As wonderful as it is, being a parent has its drawbacks for the first time: You're going through a big life change with little sleep and without the benefit of experience. But you're adapting, your faith is increasing and the periods of overnight sleep are extending — and you may soon feel ready to expand your family again.
Do not be surprised when you do, if everything feels less intense. For the first time, science proves that becoming a mother is generally more intense both physically and emotionally than the experience with later children.
Here are some of the ways the body adapts during and after pregnancy:
- Your pelvis bone structure stretches slightly and your hips carry more padding
- Your breasts may change shape after they no longer fill up with milk
- Your areola, labia and moles may darken
- Your bladder muscle tone may weaken, causing long-time urinary problems
- You may become more constipated
- You may experience hair loss
As a new parent, you 're likely to have concerns about everything from starting with breastfeeding to washing and bathing your infant, and changing their nappy. Here's a fast guide to what you need to know about taking care of your new baby during those exhausting yet wonderful early weeks.
Getting to know your new baby
Newborn babies don't come with an instruction manual, so you're expected to have tonnes of questions about their behaviour and appearance to begin with.
You'll find some of the answers you need in getting to know your newborn.
Breastfeeding your new baby
At first it might feel like your baby is constantly eating, but you and your baby will slowly get into a routine, and the amount of milk you produce will slow down. Feed your child as often as you wish. This is known as baby-led feeding. Let your baby decide when they have had enough.
Remember - choosing not to breastfeed does not make you a bad mother. Others placing pressure on you and making you feel guilty if you prefer bottle over breast is wrong. If you're choosing breast, good for you, but if you'd rather the bottle route for whatever reasons personal to yourself, that's fine too.
Find out more about breastfeeding here.
Washing and bathing your new baby
The first few days you do not need to bathe your son. Instead you would prefer to carefully wash their face, back, hands and feet. Sometimes, this is called tailing and topping. Pick a time when your child is awake and happy. Make sure the room is warm, and get all ready in advance. A bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and clean clothes if necessary.
How to change your baby's nappy
Babies need to make frequent changes to their nappies. Do not leave them too long in a wet or dirty nappy, as their wee and the bacteria in their poop can make their skin sore and lead to nappy rash.
Soothing a crying baby
Crying is your baby's way of telling you they need comfort and care. But it's not always easy to work out what they want. Find out why your baby may be crying and how to soothe them.
Helping your baby sleep
It is common for new babies to only sleep through the night for 2 to 3 hours at a time, and throughout the day. One reason for that is that newborn babies are still not tuned into day and night. In the early months , babies also grow rapidly, and have very small stomachs. Which means that they have to eat little, and often. As your baby grows, they will start to gradually need fewer night feeds and sleep for longer at night.
For more tips on how to help your baby sleep, read our blog post.
How to tell if your baby is seriously ill
If a baby is severely sick it can be hard to say. It is necessary to trust your instincts above all else. You know your baby better than anyone else and you'll know whether it's worried from their appearance or actions. See what serious illness your child has? For a "red alert" checklist of symptoms which should always be treated as serious.
Say goodbye to lie-ins!
Everyone will tell you this prior to the arrival of the baby. They aren't lying. Just take a minute to think about that.
But even with all of the above, parenthood is the single best thing you'll ever do in your lifetime. When it boils down to it, nothing compares to creating, nurturing, and rearing you own little human being. It's completely selfish, yet purely selfless. It is a privilege. It is a blessing. Enjoy every single minute of it.