First-time moms often forget to think about the fact that when their pregnancy is over, they will have a little baby. Of course, they know that the baby comes after the pregnancy and child birth but a lot of them do not think about what that entails. This can be true for more experienced moms too. Depending on how far apart their children are, it can be hard to recall what it was like to have a newborn. There is also the fact that every newborn is different and will act differently.
When taking all of that into consideration, it can be very overwhelming. The newborn phase can be very difficult to get through. It seems like there's so much to do and it all falls on mom's (and dad's) shoulders. There is a lot to do, and a lot to worry about. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a cheat sheet for the newborn phase and how to take care of them? Well, here we are.
This is a list for anyone who is nervous about caring for their newborn. It is a list of the 20 basic things to really expect when taking care of a newborn. Take notes and save this for later, it may come in handy.
20 All About The Cord: Keep It Dry, It'll Fall Off
The umbilical cord is a vital part for your baby while they are in the womb. It is how they receive oxygen and nourishment while they are in the womb, all via the placenta. The umbilical cord is also why we have belly buttons, it is where we were attached to our own mothers long ago. This cord is cut soon after birth as baby is no longer relying on the placenta for air or food.
The cord will take 7-10 days to dry up and fall off, though some can take up to two weeks. It is important to keep this area dry, so baby will have to live with sponge baths until the cord has completely fallen off. It will turn black, but that is normal so there is no reason to be alarmed.
19 Spit Up Doesn't Mean The Baby's Sick
All babies spit up, some more than others but that is normal and to be expected. Their digestive systems are new and are just learning how to process food. Gas is another reason why a baby may spit up. Like we said, spit up is normal and should not be mistaken with vomit. If your baby is constantly spitting up it does not mean they have come down with the stomach flu.
Their tummies are so tiny, they can only fit so much in. If a baby has taken in too much formula or breastmilk, they may spit some of it back up. Spit up is also common when mom or dad is burping the baby which is why it is always good to have a burp cloth nearby for any feeding sessions.
18 So Much #2!
When someone is expecting they know that newborns only really do so much. They sleep, eat and go #2. What some may underestimate is how much of these things they do. Their tummies are so tiny that they feed often, but this also means that there will be a lot of waste. This is especially true for babies who are given breastmilk.
Breastmilk is easier to digest, and it doesn’t take long for it to make its way through their little system. It is very common for a baby to continuously empty his bowels during a feeding and then again after. It would be a good idea to stock up on newborn diapers, because you may need a lot of them.
17 The Constant Breathing Checks
If you are a first-time mom who is expecting, chances are you have been given a lot of advice and heard a lot of stories from another mom’s. One of the things you may have heard is that you will begin to become obsessed with checking your little one during the night to make sure they are breathing. This is something that all mom’s do.
It will be very normal that your baby’s breathing may sound different than ours does. They may be very congested at first due to the excess amniotic fluid that is still in their system. It is also very normal for them to not take a breath for up to 6 seconds. These are all normal. You want to watch out for rapid breathing and wheezing as signs of distress.
16 Clean Baby The Right Way!
Most babies will receive a bath in the hospital before they head home, and the nurses will likely walk you through the proper steps to clean your little one. Of course, as we mentioned before you will not be able to submerge your baby in the water until their cord falls off. Until then it will be sponge baths only.
When you are able to bath your baby, it is important to be safe. Make sure you have a baby seat for the bath, or a small plastic tub you can sit on the counter. A lot of mom’s bathe their babies in the sink because it is easier, and it is a smaller basin. Before you begin the bath make sure you have everything you need, you can not leave them for even a second.
15 Never to Early For A Routine: Babies Can Learn Schedules
There is a lot of importance on having a routine for our children. It is always OK to break the routine occasionally, but for the most part having them on a schedule will go a long way. It is very hard, and nearly impossible, to place a newborn on a schedule. They need to feed often, and they commonly have their days and nights mixed up for a while. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Follow the same routine every day or try your best too. This may include a bath before bed. Keep the lights and sounds down at night time. Soon your little one will figure out that night time is for sleeping and day time is for partying. Having a schedule can also go a long way to saving a mom’s sanity.
