Tips to help you cope with your newborn

The first few weeks with your new baby can be stressful and overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Sister Ann Richardson outlines some tips to help you cope during those first few weeks.

Ecstatic as you are about the birth of your new baby, it’s a daunting feeling leaving the safety of the hospital or birthing unit where help was on hand around the clock. Nursing sister and parenting expert Ann Richardson provides tips and advice to help you cope with your newborn during the first few weeks.

What to expect from your baby’s digestive system

  • Babies digestive systems are very immature for the first twelve weeks at least, and they may be prone to digestive disturbances such as lactose, soya or cow’s milk protein sensitivities, acid reflux or excessive gassiness.
  • Discuss your baby’s digestive symptoms with your health care provider so that solutions can be found if necessary. Consider giving your baby the probiotic, bifidum bacterium, which helps the digestive system. This is especially important if you’ve had a C-Section.
  • Breast milk is your baby’s natural food and your breast milk will always suit your baby. Breastfeeding is a skill that has to be learnt – for both mom and newborn baby. Give it time and patience and it will come right.

Your newborn’s sleeping patterns

  • For the first two weeks, your little one can’t really differentiate between day and night, and will most likely spend most of her time sleeping. Babies have good and bad days (and nights) just like us, so there’ll be periods of time where she’ll cry and you won’t know how to fix it.
  • The good news is that from around two to six weeks of age, she should start to show some signs of having one longer stretch of sleep between one of her night feeds (usually in the first part of the evening). Babies’ nervous, digestive and skin systems are very immature when they are born, only maturing at around 12 – 14 weeks of age. If your baby was born prematurely, you’ll need to take those additional weeks into account.

Download your newbor routine chart here.

Newborn babies become overstimulated quickly

  • Your newborn’s brain can’t inhibit or shut out excess sensory stimuli, which is why many young babies become over-stimulated and at around 10 days to two weeks some begin crying for prolonged periods, commonly known as colic.
  • Ensure your baby’s sleep space is calm and keep stimulation to a minimum during the day. Just being alive is enough stimulation for a new baby, especially if she was premature.
  • Keep an eye on her awake time – she will manage about 45 minutes before becoming over stimulated and fussy.
  • Always swaddle your new baby in a cotton stretchy blanket, which provides calming deep pressure. Swaddling also inhibits those “drifting to sleep jerks” which may startle her awake.
  • Encourage self-calming by non-nutritive sucking (provided it’s not feed time), rocking or swaddling, and avoid putting her headfirst into the crib as this can stimulate her into an awake state again.

Take care of yourself

  • Don’t neglect yourself – eat properly (loads of protein-rich foods to encourage milk production and heal your body) and don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated, even if you don’t feel hungry or thirsty.
  • Make an effort to get up and get dressed every morning. If you’ve had a caesarean section, remember that it’s major surgery and you’ll need plenty of time to rest and recuperate.
  • Limit visitors to a specific time of the day, so that you aren’t inundated all day.
  • Be realistic about the fact that you now have a tiny baby to care for – in other words, not much sleep for a while. Don’t worry if you feel as though you are in a ‘fog’ to start with, and expect to hit a bit of a dip in your physical and emotional state when your baby is about two weeks old – this is normal.
Sister Anne’s top tips
  • Let your baby lead the way, she will guide you as to her needs (not demands).
  • Limit the separation period between you and your baby.
  • Don’t give her supplementary feeds or water for at least the first four weeks.
  • Never make your baby wait for a feed, unlesss she’s just looking for comfort.
  • Eat well, sleep when your baby sleeps and relax.
  • Take time to learn and trust your instincts – they are there.
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