Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Surviving with a newborn...

The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances...
Newborns are challenging to care for,  to say the least,  especially for first time parents.  Despite having the amazing support of my mother and mother in law, I still struggled with certain things until my awesome brother-in-law who is a pediatrician gave me the  Mayo Clinic Guide To Your Baby's First Year book. I can't say that this is the best baby book out there but it worked well for me. My little one is now nearly 8 months and I still do flip through this book every so often. It is well illustrated and has good information that is easy to digest.

For some reason, prior to him giving  me the book, it had never even occurred to me to find answers to my concerns in a book or online. Once I started reading the book, I realized that there were so many things I was worrying about that were considered normal. The book quickly became my baby bible, I would always flip through it if I had any concerns and then I'd back that up with  research online for more information.  I mean why bother doing things the hard way when people with experience and medical expertise have helpful tips and suggestions to make things easier. One thing I will state  is that people who haven't had a child recently, despite having experience may not remember certain little details with accuracy and may not have the most up to date information on things. Not to mention the fact that all babies are different so just take all the advice you get and then filter it to suit your situation.

Babies are only considered newborns from birth until the reach three months of age, but I tell you those three months can feel like an eternity if you don't know what you are doing.  The best newborn survival tip is to distinguish between what is considered normal newborn behaviour and what isn't. It was so helpful and less stressful to just accept certain things rather than fight against them. Here are some common traits of newborns.

Newborns want to be held, ALL THE TIME:  This is just one of those facts I wish I had known from the beginning.  People told me if I held my baby too much she would be spoilt, so I kept trying to put her down, but she would scream murder if I put her down for half a minute, and then people would say oh maybe its because you spoiled her already. Hold the phone! she was just born a few days ago, how can she be spoiled already?  Think of it logically the baby has been inside a warm and cozy womb for months and is used to the feeling of being held tightly, all of sudden they are on the outside and not to pleased about being left to lie down on their own. They feel comforted by being held, it soothes their colic, gas and other tummy troubles, plus the sound of your heartbeat is a familiar rhythm to them.  I found out that this is a normal stage that most newborns go through and usually grow out of by the time they hit 6 weeks.  Once I realized that this was a normal thing and that there was nothing wrong with my baby wanting to be held all the time. I decided to take the advice of other blogging moms and enjoy it. I  made sure I was in a comfortable chair and then I would read books, watch movies, sleep, eat, basically do everything with my baby in my arms. She was happy and I was happy.  What more could I ask for? True to the advice I received, around the 6 -8 week mark she became more interested in the world around her and less clingy. She was okay to be put down for longer and longer periods of time.
Having a baby carrier, or boppy pillow can help you carry your baby around for longer without your arms getting too tired.

Newborns don't like silence. This one really got me. We never understood why she would sleep better during the day when it was noisy but wouldn't sleep well at night when it was silent.  It wasn't until it got a bit warm and we installed an air conditioning unit that we realized she slept so much better with the repeating hum of the fan or a/c.  It also drowns out other noises we make in the room that would usually wake her up. I considered getting a white noise machine such as the sound conditioner by Marpac and even tried certain white noise CD's, but in the end I just downloaded a few rainfall sound tracks from itunes and looped them to make a CD for her. We play it on repeat all night and we no longer have to tip toe around at night.

Newborns don't want to sleep on their backs.  The back to sleep campaign is pushing all parents to always put their babies to sleep on their backs, this is considered the safest position for children under the age of one. The AAP believes that letting a newborn sleep on their stomach or side without supervision can increase their chances of SIDS.  Surprisingly all the newborns must have missed that memo, because most of them don't enjoy sleeping on their back at all! For us this meant many sleepless nights, we eventually resorted to putting her in the car seat at night,  because that allowed her to be in a semi-reclined position which she preferred over being flat on her back. When we received the Fisher Price rock & play sleeper that I mentioned in my Nursery post, we were delighted. It was a God-send because it also allows the baby to sleep in a reclined position.  We did also sometimes put her to sleep on her belly but only when we were in the room with her and I would watch her anxiously like a hawk.  She slept very soundly on her belly so it made me secretly resent the back to sleep campaign, although I do agree that the back position is the safest.

