You thought labor was tough?
Oh boy are you in for a treat! ;)
The first few months were by far the hardest part of my life. I pray that you all have sweet, non colicy, sleepy babies. My baby was none of those things. Ok, she was pretty sweet in between screaming spells.
The first few weeks are tough. These kids trick you in the hospital I swear. You're thinking awe I got lucky, look at my little baby she loves to sleep. Guess again mama!
P was awake for a little bit after her birth, ya know checking stuff out, nursing, staring me and daddy down. After nursing and some skin to skin she was out for the count. The first night though she wanted to nurse, nurse, nurse. She broke me in right away. But supposedly normal children (which P is not) are awake for a few hours after birth and then sleep...and sleep...and sleep...and sleep...labor and delivery is exhausting to them as well! So there you are thinking you have a great sleeping baby, but give it a few days. That kid is going to be keeping you up allll night. I promise!
There are a lot of weird things that happen the first few weeks. If your hospital offers classes on newborn care, take it. I worked with kids for years before having my own. I taught preschool and nannied but there were a lot of things I didn't know about. Like how baby girls can have periods.
You read that correctly.
Thank goodness I went to that newborn class because that got brought up so I wasn't totally shocked when it happened. Can you imagine not knowing and finding blood in your new baby's diaper? Now, this doesn't always happen but if it does. Don't freak out! It is normal. Luckily it only happened a couple times in the first week or so.
Another weird thing that happens with new babies? They can get little boobies and they can even lactate. At our first pediatrician appointment our doctor pointed out that her baby boobies were all swollen and mentioned they could even leak. I probably had to pick my jaw up from off the floor. Luckily P didn't leak anything. It has to do with the hormones from the mother same with the period. I told you...child birth is a strange, strange, thing.
Breastfeeding can be a walk in the park for some mothers. Other mamas don't have it so easy. Me? I would say I had a horrible time. First of all my milk didn't come in as quickly as it should have. The first day home was scary. P wouldn't wake up to nurse because she was hardly getting anything to eat. I had to give her a bottle of formula because her doc said she needed to get something in her to wake her up so she'd have some energy. Of course, as you might know...P never has taken bottles and has always refused them. She would suck a few swallows and then be done. So I did what I could and pumped like a mad woman till my milk FINALLY came in. And boy did it ever. You are going to leak...a lot. Have those boobie pads handy. Poor P got milk showers about every time I nursed her for a few weeks. But that was the only time I leaked was before I was going to feed her. I know other girls leak all the time and at just the sound of their baby crying.
Speaking of breastfeeding troubles. Sometimes it hurts...a lot. A lot. A lot. They will hurt, they might bleed, they might burn. Lanolin, gel packs, ice, all of that stuff, you will want. I cried at almost every feeding the first couple weeks. Why didn't I give up? Because I knew it was what I wanted to do and what I think is best for babies. My baby.
So I pushed through...for that little face. And the pain eased up in a few months (and then I got mastitis, but that's a whole different story) and it became second nature.
Moral of that story is, don't go into breastfeeding thinking it's going to be a walk in the park. Not only can there be issues with pain, there can be issues with not enough milk, baby not latching on, etc. etc. My advice is to see a lactation consultant. They are such a blessing to have helping you. My second piece of advice? Don't beat yourself up. If it is just not working out don't think that you are a horrible mother. Do what is best for you and your baby and you will be fine. I don't judge mothers who use formula. But I do hope that all of them that use it at least gave breastfeeding a fair shot. You can't decide in a day if it is going to be for you or not. Give it a bit.
Speaking of breastfeeding. Want to know what milk turns into after it's digested?! POOP! :) Newborn poop is strange, strange, stuff. It is like tar. Black and gooey. It takes a ton of wipes to get it off and you will wonder how on earth that came out of your adorable sweet baby. After the tar poop goes away if you are breastfeeding your kid is going to have seedy looking poop like she ate bird food. It was so strange to me! It will also be very liquidy. Do you know what that means? Explosions. P pooped through more clothes in the first few months of her life than I could ever had imagined. I am actually glad that she had so many newborn and 0-3 month outfits because a lot ended up in the trash. These tiny little 8lb creatures can make big, giant, poopy messes. Luckily it doesn't hardly smell at this point. Wait till you add solids.
Sleep. Say goodbye to that word. Sleep won't come easy for awhile. Little P just wanted to be held and held and held. I was ok with that for awhile but I couldn't get much done with a baby in my arms. At night, she wanted to be held some more. I remember literally propping myself up with like 6 pillows and having her on my chest just so I could get an hour of sleep. P was never a good sleeper. She didn't sleep through the night till close to 11 months. Hopefully your new baby will do better than that. We tried everything...all the advice from our pediatrician, every sleep training book, every tip and tricks from friends...nothing worked. But I did learn some things...
Ok I learned something else...
Swaddle. It isn't cruel. It's not going to ruin your baby. Babies are used to being all curled up in your belly. They like being swaddled. Once we started swaddling P she slept a tiny bit better. I highly recommend the miracle blanket. I know they are a little more pricey than other brands but they are the best. We tried them all and P could break out of every single one of them except the miracle blanket. Purchase at least one. You will thank me.
Routine. After the first few weeks I tried to get P in a routine. Sure it's not always easy with such a small baby but you can try it out. We started with a bedtime routine bath, story, nurse, and sleep at the same time every single night.
So, sleep when you can. Everyone is going to tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. I am here to tell you it's pretty much impossible. Once P was asleep I had a million things to do myself. Take a shower, do the laundry, clean the house, etc. etc. Try to sleep when you can and don't beat yourself up if everything doesn't get done. I kept telling myself that someday I would be begging P to get out of bed. Until then, I will just dream of a good nights sleep.
Something else people seldom talk about? Baby blues. Now I didn't really have them but I know a lot of people who have. I did however find myself crying over the most ridiculous things ever the first couple of weeks. I remember when P was maybe 4 days old, I was sitting in my bed doing skin to skin with her and just watching her sleep and I started BAWLING. Dustin asked me what was wrong and I said I was sad she was going to be a week old soon. Looking back I laugh at that but it was seriously heartbreaking to me how fast time was going. It still flies right on by but I deal with it a little better these days. I think all the hormone changes, the stress that comes with a huge life change, and the utter exhaustion contribute to my weepy ways.
Colic. Ohhh that word hurts my ears. I was blessed with a colicy baby. Want to know what you can do about colic? Absolutely nothing. Great eh? P would scream and scream and scream and scream. We rocked her, we bounced her, we did everything we could think of and nothing worked. It was awful. We couldn't go anywhere, we couldn't do anything...but listen to her scream. She hated the car, she hated her swing, she hated her rocker. We tried gas drops, tummy rubs, back pats, nope nada. I took her to the doctor at least 3 times asking them to tell me what was wrong. At one point I wanted something to be wrong. I wanted to at least have an answer and a solution but nothing. The doctor always said she was perfectly healthy, nothing was wrong and good luck. They recommended this all natural stuff called colic calm. It was hit or miss. Once in a great while it worked, other times not so much. It was just something she had to grow out of. I felt like the worlds worst mother. Aren't mamas supposed to be able to calm and comfort their babies? Why couldn't I? I spent many days and nights crying right along with her. It was horrible. But then one day she flipped a switch. She randomly turned into a sweet, easy going, laid back little lady. It was amazing. I know colic is horrible and if you are experiencing it or if you do experience it know that you are an amazing mother, there's nothing you can do but buy some ear plugs, and wait. It'll be over...eventually.
Listen to this song.
I'm sure there are things I am forgetting but this will get you started! If you have any questions leave me a comment :)