Because of the small size of our pelvics and the large size of baby heads, humans are born early and rely on us for months after they’re born, unlike other mammals. This is really cool but also really difficult. It’s easy to think life will be easier after the baby is out of our body. We think we will get our body back when in reality, newborns needs us with every fiber of their being for at least three months after birth. During this time, it’s important to make sure baby is fed and loved.
For expecting parents I like to give an idea of what the postpartum time is like and what you can do to make your life easier through the challenges that arise.
Newborn baby nurses or takes a bottle at least every 2-3 hours by day & every 4 hours by night—-or on demand.
So how does any new family get sleep?
Well there are a few ways. Many families take turns. Mom feeds the baby by day and dad gives baby a bottle overnight, so mom can get a longer stretch of sleep. Families can also alternate feedings day and night if they’re using formula or expressed milk. Mom just has to make sure to maintain her milk supply, if breastfeeding is a goal. Many people now are also hiring postpartum doulas to come overnight and watch over and feed baby while both mom and dad sleep. As a postpartum doula, I can say with confidence that this makes new families feel at ease and focus on their recovery from birth. (Side note: This is also my favorite work! I love watching families grow into their parenting role SO much.)
(If anyone promises they can get a baby to sleep when they are 0-3 months, I would be wary. Babies this young should not be forced to sleep train or cry-it-out. It is really not safe for a baby to be sleep trained until they 6 months or older.)
My newborn is upset a lot.
How do I settle my baby?
I wrote an article about how to calm babies. You can read it here.
The blog talks about the 5 S’s for calming and upset baby. More importantly though, a newborn was on the inside for a very long time and wants nothing more than to hear your heart beat, enjoy the comfort of being full, in darkness, and swayed back and forth. My biggest suggestions to families during this time is skin to skin. Mom can do skin to skin, dad can, and anyone else that is close to family. To do skin to skin, strip baby down to their diaper, place them against your chest, and put a blanket over you both. Soak in all the baby cuddles! This is also great for people who feel like baby isn’t eating enough or is having latch problems. Connecting in this way can help encourage a good latch.
If baby seems upset after eating, then it is possible he or she could have reflux or an allergy or isn’t getting enough food. If those seems likely, be sure to call a lactation consultant and your pediatrician to eliminate those possibilities.
My newborn doesn’t know the difference between night and day and doesn’t sleep at night.
Is there anything I can do?
Babies are used to darkness all the time in the womb. Once they are out, it takes time to cultivate a difference between the two. Make your house as bright as possible during the day and loud. And at night keep the house dim and quiet. Baby usually adjusts a few weeks to a month later, some taking a bit longer. It’s totally normal! Eventually your newborn will sleep longer stretches at night and this will feel like a great accomplishment.
Remember, it is ok to get tired, frustrated, sad, and feel overwhelmed. These are normal feelings during a big transition.
Babies in the fourth trimester need love and food. You cannot spoil your baby at this time. You know who else needs love and support? Parents!
Surround yourself by support, easy food to eat that is also healthy, and good movies and shows. If you do not have this, a postpartum doula might be something you want to consider.
To learn more about how a postpartum doula can help, message me on Facebook or here! I focus, more than anything else, on mom and making sure she feels confident and is healing.