Sleep, Feed, Poop: What You Didn’t Expect During Baby’s Early Months
There are so many things newborns do (and don’t do) that I didn’t expect. And many things that I didn’t expect even after already having my first-born, Lauren. I was so sleep deprived and tired that I seem to have forgotten about some of the basic things about life with a newborn (how babies sleep, eat and poop). When Will was born, it all came back to me, but I was shocked by how much I forgot! So, to help all the other mums expecting little ones or with newborns, I have put together some of the basics that caught me by surprise.
You will be tired and sleep deprived because babies have different sleep cycles than adults. Babies sleep a lot, but they do not sleep for long periods of time. You will put the baby down, the baby will fall asleep, you will do a few things around the house, get comfortable, lay down and then, surprise! The baby wakes back up. This is just how it goes.
Newborns sleep about 16-17 hours a day, but they also wake up a bunch. They usually don’t sleep for more than 2-4 hours at a time. That means the advice about “sleep while the baby is sleeping” only works if you go to sleep as soon as the baby does. That does not always seem to work, does it? Try to get as much done as you can while the baby is awake, so that you can try to rest while the baby is sleep.
Mums need rest too, but be prepared to wake up far more often in the beginning at night than you are used to. Babies wake up during the night for feedings and because they aren’t used to sleeping for long periods of time. Another thing I did not expect is how my babies all slept better with sound rather than silence. They sell those noise machines for a reason!
You may get frustrated when you hear people talking about how their babies sleep through the night. What they don’t tell you is that sleeping through the night for a baby does not mean the 8 hours adults need. Paediatricians consider “sleeping through the night” to be 5-6 hours. So, if you feed your baby at midnight and he/she stays asleep until 5AM, then your baby is sleeping through the night.
Hang in there, mums! Instead of several short naps, your baby will begin to take a few long naps during the day. And, your baby will one day sleep for more than five hours during the night! Hallelujah!
Babies like to feed. All the time! If you are breastfeeding, you may feel like your babe is constantly attached to your breasts. And, while breastfeeding is completely natural and wonderful, there were still some things that I did not expect.
First, I was confused and frustrated after I gave birth to Lauren because I would try to pump and would only have a few small drops of milk come out. But, then I learned it was because your milk does not come in at first. At first, you have colostrum, which is full of nutrients the baby needs. But, I was not expecting it to be Day 8 before my milk actually came in.
Another thing that happens when your milk comes in is that your boobs become engorged. Your boobs will look like melons. And engorgement is not fun. The solution – breastfeed.
Then, I worried I wasn’t producing enough milk. Most mums feel this way, but experts say we do produce what our babies need. Instead of stressing yourself out about your milk production, try not stress. Focus on taking care of yourself by eating well, sleeping and resting. Pretty soon, you will relax and be able to breastfeed knowing you are giving your baby what he/she needs.
Once you start to feel comfortable, then you may start to feel like you are always feeding your baby. I felt like I was a dairy cow because I had a baby who needed my boobs every two hours! This is because newborns typically eat every two to three hours (this ends up being about 8-12 feedings per 24 hours). And, they can take anywhere from 10-45 minutes each time. That is a whole lot of time during the day that a baby will be stuck to your boob.
Along with constant feedings, you should also be prepared for some mild discomfort at first. Latching on and feeding may result in some pain or even blisters. There are plenty of remedies for these issues, such as nipple creams. However, do look for signs of mastitis (such as fever, tenderness and swelling). I had a mastitis episode where my temperature went up to 40 degree Celsius!
Once you get the hang of it, it can be a special bonding time for you and your little one.
Outside of these surprises, I am happy I breastfed my babies. I breastfed Lauren past 30 months and Georgia for 12 months. She looked at my breasts one day and decided that’s that, she doesn’t want them anymore. The point is, every baby is different and every mother’s situation is different. Breastfeed for as long as it is easy and comfortable for the both of you.
I’m just going to be real with you, mums. Baby poo is weird and different. It is unexpected. The first few times a newborn defecates, it will be a sticky, blackish-greenish, tar-like substance. You will go to change a nappy and see something unfamiliar. Don’t panic. It is normal. This is called meconium.
As babies grow and start to eat more, their poo changes and becomes less like tar. You may also be surprised by how often your new baby defecates. It is pretty common for a new baby to poop after every feeding.
Eventually, babies do start defecating less. And, then, it changes again when you introduce solid foods. Once you get used to something, it just changes. Aw, the life of a mum.
Another nappy changing issue that was unexpected – boys pee goes straight up! After having two daughters, I was surprised the first time I changed Will’s nappy because his pee shot straight up in the air. Keep an extra nappy or washcloth close to the diaper changing station if you have a little boy. It is best to keep it covered while you are cleaning him up and changing him to prevent getting an unwelcomed shower.
Thinking back, it all seems like a blur. Once I got used to less sleep, tons of feedings and weird poo, my babies grew and changed. Sleep patterns change, eating patterns change and you start to potty train. Stay the course, mums!
Now tell me, what surprised you about babies?
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