Helpful Tips For New Moms
Monday, Feb 20,2012
By Mary Maloney, RN
You’ve waited nine months (or more!) to hold your little bundle of joy in your arms, but if you’re like most moms, once you get home from the hospital, reality, anxiety and sleep deprivation start to set in. Then all of a sudden, you’re not so sure you can do this mom-thing after all. Those feelings are perfectly normal for first-time moms to experience, trust me, as a mother of three children under six. One of the most important things you can do as a new mom is get as much rest as you can.
Establishing a routine early is essential when developing a sleep schedule with a new baby. It may seem futile at first, but when the weeks and months wear on, you’ll be glad to started working toward a schedule early.
Another test new parents might have to weather is dealing with a colicky baby. Fussing and crying is normal for babies, and that doesn’t necessarily mean colic. Signs of colic include predictable crying episodes, which usually happen at the same time every night, intense and inconsolable crying and changes in posture where your baby might curl their legs and clinch their fists.
Colic affects approximately 25 percent of infants. It typically starts a few weeks after birth, but improves around 3 months. It may be stressful for new parents not to know or understand why your baby is crying, but the five S’s may be able to help. The five stand for swaddling, side-lying, shushing, swinging and sucking.
The Five S’s
When your newborn seems inconsolable, start with swaddling them with the arms tightly unfolded by the baby’s side. Next is side-lying when you hold your baby towards your stomach, but be sure to remember that side-lying is only for holding and calming baby, not for sleeping. Shushing is creating a sound that should be as loud as the baby is crying. When the baby begins to calm, so does the shushing. Swinging is gently swaying while you hold your baby is the side-lying position. Swinging is like dancing to imitate the jiggling the baby felt inside the uterus for months. Karp cautions not to move the baby independently but move your body while you hold your infant firmly, yet gently, in your arms. Sucking is the final S in Karp’s five S’s. Though he doesn’t suggest a pacifier for breastfed infants before they are latching on well, sucking is a calming reflex for babies. After an infant is latching well during breastfeeding, a pacifier for nighttime colic episodes, paired with the other four S’s should help fussy babies settle to sleep.
Making sure your baby is getting quality sleep is another factor in the shut eye new parents are able to log. Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, and cribs should be void of stuffed animals and blankets. Instead, opt for sleeper outfits that act as a built-in blanket. In general, babies need no more than one extra layer than an average adult would wear to ensure they do not get too hot. Babies may be too hot if they are sweating or their chest feels hot to the touch.
The diaper count is a good indicator to see if your baby is getting enough to eat. Another feeding indicator is measuring the baby’s weight. Babies should gain approximately 2 ounces a week. St. Vincent’s has lactation consults on hand for new moms who may need additional instruction once home from the hospital. Call 939-7538 for a St. Vincent’s lactation consultant.
With mothers who are breastfeeding, it is important to remember that just as when you were pregnant, the nutrients you eat, your baby eats, so I suggest continuing to take your prenatal vitamins while you breastfeed. And though new moms are tempted to diet to get their pre-baby body back, while you are breastfeeding is not the time.
If you’re breast feeding, make sure you’re eating roughly 500 extra calories a day to sustain the breast feeding. And when it comes to losing the baby weight, give yourself a break. It took you nine months to gain it, so give yourself that amount of time to lose it.
And in addition to the extra calories, hydration is also key while breastfeeding. A good rule of thumb: Each time you sit down to breastfeed, grab yourself a glass of water, too.
At six weeks after birth, your doctor can give you the go-ahead to start exercise again. New moms are tempted to get back in the gym immediately, but your uterus is very fragile after birth.
But sometimes, baby blues can be a little more than just blues; it can sometimes be post-partum depression. If your occasional weepiness and moodiness do not subside about a month after giving birth, if could be post-partum depression, and you should call your doctor. Make sure to continue to do things you enjoy like reading, hobbies and going on dates with your husband. Just because you are a new mom doesn’t mean you have to not do the things you enjoy doing.
If you have people who love you enough to offer their help, let them. Take your husband up on his offer to watch the baby when he gets home from work in order for you to take a shower in peace or steal a few minutes of sleep. Sure he may not fold the clothes like you do, or load the dishwasher like you do, but there is something beautiful about his willingness to help out, so take him up on his offers.
Some churches have a list to bring food to new moms, so make sure to find out if your church offers anything like that, and get your name on the list. And to make meal time a little easier when you get home from the hospital, plan ahead (if you can) and make several crock pot meals to freeze before you head into the hospital. Even the most kitchen-phobic husbands can microwave an already-prepared meal if they need to.
Church is also a great place to find a reliable babysitter. It’s never too soon to start putting feelers out for babysitters and asking around your groups of friends. You may not be ready to leave your baby yet, but give it time and you’ll realize how nice a date night with your husband can be, especially when you’re baby is home with a sitter you trust.
But sometimes, as a new mom, you might think you have “please give me advice” tattooed on your forehead because lots of people will love to throw in their two cents. It can be a little overwhelming, so don’t second guess yourself. Just because you had a baby doesn’t mean your woman’s intuition has left. Trust yourself enough to listen to your own instincts and ask for help from someone you trust when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Make sure to reach out to girlfriends and other new moms. Even if you’re not ready or up for a night out with the girls, even a phone call, lunch date or a trip to the nail salon can do wonders for your mood.
And most importantly, remember that the chaos will not last forever. This is a very exciting time in a couple’s life, so revel in the chaos, be good to yourself and your spouse and enjoy this time.
Oh, and keep a camera handy at all times – trust me on that one.
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