Are you expecting your first child? Well, if you are a first-time mom, there are things you might want to know before you deliver. Awkward as it may sound, newborns may get overwhelming for new moms. Motherhood is a huge learning curve, and every mom has her own set of challenges while taking care of a newborn.
Dealing with a newborn gets challenging sometimes. Going back and forth with a crying baby, trying to soothe in every way possible get overwhelming for new parents. Besides what you have to tackle as a new parent, you need to be super vigilant about dos and donts of newborn care for several weeks after birth.
I am not a medical professional or expert. However, the purpose of this post is to prepare new moms on newborn care from a mom’s perspective to keep their babies healthy and safe – based on what I have learned through my experience as a mom. These are the things I wished I had known before having my babies.
If there is anything that concerns you about a newborn baby, never hesitate to talk to your doctor.
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Things new moms should know about Newborns before giving birth
1. Skin to Skin
When a mom gives birth, doctors or midwives encourage moms or dads to have the skin-to-skin contact with a baby right after birth.
Studies have revealed there are many benefits of having skin to skin contact with a mom and baby. Some of them are to stabilize the baby’s body temperature, to get a chance of bonding with your little bundle of joy, and to help with the milk supply for a breastfeeding mom. It also improves heart and lungs function like regulating the heart rate.
Latching your baby on a mom’s breasts right after birth is highly beneficial to speed up milk supply.
Right after birth either vaginal or C section, doctors encourage to latch the baby. However, it is not essential to have milk right there and then. It takes a while for moms to have a supply but before that Colostrum comes in and it is known to have all the right amount of nutrients your baby needs.
Moms are supposed to breastfeed the baby every two hours to help with quick milk supply. Some women’s bodies respond a little differently, and they do not get enough milk supply. For those reasons, moms do consider supplementing as an alternative.
However, breastfeeding is by far the best food your baby can get at this time.
Breastfeeding is an excellent way to nurture your baby once your milk supply settles in. In the beginning, it may get uncomfortable for first-time nursing moms due to sore breasts and cracked nipples.
Here is what you need to know about breastfeeding discomforts for the first few weeks. Using Nipple cream, nursing pillow, and ensure a proper latch is the best you can do for a smooth start.
For first time moms, I advise you to take breastfeeding classes while preparing for your bundle of joy. Stacey offers online breastfeeding classes at Milkology for new moms so they can learn at their convenience.
Stacey is a Certified Lactation Educator. In this class, you will know basics and way beyond. I am telling you this from experience, breastfeeding may seem a simple task, BUT it is NOT, at least for new moms. You need to have proper guidance to make it happen successfully because you don’t want to quit after weeks of trying.
Milkology breastfeeding class will help you understand the challenges, and how to deal with the discomforts.
3. The right amount of wet and dirty diapers
While your stay at the hospital, or if you are planning a home birth, nurse or doula make sure that your baby has enough wet diapers within a 24-hour window. This is really important to make sure everything is working fine as far as wee and poop are concerned.
Meconium is a fancy name for the baby’s first poop, and your baby is expected to have it within several hours after birth.
4. Baby’s weight
Babies lose weight after birth about 7 to 10% of their birth weight which is considered to be normal. But if your baby is losing more weight than normal, that means your baby needs more nutrition. After discussing with your doctor, you could consider supplementing if you think your supply is not enough for your baby.
Babies start increasing their weight in a few days after birth.
5. Awareness for any Signs of reflux
Some babies have acid reflux. My daughter had it and quite a times she went unconscious and then she ended up throwing up everything she ate. You should be aware of any signs of acid reflux. It could be a high risk if not attended in a proper way.
6. Colic issues
When babies cry at a stretch for about at least three hours, three days a week and persist for at least three weeks in a row, are said to be colic. Colic is not a disease. The good news is, these episodes of crying won’t last more than three months. Eventually, it gets cured. If you think your baby is colic, talk to her pediatrician.
Get a complete guide on how to soothe a crying or a fussy baby.
If your baby gets rashes, you should consider what you are eating. Newborn gets rashes either they are dirty for a long time, or it is something about what they are eating. Review your diet if you are breastfeeding and your child ’s diet what are you feeding him. Some formula-fed babies get rashes if they are intolerant to the formula or the change in milk.
A+D is my tried and tested diaper rash ointment. Most of the time, you can use it with every diaper change, so you don’t have to wait for rashes to show up.
Dealing with diaper blowouts is the biggest challenge of parenthood. Tip and trick on how you can minimize diaper blowouts.
8. Preventing flat head syndrome
When you lay down your baby, always make sure it is not just one side all the time. There are chances of developing a flat head if they are laid down for an extensive period of time. To prevent FHS, you should have tummy time with your baby more often once the baby’s umbilical cord is off.
Do not use head shaping pillows unsupervised. If you are using any head shaping pillow please do not use at night. You can put it on the play mat for the time you are close to your baby.
If you a have a baby nursery set up, do not leave anything with your child unattended.
9. Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Newborns are very fragile. You should never shake a baby or a toddler, not even out of sheer joy. Shaking a baby could be very harmful that could result in severe brain injury.
10. Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
SIDS is a serious matter. Always make sure there should be no pillows, soft stuff toys, blankets, or any crib bumpers in your baby’s crib or in his sleeping space. The mattress has to be firm.
