Archive for the ‘Newborn tips’ Category

One of the most beautiful things I’ve noticed about newborns is that they’re born with their own particular smell, and this smell washes off with the first bath. My son smelled like raw chicken, permanently fresh, and when we bathed him at 1 week old the smell went away. Then my daughter was born smelling like roses, and again as soon as she was born the smell disappeared. Savor this first scent. If you do have a baby and write to tell me about it, I will often write or text back to sniff the top of their head for me. That’s the main source of this special bonding smell.

It drives me mad in Israeli hospitals that they feel a need to take the baby away from mama, and take him to the nursery (tinokiya) for observation and tests for a few hours, even if the mother has opted for rooming in. I always remain with the mother for a number of hours after the birth, so that the dad can accompany the baby to these tests and make sure nothing is done that they don’t want, and that the baby is handled gently. (People in any job are always more likely to be careful if they are being watched.) One of the first things they want to do is give the baby his first bath. I always talk with parents when preparing their birth plan about NOT washing the baby for a week. Babies are born sterile, un-colonized by bacteria. If the mother hasn’t received antibiotics, then her birth canal is populated by normal, healthy bacteria. Not only that, but the area where the baby is born (between her legs) helps expose him to healthy gut bacteria. Within the next 24 hours those bacteria multiply and colonize his skin, and start promoting healthy gut function. When we wash his protective vernix covering, we’re also washing off the normal bacteria of his family and instead exposing him to hospital bacteria! Now of course, they use heavy antibacterial cleaners, which means that the gentile, benign bacteria are killed off and the heavy duty rare surviving bacteria are likely to be what we commonly call hospital bugs. Mutant bacteria, unhealthy results. Hospitals are full of sick people. If you can’t have your baby at home, where the surroundings have fewer sick people, then please, please be sure to leave on his first exposure to healthy bacteria as well as the protective vernix. The bacteria that colonize a baby’s skin are with him for life, and the long term effects of this first colonization are unknown. For a more in-depth study of this concept I strongly recommend Sarah J Buckley MD’s book, Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering. She is a doctor, birth professional, mother, and has done a ton of research in this field!

One of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard a pediatrician say in Israel is that he simply refuses to do the baby checks of an unwashed newborn, in case he gets an infection. My suggestion to him is to put gloves on – then he’ll be protected from this ‘dangerous’ new little life! Or let someone else look at my newborn, thank you very much.

If your baby has done a meconium poo then rub it off with a clean cloth or use sterile, cooled boiled water to gently sponge him off. There’s still no reason for a full bath – the first poo is not stinky or gross. It is the substance that padded out his gut from the time he was first formed, and means that he is ready to fill it with food now.

A lot of babies are born with a thick creamy film covering their body and thickly nestling in their creases, called vernix. It’s the best body lotion ever, made naturally! God designed it to protect their growing skin while immersed in fluid in the womb, from getting waterlogged and cracked. Some mothers use the excess on their own face – it’s rich and beautiful and 100% natural. There’s no need to rub this off off your baby; leave it on to soak in. You can even gently rub it in, giving your baby his first ‘baby massage’. Touch is relaxing, comforting, and bonds the two of you together. One of the coolest posts I’ve come across lately is this one by Rosie Pharo, a massage and aromatherapist of London, about the amazing antibody rich protecting properties of vernix.

So, wait until the first, sacred week of life is over. They’re not rolling in the mud, and any messy poos can be swabbed away with cooled, boiled (sterile) water and a cotton ball. Goopy eyes or dribbled milk can be gently cleaned away in the same way. After the first week, then use a mild, chemical (ie soap) free bath. I’m sure that over-sensitization of skin in small children (allergies) must have some connection to all the early exposure to chemicals and lotions, smells and baby wipes we use in the first weeks of life. Take it easy on that baby’s skin! Warm water is all that’s needed.

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First, well done for looking past the labour itself and thinking through how you’ll take care of your baby.  Some people (myself included first time around!) are so focused on the labor itself that we forget to prepare for the awesome task of caring for a newborn. Breastfeeding can be more complicated than you ever imagined it could be, and a lot of people give up before they’ve even given it their best shot. As always, my firm belief is that a little extra understanding and mental preparation can make a world of difference in the first place.

