Congratulations! You did it! Baby is here!
But now what?
The first 6 weeks of adding another member to your family is a busy time! New patterns are being formed and you are learning all about this new little one.
Baby eats HOW much?!
Baby will be eating every 1-3 hours for the first several weeks whether breast feeding or bottle feeding. If your baby is sleeping for long periods of time, be sure to wake them up every 4 hours to eat. This will help baby gain weight well and keep their blood sugar stable. And what goes in must come out, so this means you’ll be changing 8-12 wet and/or dirty diapers per day, so keep those wipes handy!
Your baby’s eating pattern will change at about 2 weeks when a growth spurt happens. Be prepared to feed baby more frequently during this time. Does baby want something to suck on ALL the time? This is pretty normal. If you’d prefer a few baby free moments, a pacifier is an option to help soothe baby, and maybe you can even get some sleep.
Crying, soothing, and swaddling, oh my!
Babies love to be swaddled! It reminds them of being inside the womb. The security of a snug blanket around them decreases the chance they will startle themselves and wake up. They will often sleep for longer periods of time too! When baby sleeps, try to catch a few winks yourself. Keeping up with your rest with give you the physical and mental rest you need to keep up with all the changes that are happening.
Babies typically have a “fussy time” that can get overwhelming if you don’t know what all that crying means. If rocking, feeding, swaddling, and all the usual tricks have been less than successful in calming baby, it may just be the fussy period of the day. Trying a different technique to rock or swaddle baby might work. If not, know this fussy time can be normal and baby will grow out of it. It is also ok to lay baby down in a separate room for a short amount of time so you can take a few breaths!
Skin and cord care-
You may be surprised at how soft and velvety your baby’s skin is. You may also notice that the skin on their hands or feet is flaking or peeling as they adjust to being outside mommy’s tummy. If this happens, keep the skin clean and dry, and check with your pediatrician before using any lotions. Sometimes little white dots called “milk spots” appear on the forehead, nose or chin, or baby may look like they have acne. This usually resolves with time and without treatment.
The umbilical cord will dry up and fall off within 7-10 days. You can clean the cord area with a wet cloth and let it air dry. The use of rubbing alcohol is no longer recommended. If the cord has an odor, bleeding, or you are concerned, call your pediatrician for advice about cord care. The first full bath for baby should happen after the cord has fallen off. Sponge baths are ok until then.
You may have heard how important skin to skin is when baby is born, but did you know it has long-term effects? The benefits of skin to skin include a calmer baby, temperature regulation which babies cannot do on their own yet, and their breathing and blood sugars are better stabilized. Snuggling with your little one enhances bonding and can improve your breastfeeding experience.
If you are bottle feeding, you can still do skin to skin and receive the benefits of being close to your baby. Partners can join in with the snuggles and bonding by having some skin to skin time as well. It benefits the whole family and brings you closer together.
Congratulations again on your little one! And may your first weeks with baby be smooth!
Written by: Lois Perks, Doula Extraordinaire