TAKING BABY HOME
Between feeding, sleeping and visitors, adapting to life with a new bub can be overwhelming. But help is at hand
Adapting to life with a newborn can be exciting and overwhelming
The first few weeks of your baby’s life are a truly magical time, but new motherhood can also be challenging. After all, there’s feeding your baby and sleep routines to get to grips with – all while functioning on little sleep, after an exhausting labour from which you may still be recovering. To help you navigate through the first six weeks, here’s a guide to both surviving and enjoying this precious period with your new baby.
Sleep FOR BABY
Newborns usually sleep about 16 hours out of every 24, in short bursts throughout the day and night and in blocks of up to four hours. Red Nose recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first six months of their lives. Your little one’s bassinet or cot should be free of pillows and bumpers, and she should be placed on her back, not her tummy or side, ensuring her face and head are uncovered. Co-sleeping in your bed is not advised. To learn more about safe sleeping practices, visit www.rednose.com.au.
Some mums like to put a bedtime routine in place as soon as they bring bub home, while others are more relaxed in the early weeks. Your newborn’s sleep schedule depends on her feeding schedule, and she’ll most likely sleep better with a full tummy, so try to make sure she gets a good feed.
Sleep FOR YOU
Experts agree that if you can get this right, everything else will seem a little bit easier. Midwife Megan Baker advises you to take things easy and do as little as possible in the first few weeks of your newborn’s life apart from resting, sleeping and making sure she’s fed and comfortable. “You’ll be much less vulnerable to postnatal depression if you can recover properly after birth,” says Megan. It’s a classic rule, but an important one: sleep whenever your baby does – whatever the time of day.
Food FOR BABY
Once you can get the hang of it, breastfeeding is best because you’re giving
If you are still feeling blue after the first week or so don't hesitate
your baby all the nutrients she needs for healthy growth and development. She will also benefit from immunity that passes from mum to bub through breastmilk. Numerous studies show the long-term benefits of breastfeeding also include a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and asthma. It’s a great way for you and your baby to bond, too. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for six months, with continued breastfeeding for up to two years.
Food FOR YOU
Unlike pregnancy, few foods are out of bounds once your baby arrives. Making breastmilk requires lots of nutrients. It also increases your energy needs – so it’s a great way to help shift the extra weight gained during pregnancy. You’ll probably find your appetite increases, too. But you’ll need to eat sensibly to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients, too. The Australian Dietary Guidelines (www.eatforhealth.gov.au) provide useful advice, including outlining the serving sizes for each food group and how many serves per day breastfeeding women require.
The arrival of a new baby is certainly cause for celebration, but before you reach for the bubbly, be aware that alcohol passes into breastmilk – and can remain for 30 minutes. Drinking alcohol can also affect supply, so talk to your doctor about how your body processes alcohol between feeds, as this will depend on various factors.
to ask for help and support. Bonding
Touch is your baby’s first language and holding and cuddling her will help you bond. Another good way is through baby massage. Make sure the room is warm, you use gentle strokes and maintain eye contact. A good time to give her a massage is after her bath, when she is clean, dry and relaxed. Remove all her clothes apart from her nappy and start by laying her on her back on a soft towel.
Most health professionals recommend using sorbolene cream or a food-grade organic vegetable oil, such as sunflower or olive oil. Tip the cream or oil into a warmed bowl, remove jewellery, wash your hands, then dip your fingers into the bowl and rub your hands to cover.
Dads can get involved with nappy changes, massages and bathing.
Dads, family AND FRIENDS
Getting involved with nappy changes, massages and bathing are all great ways for dad to connect with bub. Dads can also manage the constant flow of family and friends who will be keen to meet the latest addition. But too many visitors early on can be overwhelming for you and unsettling for bub. It’s fine to ask people to wait and to keep visits short.
Using a baby carrier or fabric sling when you’re out and about, or even at home but when you need to get on with chores, is another good way to bond. She’ll be comforted by your warmth, smell and heartbeat.
Also, make sure you follow the safety guidelines on babywearing, called TICKS, so your bub’s chin is kept off her chest and her back is supported, with her tummy and chest lying against you.
For more information on the TICKS guidelines, visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/ marketplace/product-safety/ safety-warnings/baby-slings