Newborns sleep very loudly People always use the phrase 'slept like a baby' and I'm not sure where that saying originated from because newborns do not sleep peacefully at all!  My newborn was a very loud and restless sleeper, she would snore, laugh, grunt, clear her throat, scratch her face, gargle and pant in her sleep. It was actually really sweet and funny, how she would randomly make all these sounds in her sleep. I was told it is normal for babies to breath inconsistently while sleeping: ie hold their breath, start breathing really rapidly or panting and then go back to breathing normally. I don't know the medical explanation for this, except that it definitely does happen. But it all faded away around the 6-8 week mark.

Newborns have no other way to communicate except to cry.  It got really frustrating for me sometimes to have her constantly crying about something. but I am sure it was more frustrating for her because she was trying to tell me something and I couldn't figure it out. As she got older it became easier to tell what she wanted because she makes different sounds now, and has different facial expressions. She can clap when she is happy or rub her eyes when she is sleepy or scratch her diaper when she wants to be changed. But as a newborn she couldn't do any of that so every time she cried it was a challenge for me to figure out what she wanted.

Newborns hiccup a lot:  My baby would get hiccups constantly and they would last forever. It really bothered me and worried me, but my doctor kept reassuring me it was fine and would go away by itself. She was right

Newborns sneeze a lot:Again usually nothing to worry about, its just one of those things that happens and can be worrying when they keep sneezing over and over.

Newborns can't distinguish between night and day, and the majority of newborns will prefer to sleep during the day, because that's when you are up and about, making noises that rock them to sleep. The silence at night time bothers them in the beginning. It's frustrating when you want to sleep at night but they don't get it. We realized that we had to teach her that night time was for bed & quiet time by repeating the same night time routine every night, starting with a bath ( when her belly button healed),  dimming the lights, turning on her rainfall sounds, and talking in hushed tones.

Newborns truly respond to The five S system For most babies at least.  The 5 S system was developed by Dr Karp, and consists of:

  1. Swaddling This basically means tightly wrapping the baby in a blanket. The key word here is tight because "If it ain't tight it ain't right". If the baby can get out of the swaddle then it's not tight enough. A lot of people think the baby won't be comfortable if its too tight, so they wrap their baby loosely and then say swaddling doesn't work. Think about it logically, this same baby was tightly squished inside your womb, they can handle being tightly wrapped as long as their arms are in the right position. If you swaddle them correctly, it instantly calms them down and helps them sleep  for longer.  It works because firstly they can't wake themselves up with their startle reflex; i.e. throwing their hands up or hitting their face with their hands.  The tight pressure also soothes colic or other tummy problems which newborns deal with because their digestive system is not used to food. This picture found on the back of the Aden & Anais swaddle blanket pack explains how to do a basic swaddle. 
It is really important to use the right type of blanket to swaddle.  In the beginning we didn't like the Aden and Anais blankets for swaddling because they have a slight stretch to them so she was always able to break out. We liked the Garanimals receiving blankets,they are quite stiff more like the hospital blankets.  Fleece blankets don't work well for swaddling at all.

There are also wearable swaddle blankets,which are made with velcro, or zippers or cut in such a way that it is easier to use, such as the Woombie, Miracle blanket or Swaddle me.

Woombie, Miracle blanket & Swaddle me
I heard nothing but awesome things about all 3 brands and decided to try the Miracle blanket, but I hated it. I will be posting my review on it shortly!
Overall our baby was fine being swaddled in the hospital and for the first week home however she sweats easily so the swaddle would always make her too hot and she would fight and always figure a way to ger her arms out. So we stopped swaddling for night time, but it still does work to calm her down though.

    2.  Side/Stomach Placing the baby ( while holding the baby and while still swaddled) on their  
         belly or on their side, preferably the left side as this soothes them and helps aid digestion. It can instantly calm them down.

   3.  Swinging Babies grow accustomed to all the motion they experience while being in the womb, to they miss that in the early days which is why so newborn seats and bouncers incorporate some form of swinging,rocking or vibrating motion. Swinging the baby in your arms while swaddled can help

   3.  Shushing  It will make you sound and feel ridiculous but it does work, for it to work you have to make shushing sounds continuously as loud as you can for as long as you can.  You can also play white noise instead. You should play it louder than you would play regular music, and you can reduce the volume as the baby calms down. The sound of running water helps too which is why we ended up with the rainfall CD.
 4.  Sucking Babies are immediately calmed down by sucking on something, although most parents would ideally prefer for their child to refrain from sucking a pacifier or their thumb,  sometimes in the newborn stage it is necessary to give them a pacifier if the baby still isn't calm after the 1st four steps.

1 comment:

  1. Newborns seems so fragile, that thought alone terrifies me!