Hello Baby - A Completer Guide from Birth to the First Six Months ( Part one)
A look at the New mom and the early days in the New Born baby's life
So, you have just had your baby and you are on cloud nine, being the happiest parents in the whole world. But a word of caution and warning - that little bundle of joy is going to turn your lifestyle topsy turvy ! So you need to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground while your head is still spinning in the cloud with the experience and joy of motherhood. Having a baby is one of the greatest joys of life but that is just the beginning since your life changes and everything else takes a back seat with the little lone taking up all your time and attention..
For starters let us talk about the new mom and what to expect ...
1. Many of the new moms feel that when the D day came they were not as excited as they were supposed to have felt. Don’t worry if you don’t feel overwhelmed with mother love fr your baby the moment you set your eyes on her/him. The bonding process may not happen immediately because of the trauma of birth, exhaustion at the end of it and may be disappointment in some cases with the sex of the baby and worry about the future responsibilities since the baby has become real now. Maternal instincts tend to become stronger and bloom as days and months pass and your baby becomes a real person with an individuality of its own.
2. Don’t get stressed out while sharing your joy with family and friends. Be firm that no one with any infection is allowed to handle the baby. Most nursing homes and private hospitals make sure that you don't wear foot wear inside the room of the newborn if it is kept with the mother( many private hospitals have a separate creche for babies) and insist that you wear a mask covering your mouth so that you don't breath out any harmful bacteria.
3. Try to sleep when your baby sleeps to help you get back the energy you used up during labor. The more you sleep the better the process of healing.
4. Since your body has gone through a major upheaval, your emotions may see saw for a while which is but natural. You may feel weepy for about 3 -6 days after birth. One of my close relatives went on crying for nearly a month and when asked, was unable to give any concrete reason for feeling low. She was perfectly alright after that short period of having gone through that weepy stage called postpartum blues. However, don't dramatise and make everyone around you unhappy, instead discuss it with your gynecologist or your mother or someone who is able to instill positive feeling in you.
5. Drink plenty of fluids, eat the kind of foods that you ate during pregnancy, but avoid over spicy meals. Body building proteins like meat,poultry,fish,eggs,soya products,pulses,nuts,cheese and also extra calcium that you get from milk and green leafy vegetables is very important when you are breast feeding. Try not to eat stuff made with Ghee, since many households tend to go heavy on using ghee in everything that a new mother eats, instead concentrate on fresh fruits like guava, papaya, banana and apples or for that matter any seasonal fruits are plentifully available are all nutritious and good for you.
6. It is very important to empty your bladders and bowels regularly. At times you may pass dark red blood with your urine which will get lighter as days go by. This is nothing to worry about since it is part of the process of healing and the body returning to normal after the birth of your baby. Use sanitary napkins only as using tampons at this delicate stage may lead to infection.
7. You may be afraid of handling your little one since it is tiny and so delicate. But babies are not as fragile as they look and will feel more secure when you care for them firmly and handle them confidently. Normally in many private hospitals new mothers are shown how to change nappies and also bundle up the little ones so that they feel cosy and secure and sleep well. You also get to learn how to bathe and dress the little one and about feeding schedules, how to burp and put the bay in the comfort of the baby cot or whatever other sleeping arrangement you have made for the little one. Most new mothers have a support system in the form of close family and daily helps, but if you don’t have any don’t fret. Don’t forget that you have natural instincts and common sense, so make use of them.
8. Exercise as always is very important in every stage of our life and more so for the new mother, so that you get back to your pre-pregnancy figure and rev up your circulation to stop clots from forming in your legs especially when you have had problems with varicose veins during your pregnancy.
9. Finally, make sure that you take your baby for regular check ups to a pediatrician , who will check baby’s lungs, heart, movements, reflexes, eyes, ears, spine and hip joints. And, when you see any small abnormality in your baby like excessive crying or refusing to drink milk etc , immediately get in touch with the doctor and clear your doubts. As soon as you have homed in on a name for the baby, register it with the nearest Muncipal hospital or health authorities, taking a form filled by the hospital where you delivered..
Now let us focus our attention on the newcomer who needs a lot of constant care, love and protection.
Putting your baby to the breast
Normally, your baby will be put to your breast within the first hours after birth. The baby will instinctively open its mouth as soon as he or she feels the softness and close it right over the nipple. Her gums will press on the areola and force the fluid through the nipple. To start with all that the little one will get for the first three days is Colostrum, a yellowish substance which is all the nourishment the baby needs. It is packed with proteins and antibodies too and helps empty out the digestive system.
In the hospital you are shown the best positions to feed while you are sitting or half lying. However, many doctors now feel that it may not be a good idea to feed the child lying down unless there is no other go, like for example you have back ache or some such problem and are unable to sit for a long period of time. You have to feed the baby on demand not less than three hourly and not more than five hourly. Do it with patience since for both of you it is a first time experience and learning do anything for the first time takes a lot of patience.
In the beginning breast feeding may be a little disturbed and the baby may not seem fully satisfied, this is quite normal and usually passes. One has to remember that the baby will suckle all the time while at your breast and takes natural rests in between. Put your little finger on the corner of your baby’s mouth and press on the nipple to break the suction when you want to get the bay off the breast. When your baby starts taking a full length feed, you will find that she empties out the first one, but only takes a small amount from the second breast. So start feeding from a different breast each time, which is important since a certain amount of time is required for the milk glands to produce and fill the breasts with milk.
