I didn’t know anything about babies before I got pregnant. They are these interesting creatures full of mystery. They need us to be there for them and I’ve learned little things about babies that have kept me sane in my new mommy role. I figured I’d share them with you!
The first thing that happens after a baby is born is skin to skin; “the golden hour.” The nurses put your baby on your chest as soon as the baby takes its first breath. It is such an amazing, powerful bonding moment. I was told at birthing class that if you put a baby that was just born on your tummy they would find their way up to your chest, slowly, but their instinct would take them there! I thought that was completely fascinating.
Skin-to-skin is very important for the baby’s development, mommy and daddy! Your baby will recognize your scent, listen to your heartbeat and literally needs skin-to-skin to grow.
Mommy, if you plan on breastfeeding, your body will also release hormones while in the golden hour to let your boobies know that it’s time to get to work!
Daddy, it’s so important for you to get that skin-to-skin too! The moment your life will change forever.
Check out this tired mama!
BABY ON THE SECOND DAY…IS A WHOLE NEW BABY
Your babe on the first day is probably just sleeping and resting quietly on your chest. I remember the nurses that kept telling me “your baby will be very different tomorrow.” I didn’t understand what that meant until Oliver was a completely new baby… indeed! Holy S***!
He was crying every time I’d put him down, even though he was swaddled and I was just so exhausted, I didn’t even think that perhaps babies didn’t want to be put down in the first place. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I would ask the nurse to help me and she’d just attempt to burp him a little. He’d quiet down for a few minutes and as soon as she’d leave the room…he’d cry again. I was lethargic and delusional.
The next morning, another nurse came in and EXPLAINED to me that they crave skin-to-skin even more on the second day and some babies really want to stay close to you, at all times. It’s like a personality, some babies are like that, some babies aren’t. All babies are different and Oliver was what they call a “cuddler.” So the nurse said I should’ve unswaddled him and put him on my chest. I thought that would’ve been a helpful tip if I had known in advance.
On the second day, they can also get hungry but my milk hadn’t come in yet…Needless to say, I was so upset and felt defeated. Looking back, please please please momma, don’t be so hard on yourself. *hug* It will come! So, I gave Oliver an organic formula that the hospital had provided. Their little tummies are so small at birth, so they only need a very small amount of food. I thought that Oliver was just hungry and that’s why he wouldn’t settle but I learned even later on, that it’s not always about food and we tend to just feed them right away when they just want to be soothed.
FEEDINGS EVERY TWO TO THREE HOURS
Here’s a funny thing: In France, if your baby has a good initial weight, we don’t wake the baby up to feed at night – we let them wake up on their own. I think it’s a preference. Although, I have read more than once that a newborn can experience not being able to get all the energy needed to wake up and let you know they’re hungry, especially if formula-fed as it’s heavier on their tummy(no that’s not SIDS).
Oliver woke up to let me know he was hungry, that’s for damn sure. Here’s where I had no choice anyway; he was 6lbs 6oz, so I had to wake him so that he could sustain his weight. I had to make sure he got full feedings which is really hard as they fall asleep while they’re feeding or physically can’t take a lot of food till at least 7-8 weeks. For more information about full feedings or sleep training basics (which comes later) click here.
Long story short, be prepared to feed often! It is probably the most challenging part of the first months. The good news is as soon as your baby gains his initial birth weight (babies lose weight the first few days and it’s normal) you won’t have to wake them anymore! Although, you also want to make sure they have full feedings so they can sleep through the night. So if your baby didn’t eat enough through the day, you’ll have to dream feed or wake them up from their nap!
I remember paying very close attention to the whole swaddling business at the hospital. It definitely took a couple of tries and when your baby is screaming, it’s not easy. Oliver hated having his arms swaddled so I’d keep them out but I didn’t know that they get startled by their little arms so it actually wakes them up…! it’s like little spasms…! Swaddling mimics your tummy. Your baby did spend 9 months of his life in there! It’s hard for them to not feel all tight and cozy.
Cluster-wh-what? Literally had no idea, no one told me that a baby can eat hours and hours within the first few weeks after being born. It’s a mix of a growth spurt with “holy moly” I love milk and not taking full feedings. So they eat – non-stop – and the hardest challenge you have as a mom, is to feed them their whole meal, at each meal, which should be every two-three hours. I just remember being glued to the couch for so long and now that I look back, it actually went by really fast which grounds me today to really enjoy every moment with Oliver.
I was so excited for Oliver’s first bath because I remembered my dad always saying how I loved bath time and seeing him bathe my little sister. It is just an amazing bonding time and babies love it (usually). I found out that you can only bathe them once their umbilical cord falls off and is all healed. Make sure you have everything ready and set to bathe and dry your baby. I would set up towel, cream, diaper, PJ so it’s all in reach of a hand. Don’t ever leave your babe unattended or even move away for a second. You never know.
I had no idea babies had soft spots on top of their heads. It’s so a baby can go through the birth canal! Nature is really well made. You’re not supposed to touch it and I was def paranoid and quite stressed every time I may have held him a little too hard…but you know, first mom type of thing! If it makes you nervous when people hold your newborn, just let them know and always ask people to wash their hands before holding your baby!
Another fascinating aspect of babies that I learned was that they don’t breathe through the mouth during the first few months! Only through the nose!!! Isn’t that crazy?
It’s funny how I learned about the not-so-fun stuff later on! I guess it’s a good thing….or not….because when someone told me about sleep regression, I was going to have a panic attack! I felt like everything I was teaching Oliver as far as sleeping didn’t matter…but of course, it does! Teaching healthy sleep habits that also work for you is vital for the household.
Sleep regression is when a baby goes through a series of changes in their sleep cycle and usually wakes up 2x as more often. The first major sleep regression is when they go from deep sleep to light sleep instead of just deep sleep only. So until their little brain processes, they tend to wake up when light sleep comes.
Also, when your baby learns new milestones, like rolling over, most likely you may notice your baby waking up in the middle of the night. Why? Because they want to practice! They’re so excited that they learned something new, that they want to make sure they don’t forget. To ease those wake-ups, practice as much as you can with your baby’s new milestones during the day! Also, The app The Wonder Weeks is amazing for the few first months to understand what’s going on.
Once they get older, if your baby is already sleeping through the night and experiences sleep regressions, it means that they have new sleep needs!
Also, if you’re baby is a little older and you’re curious about sleep training, here’s how I gently sleep trained Oliver. Click here.
PARENTHOOD IS A CONSTANT LEARNING PROCESS
I hope you found these little takeaways helpful to your own parenting journey! I also found this amazing website called Think Baby, they answer lots and lots of questions to very interesting topics.