A stress-free guide to the first few weeks of your newborn’s life
Feeling a bit nervous about coping with your new little person? Just follow our week-by-week guide for a (mostly) stress-free guide to brand new parenting.
“For the past nine months your baby’s been snuggled up somewhere dark and warm and now she’s been brought out into this bright, noisy environment,” says midwife Gail Johnson of the Royal College of Midwives.“So it’s no surprise she cries a lot. In fact for the first week, babies don’t do much more than cry, eat, sleep, poo and possibly puke.”One thing that might be surprising to a new mum is your baby’s poo. “At first it’s a sticky, blacky/green colour that sticks like superglue to her skin,” explains Gail. “Within two to three days, as the milk starts to go through her digestive system it will change to a greeny yellow and in time it will turn to a mustardy colour. Bear in mind that sometimes breastfed babies won’t poo for a couple of days.”
“Your breasts will probably start to tingle soon after your baby’s born,” says NCT breastfeeding counsellor Jules Jones. “Size-wise they’ll stay about the same until three to four days after the birth when most women experience what’s called primary engorgement (getting bigger). This is not because of the milk, it’s down to your lymph system and blood and lasts about a day, so you might find you can’t get your bra on for 24 hours.”
This first week will be a complete blur as days and nights merge into one and you try to get your head around having a tiny person relying on you. “Your midwife will visit you at home within 24 hours of you giving birth,” says Gail, “giving you the chance to ask her lots of questions.” Difficult though it is, try to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. “It’s hard to get any proper rest because you’re always watchful of the next feed,” says Laura, 28, mum to Charlotte, 2 weeks. “It seems the minute I put my head down, Charlotte wakes up hungry again. I’ve now started expressing so at least in the evening my partner can feed her.”
Take paracetamol, which is safe when you’re breastfeeding.
Gail Johnson, midwife, says
“The second week can be a tough one as your baby begins to be awake for longer periods and may be a little more fussy, especially in the evenings,” says Megan Faure, baby development expert and author of Baby Sense (www.hippychick.com). “He’ll be busy trying to focus his eyes and will love your face and familiar voice.”
If you have any nipple soreness now you’re into a breastfeeding routine, it may be that you’re allergic to breast pads, or your skin may be more sensitive to perfumes and other chemicals because of your hormones. Try changing washing powder or lay off using lots of deodorant. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, but if you have any problems, call the NCT breastfeeding helpline on 0870 444 8708 (8am-10pm). If you decide not to breastfeed, your boobs will be leaky now and feel full for about four weeks.
This week try to get out and about with your little one, especially if your partner is still around to help you with car seats, prams and all the extras. “Try to go out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s going to your friend’s, your mum’s or your neighbour’s house for a coffee,” says Hannah, 30, mum to Ben, 12 months. “You’ll really feel like you’ve achieved something.”The 10th day after your baby is born will be the last time your midwife will visit you and the health visitor should then pay a visit. She’ll advise you of your nearest clinic where you can get your baby weighed and checked.
“For the first few weeks, Finlay was waking every two hours to feed, so some nights I was only getting 3-4 hours sleep. My middle and the top of my legs ached, but I found that a cushion behind my back helped, as did a good soak in the bath. I had to have stitches and they were sore but a friend’s tip of a couple of drops of tea tree oil in the bath eased the pain. The hardest part has been getting a mushy baby brain – I’ve become really forgetful so I write lots of lists. The best part is seeing Finlay smile and watching him change every day. If I could do the first six weeks again I’d buy fewer clothes. I’d also ask visitors to bring things to eat to save cooking – one friend bought a box of doughnuts, which went down rather well!”Mandy, 32, mum to Finlay, 11 weeks
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