Having a baby inside you has been an amazing experience, but it can be a daunting process when the baby is born. You may find yourself worrying that you have no clue what to do, but you’re not alone. You can take a sigh of relief as all she will do is sleep, cry, and feed. Your role in these early weeks is to provide the food, give comfort, and keep them safe.
Your baby in the first month – instincts and reflexes
A baby is born with skills right from birth. They are able to hear and therefore, will recognise your voice and those of the people around you frequently during pregnancy. They can also respond to music they have heard inside the womb and recognise it when born. They can also see contrasts and therefore turn towards bright lights and focus on objects about 30cm away. Your baby will also make sounds, but it will mainly involve cooing and crying.
They might demonstrate some instinctive newborn behaviours such as the ‘moro’ reflex where they flinch when alarmed; the rooting and sucking reflexes; the grasping reflex; and the walking reflex where they will automatically want to walk when holding your hands.
Your newborn baby’s appearance
You may not be fully aware of some aspects of your baby’s appearance as there are some unusual features such as the cord stump, which will fall off eventually and don’t be alarmed if it gets infected, just take them to a doctor; the head as it can often appear a different shape or swollen and there will be a soft spot on top of the head which is very delicate. It is where the skull has not fully developed; the eyes, they could turn a yellow colour due to jaundice but let your midwife know; spotty skin, as babies may get little white spots called milk spots that are completely harmless.
Your Baby’s sleep in the first month
The tales you were told about not getting any sleep and spending days inside in your pyjamas because you haven’t got the energy to get dresses, they are true! New babies tend to sleep a lot throughout the day, but without any pattern – they tend to sleep an average of 16 hours a day. They do not yet have a complete body clock which explains why they wake regularly. You may be up throughout the night, but you will adapt, and in the end, it all seems worthwhile.
For the first month, it is best to let them sleep when they want, and gradually a bedtime routine can be set in place. Once you understand your babies sleeping pattern at night try not to immediately reward them with milk when they wake in the night try to change them first and then feed as this will help reduce the number of times they wake up in the night.
Talking and bonding with your baby
You may know, but you can help your child’s intellectual development right from birth. Experts believe it is never too early to talk to your baby, plus your voice will help soothe because it is one they have heard through their life in the womb.
You may not fully bond with your baby, and this is nothing to be worried about. Many new mothers find it challenging to connect to their child and become very frustrated because of it. You need to concentrate on your own well-being too and try talking to your partner or a professional and telling them how you feel.
You may also experience feelings of being down in the dumps, but again, don’t worry! Many mothers get the ‘baby blues‘ due to your hormones being all over the place and the sheer exhaustion of looking after a baby. Also, if the birth was difficult, that will be a contributing factor. However, they should pass quickly. This is not to be confused with postnatal depression which lasts longer.