First six weeks with your newborn

What happens to you and your baby in those first six weeks after birth.

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The first six weeks with your newborn are an exciting time but you will notice plenty of changes in both you and your baby. Here we explain what some of these changes mean.

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Week 1

What’s happening to you?

One of your first visitors will be a midwife who’ll visit the day after you come home, weighing your baby and checking on you.

“Your midwife will decide with you how often to visit in the first 10 days,” says Catharine Parker Littler, National Midwifery Director of Midwives Online.

Around day 3-4 you may experience the baby blues’, but this should pass.

What’s happening with feeding your baby?

If you’re breastfeeding, the first few days may be the hardest as feeding can
be painful until your baby latches on properly. “Many mums have trouble,” says Catharine Parker Littler.

If you have problems feeding, call:

  • Your health visitor
  • Your breastfeeding counselor
  • The National Childbirth Trust’s Breastfeeding Line on 0870 444 8708, 8am-10pm.

What’s happening with your baby’s weight?

Your baby may lose up to 10% of his weight in the first few days as he adjusts to his new life. This is normal and by day 10 he should be putting weight on again.

What’s happening with your baby’s poos?

Don’t be surprised to find thick, sticky, greenish-black poo (meconium) in your baby’s first nappies. This means his bowels are working normally. After a couple of days, the poos will turn browny-green.

Week 2

What’s happening to you?

“This is the time to focus on your own and your baby’s health and forget about things like housework,” says Patricia Carswell, life coach to new mums.

It’s important to look after yourself as your body is still recovering from birth. Bleeding can last a few weeks as your uterus contracts back to its normal size.

What’s happening with you baby’s sleeping?

Your baby will be having countless short spells of sleep – sleeping for around 15-16 hours a day.

What’s happening with your baby’s poos?

Your baby’s poos will start to look more yellow and have a loose, grainy texture – a bit like mustard! If you’re bottlefeeding, the poo is likely to be thicker and may smell stronger. If you have any queries, ask your health visitor who’ll pop round for a visit after 10 days.

Week 3

What’s happening to you?

This is often the week partners go back to work and visitors tail off. Even the most basic things, like getting washed and dressed, can feel like a challenge.

“Set yourself easy goals,” says Patricia.

What’s happening with feeding your baby?

Your baby may suddenly seem very hungry – in fact, many babies have a growth spurt around 3 weeks (and then again at 6 weeks). He’s likely to gain around 6-8oz
in weight each week.

What’s happening with your baby’s crying?

Your baby will now start to have longer periods when he’s awake, and he may be more fretful and grizzly than before. If your baby is crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days in one week, he may have colic.

Week 4

What’s happening to you?

This is a good time to start getting out regularly with your newborn. Your health visitor can tell you about baby massage classes and mother and baby groups.

What’s happening with your baby’s sleep?

Your baby will naturally start to settle into his own sleep patterns – although they may be hard to spot. Make sure his room temperature stays between 16°C – 20°C.

What’s happening with taking your baby out?

New babies are not yet able to fully control their body temperature. Dress him in layers that you can take off easily, so he doesn’t get too hot or cold. “Feel your baby’s chest or the back of his shoulders,” says Catharine Parker Littler. “He should be warm to the touch – not hot or cold or sweaty. Don’t feel his hands, feet or face to gauge temperature.”

Week 5

What’s happening to you?

If you’re still feeling the ‘baby blues’ at this stage, talk to your health visitor or GP.

“If you’re tired, low, feel tearful, have a change in appetite or can’t sleep for a few days, these may be signs of postnatal depression (PND),” says Liz Wise, a PND counsellor.

The Association for Postnatal Illness has more info, and you can call their helpline on 020 7386 0868.

What’s happening with your baby’s ‘talking’?

Your baby may start cooing and gurgling. He’ll love hearing you talk back to him and giving him lots of eye-to-eye contact.

What’s happening with your baby’s crying?

All babies cry but it can take some time to work out whether he’s hungry, thirsty, overtired, too hot or cold. “Start tuning in to your baby and you’ll gradually learn what his different cries mean,” says Catharine Parker Littler.

If you’re struggling with your baby’s crying, call the confidential helpline Cry-sis on 08451 228669 (9am-10pm, 7 days a week).

Week 6

What’s happening to you?

Week six is like a watershed for many mums, as you finally start to feel you’re taking control of your life. Now is the time to focus on your relationship with your partner. “Set aside 10 minutes a day to talk to your partner about anything but your baby, says Patricia Carswell.

What’s happening with your baby’s smiling?

Look out for first smiles especially when cuddling, tickling and playing with him.

What’s happening with your baby’s sleeping?

By this stage, many babies (but not all) start to sleep for five or six hours through the night. Try to make sure he’s not getting used to falling asleep on the breast, sucking a dummy or being rocked. Encourage him to learn to self-settle by putting him down to sleep when he’s still awake. 

Mums’ stories:

“We ask friends to bring a meal round”

“If family or friends insist on coming over, then ask that they bring a meal. Then, when they arrive and offer to help, suggest the washing up or laundry!”

Carmel, 36, mum to Aiden, 9, and Bryson, 4

“We tried to make sure our baby was used to daily noise”

“Don’t creep around your baby while he’s sleeping during the day. If he’s used to daily noise, day and night sleeping patterns will come more easily.”

Louise, mum to Alex, 2, and Alfie, 6 weeks

“My baby cries whenever I leave the room”

“My baby cried whenever I left the room, so I put her in the car seat on the floor in the bathroom. That way she could see me in the shower or even on the loo!”

Belinda, 28, mum to Maria, now 3, and Hugh, 6 months

“We keep the changing bag ready at all times”

“So you can leave the house quickly, keep your changing bag topped up with everything that you need for a trip out.”

Flo, 32, mum to Ariel, 3, and Davina, 2

“I think of my baby’s crying as talking”

“I thought of my baby’s crying as talking – that way it didn’t feel as if he was always upset.”

Veronique, 38, mum to Ray, 2

“A routine worked best when getting our baby to sleep”

“Don’t assume babies just fall asleep when they get tired. After a few weeks, we were still struggling to pacify a very tired Sally every evening. Eventually, a routine of bath, song and milk in her bedroom worked.”

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Maureen, 42, mum to Sally, 5, and Tanya, 3

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