14 There Will Be Tears …
Crying is something else that every expectant mom just knows will happen, but they may underestimate how much crying will happen. Newborns cry a lot, and they should as it is their only way of communicating their needs from mom. There may be times when mom doesn’t know what to do when her baby is crying, and that is OK.
The downfall of crying is that they can not verbally tell us what they need so it becomes a guessing game. Mom will have to become a sleuth detective and figure out what her baby needs in that moment. A lot of mom’s will go through the list and cross off every need until they find the one that works.
13 … And Not Just From Baby!
We all know that babies cry, but mom may be surprised with how much she will cry. Mom will start crying as soon as that baby is placed on her chest, from sheer exhaustion and happiness. Then the days will go by and mom’s hormones will start to regulate back to their normal state. This may cause mom to cry for no apparent reason at all, and that is normal.
Then there is the sleep deprivation and frustration. Taking care of a newborn is not easy, it is hard work and when mom has not slept good in a couple days or weeks it is easy for her to get very emotional and find herself crying for no apparent reason. It is important to ask for help if you need it and take as many breaks as you can.
12 They Will Sleep A Lot...
One of the things that newborns do very well is sleep, they sleep almost 20 hours a day waking only briefly to eat and get their diaper changed. This sleep will be in 3-4-hour increments if mom is lucky, but some mom’s will find their newborns waking more frequently. This is all normal. Mom’s don’t need to be concerned with the amount their new little baby sleeps.
They slept a lot in the womb, and they are constantly growing so they need the sleep to grow. Mom should only be concerned if she is unable to wake her baby for a feed, or the baby does not wake on its own to feed. If the baby is losing weight, mom should check in with her doctor to make sure everything is OK.
11 ...But You Will Not!
Now, don’t be fooled. I bet you think that since your newborn sleeps a lot that it would mean you will get plenty of rest. This is not always true. New moms are commonly filled with nerves. They worry about their little one throughout the night, so they are constantly checking on them and are unable to fall asleep.
They also feel the pressure to keep the house in good standing so when their little one is asleep, they have this urge to do those dishes or the laundry that has been sitting there. There is the golden rule of sleeping when the baby sleeps, but this is not always possible to the mom who also has older children at home who are not always sleeping.
10 Burping Is Very Important
One of the most common ailments that befalls newborn babies is gas. They can accumulate a lot of it, and if it is not cleared it can cause one very uncomfortable and fussy baby. It is always important to burp your newborn, especially in the beginning. Burping should happen in the middle of a feeding and at the end of every feeding.
Burping should also happen when your baby is a little fussy and mom can not figure out what is wrong. Nine times out of ten, it is because the baby has some gas build up that needs to be cleared. There are the conventional methods of burping, but mom can also try some tummy time as well as moving the legs in a bicycle motion to help clear the air.
9 Jaundice May Develop
Jaundice is something that occurs in a lot of babies, and if it is caught and treated it is not normally a big deal and it will resolve on its own. Jaundice happens when the liver is not functioning as it should, and this will result in a baby that has a yellow hue to his skin and eventually his eyes. Your newborn will be tested for this before they leave the hospital, but this does not mean you are in the clear.
Jaundice can appear in the days following birth, so it is important that mom keeps her eyes on the lookout. Babies will have a check up with their doctor a few days after they are born, and the doctor will also do a visual exam to see if they notice any colouration that looks concerning.
8 Breastfeeding Will Be Hard...
A lot of moms choose to breastfeed before they give birth, we know it is one of the best things you can give your newborn. If you are a first-time mom who has never breastfed before than you have no idea what you are in for when it comes to breastfeeding and it can come as quite a shock.
Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is anything but easy. It is something that doesn’t come naturally so both mom and baby will have to work together to figure it out. This could mean that mom may have some sore nipples as the baby learns to latch properly. It can also be frustrating not knowing how much your baby is getting.
7 ...And Formula Feeding Will Be Too
Formula feeding is not a walk in the park either, it has its pros and cons just like breastfeeding does. One of the biggest pros with bottle feeding is that all the feeding sessions do not fall on mom alone. There is a chance for dad or someone else to take over with the feedings. Formula feeding requires time, it takes time to get the bottle ready and warmed up to give to the baby.
It also involves a lot more cleaning. Feedings in the middle of the night will likely result in a sink full of dirty bottles in the morning that mom must wash. Not an easy feat when you are already exhausted.
6 People Will Want To Visit
Nothing brings people together quite like a new baby. Mom will suddenly have a lot of people at her doorstep wanting to spend time with the baby. A new baby is exciting and adorable, so it is understandable that people will want to visit. Before the newborn has arrived, it is important that mom understands just what she wants after birth and that she isn’t afraid to ask for it.
If mom does not want visitors immediately following the birth of the baby, she needs to be OK in vocalizing that. She needs to set boundaries with family members early which will help prevent any hurt feelings after.
5 You Are Healing Too
A woman’s body is an amazing thing. It can carry a baby for 9 months, birth a baby and seemingly ‘bounce back’ after. It is important that mom realizes that after she gives birth that her body needs time to heal. Even if mom feels well, she needs to take it easy and let her body get back to normal. It has just been through a lot and it needs time to recover.
Getting up and moving around is the best way for mom to get back to normal, so while it is important for mom to relax it is also important for her to go for little walks to help herself heal and get back to her normal routine.
4 Moro Reflex: Baby Spasms That Look Worse Than They Are
Newborn babies have just come from the womb, and we need to think about what the womb is like compared to the outside world. The womb is warm, full of liquid and by the end of the pregnancy there is not much room. The babies are used to being all tucked in and comfortable so coming into the outside world can come as quite a shock.
Newborns will have a Moro-reflex, which can cause their limbs to fly out sporadically. This will make them feel like they are falling, and it can be quite scary. It is the common reason why babies wake up at night because it scares them. This is also why it is so important to swaddle them. It helps them feel more secure in the world around them.
3 Your Babe Will Get Smaller
One of the most exciting things about having a baby is seeing how much they will weigh. A lot of families will even have friendly family bets on what the weight of the baby is. What some may not expect is that your newborn will likely not stay that weight for very long. It is quite normal for a newborn to lose up to 10% of their body weight in the days following birth.
This will be confirmed when you have your check up with the doctor a few days following birth. The doctor may advise you to wake them for feedings for a while until they return to their birth weight. At this point, you can likely let them wake on their own.
2 Acne Is Not Just For Teens!
If you thought acne was just for teenagers or women who are going through a hormonal event than you may be shocked when little red spots start to show up on your newborn. Babies are very prone to acne; their skin is very sensitive. A baby has been in utero for 9 months and that was consistently filled with fluid, the outside world can be a shock to their new and delicate skin.
Baby acne is not something that parents need to worry about, it will likely clear up on its own after a while and usually causes no discomfort to the baby. If mom is breastfeeding, she can rub some breastmilk on it to help it clear quicker.
1 Moisturize That Baby!
One of the new jobs mom will have will be as a massage therapist, because that baby needs moisturizer and lots of it. When your baby is born and is no longer in a womb that is filled with fluid, their skin is likely to peel. It will look very much like you did after a trip to the beach with no sunscreen. It is important to moisturize the baby’s skin often, usually after each bath to put some of that moisture back in.
After the bath, lay baby down and have a nice massage. Not you, the baby. This is a great way to apply lotion, relax your baby for bed and it is a wonderful bonding experience.
References: fitpregnancy.com, raisingchildren.net.au