Always make sure your baby’s crib, bouncer, play mat, all other baby gear is located at the right spot in your house where there is no danger of anything falling onto. Being a mom/parent you have to think above and beyond for your child’s safety.
11. Protection while a baby is on the changing station
This could be a nightmare for parents but unfortunately, many parents show up to the ER because of a baby falling from changing station. Yes, this is a serious concern too. Always make sure your baby is buckled up (in case changing station has a safety belt) if you have to go grab something, answer a phone call, or a doorbell. Otherwise, never ever leave your baby unattended on changing station not even for a second.
12. Skin Protection
You have to make sure you are protecting your baby’s skin. Massage if you want. This will help them sleep better. Sunlight is good as a source of vitamin D. You can have your baby near the window to have some sunlight. However, you should also protect your baby’s skin from direct sunlight, baby’s skin is very soft and very vulnerable to sunburns.
13. Baby acne
Although it is normal for newborns to develop acne, called baby acne, and it is not recommended to apply anything unless advised otherwise by your child’s pediatrician. It tends to go away on its own in a few days. However, if you still are concerned, applying breastmilk seems to help significantly.
Always keep your baby’s face clean with water only.
Some babies happen to have sensitive skin. Eczema could be triggered with fragrant wash or soap or even detergents. Do not use any fragrant product for your baby at least for 6 to 8 weeks.
15. Skin peeling
In newborn babies skin peel off from hands, feet, body, etc. which is normal. This is actually vernix (some babies are born with it) peeling off. However, you have to make sure it is not itchy.
Also, make sure your baby’s skin does not get over-dry. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
16. Hairy babies
Babies have Lanugo (hair in the womb). Some, if not all, pre-term babies born with it on their bodies. Don’t worry, it will shed away within several weeks after birth.
17. The Soft Spot on Baby’s head
There is a soft spot on a baby’s head known as fontanel. Touching this soft spot could be worrisome for parents but it’s not. Although it needs not to be touched in a hard way. Eventually, this skull area will be fully developed within a few months after birth.
18. Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is a patchy and scaly scalp condition which some babies develop on their heads. It is common yet harmless. Although it may get itchy. Babies may develop cradle cap in the form of thick, yellow or brown scaly patches within the first few weeks after birth.
This condition could be prevented by combing your baby’s scalp with a soft comb. However, If the cradle cap develops it could be very itchy and flaky later on. However, when it comes off it could pull baby’s hair too. Use a baby comb to prevent cradle cap. Talk to the pediatrician in case it’s very itchy or bleeding.
19. Adjusting the sleeping pattern
Babies tend to stay awake up at night and sleep during the day. In order to ensure a consistent sleeping pattern, make sure you have the lights turned off during the night and lights turned on in the daytime. They might be too little to understand this whole concept at this tender age but eventually, they will get it.
I highly recommend using a sound machine for babies. They sleep better and longer. Although being a mom, you are going to be sleep-deprived for a few months, learn how to manage sleep deprivations as a new mom.
Are you just close to your delivery date? This Free Sleep eBook will help you make a good start. Learn newborns’ sleep basic and put your journey in the right direction, and helps you avoid sleep mistakes that new parents make with newborns.
20. Crying babies
Do not ignore a crying baby. Babies cry because of these reasons
- They are hungry
- They might be dirty
- or sleepy
- It might be the Gas which is bothersome or your baby has to BURP.
- It could be cold for them. By the way, the ideal temperature for babies is anything between 68 degrees to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Some babies feel hotter than others. So you might have to adjust the temperature as well as their layers.
If all of these issues are addressed, even then they cry that means they just want to be cuddled and craving for your love and comfort.
21. Babies’ Genitals
Swollen Genitals are normal in newborns. Babies are born with extra fluid in their bodies which cause puffy eyes, swollen labia in girls and swollen scrotum in boys. Babies excrete extra fluid out of their bodies in the first few days of their lives which causes weight reduction in babies right after birth.
Some babies born with under-developed genitals which may develop within a few months after birth.
Some baby girls have a mini period (very light) within a few days after birth. This is also considered to be normal.
22. Newborn babies seemingly Shiver but they are not cold
You might notice your newborn shivering randomly. However, this is not something about feeling cold. Newborns do not shiver due to colds because they are known to have brown fat which keeps them warm naturally. Shivering is just a newborn thing (slowly developing muscle control) you should not worry about. If you have concerns, you can talk to your doctor.
I wish I knew all of this before giving birth. Though I have enjoyed many little ones in my family but honestly no one tells you all this. This is what I have learned with my experience or some other mom’s.
23. Newborn Jaundice
Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes in newborns. It is very common in newborns to have mild symptoms of jaundice after birth which could occur when babies have high levels of bilirubin, a yellow pigment produced in the breakdown process of red blood cells.
Normally newborns jaundice goes away in about 2 to 3 weeks on its own after birth. However, pediatricians keep a close eye on the yellowing of the baby’s skin in the first several days after birth. If your baby gets any symptoms of jaundice, talk to your doctor, keep him hydrated with more frequent feedings so that bilirubin is excreted out of the body.
Also, getting indirect sunlight help significantly. Sitting by the window with a baby in a bouncer or a playmat, and have a baby get some sunlight (indirect). Caution: direct sunlight may harm baby skin.
Always remember you know your baby better than anyone else! If you have concerns never hesitate to talk to your doctor.
I wish you a very happy motherhood joy ride!