When I was pregnant for my first child, I had a lot of questions. I’ve always been the kind of person who tries to research things and likes to be prepared before things happen. I read over and over about how once I had my baby my mother instinct would take over and I would intuitively know how to handle different situations.
That first night home from the hospital, my baby wouldn’t stop crying and my husband and I found ourselves pouring over our well-worn copy of What to Expect the First Year … trying desperately to figure out how to make the crying stop. Whatever motherly instincts I was supposed to have didn’t kick in… and I remember being very frustrated at myself that I didn’t know how to do to things instinctively as the experts said I would.
Here are a few of the myths I encountered as well as some baby tips for new moms:
Myth #1: You will instinctively be able to tell what your baby needs by listening to the difference in their cries.
Some moms may be able to do this, but it was never something I could do. When a newborn baby comes home from the hospital and is seemingly crying a lot, it can be very frustrating. Especially since it seems to happen mostly in the middle of the night when you aren’t able to think clearly.
Tip #1 – Is is very comforting to have a manual around with lists in it, such as What to Expect the First Year. Go down the list of suggestions and try everything until you’re able to comfort your child.
Tip #2 – For the first few weeks, write everything down. They have you do it in the hospital so that you will get familiar with your baby. Continue to do it once you get home as your baby will be awake much more after you leave the hospital and their patterns will change. Write down when you started and ended feeding, when you change diapers, when they’ve slept, how you were able to comfort your child, if you were able to get good burps out of them… everything you can think of. This will help you to determine what is wrong the next time they cry.
Tip #3 – Watch the clock. This is especially helpful if you have been keeping track of things as tip #2 suggests. Sometimes, if you’ve tried everything, you may be discovering when your baby’s fussy time will regularly occur. This will help you not to get as frustrated and to know that nothing is wrong and you just need to try to comfort your baby.
Baby Tips for New Moms – When your Baby Is Crying:
- Check/change their diaper. Make sure they aren’t wet, stinky, don’t have a pin or the point of a tab sticking them. Make sure they were cleaned thoroughly during the last diaper change. Make sure they don’t need diaper rash ointment. Here are some great overnight diaper recommendations from My Babies Planet!
- Has it been long enough that your child might be hungry? If not, don’t offer them food or they may over-eat and cause more stomach upset.
- Did you get good burps out of your baby after they ate last time? If not, try burping them again. Or try changing their position. If you’re holding them upright, try laying them on their tummy over your lap. Rub their back in an upwards motion to try to move any trapped gas out of their belly.
- Is it their natural fussy time? Many babies have a certain time during the day when they will be fussy – even if nothing is wrong. If you have learned a trick to help comfort them, try to use that at this time. If you can’t get them to stop crying and you are getting frustrated, either have your husband give it a try or put your baby down in their crib or a swing and walk away. You don’t want to get too frustrated and end up shaking your baby.
- Does your baby feel secure? Try swaddling your baby in a receiving blanket. You probably noticed that the nurses did this the entire time your baby was in the hospital. Your baby is used to being in a cramped space and they actually feel better for the first several weeks if they are wrapped snuggly in a blanket.
- Have you over-stimulated your baby? Babies are used to being in a dark, fairly quiet space and it is possible to give them too much light or too much noise. They aren’t afraid of the dark. Turn off some of the lights, try to quiet some of the noise and see if this helps. If you played some music frequently while you were pregnant, you can try turning some of this on quietly to see if it will help to settle your baby.
Myth #2: Once you’re holding that beautiful baby, you’ll just know what to do.
That certainly didn’t happen with me. I relied heavily on the nurses telling me what to do while I was in the hospital. And I remember feeling very anxious and almost surprised that they were letting my husband and I leave the hospital with the baby when I had absolutely no idea what we were doing.
Tip #4 – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Grandparents want to be helpful and sometimes don’t know when to offer information and when to back off. If you ask questions or ask for help, they are usually more than happy to step forward and give their two cents. Take advantage of this.
Tip #5 – Pediatricians are a good resource. You will have to take your baby to the doctor fairly frequently when they are a newborn. Be sure to write down any questions you may have so that you remember to ask once you get to their office.
Tip #6 – There are lots of great resources out there for new parents. Either buy a book or find a few good websites to help you get over the initial hump and get on the road to being a confident parent.
Myth #3: Breastfeeding is natural and your baby will be born knowing how to do it.
Breastfeeding is natural – but it is definitely an acquired skill. Do not be embarrassed that you and your baby don’t instinctively know what to do without any help.
Tip #7 – Take advantage of the lactation consultant while you’re still in the hospital. Have them take a look at how your baby is latching on to make sure they are doing it correctly. Otherwise you will end up getting REALLY sore and that can lead to lots of problems.
Tip #8 – Once you are home, you can still call the lactation consultant to ask them questions. Be sure to get their contact information BEFORE you leave the hospital to make it easier if you do need their services after you’re home.
Tip #9 – After you breastfeed, put lanolin on your nipples to prevent them from getting dry and cracking I would highly recommend Lansinoh.
Tip #10 – If you do find yourself starting to get sore, you can get a nipple shield from a medical supply company or online. A nipple shield will allow your baby to nurse while also allowing your nipples to heal. Be sure to start using one before you get too sore or you may still have a hard time nursing due to the pain.
As you can see by these baby tips for new mothers, taking care of your newborn baby isn’t necessarily instinctive. But with a little bit of work and a little bit of time, you will learn about your child’s likes and dislikes, their habits, and their needs. And before you know it, you will know what to do to take care of your baby properly.
Question: If you have any further tips you’d like to share with other new moms please leave a comment below.