9 things to know about your newborn
The early days after your little one is born are hard! You are probably going to feel tired, stressed and lonely (yes, even though you are at the beck and call of your baby’s cry, loneliness can occur!). But these days will soon be behind you…in fact most moms wish they had known how fast they would fly by and regret not taking enough photographs or making notes of what baby did and when!! It seems that with a first baby most moms stress over every little thing, from changing nappies to wondering if baby is crying more than usual Below are 9 things about newborns which may help you relax and enjoy this precious, fleeting time with your little one and not sweat the small stuff!!
1: Funny looking!
Newborns can be funny looking! If you had a natural childbirth, do not be alarmed if your baby’s head appears to be a little squished from his journey through the birth canal! Apparently when I was born, my head was shaped like a rugby ball because I was lying sideways in the womb and pressing on my mom’s hip bones! All she had to do, was turn me onto a different side every time she put me down to sleep (kinda like a spit roast!) and lo and behold, my head shape is now normal (at least I think so!!). Your baby may also be wearing a little bodysuit of fine hair, called lanugo and be rather puffy-faced. Within a few days, your baby will start to resemble the beautiful baby you imagining
The first thing you should be aware of is that newborns sleep a lot, but unfortunately they do this in short stretches! Usually they need to feed every 2 to 3 hours, so you may feel that feeding your baby is a never-ending process! To weather this, try to rest when your baby is sleeping, preferably right there next to your baby so that when it is time for the next feed, you just have to lean over, pick up baby and start feeding! The first 6 weeks are the hardest for you to get through, but soon they, too, will fade away as your baby sleeps longer between feeds.
Do not expect your baby to be that one good baby on this planet who never cries!! Babies cry a lot!! It is their only means of communication. It is the only way they can tell you when they are hungry, when they are uncomfortable or when they just need the comfort of being in your arms. Once you learn to read your baby’s signals, life will be much smoother as you will be able to satisfy your baby’s needs before he or she lets out those blood curdling yells that sets your teeth on edge!
4: Out & About
Get out and about! You do not have to stay home with a new baby, but you do have to exercise common sense when you take baby out. Keep your little one out of the sun, try to avoid sick people and crowded closed-in spaces where germs can abound. Try to avoid toddler birthday parties (toddler’s are exposed to a lot of illnesses and your baby’s immune system isn’t yet well developed). Going for a walk with your baby in his or her pram will do both of you the world of good!
5: Dry skin
Newborns get dry skin which is flaky. Don’t panic…this is normal! Initially your little one’s skin may be soft and silky but that changes. Remember that for 9 months your baby has been surrounded by amniotic fluid in your womb. When his or her skin is then exposed to air, it dries out and will peel and flake off. Again, do not panic….it’s normal! Little pink bumps, nappy rash and even little pimples on baby’s face can appear. All perfectly natural and no need to stress about this. You can use a hypoallergenic fragrance free lotion if you so desire.
6: Breast or Formula?
If you have chosen to breastfeed, it is tough to know how much milk your baby is getting. Your newborn will lose 5-8% of his or her birthweight within the first week but should regain this weight during the second week. And weighing a breastfed baby is the only way, at first, of keeping track of whether or not they are drinking enough. After 5 days or so, one can also use the number of nappies as a gauge – there should be 5-6 wet nappies a day and at least 1 or 2 poops. It is, of course, much easier for those babies who are formula fed as one knows exactly how much they are drinking and a lot of new moms opt for formula feeding for precisely this reason. You don’t need to feel bad if this is the way you have chosen!
7: Soft Spot
No need to fear the “soft spot” – it can actually take quite a bit of handling! Of course you do have to be gentle. And you can sometimes see it pulsating because it is directly over blood vessels which cover the brain. This is totally normal and doesn’t mean your baby has high blood pressure!
8: Bathing baby
photo by Lydia of GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography
Sponge baths are the way to go until the umbilical cord drops off. Why? Because it is best to keep the umbilical cord dry and also because newborns don’t get dirty!! Sponging off their faces, under their arms and their “underneaths” is more than adequate. If the umbilical cord does get wet, pat it dry and try to leave it exposed to the air above the nappy. And if the stump bleeds a little when the cord falls off, that is okay, too as it is normal and should stop with a little bit of pressure, just as when a scab falls off. Once the umbilical cord stump has fall off, you can then give your baby a “full” bath. With the many “bath cradles” available, it makes it easy for you to have both hands free to wash your baby whilst he lies on the “cradle”. If you don’t have a bath cradle, then a firm grip on baby with one arm under his neck and your hand holding around his arm near his armpit forms a human cradle for him. Of course, you only have the one free hand to bathe baby, but he is so small that this is fine. If a full bath is done, remember to pat dry the “belly button” area as it will still be sensitive.
9: Smiles and Babble
The experts will say that smiles and coos don’t usually happen in the first few weeks! But a lot of new moms swear that they see that first little smile after the first week (and it’s NOT wind, they say!!). By 6 weeks of age, though you will definitely be rewarded with smiles and babble-talk, even if those first few smiles which warmed the cockles of your heart came from baby having a wind!
I hope that by knowing these 9 little things, it will help you to relax as a first time mom and enjoy those first few weeks with your newborn. Motherhood is one of the greatest gifts given to a woman and it is important that you look upon this very special time without fear or trepidation. If you just aim to do the best for your baby, you will be the best mother that your baby could wish for!
Till the next in the series of “Small Talk” I remain yours in newborn photography,