Week 1

The hormonal highs and lows of the first week can seem like a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you are adjust to being a family.

Go slow! Friends and family are great and if they ask ‘what can I do?’ have a list of jobs handy for them. The supportive people will gladly help and if you don’t see some of them again they weren’t there for you.

Remember, your little bundle has taken the same journey (long or short) as mum. Babies often take a few days to become more alert and aware of their surroundings. This behaviour often coincides with coming home.

Feeling dazed and confused by so much conflicting advice and information?

Parent from your heart. Believe in yourself and trust your instincts. You know what feels right for you and your baby!

For all new mums wondering why their brain feels like it has turned to mush since having a baby:

It’s been proven that in the early days a mum’s brain tunes into that of their new baby, as they try to get in rhythm with each other. Needs for both are simple: eat, feed and sleep! No need for logic, science or maths. This too will pass and as your baby develops the ‘fog’ will clear.

Some practical info on how to bath your little one:

It’s a good idea to make your home a nest for your new family for a couple of weeks, simply adjusting and getting to know each other in your new roles.

Value your role and your partner’s Both are equally as important and your baby needs both of you. If you are parenting by yourself try to have a trusted adult available to support you and your needs.

ASK FOR HELP – this is a strength, not a weakness! It takes a couple to make a baby but a village to raise a child (I paraphrase).

Some practical info on how to care for your little one’s umbilical cord:

Frequent feeding helps establish your milk supply so by six weeks your body knows just what to do and so do you and your baby. Six weeks to learn this new skill –not bad for so short a time.

You will not make a rod for your own back by holding your baby – you cannot spoil a newborn. They have needs not wants. Evidence from 60 years of research shows that, emotionally and physically, we need to be near our little ones.

Babies who are held and responded to quickly develop a sense of someone who is worth caring about. As a result they can develop more – not less – independence, because they know they are loved and ‘worth it’ . What’s more, as these babies grow older they are more able to wait for your attention because you have created an environment in which all their needs are met.

Remember, babies have reflexes which can cause them to startle. Swaddling or massage can help to reduce this startle and calm your baby.

LINK: International Association of Infant Massage

Feeling weepy is normal but if this persists for more than a few days do chat with your partner, or anyone else your trust. Postnatal depression affects 25 per cent of new mums, and that’s just the ones we know about. Talk to your health visitor or GP – help and support are out there and postnatal depression is eminently treatable.

Take each day as a first. Your baby is growing physically and his/her brain is developing daily. You’ll discover that no two days are usuallythe same.

Babies have regular developmental leaps that change their behaviour. The first of these takes place at around seven to ten days. Check out www.thewonderweeks.com for an easy to follow chart of these leaps.

Our babies are always communicating with us. Watching and holding your baby allows you to observe them and tune in to their communication cues’. When we start to understand and interpret how our babies are feeling – hungry, bored, tired, uncomfortable and so on – and, therefore, what they need, it will enable us to remain calm. Understanding this new language can take several weeks and we will still make mistakes. Think of holidays abroad when you’re working out even the basics of another language – it is easy to be misunderstood.

A few basics : Check your baby is not too hot or too cold, check their nappy, offer a feed. If all else fails, hold your baby and breathe deeply to calm yourself and just ‘be with’ your little one, letting them know all is well and that you are there to protect them.

Babies cry for two main reasons:

  • Physical needs: wet/dirty nappy, too hot/too cold, discomfort/pain, tired/sleepy, thirsty, needing a change of position.
  • Emotional needs: scared, feeling alone, needing attention, stressed, unfamiliar environment, unfamiliar smells, sad , angry despair and so on.

Your midwife is a great resource. She will visit you and your new family at home and make sure you and your little one are well and thriving .

Massage for babies really can make a difference to their sleep patterns and can sometimes help reduce the symptoms of colic. Receiving a massage, even a gentle shoulder rub, can also help to calm us.

LINK:  NHS information on colic

Your midwife and health visitor will offer various health checks for your baby in the first few weeks. Check out information about the heel prick test and others in the link below.

LINK: Information about infant tests

All babies cry and get bored because they need a change of scene just as much as we do. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can have the most profound calming effect. Move to another room with your little one or go out into the garden or to the park.

Looking for a lullaby?

Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all