If you feel that your baby can take more milk than you are producing, remember that breasts work on demand and supply action, so don’t let it worry you. The more the baby sucks the more milk will be be made. Once your milk flow has been established, you may find that it also dwindles with emotional upsets. At such times don’t be tempted to top up the feeds with artificial milk, because breasts are never empty and will produce as much milk as baby needs and also breasts need not feel full and stiff to supply extra milk.Allow the baby to feed to her/his tummy’s content and your milk will spurt and she will need less frequent feeds. We also have to remember that it is futile to compare with other babies and expect similarities in feeding patterns. The time between feeds will vary from child to child.
P.S. 1, Size of the breast does not matter and it has nothing to do with milk supply. So never get worried about the size of your breasts.
P.S. 2, Breast feeding will not ruin your figure, provided you wear a well fitting bra even at night. Regular exercise helps you come back to shape within no time at all.
P.S. 3, Breasts and hands must be washed with soap and water and wiped dry with a clean cloth both before and after each feed.
Baby’s Early Days
Most of us look at the lovely little ones we see on magazines and the internet picture galleries and imagine our baby to look exactly like one of those – chubby cheeks, rosy lips, dimpled chin etc..However, don’t be alarmed when your own bundle of joy is not picture perfect. Most magazine and pictures on the internet are taken after the bay is a few weeks old.
It may not always be petal soft. It could instead be dry, wrinkly or wizened and covered with a fuzz, or have a raised red birth mark. Not to worry since most of these will disappear in time.
Some babies become yellow on about the second or third day after their birth. The reason being, that during their sojourn in the womb, the fetus has a lot of extra blood cells which are not needed after birth. As these cells are broken down , the jaundice appears and normally when that happens the baby is unclothed, with only an eye covering and put under special light to help get rid of the jaundice. The baby needs to be given extra fluid when this happens. Since this happens when you are still in the nursing home or maternity hospital, the doctors supervise and take care of this and send you and your baby only after they are completely satisfied that baby's condition has returned to normal.
It is not a perfect sphere yet and sometimes it may even look too large for the bays body or be elongated because of its journey through the birth canal. On the top of the head you will feel a soft spot or fontanelle as it is called, which will gradually disappear.(There are two fontanelle, one in the back of the head which is called posterior fontanelle, that usually closes by the time an infant is 1 - 2 months old and the other one is at the top of the head normally called anerior fontanelle, which usually closes between 7 - 19 months). Don’t be wary of touching the fontanelle, which like the rest of the baby is strong but needs to be cared for.
The Hair and The Eyes
The hair may be sparse or full , or lie flat or in spurts here and there and even standing up in punk style in some babies.With time everything falls in place so don't get worried about any feature that tends to look weird at that stage. Similarly, the eyes may be squinty, puffy due to pressure on the head during labor or even red. All these normally settle down within a few days. for about 6-12 hours after the birth, your little one's eyes open quite a bit when he or she is awake.
Then for the next 3 -5 days babies seem to be more sleepy with closed eyes.Then comes a period when they are alert and will spend short periods of time just peering around without sleeping or crying which is what most babies do at that stage. Sometimes their eyes may become sticky and a slight discharge may be seen, which can be wiped away gently with cotton wool, making sure that you use a different piece each time.
Babies tend to look flat and unsymmetrical at birth and for quite a few weeks after that.The finger nails can grow at an amazing pace.Trim them carefully with a round edged scissor to prevent bay from scratching his/her face. The navle might protrude and look ugly. This is the spot at which your baby was joined to the placenta by the umblical cord. At birth the umblical cord is cut off and tied and the stump which you see usually shrivels and falls of on its own about the 10th or 12th day leaving a cute little belly button behind. All that is to be done is to dry the area after the bath, with a cotton wool soaked in spirit. Consult your doctor if it is sore or if there is any discharge.
Breasts and other parts of the baby
Some babies , both boys and girls, develop swollen breasts within 3 or 4 days after birth. They may become red, warm and even dribble with milk in some cases.this is caused by the high level of hormones in your body during pregnancy, which stimulates gland tissues to form in the baby's breasts.Apparently, the reason for this is the sudden drop in the hormone level after the birth causes activity in the gland tissue which creates such a condition. The doctors advise not to do anything at all, specially not squeeze out what is superstitiously called ' Witches milk' , things will be fine in a few days.
In female babies sometimes , nappy may show a few drops of blood.This is actually a small period and happened because her body has been used to all the extra hormones in your body during the time when she was secure in your womb. After she is born she tends to lose a little bit of lining from her womb because the hormones have been withdrawn.
Similarly in male babies, you see the foreskin of the penis almost covering and sometimes protruding out. But this corrects itself when the baby grows and the penis size increases. You don't need to push back the baby's foreskin when you are bathing him, just thoroughly clean with mild soap and fresh warm water while giving him a bath.
For the first three days the stools are normally black and tarry and called meconium. It gets gradually replaced by normal yellow motions once the little one is feeding on mothers milk ...
( Two weeks and after in a baby's life will be dealt with, in the second part of this article )
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