This post is written with input from my sister-friend and fellow new mom: Julia Wambi-Maina
Newborns are cute, with their disproportionate head body ratio, sweet smell, adorable sounds, we can’t help but love them, They can be a whole lot of work though, Show me a parent who isn’t run down that first couple of months and we shall declare them superhuman. They feed-sleep-repeat, poop and pee in between, or in some cases like mine, poop as many times as they feed in about 2-3 hours cycles. It doesn’t help that the mother is recovering from delivery, and therefore also needs to rest.
I learned a few things that helped make life a bit easier during those early days. Today I share them with you:
Ask for your baby as soon as you can handle him/her. In most cases after a normal delivery, the nurses/doctor will give you the baby almost immediately after delivery. In C-Section cases, they may choose to wait. You can ask for your baby as soon as you are moved to recovery. The sooner you get your baby close to you, the sooner the bonding can start.
They mean well, they want to see the baby. No. Do not take in visitors especially in the first 4-6weeks. Your baby still hasn’t developed his/her immunity and hasn’t had his/her shots yet. Plus, you are tired, you need rest, you need to heal. More so if you had a C-section. Be selfish
Those people who are basically part of the household, the ones who will come, cook clean and take no offense that you have done zero to entertain them or even see them, those are fine but they should be filtered. Let them not come if they even suspect they could have the least of infection including a cold. Anybody else, please politely tell them to wait till you let them know you are ready.
Breastfeeding is described as one of the most natural things that a mother and a baby can do. However, it doesn’t always come naturally to everyone. Seek help from a lactation expert if you are having problems to get things moving. This will enable your baby to feed effectively and reduce damage to your nipples.
Even if it does come naturally to you, for about the first two weeks you will experience some discomfort in your nipples, use a lanolin cream to ease any discomfort or repair any cracks that may occur. After the two weeks, when breastfeeding is properly established, you can switch to food grade coconut oil. It has a soothing and moisturizing effect and its antibacterial properties will reduce the risk of you and baby passing thrush to each other.
Babies tend to favor one side over the other and you may also find that you are more comfortable with the baby on that side. Do not be like me, Don’t continuously feed baby on one side even for a few consecutive feeds. The other side will get engorged and leak and you will be in pain. Find a position that makes you and baby comfortable to nurse from that side as well. Trial and error work best.
Especially in the first 4 weeks where they poop with every feed, always change the dirty diaper before feeding. ALWAYS. That way the baby will nurse back to sleep. There’s a fear down the line that nursing to sleep creates a wrong sleep association, but that is a problem down the line. Those first few weeks are about survival, use all arsenal at your disposal.
Try to avoid wipes during those early days as they are cold and the chemicals in them could be harsh on baby’s sensitive skin. Warm water and cotton wool will do the trick.
Now ladies, do not try to be a superwoman. Accept help and ask for it. If the baby’s father is there, let him do the heavy lifting, it will help with father-baby bonding. In my house, when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night we had an unwritten script that made us run like a well-oiled machine. The Mister would wake up first and change the baby’s diaper, then pass him over for feeding as he rests for a bit, and I would then hand him over for burping as I rested some more. Our baby would do 2 hours cycle (from the beginning of one feed to sleeping and start of the next feed) like clockwork. so every minute to get some shut-eye was treasured.
If you are a single parent, enlist help from a trusted relative or friend, just don’t do it alone especially for those first weeks.
Be on the same page
Whether you are doing this with your mother, your husband/partner or whoever is your primary caregiver, be on the same page. They are the ones most likely to be called by incoming guests, they will need to help you through the bulk of the process. Be on the same page. Let them understand your concerns, that way they can help you better.
Please note that I am not an expert on this subject. I am just sharing what worked for me in the hope that it comes in handy for someone else. What works for you may be slightly different and I would love to hear about it.