Being a first time mummy is not only daunting because it doesn’t come with a manual but it’s overwhelming with what people tell you, what you read, what you take in and choose to do, and then ultimately how your baby reacts or responds. Every newborn baby is different and what works for one doesn’t work for another. There is that thing called mother instinct and the mother knows best, which is FACT, so you must do as you think and feel is best and right, but there are also those little things you learn along the way that you wish you knew from the beginning! So..whilst its been nearly 6 years since I’ve had a newborn, here are some of my 1%-ers that made a big difference for me.
- Wrapping your newborn baby
Wrapped babies sleep better. Newborns have what’s called a moro reflex for the first 3 or so months from birth, which makes them have random hand movements which can disturb their sleep. Even though it may appear that they don’t like it at the beginning, there are many benefits of doing it, in particular better sleep patterns. I have seen and heard many mothers being totally against this for their newborns because their newborns cry when they are wrapped, but at least you can hug them and comfort them until they are asleep, and they largely remain asleep. Speak to the nurses in hospital about this and get their views, but it was definitely a winner for me, for both children, although with Kristina (baby #2) she was stubborn at times and I allowed her to have one arm out around week 3-4.
- Hold and cuddle your baby as much as you want
Don’t listen to anyone, you can hold and cuddle your baby has much as you want. Some babies need more cuddles than others, James was far less reliant on me for cuddles than Kristina. Whilst routines are important, you shouldn’t get caught up on these straight away. I had a routine for my babies from a sleep and bath perspective as best as I could but it wasn’t until 6 months that anything really worked. Cuddling doesn’t mean your baby is awake (as refer to my next point) they could be sleeping on you during this time, especially in the first 6 weeks or so.
- Awake time between 1-2 hours
Newborns up to the age of 6 even 12 weeks shouldn’t be awake longer than 1-2 hours which includes feed time! OMG I know that means totally no rest of mummy right. The reason for this is because if your baby becomes overtired due to being awake for too long (and it will happen), you will struggle to get them to sleep – sometimes for hours. So I know you may get excited especially when you have friends and family over because they will want to hold and see the baby, remember the baby’s priority is sleep and milk in the first 6 weeks, not socialising. Every baby is different though so give take either side. James would last 2 hours maximum, Kristina struggled with 1-1.5 hours. This is totally the hardest part to master.
- Ask for help and let people help
Being a first time mum I wanted to do everything and sometimes I was against it when people wanted to help me (mainly family members / grandparents etc). Very quickly however I accepted the help, and lifted my shield of “I am the mum so I can do everything” – as ultimately it gave me a chance to rest and do stuff for myself or around the house, after all the baby had me over night – as there was not much offering at that hour of the night 🙂 Looking back though, I did struggle a lot when Kristina came along (19 months apart), James was a very jealous baby and my husband was working many late nights, so I wish I asked for more help. So if you can, do it, ask for it, motherhood is not supposed to be done alone.
- Sleep when your baby sleeps (at least try)
At least for one sleep of the day for the three months or so (I chose the first sleep of the day), try to sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t over commit yourself in the first month or three, the sleep deprivation can be quite taxing, and you need as much energy as possible to enjoy your little newborn and also try and feel normal despite ridiculous amount of hormones still circulating throughout your body. At the beginning this was a daily thing for me, then it became an every second day thing for at least the first 6 months. Oh and regarding over committing, one thing I couldn’t keep up with was cleaning the house, so I got a cleaner to help out once a week which was and still is the best investment ever – despite them not being as good as me, they were definetely more reliable, and it made me feel better that I had a clean house. And feeling good is so important.
- Get a Script ready for Antibiotics – Mastitis
If you choose to breastfeed, there is a chance you may get mastitis, which is bloody painful and awful where your milk ducts in your breasts (one or both) get blocked. If you know the early signs which include pain and lumps in breasts, skin redness, flu-like symptoms, fever – quickly get yourself to a doctor for a prescription for antibiotics, or even better get your obstetrician to pre write you a script, so all you need to do is get to a chemist. Also keep feeding or expressing, as this will also release the pain and blockage. Fresh (smelly) cabbage also works a treat too!! The first time I had it with James I thought I was run down and it was winter so I put it down as a cold, and I got very sick. The next 20 times I got it, the minute I felt my muscles aching, I knew it was Mastitis coming, and after 2-3 days of the antibiotics and cabbage it was gone, got it early.
- Maternal & Child Health Line
In Melbourne, Victoria we are so lucky to have access to a Maternal Health line 24 hours where there are qualified maternal and child health nurses on the other end of the phone that can help you diagnose a non severe problem (for example there is a pink spot on my baby’s nose) and put you at ease or recommend you seek professional advice. You should ring this line daily if you need to, I certainly did, and this resulted in less doctor / hospital visits. The Maternal and Child Health Line Tel: 132 229 – available 24 hours a day for the cost of a local call throughout Victoria. Use them!
- The 5 different baby cry’s (reference https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunstan_Baby_Language)
According to Dunstan, there are five universal words or sound reflexes used by newborn babies – aged between o and 6 weeks. If you can work these out you will be able to understand what your newborn really wants. These sounds helped me a lot with baby number 2, as she suffered from reflux, so I was able to keep on top of her issues (most of the time) by understanding her sounds / crys.
Neh (I’m hungry) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Neh” to communicate its hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.
Owh (I’m sleepy) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Owh” to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like a yawn.
Heh (I’m experiencing discomfort) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Heh” to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that it needs a fresh nappy. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.
Eairh (I have lower gas) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eairh” to communicate they have an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestines tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso. This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.
Eh (I need to be burped) – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eh” to communicate that it needs to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.
I hope you find my 1%-ers helpful. Remember every baby is different and what worked for me may not necessarily work for you, but it may be worth a try! Most importantly, enjoy the precious newborn stage as it goes so quick.