During the early days with your new baby it can be helpful to keep life as simple as possible, to focus on looking after you and your baby.
the first 5 days
- in these early few days, you need to rest, be comfortable and be looked after as you feed, look after and get to know your baby.
- focus on having 5 days in bed to properly rest, recharge and recover.
- this is still a time to rest, recharge and to be looked after.
- focus on being on your bed/sofa for these 5 days so you are still resting, snoozing and being with your baby but you may be pottering about a bit more and getting out for some fresh air.
- depending on how you feel, you could be doing a bit more, getting outside more and seeing more visitors.
- even if you feel well, it is still beneficial to be looked after for a bit longer, so you are not jumping straight into doing. You may get tired quickly, especially if you have stitches which need to heal.
- focus on returning to your bed/sofa for these 5 days – and longer if you need it and if it is possible – so you can rest and snooze to aid your recovery. Give yourself permission to do this.
What to expect from your baby and what does he need?
- your baby needs: you, a loving response, food, warmth, sleep, security, to be held, to be dry, to have some attention and to be comfortable.
- babies only have needs, not wants – they cry to get your attention or to tell you that something is quite right.
- your baby may sleep a lot, especially during the day – with more alert times and crying at night.
- he needs to feed little and often, night and day. His stomach can only hold small amounts so expect to have to feed regularly. Please don’t worry about routines for a while yet.
- in-between sleep and feeds, he will be wide-eyed and alert. Some babies will be chilled as they start to take in the world around them, others will be overstimulated by noise, lights, people and may need to cling to you to feel calm and safe. Try to go with what your baby needs – as this will change throughout the day. Needing to cuddle is really normal and to be expected.
- your baby will be curled up and may prefer settling on you. He may sometimes settle and sleep in his crib and he may sometimes need you to feel safe to sleep.
What to expect from yourself?
- During these early days, it is normal to feel tired and sore so it is important to focus on rest and on being as comfortable as possible.
- Eat well and often and drink plenty of water.
- You might feel out of your depth with your new baby as you adjust and get to know your baby’s needs. This is very normal! Just take it a day at a time and try not to have huge expectations of yourself or your baby. And do reach out for some additional help, support and reassurance with me.
- For some families, the early days can feel chaotic, with little time and order. Again, this is all very normal. Try to go with the flow of looking after yourself and meeting the needs of your baby. It can be an intense time but it won’t be like this forever. Please focus on rest – so you can heal, feed and cuddle your baby – rather than on being busy with doing. If possible, be looked after during these early days.
feeding – breastfeeding can be more challenging than you expect because it is something that you and your baby may have to learn, it doesn’t necessarily come easy, no matter how natural it is.
There may be initial issues with latch and conflicting advice – if you are experiencing feeding difficulties, I would recommend seeing a breastfeeding specialist for specific and consistent advice. Ask your community midwife as your NHS trust may have a specialist midwife who can support you with feeding.
Or it could be that the intensity of feeding is unexpected and overwhelming as new babies can want to feed little and often and be close to the breast. This can knock your confidence and you may think you are doing something wrong or not making enough milk. However, chances are it is all normal so it can be helpful to get some breastfeeding support and to speak to someone who is experienced in breastfeeding.
your recovery – you could be feeling pretty sore and uncomfortable, especially if you have stitches. Take it easy and don’t rush your recovery – each day needs to be about small steps until you start to feel stronger.
If you are unsure about anything, or you feel unwell, tell your community midwife.
low mood – tiredness and low mood can be a normal part of becoming a mum but it can also be overwhelming and concerning for you. Try to talk about how you feel, rest and reach out to your midwife, GP or health visitor as they may be able to arrange some additional support.
an unsettled baby – some babies are very unsettled in those early days. It could just be that they need time to adjust to their new surroundings or there may something like wind or reflux causing him to be unsettled. If your baby is crying a lot, you need some additional support.
your baby’s weight gain – it can knock your confidence if there are any concerns about how much weight your baby is gaining and it may mean making different decisions about breastfeeding as you may need to supplement with formula. It can help to talk it through so you can make a plan and work out what feels better for you and your baby.
tongue tie – if your baby is very unsettled when feeding, if he doesn’t seem to be able to latch onto the boob, if you are experiencing pain when feeding and if your baby’s weight gain is low, this could indicate a tongue-tie. The sooner this is picked up, the better, You can ask to see a breastfeeding specialist in the hospital or speak to your midwife when you get home. You could also speak to a breastfeeding specialist from La Leche League, who can advise you on what to do. You will need a referral to a tongue-tie clinic for this to be treated.
you feel challenged by your baby – it is possible to worry that you have not bonded with your baby because you haven’t experienced the rush of love you were expecting or looking after your baby is harder than you imagined. You may even question what you have done and whether you have the ability to look after a baby. This can be a very normal part of the adjustment of becoming a mum – it will come and it will get easier but it might take a bit of time. Talk it through and it can be beneficial to talk to your midwife or health visitor in case you need some additional support. The most important thing you can do is get some support and reassurance in these early days and weeks.
For some parents these early days are simple and easy, for others this is a more challenging time. Please don’t struggle on alone – reach out and get some practical support and reassurance to help as you adjust, heal and get to know your baby.
If you are preparing for your baby, or you now have a baby, I am on hand for information, support and reassurance. Please do send me a message below and tell me more about what you need.
As a doula I work with parents from across Newcastle and Tyneside.
Copyright: Janine Smith