The Newborn - What to expect and look out for.

This is such an exciting yet daunting time for any parent as the reality hits - you are a parent! 

For some, you may find that you simply take to motherhood like a duck to water OR you may find that your first few weeks are very unsettling…so in order to help you through this very momentous time in your life, let’s take a step back and start at the beginning:

WHAT DOES YOUR BABY LOOK LIKE?

  • You may notice that the genitals and breasts seem rather swollen. This is quite normal as it is due to hormonal changes. This shall subside over time.
  • Your baby may have sticky black stools for the first few days – this is known as meconium and again nothing to worry about – quite normal.
  • Due to the change in environment your baby’s skin may initially be a bit dry or even scaly.
  • Milia – these are little white spots and are often found on the face, around the nose. Whatever you do, do not squeeze them as they are not pimples. It’s normally hormonal and they shall disappear on their own.
  • There may be what is called “Mongolian spots” at the back of your babies lower back – these tend to resemble bruises or blue like marks. They will fade away.
  • You may have heard of “Stork Marks” or “pressure marks”? These marks are often found on the eyelids or the nape of the neck. These tend to take a bit longer to fade away (anything up to around 9 months).
  • If you have any concerns – be sure to discuss them with your Doctor / sister when you go for your checkups. 

CORDCARE:

  • Once your baby enters the world the cord needs to be cut (this is sometimes done by your partner – if that is part of your birthing request). A plastic clamp is securely placed on the stump and remains there for approximately 2-3 days.
  • The cord normally takes approximately 7-14 days before it dries up and falls off, leaving a cute little belly button.
  • Be sure to clean the cord with each change to avoid infection. Exposing it to air also helps the process. Be careful not to let it rub or chafe against any clothing as this could aggravate it.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor about the latest products on the market that you can use to clean the cord with each change or after bathing. Make sure you clean all over the stump right to the root of the cord.
  • Do not worry about bathing your baby while the cord is still secure. Just ensure that you dry the area thoroughly before using the suggested product.

ADJUSTING TO YOUR NEW LIFESTYLE:

It is important to accept the fact that there are some dramatic changes that are going to occur within the first few weeks. Try not to get too overwhelmed and most importantly remember that your opinion counts.

You may find that everyone just “pops-in” to visit. This can be extremely tiring for you – the new mom. A good way to get around this is to send out an email or text to all friends and thank them for the well wishes and interest, however for the first couple of weeks while you and your partner get settled in with baby, visiting will only be for close family. You can even offer to have a day where everyone can come and view the baby. That way you can save yourself from feeling guilty when someone calls unexpectedly.

You may find that friends, family, neighbours etc. all want to tell you what to do, how they did it etc. Again this can be rather frustrating, but remember they are just sharing their excitement and experiences with you. The best way is simply to let them talk and then follow your own method. Take from them what you need and if need be clarify with your doctor. A lot of advice can tend to be “old-wives-tales”.

You will definitely feel tired as your routine seems to be out of sync, especially during the first few weeks. As you get to know and understand your baby so will you adapt and create your own routine.
Don’t feel bad about getting your partner or a family member / friend to help from time to time. It is good to have a break. You need the rest too.

Remember it is quite normal to wonder if you are:

  • feeding enough or too much;
  • bathing correctly;
  • holding the baby correctly;
  • swaddling properly;
  • winding correctly;
  • And mostly - if you shall ever get it right? 

The best thing to do is to speak to your doctor and get his/her advise. You can also speak to your pharmacist or medical advisor at the clinic. Make a list so that you don’t forget any of these questions. Also, trust your instincts – you will know if something is not quite right. 

TIPS TO CONSIDER:

  • When you feel like you simply “are doing it all wrong” – stop. Often, just taking a deep breath & relaxing, will help you to calm yourself and get your head around what simply “feels right”. Remember Mother Nature has equipped you with everything that you need.
  • Remember that your little one feels your moods – so if you are all worked up, you inevitable will pass this on to your little one and yes you will have a screaming baby on your hands.
  • No you are not spoiling him or her by holding and loving…you cannot spoil them in the first few months. Talk to your baby –they know your voice – they have heard it constantly over the past month.

If you are still not sure what to do, pick up the phone and call your doctor, midwife, mom or friend. Don’t get yourself all worked up. Rather find the answers that you are looking for.
Lastly – feel reassured that you are not the only mom to be feeling this way. Be confident in the knowledge that hundreds of moms and dads have been in exactly the same predicament – and the good thing…they all managed. So shall you. So be kind to yourself.

BATH TIME:

That first bath can feel rather overwhelming. Just remember that for nine months your baby has been in water, so bathing should not be a strange or unusual experience for your baby. Instead it most likely will be a fun and soothing experience being placed back into the water.

NB: Never leave your baby unattended while bathing (not even for a minute). Make sure you have everything you need during bath time at your fingertips. The last thing you want to do is leave your baby unattended. 

USEFUL TIPS:

  • Make a list of all the items you need for each bath. 
  • Place the list on a wall, inside a cupboard, on a door. Especially for the first few times until you have your routine in order.
  • Don’t be scared to place your baby in a comfortable deep bath (placing your baby in 2cm of water will only cause them to cry and complain as they cannot kick and splash) – remember that while in utero your baby loved to move around. Also ensure that the water is warm (as it was in utero). 
  • Bath time should be fun and seen as a great way to interact with your baby.
Newborn

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