4. Feedings Might Not Be Spaced
You’ve probably heard that your child needs to feed every three hours or so, ensuring that they eat about eight times in a 24-hour period. But babies are not that predictable. While they certainly need to feed eight times, or more, in 24 hours, they tend not to spread those feedings out over the day. In fact, many parents are unprepared for their child to ‘cluster feed’, a phenomenon where your child will feed several times in a row with a few short breaks before going for a longer stretch without eating. In the first week of life, it’s not worth stressing too much about schedules. Feed your child whenever they’re hungry, and remember that breastfeeding drives up your milk supply, which helps you in the long-term.
5. Babies Are Night Owls
If you’re a morning person, we have some hard news for you. Babies are total night owls, and they don’t really care about your sleep deprivation. The reason behind this, according to Dr Brown, is that babies aren’t making melatonin for the first four weeks of their lives. This means they have no circadian rhythm, and are more awake at night. Fun! This does improve over time, so while everything is evening out just work to keep your house light and lively during the day, and quiet and relaxed at night. Also, if your child wakes at night, try to keep the room as dark as you can without stopping yourself from seeing what you need to in order to feed and change nappies.
6. Babies Sneeze And Hiccup, A Lot
There isn’t much that is going to warm your heart like the sound of your baby sneezing or hiccuping, but if these become regular occurrences, many parents become concerned that their child has allergies or reflux. Well, take a few deep breaths, because this is unlikely to be the case. In the first days of life, and even beyond, sneezing babies are pretty common. Babies can’t blow their noses, and they likely still have amniotic fluid in their airways that need to be cleared, according to Dr Brown. As for the hiccups, and overstimulation can cause diaphragm spasms and therefore hiccups. Of course for a baby, overstimulation is a bit of a misnomer as it can occur when they go from sleeping to waking, or from eating to not eating.
7. Everyday Baths Are Not Required
It’s natural that parents worry about how clean their babies are, particularly with nappy blowouts and other poop-related emergencies happening as you struggle to get a handle on it. However, this doesn’t mean bathing needs to happen all the time. When your child’s umbilical cord is still attached, you should only be giving them a light sponge bath, and even then, bathing them three times a week or less is enough. Too much bathing can dry out their skin, so just wipe them clean with a damp sponge or wash cloth.
8. Baby Might Lose Weight
Even babies that are really good eaters can lose as much as one-tenth of their birth weight during the first few days of their lives. Don’t stress, as most babies gain this weight back by the time they’re 10 days old. When babies fall asleep or turn away from either the bottle or the breast as they feed, this weight loss might be even greater. However, just because your child has lost weight does not mean they are necessarily ill or need to be seen by a doctor. The weight loss is normal and expected. Of course, if you’re concerned, talk to your doctor about it, and endeavour with regular feedings.
9. Poop Obsession Is Normal
If you thought life was going to get really exciting after having a baby, you might be disappointed to realise that one of the things you become obsessed with is poop. Yep, poop. Many parents become poop experts when their child is born, happy to discuss and compare poop with other suffering carers. This is probably because diarrhoea can be the first sign your child isn’t well, but it can be hard to tell with a newborn what is and isn’t runny as babies don’t remove water that well from their poop in the early days. The colour of their stools is also quite varied, starting out as black and becoming brown, green and yellow. As a rule of thumb, any earth tones are fine, but others should be discussed with the doc.
10. Your Recovery Matters Too
Probably one of the most important things that your doctor, and others around you, want you to know in the first days of your child’s life is this: You Matter Too. Your recovery is just as important a part of the first days of your child’s life as anything to do with them, but mums often forget this. First-time mums in particular are so caught up in childbirth and early care of their newborn that they forget birth is traumatic. Whether you have a c-section or a vaginal delivery, you are going to be sore and incredibly exhausted. For vaginal births, it pays to ice the area for 24 hours and take regular warm baths to ensure stitches stay pliable. For c-sections, take medication prescribed by your doctor and keep a close eye on your incision site and general health.
What do you think other mums should know about the first week of their child’s life?