The First Weeks of Life
Updated: May 3, 2021
Right after you give birth you will probably wonder what it would be like with a baby. Things will be hazy for the first few weeks and there is a couple of things to remember. Obviously not all babies are the same but going off my own personal experience and what i have read from other mum's, there are a handful of things that most babies will do in the first few weeks of life, and here are my tips to dealing with them.
First few nights
The first few nights with my son were hard. I was lacking severely in sleep and i was recovering from my labor and episiotomy. He was constantly hungry and awake during the night which i had a hard time grasping. He also needed constant attention and physical touch which i wasn't used to giving. So the first few nights, in a nutshell, was difficult. As a first time mum at the time, its difficult to understand what the baby needs and why the baby needs it, when you've never looked after a young baby before. It's important to remember that you aren't alone, and it's perfectly okay to ask for help if you need it. My hubby and i worked really well as a team, which i found helped me tremendously. He only had two weeks off of work, but it was long enough for me to find my feet with the baby, and work out what the baby needed and how to help him when he needed it. The first few nights you will be able to learn what your baby needs, and most of the time you will be able to make a mental checklist so you can help the baby quickly. My first tip would be to breathe. The first thing i always do when i am exhausted and the baby starts crying, again, is to take a deep breathe and go through your list. Ask yourself those questions, Is baby hungry? Is baby overtired? Is baby cold? Is baby hot? etc. Once you ask those questions and decide what you believe the baby needs, then you take a breath, and start to do what you need to do. This is the best tip i can give for the first few nights. And it will get harder, and taking deep breaths, and saving those little moments to give yourself some time to think is the best thing to do when you feel foggy.
For the first nights and for the first few weeks, your baby will make different noises and actions that you will start to learn. Baby cues are pretty difficult to understand at first but the more you pay attention the easier they are to handle. My son for example used to cry differently for different things. I have read this is quite normal for babies. My son would cry with a NA sound when he was hungry, and he would often stiffen his whole body and cough numerously in anger until he got a bottle. If he needed a nappy change, his cry was not as hysterical or dramatic as when he was hungry. It was more of a dull and long kind of cry that was deep and lasted until he was changed. His overtired cry was choppy and he would often go red in the face until he was comforted and felt safe and ready to sleep. If he was in some sort of pain, he would cry quite loudly and hoarsely like he was losing his voice. All baby's do different things and all baby's have different cues, so its best to pay attention early and work out fast what they mean. It makes it so much easier in the long run if you learn swiftly what your baby is trying to tell you.
Within the first week or so, your breast milk will start to come in fully and baby will definitely notice that. And as bubba's first growth spurt of many approaches, cluster feeding begins. Cluster feeding is when baby's feeds start to increase at a random time. It could mean how often baby feeds increases, or the amount of milk increases, or how long baby nurses for increases. The reason why baby cluster feeds usually depends on your baby and his/her age. My son started cluster feeding by week three, we discovered it was because the formula he was on just wasn't doing it for him, and because he was having a rapid growth spurt. The only tip i have for cluster feeding is be patient and keep nursing or giving bottles. You know your baby well, and if they get too full, you know when to stop feeding them. For my son i just increased his milk a bit and found that helped him with his hunger. Baby's tummy's empty pretty quickly and it is even more so when they cluster feed. During rapid growth spurts and learning periods, baby's get hungrier faster, as they need the energy to keep learning and keep growing. So increasing their food a little bit, or their nursing time a little bit won't hurt and your baby probably needs it during this cluster feeding time, more than you realise.
One of the first things i noticed about my son when he was born was that he didn't sleep through the night like i thought he would. It was probably a silly hope, that my baby would sleep through the night, but unfortunately he did not. I noticed that my son, woke up lots during the night for feeds and was sleeping longer stretches during the day. This went on for quite a while. When baby's are born, it may take them some time to determine when its night time and when its day time. Newborns are always very sleepy but it doesn't take them long to recognise when its day time and when its night time. My tips for dealing with this particular issue is to make sure baby is around light less during the night. When baby wakes for a feed, try not to turn the light on in the room. A nightlight is really helpful for those night feeds, as they expose baby to less light and they stay sleepy instead of waking fully and thinking its play time. I have a glow dreaming unit (Glow Dreaming Unit) which plays white noise, has a mister and glows a red light in different levels so you can decide which brightness best suits you and bub. I purchased this particular unit much later in my son's life, he was about 11 months when i purchased it in the hope it would help him with his nightmares. And it really did help him, i will be using it for baby number 2 as well as i just think it will be a perfect night light to use and help baby learn what day and night is faster.
This is probably the weirdest one that we pay attention to as mum's, but its important to make sure that your baby's bowel movements are regular and healthy. Baby's first poop will be black and like tar. As the days pass by baby's poop will then turn a mustardy yellow colour and will be a bit grainy. and as baby's tummy regulates, their poop will become like peanut butter. This however is based off what i noticed about my son who was on formula, breastfed baby's poop may be different. My tip with this is to keep an eye on their poop, and discuss it with your doctor. Any issues you find or problems always consult your doctor. My GP informed me that i should only be worried about baby's poop if it is an unusual green colour, has a very odd smell, or has traces of blood in it. Keep an eye out for this stuff and contact your doctor just in case if there are any issues. Another thing to remember and keep an eye out for is baby's weeing habits. A good way to determine if baby is dehydrated is by seeing how much they wee. My GP informed me that a healthy baby wees a good amount. My son was constipated during his first two weeks of life, but his weeing was still very regular so i know he was still getting enough hydration he just needed a bit more to help his bowels and a change of formula. My tip is to keep an eye on baby's nappies and if they are producing lots of wet ones than you're in good shape. My GP allowed me to give my son a little bit of boiled water by syringe in the mouth to help get him some more water. Midwives will also suggest adding about 10mls of extra water to bottles (if formula feeding) to help get some more water into them.
All babies are different and there will be different things affect them. Your baby could be like mine and like to eat lots because he was born big. Your baby could start teething younger, and you may need to find ways to help your baby through that earlier than expected. Your baby may have constipation or colic, and its up to you to work out what your baby needs. Don't be scared to ask for help with baby, or contact a GP if you're concerned. The first few weeks of life are challenging, confusing, tiring and hard, but its all so worth it in the end. Follow my tips or do your own research and find your own if you want to, but either way, find a routine or helpful set of tips/tools to help you navigate your way through those first few weeks of life.