Your baby

Ten things new moms need to know

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

1 “Breast­feed­ing can be hard to start with,” says Pre­to­ria mid­wife Heather Pi­eterse. And it doesn’t come nat­u­rally for many moms – you need to trust your body and your baby as you learn how to con­nect and get used to breast­feed­ing. Ask for help from your mid­wife or at your clinic, or watch a “how to” video on­line. “At­tend breast­feed­ing sup­port groups,

and don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of a lac­ta­tion con­sul­tant, who will visit you at home and as­sist you if you’re strug­gling,” says Heather. When it comes to how of­ten, “feed your new­born on de­mand,” sug­gests Cape Town mid­wife Philippa Hime. Heather ex­plains: “Ba­bies need to feed of­ten as their stom­achs are very small and breast­milk is low in pro­tein and

di­gests very quickly.” In case you’re won­der­ing if your baby is get­ting enough to eat: “If he’s hav­ing plenty of wet and dirty nap­pies, set­tles for one to three hours be­tween feeds, and is gain­ing weight, you’re do­ing per­fectly,” Philippa says.

2 Most ba­bies gain around 150 and 200 grams per week in the first six months, says Philippa, and Heather adds that this weight gain can be fairly er­ratic. “Breast­fed ba­bies may gain 80g in one week and 250g in the next, so you need to look at the over­all picture over about a month,” she says. “Most new par­ents are ob­sessed with weigh­ing their baby, just to be sure it’s all go­ing well. I sug­gest only weigh­ing in weekly un­less told oth­er­wise by your doc­tor or clinic sis­ter,” Philippa says. And bear in mind that most ba­bies lose some weight dur­ing the first few days of life, but usu­ally re­gain it quite quickly, so that within a week to 10 days they’re back to their orig­i­nal birth weight.

3 Don’t worry if it looks like your baby has di­ar­rhoea – “Bright yel­low, wa­tery, ex­plo­sive stools with tiny white curd-like bits in them are nor­mal in a new­born,” says Philippa. When it comes to how of­ten ba­bies should poo, she says, “Some ba­bies can poo seven times a day, while oth­ers poo once ev­ery seven days. Look at the con­sis­tency of the stool rather than the fre­quency.” Ex­clu­sively breast­fed ba­bies should have yel­low or slightly green poo with a mushy or creamy con­sis­tency, while for­mula-fed ba­bies have pasty, brown­ish, peanut­but­ter-like poo.

4 “It’s nor­mal to bleed for three to six weeks af­ter the birth, as your uterus shrinks down to its nor­mal size again,” says Heather. “Re­mem­ber that over nine months it grew from a fist-sized mus­cle deep in your pelvis weigh­ing around 50g, up to a full 1kg and the big­gest mus­cle in your body at the end of preg­nancy!” If the bleed­ing gets heav­ier or you no­tice big clots or have se­vere pain, speak to your mid­wife or doc­tor.

5 “Leave the um­bil­i­cal-cord stump alone, un­less it gets stools on it or gets full of gunk, and then just use cooled-down boiled wa­ter, not sur­gi­cal spir­its, to clean it,” says Heather. Don’t bath your baby for the week or 10 days it will take for the stump to fall off – un­til then, just give her a sim­ple “top and tail” (face and bot­tom) sponge bath.

6 Say good­bye to your old sleep pat­terns, says Heather. “You won’t sleep for more than two- to three-hour stretches for the first few months of your baby’s life – but don’t worry, you will sur­vive!” Your new baby will, how­ever, sleep a lot. “Most new­borns can only han­dle 45 to 60 min­utes of awake time, but this will grad­u­ally in­crease as the baby gets older,” says Philippa.

7 “You won’t spoil your baby by at­tend­ing to her when she cries,” says Heather. “Rather, you’ll be nur­tur­ing a sense of se­cu­rity and in the long term aid­ing in­de­pen­dence.” Stud­ies show that hold­ing your baby has a huge im­pact on her con­tent­ment, re­duc­ing fussi­ness and col­icky symp­toms, and even im­prov­ing her abil­ity to feed fre­quently.

8 Don’t over­stim­u­late your baby – this could ex­haust her. “The only stim­u­la­tion your baby needs to be­gin with is your smil­ing face,” says Philippa. Sig­nals of over-stim­u­la­tion in­clude if your baby looks away from you, griz­zles, shrieks or sucks his hand.

9 When it comes to dress­ing your baby, think about what you’re wear­ing, and then add one ex­tra layer for your lit­tlie. “New­born ba­bies can’t reg­u­late their own body tem­per­a­ture, and while you don’t want your baby to be cold, you also don’t want to over­dress the lit­tle thing,” says Philippa.

10 You’ll get the hang of it! “Ev­ery mother started where you are: as a new mom, feel­ing her way and feel­ing vul­ner­a­ble – you’re not alone,” says Heather. Ask for help if you need it, and “Take the ad­vice that sounds right and ig­nore the ad­vice that doesn’t,” she adds. “You’ll soon find what works for you.”

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