When, Where, and How Long

The first few days of feeding, as you may well already know, your newborn receives only a few swallows of colostrum, which is so nutrient rich that it suffices. But let him/her feed as often as they wish: usually they’ll fall asleep on one side, but if they keep going for 20 minutes switch them over to have a go on the other side. Once your milk comes in (you may catch the first little pleasantly surprised eyebrow raise if you’re watchful – so cute!) stay on one side for each feed. It’s only around the age of 3-4 weeks that a baby will start fighting at the breast, getting angry and latching and re latching and grizzling, – those are the signs that the baby has finished the breast and should be switched to the other side. (It may be earlier if your baby is especially big or hitting a growing spurt early.) From now on, even if your child has fallen asleep on the first breast, sit them up, burp them and offer them the second. They may or may not take you up on the offer. Next feed, you’ll always start with with the breast that was only 1/2 emptied the time before, ie the second breast. That one will feel fuller, and have a greater percentage of rich hindmilk built up.

403px-breastfeeding_infantGetting a good latch is of utmost importance in the first weeks. The baby should open very wide, and take a huge mouthful, NOT suck the nipple in like a straw. Brush their nose and cheeks with your breast and the stimulation should help them respond by opening wide. Be patient and wait for that wide mouth. You’ll know when they’ve got enough of a mouthful when you see the little muscle by the temple (near the ear) working away, meaning they’re using their jaw to work milk out and not just sucking on your tender skin. If your baby has not gotten a good latch, break the suction with your little finger and back away, try again. Even if it takes re-latching a dozen times a feed, that’s okay, as long as the feeding takes place with the proper latch, otherwise you will get sore. It takes 6-8 weeks for a newborn and a mother to learn to breastfeed fluently, it is a learning curve for both of you, so set aside the time, be patient. Suddenly you will find that things get easier as you both settle into a groove.

Mostly, think confidently. Get someone who is experienced and positive to come and handle your baby infront of you, so that you can see with your own eyes the variety of ways one can burp and comfort a baby, and what durable little creatures they are. Your baby will feel calmer if you hold him/her securely, without nerves, and your milk will be more abundant and flow freer if you are feeling whole and serene. I know that’s a tall order, but if you’re getting stressed about breastfeeding then remind yourself to stay centered. Let others do the laundry/dishes/carrying groceries, anyone who offers take them up on it! Let them pick your older child up from gan/school, ask them to pick up some fruit and bread at the store. Put your feet up.  Rushing around keeping things clean and orderly will deplete your milk-making reserves.

Make a breastfeeding corner in a favorite chair, have a drink (water or juice, nothing caffeinated or fizzy) handy as breastfeeding is thirsty work, and a healthy snack to prevent youself from reaching for the biscuit tin.  Eat some apple or cucumber first. The biscuit only comes after the healthy snack. Don’t overdue on one particular food group, anything overindulged will affect your milk and give baby a tummyache. Variety is best.

Those are my general rules of thumb, I hope they give you a good boost starting out this new journey!

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Babies are born with little concept of the difference between day and night, in fact while you were pregnant it may have been that your baby woke up and started dancing as soon as the sensed you’d layed down and relaxed! Your stomach muscles weren’t tense anymore and he was enjoying the aditional space availble to move around.

Now that he’s joined you in the real world, it is up to you to teach him that human beings sleeeeep at nighttime. Here are a few tips to help you with this educational process:

  • Do not make eye contact if he wakes to feed at night.
  • Do not speak or sing to him. Stay silent.
  • Keep body contact to a minimum, as soon as he has had enough and falls off the breast lay him directly back in his crib and go back to bed yourself.
  • Do not turn on lights, TV or radio. If you should need to see to latch him on the breast, have one of those little press nightlights: they’re round, battery run and you push on them to give off a gentle light that lasts one minute. Find them at at any hardware store.
  • Sometimes dad is the one who gets up to fetch the baby, so that you can stay in bed and feed lying down. As soon as the baby finishes his feed, dad gets up and puts him back to bed. Not every dad is able/willing to do this, but sometimes dad really wants to become involved in the feeding process for bonding sake, and this is a great responsibility for him. It lets you stay sleeping longer too, so he’s nuturing both of you. Of course he’d have to follow the no-talking/eye contact rules too.

The goal is to offer your baby no stimulation, no interaction or play at all at nighttime, so he’ll understand that it’s terribly boring at night. It’s not at all worth staying up for. He can’t even get you to play or cuddle him extra. Don’t run to his crib the minute he first wimpers, wait a moment until it’s a real cry for food, because sometimes they just waken slightly, not hungry, and he can drop off again to sleep by himself, which is something you really want him to be able to do. This is a wonderful skill!

Hope that you find some of this helpful, and that you get some more sleep/life back soon.

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