As a woman pregnant with your first child it could be completely excusable if your focus was directed solely on your pregnancy and the birth of your baby. The birth of your little bundle of joy could be the start of a dream come true for you. But the truth of the matter is that babies and children are hard work, too, and you need to remove your rose-tinted glasses and face reality, especially for the first week of your new baby’s life. The first week could be somewhat of a shock to you both emotionally and physically, so be prepared.
Don’t be alarmed to see your newborn clenching his fists, holding his elbows and knees bent and keeping his arms and legs tightly pulled in at the front of his body. He is merely mimicking the foetal position in which he was in during his last months in your womb.
Sleeping and feeding
It’s during the first few days that your baby will sleep incessantly, however, he will wake very often for feeds. Depending on the child, his sleeping pattern will vary from between 10 and 21 hours a day, but he will wake for feeding in between eight and 12 times in a 24 hour cycle.
This means two things for you: fatigue from sleep deprivation, and very sore nipples if you are breastfeeding.
As far as the fatigue goes, you need to try to catch 40 winks every time your new baby does. It’s not ideal but it is certainly better than nothing.
When it comes to breastfeeding, this can be a very difficult, frustrating and extremely painful time for you. You may find your baby is crying and troubled because he is hungry and struggling to latch. Try not to let this upset you as your new bundle will sense that, and the whole situation will become worse. Just keep trying and if you still have no joy, ask a friend to help, or see your clinic sister. Keep at it for as long as possible as we all know the benefits of breastfeeding for both your baby and your pocket!
Baby’s initial weight loss
Don’t let it surprise you if junior loses between five and eight percent of his birth weight during the first week. Don’t worry! You are not starving him! This is quite normal and is simply because newborn babies flush out excess body fluid that they carried into this world with them.
Nappy changes in this first week often cause new moms great distress. This is because you may not be prepared for the large, black, tar-type, meconium stools that are part and parcel of baby’s first few days.
Prime yourself for a possible flood of emotions, from excessive happiness one minute to a depressive flood of tears the next. This often happens to women within a few days after giving birth and it’s something you cannot blame yourself for. Consider the hormonal changes that have gone on in your body since conception, culminating in the process of giving birth.
It may be one thing to be relaxed and laid back with your new baby, but there are certain areas where routine helps everyone in the long run. This strongly applies to baby’s sleeping. As far as possible it’s always best that baby has his own cradle where he is put to sleep each time.
When he wakes at night ensure you do no more than is necessary, such as feed him, burp him and change his nappy. Keep the lights dim and don’t play with him. Just put him straight back down in his cradle to sleep. He has to learn that night time is for sleeping, not playing.
But during the day wake your newborn born baby after short naps and play with him so he can learn that daytime is for being awake and playing.