To this day, I still remember that surreal feeling of holding my baby for the first time. He had a traumatic birth – getting your shoulders stuck in mom’s pelvis and being tugged out is not the most welcoming experience for any baby. Nonetheless there he was…screaming. Yip, my son screamed for well over ten minutes. I didn’t know what to do. He did eventually settle down and we began the journey of starting life together as a family of three.
No one told me what to expect. My mom had moved to the UK with my dad and nephew; the only family I had was my mother-in-law and my husband. Still no one told me that as a woman I was about to understand how a cow might feel or the emotional turmoil and that frantic feeling of losing myself. What can you expect?
The sleep, feed, nappy cycle
For the first three months your baby will sleep, wake up to get fed, burp, need the diaper to be changed, burp again, and go back to sleep to start the cycle all over. It will feel like this is all you do. Know that you are taking excellent care of your baby. Within six weeks your little one is going to reward your efforts with a smile of joy. In that moment, all the feeding, burping, changing diapers is going to be worth it.
The weight drop
In the first two weeks your baby’s weight will drop a little before going back up. This is normal so don’t worry. As long as your baby’s weight picks up every week even as little as 150grams, you are doing well with feeding.
Jaundice, usually from breastmilk
After several days your baby may develop jaundice which more often than not is a result of breastfeeding. Jaundice is a result of blubirin build up in your baby’s system. Yes, it is safe to breastfeed your baby even when they have jaundice. In fact, you should increase your little one’s feeds. The more they feed, the more they use their bowels which helps their little bodies flush the blubirin out their system. Find a patch of sunlight in your house, place baby with its clothes open or naked on a blanket in the sunlight. The UV rays will help breakdown the blubirin in your baby’s body. Do this for five to ten minutes daily. Jaundice may last as long as six weeks but it will clear.
When the baby sleeps have some ‘me’ time
Your baby will sleep a lot in the first three to six months. Make the most of this time. I have heard some moms talk about how they need a clean house more than sleep. You are going to have to decide how you will spend your time while baby sleeps. You may want to have a shower or bath, clean the house, sleep, watch some TV, and so on. Because sleep deprivation is a reality to most parents affecting hormone levels, relationships, and physical health, I do highly recommend sleeping at least once a day with your baby.
Look after yourself
You will need to become strategic in making time for yourself. Amidst having a baby to care for you still have a household to run and a partner to cherish. Set small achievable goals for yourself. Recall what it is that nourishes your soul and make time for that even if it is as little as ten minutes or half an hour a day. Looking after yourself will help you look after your family.
Everyday take your baby out of the house. Going out with your baby by yourself might be a daunting experience at first but you will get used to it. Make sure that your baby bag is ready well in advance. Feed your baby before you go out and make sure that their diaper is clean. Take the pram for a stroll around the neighbourhood or go to your nearest coffee shop and have something to drink. You could also meet up with a friend and do some window shopping. Practice going out with baby; it will get easier.
Love your baby unashamedly
There is no such thing as spoiling a baby with too much love and attention. The window you have to cuddle your baby with hugs, kisses and snuggles is shorter than you realise. Babies do not know how to be attention seeking or misbehave for that matter. In fact, the more physical contact you have with your baby, the deeper the bond will be between you. Before you know it, your baby will be an independent toddler more interested in exerting their independence than cuddling with you.
Make the most of the first few weeks of your baby’s life and try to enjoy those unique moments!