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Upon the arrival of a newborn baby in this world, the new parents are overjoyed but along with celebrations and festivities, comes the huge responsibility of taking care of the baby. From holding the baby, to carrying out the necessary tasks of feeding, changing, and bathing,everything seems to be a challenge.
In this tough period of what is termed as the ‘fourth trimester’,mothers find themselves overwhelmed as they are healing from the pregnancy and labour, and are also struggling to find, filter and retain relevant information about baby care and their health maintenance.
This article aims to explore common issues faced by a new mother, and some practical solutions to counteract them.
Some Faqs about the mother :
|– Why am I not enjoying my baby, why do I feel so low?|
The pregnancy hormones suddenly take a dip after the baby is born, resulting in fluctuation of mood. ‘Baby blues’ is the term assigned to this feeling, and may even progress to ‘post partum depression’ which is a more serious version. If you find yourself thinking about harming the baby or yourself, please consult your gynecologist immediately.
|– I feel my baby is hungry all the time, Is his tummy not full?|
Babies are born with very small stomachs and they need to drink more frequently as it empties very quickly. Also, breast milk is very easily digested so they need to refill the milk very frequently. In addition to that, breastfed babies tend to ‘cluster feed’. This is an interesting phenomenon, where they drink very frequently,( could be every 10-15 minutes!) and this goes on for an hour or two. After that, they go on a long break, for maybe upto 5 hours! This is common during ‘growth spurts’ which are periods of rapid growth where they need more calories.
It is important to respond to babies’ demand as this is what increases the mother’s milk supply and caters to the baby’s growing needs.
|–How do I increase my milk supply?|
Adequate hydration is important. Aim to consume 1-2 L of water per day. Getting proper rest and eliminating stress also helps. The best way to increase the supply is
|frequent latching of baby to breast as this sends the brain message to produce more milk. Good nutrition is essential and includes green starchy vegetables, fruits with high water content, fortified cereal grains, calcium rich dairy products and meat sources.|
|– It is day 2 of my baby’s birth, and I don’t see any milk coming?|
Milk starts coming in after day 3-5. Before that, a thick golden liquid comes out which is called colostrum and is rich in antibodies that fight infections. It is highly important to feed your baby colostrum, and if her/his suckling is not strong, then you can express the milk and feed with a spoon. It is not called ‘liquid gold’ for no reason!
|-My nipples hurt during feeding, can I use formula instead?|
Nipple erosion occurs as a result of poor latch.It is important to latch the baby correctly, in a way that his mouth takes in most part of the breast tissue ( the areola), and the nipple should be directed towards the roof of the mouth, in order to prevent damage from the rough surface of baby’s mouth. To prevent drying, pour expressed breast milk, or natural nipple creams and butter after every feed.
|-Why am I still experiencing labour like cramps?|
After the labour, the uterus is shrinking into its pre pregnancy size, which is the size of a pear. In order to do so, the muscles contract and relax, that causes pain. The cramps can worsen while feeding, as feeding produces hormone oxytocin that promotes contraction.
|– How long am I going to bleed this heavily for?|
Postpartum bleeding starts right at birth and may continue upto 4-6 weeks. It is heaviest in the first week and gradually subside down until complete stop around 6 weeks. The colour also gradually changes from red-brown to pink. Look for heavy clots or gushes of blood, in that case, it is important to seek medical help.
|– The stitches down below hurt, I cannot sit, what can I do?|
Stitches start healing after week 1, but complete recovery can take upto 4-6 weeks. Washing the area with warm water, and keeping it clean and dry helps in the healing. Use a donut shaped pillow while sitting down to prevent pressure on the stitches.
Some Faqs about the baby:
|-Can I feed my baby honey?|
Honey contains bacterial seeds, called spores that the baby’s young digestive system is unable to process, and hence can cause a severe infection called botulism. Doctors recommend no honey before 1 year of age.
|-He doesn’t seem to be looking? Is his eyesight okay?|
Baby’s vision is not developed at birth, They can only focus at 12-16 inch (Right
where your face is) Objects further away are blurry to them. They love to look in your eyes!
|-Blocked Nose! How do I unblock it ?|
Babies’ noses tend to get congested easily, especially in cold weather. It causes a great deal of discomfort as they can not breathe through their mouths. Use saline drops, and suck it with a nasal aspirator.
|-How do I know he is hungry?|
There are few early signs of hunger and few late signs. Don’t wait too long before giving milk as they might get too upset to drink.
Early signs include : opening mouth, bringing hands to mouth,smacking lips, becoming more alert, rooting ( this is a reflex you can test by tapping the corners of baby’s mouth with your finger, the baby turns his head towards it)
Late signs of hunger include loud crying, restlessness, refusing to latch.
|-How much should I feed him and how frequently?|
This is very subjective as doctors recommend ‘feed on demand’. As babies grow very fast in the first year of their life, they need a lot of calories from the milk. On average, babies usually feed every 2-4 hours, sometimes even more frequently. Typical feed might last 20 minutes or more. Try offering both breasts at every feed, so the baby
receives watery front milk and fat-enriched hind milk that comes in the end.
A great tip to ensure successful breastfeeding is to keep the baby close to mother’s skin before initiation. A good skin to skin contact calms the baby down, and makes him more eager to drink.
|– How to determine that he has fed properly?|
Signs that help in determining if he is drinking adequately include :
1-Baby has enough wet diapers ( at least 1 on day 1, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3, and at
|least 6 each day onwards).|
2-Baby returns to birth weight by 2-3 weeks of age 3-Baby’s mouth is wet and pink
4- Baby when awake is alert and active
5- Baby has a loud cry and eyes are bright
6- Baby comes off the breast relaxed and sleepy
|– Im worried about his stools, they are runny and so frequent, is it diarrhea?|
Baby’s stool are naturally very soft and mushy. They have a mustardy colour and seedy appearance. Breastfed babies’ stool patterns are highly variable. They can pass stool 8-10 times a day, and sometimes can go over a week without passing. Both situations are normal.
|-Can I give him cereal in a bottle so that he sleeps all night?|
With small tummies and quickly digesting milk, babies need to drink round the clock. Yes! That means, waking up at night to feed. On average, babies sleep 2-3 hours in a row between awakenings. Putting cereal in a bottle is not a practice recommended by doctors as this puts unnecessary burden on the baby’s tiny immature digestive system.
|– Can I put him to sleep on his tummy, he feels comforted this way|
It is okay to put the baby on his tummy under supervision, but while putting him down for sleep, it is important to place him on his back. Putting baby to sleep on his tummy can impose huge risk of suffocation and cause a condition called sudden infant death syndrome or ‘SIDS’
Remember this slogan, ‘ Back to sleep’!
|-He is so gassy, how can I relieve stomach gas?|
Massaging his navel area with warm oil, in circular motion then exercising his legs in what is called ‘bicycling legs’ relieves gases. Also make sure he burps after every feed to prevent gas trapping in his intestines.
|-His body trembles every now and then? Is he cold?|
This is because the baby’s nervous system is developing and is still immature. The trembling is natural and is a part of the baby’s defence system. You may also notice babies trembling at loud noises. This is called startle reflex. You can help by swaddling the baby in wrapping sheets, this way they feel comforted and react less to the noise.
|-How to dress my baby?|
The rule of ‘one extra layer than parents’ is a quick guideline to follow in order to dress up the baby. If it is cold, you can dress him in 2-3 layers depending on the temperature. If the baby’s surroundings are adjusting to room temperature, ( 23 degree C to 25 ), it is not necessary to wrap him in very hot blankets. 2 layers of cotton clothing, with or without a swaddling cloth should suffice.