Caring for Your Newborn: Notes to My Daughters

I’ll probably be in my mid-50’s to 60’s when you’ll have your first born child. Hopefully not in my 40’s.

 Oh please.

I want to give you some advices now less I forget them given all the anesthesia I have taken in the last eight years. Now that I’m nursing Kiko, our sixth baby, I thought of writing these notes to remind myself of how it was like to have a newborn and to guide you along your first year of motherhood.

Kindly remember these…

1. Being overwhelmed is normal. No one told me this. Everyone is just excited about the baby.

Actually, the state you will be in is a potent mixture of nervousness, fear, exhaustion, delight, excitement and whatever feels extraordinarily new to you. This is probably the first time you are primarily responsible for the survival of another human being.

 If you want to cry it out, just do it. No one ever felt worst after a good cry.
 I suggest you get as much help as you can from your husband, mother, in laws, sister, friends, priest. Ask, ask and ask. Its okay to ask for help in how to do things. People are more than happy to help and share the experience of raising this special child with you.

2. Enjoy your babymoon. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps during the day. You will need all the strength available to make it through the night when baby wakes up every 2 to 3 hours. Don’t worry, it will not last long. Nothing lasts forever.

 3. Breastfeed as much as you can. I strongly believe it’s best for babies. However, do think its the end of the world if you do not have sufficient milk. I’m a poor cow myself and I had to painfully accept that over time. I tried latching Sasha for one whole month, day in, day out. But not even that stimulated my milk production which made her malnourished after her first month of life.

Oh dear.

Try to supplement with formula milk if breast milk is not enough. For the meantime, you can ask a lactation specialist on how to improve your breast milk production. Trust me, they will help you greatly.

Invest in one of those breastfeeding pillows. I never knew how much comfort they can give you until a friend lend me hers when I was nursing Nina. Unless you want to build your upper arm muscles, I suggest you get one of these.

4. What will you do when the baby can’t stop crying? They are either hungry, needs to be burped, just pooped, are wet, feels too cold/hot, too bored. Crying is their only means of communication so you have to learn to read the context clues.

You don’t have to feed them milk whenever they cry. Their tummy usually gets empty every 2-3 hours for boys and 3 to 4 hours for girls as per my limited experience. You need to burp them every time you feed them. A must. For tummy pain you can also use azete de manzanilla.

The best way to know if they feel hot or cold is through their tummy. I don’t know where I got this. But I usually check your temperature this way.

Then there is colic. This usually occurs during the second month onwards. For some weird reason, none of those I enumerated above, they just can’t stop crying for a fixed period of time at a particular time of day.

Beats me too.

Anyway, give them colic medicine (I gave you Infacol) and just bear with it. This too shall pass. One of the best way we calm a child is to do the HOP. You just bend you knees up and down and it does great wonders to the baby’s mood.

5. I have read a number of books but these are my favorites: Secret of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, Contented Little Baby by Gina Ford and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weisbluth.

These books became my teachers. I would read them over and over again.

I encourage you to devour them.

6. How to put the baby to sleep? If I can help it, I don’t carry the baby to induce sleep. I let them learn to sleep on their own either by using a pacifier, swaddling, rocker or a combi. Pacifiers (I used Avent) helped me get the much needed rest and sleep for both baby and mommy. Swaddling is a technique I learned too late but is a miracle helper. Learn how to do this well.

 

7. Any baby loves a good massage like any one else. I usually give you a massage after bath with oil. I talk to you while gently caressing your skin. You love it.

8. Eat right. There was a time I got coffee happy and decided to drink as much as I liked. The effect? Baby didn’t sleep at all through the day! Awful mother. The lesson is what goes into your system goes into her system as well. Eat a lot of vegetables, fish and soup.

Of course I can’t still stop myself from indulging in anything with chocolate.

9. As always, don’t forget to treat your husband well. The baby will grow up, the children will go to school, the mess will get clean up but your husband will be the one to stay. Take care of him like your youngest child. You will reap a generous return if you put him first amongst others.

10. Treat yourself. Go to Mass the soonest and as frequently as possible. You will have to draw your strength from God. When you have the time, read the book that you love, go to a spa, meet your girl friends, explore the hills across your house, eat that chocolate cake. In other words, take care of yourself or else you will burn out. Entrust your baby to someone capable. Remember you are not the only one who can take care of your baby.

You need to relax too. You will set the tone of your home. Nothing beats a cheerful, happy mother.

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