Top 7 Survival Tips For The First Few Weeks After Having A Baby
Congrats on your new baby! As a new mom, it’s commong and normal to feel overwhelmed and sleep-deprived during the first few weeks after having a baby. Feedings, diaper changes and adjusting to a new routine, it can be challenging to get the rest you need. However, getting enough sleep is crucial for your physical and mental well-being.
I asked Eva Klein, a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant to give her insights on the newborn stage and here is what she had to say:
As a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, I’ve had the honor and privilege to work with thousands to families to help them get their little ones sleeping like champs so they can feel like functioning humans again. I’m SO passionate about helping new moms of newborns maximize their little ones’ sleep because sleep deprivation is one of the main risk factors for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. We specifically know that moms have a much lower rate of PPD and PPA if they can get a 5–6-hour uninterrupted stretch of sleep.
In fact, when Emunah (my oldest) was born, she gave me 4 hour stretches of sleep from the beginning and it was a game changer. This stretch of sleep made a massive difference in terms of my overall mental health. And I want the same for you!
In this blog post, I’ll share some postpartum survival tips and sleep insights specifically for new moms during your little one’s first few weeks of life.
1. Be aware of postpartum depression and anxiety- know the signs.
I want to go over some well-known signs of postpartum depression and anxiety that you should be looking out for so that you can get the help you need right away.
Don’t get me wrong, the “baby blues” are normal, but only to a degree. You may feel a little bit down, more irritable, or hormonal at times. But if these symptoms don't seem to go away after the first 2 weeks, speak to your healthcare provider.
Signs of PPD/PPA include:
Depressed mood or severe mood swings
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Withdrawing from family and friendsLoss of appetite or eating much more than usual
Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
Intense irritability and anger
Fear that you're not a good mother
Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
Severe anxiety and panic attacks
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
I want you to know that it’s very normal for new moms to develop PPA or PPD- the occurrence rate is 20-25%!
If any of these symptoms sound familiar or it seems like some of them explain what your day-to-day life feels like, reach out to your healthcare provider- there is help!
2. Have your partner do the first feed of the night so you can get a proper stretch of sleep.
Remember, your goal during this stage is to try getting that 5-6 hour stretch of sleep.
Here’s an example of how this can play out. Let's say your baby is due to eat at 8PM. You feed him and then hand him off to your partner. When the baby needs to eat again at 10 or 11 o'clock, you’d have your partner feed him and put him back to sleep. This can be done using a bottle or a lactation aid- it’s up to you!
By the time your baby is due for another feed, it will hopefully be in the 12am-1am range, allowing you to get that 4-5 hour stretch of sleep you need.
I can’t emphasize how much of a game changer this can be!
3. Ensure your little one feeds every 2-3 hours during the day.
Don't let your baby nap for 4-5 hours at a time during the day. They will end up skipping a daytime feed and need to eat more at night to compensate. You don’t want that long stretch of sleep to happen during the day. You want it happening at night!
Don't be afraid to wake your little one up to feed him during the day so that you get those calories in.
4. Make sure your baby is burped well.
Some babies are especially gassy and must be burped halfway through a feed, regardless of whether you're breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Otherwise, they won’t be happy.
5. Do your best to rest and hydrate yourself.
Although getting rest when you have a newborn might be a little easier said than done, do your best! Make sure that you always have water nearby as hydrating yourself will definitely help with your recovery.
6. Engage in “skin-to-skin”.
That means you undress your baby into just their diaper and put your undressed baby on your bare chest. This is fantastic for bonding, amongst other things.
Skin-to-skin has many benefits. It is the closest way your little one can get back to the warmth and security that the womb offered them over the last 9 months. If possible, mothers and babies should be in direct contact for at least the first 1-2 hours after giving birth.
Note: If a complication happens after you gave birth and skin to skin is not possible (which is what happened with Emunah), don't worry about it! My oldest is doing just fine and
bonded with me beautifully, even though she couldn't do skin-to-skin with me.
Top benefits of skin to skin:
Improvement in heart and lung function
Stabilization of body temperature
Regulation of blood sugar
Boost in maternal-child bonding
Reduction in crying
Easier transition from the womb
7. Expose your baby to lots of natural sunlight during the day.
This is especially important during the first few weeks of your little one's life when newborns don’t yet have a biological clock and famously struggle with “day-night confusion”.
See, our bodies know when it's morning and when it's nighttime because of our exposure to natural light. Your baby, on the other hand, has been in the womb for the last 9 months. They have no idea when it’s daytime and nighttime!
To help their bodies adjust and to help their biological clocks begin to develop, expose them to lots of natural sunlight during the day and keep them in a very dark environment at nighttime. The last thing you want is a baby that is sleeping all day and partying all night long.
In conclusion, the first few weeks after having a baby can be incredibly challenging. But with the right mindset and support, you can make it through! Above all, enjoy this special time with your new baby and don’t be too hard on yourself as you navigate this new chapter in your life.
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