding. It's even worse when there's a baby to nurse which means more leakages. From breastpads, to diapers, suddenly your artillery consists of every kind protection against all things oozy.
It is uncomfortable to say the least. You find yourself making visits to the loo a lot more frequently than you thought possible after having a small bladder for the length of the pregnancy. Our advice is to stock up on those breastpads, and diapers because there will never be enough!
3 Paging Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde: Babies Are Moody For Months
Babies are famous for their moodiness. This is especially true with newborns who just can't seem to settle on one. Most newborns do well during the day and begin transforming in to tiny monsters with the onset of the evening. Some fault this radical change in behavior to the 'witching hour'. It's when your baby is simultaneously at their fussiest when you are circling the drain energy wise. Similarly, each baby has a preferred hour of the day when they choose to erupt in to monstrous wails for seemingly no reason.
This shift in the baby's disposition is often coupled with cluster feedings leaving the mother exhausted from frequent nursing with short intervals. There is no one definite reason for this behavior.
In the end with no conclusive reason, the general advice is to try all methods of soothing your newborn be it cuddling, nursing, skin-to-skin contact. Babies find their sense of distinction between the 3rd and the 4th month.
2 Romance Is Given A Paternity Leave
The greatest sacrifice a parent makes aside from a good nights sleep is some time alone with their spouse/partner. The unmatched exhaustion consumes even the energy needed to make mundane conversation. Grown-up time is conveniently and begrudgingly booted to the bottom of the priority list. The postpartum hormone drop is considered the single largest sudden hormone change in the shortest amount of time for any human being, at any point of their life cycle.
It can be a frustrating time for both partners involved. With one feeling neglected and out of the loop, while the other is completely immersed in the transition. There are no romantic expectations postpartum, only an intense desire to be offered empathy generously and unconditionally.
There are still other ways to connect with each other. Communication is key. Try to understand your respective roles, and do your best to not burden the other with their share of baggage too. The only way to come stronger on the other side of the newborn phase is to practice the art if giving.
Give time. Give support. Give space.
1 This Too Shall Pass
Finally, you will hear these words repeated freehandedly from everyone who has preceded it - this too shall pass. Believe it, it will. Don't focus on crossing off the days on your calendars. Find great joys in the little things. I mean, have you seen anything smaller than your mini me? Where there is challenge, there is reward. Your bundle of joy will soon learn to crawl, walk, run away from you and you will then wish for them to fit right back in to your pockets.
Your baby will never be this small, and dependent. Soon they will become people with voices, and opinions different from yours. You will have a lifetime to train, learn, and unlearn. For now, drown the noise in your head, look at the tiny miracle nestled in your arms and enjoy the feel of warmth radiating through their skin to yours.
This is magical. This is difficult. This too shall pass.
References: todaysparent.com, amotherfromhome.com, popsugar.com, healthywomen.org, mom365.com, whattoexpect.com, parents.com, verywellfamily.com, kellymom.com, bellybelly.com, wokringmomsagainstguilt.com, medium.com, parenting.com, huffingtonpost.com, hotzehwc.com