5 Tips to Put You at Ease During Your Newborn’s First Weeks
Are my boobs working?
One of the biggest things I hear from the mothers I meet with, is concerns about milk supply and feeding behaviors. Moms always wonder if baby is getting enough and we are so quick to blame ourselves for any little thing that happens. Why is it that we assume every single problem or cry is related to hunger or something we failed to do?
Here is a list of 5 common concerns moms have in the first few weeks after the birth of a new baby.
1. Baby spits up after every feed
What if I told you your milk was perfect. It is exactly perfectly just what your baby needs. The risk of allergies to foods mom’s eating, or some other thing she’s doing, is a very small percentage of moms. Could it be that spitting up is: Baby is giving you back all the milk she doesn’t need?
Babies’ tummies are so tiny
On day one of life they have the stomach capacity of only 5-7 ml (marble size). By day 10 that capacity reaches 60-80 ml, often described as the size of a chicken egg. Think about that when you are concerned that your colostrum isn’t enough in the beginning. And when grandma comes over at day 3 or 4 trying to convince you that baby is starving. If you have been feeding often and on demand, it’s not likely that baby is starving. We live in a world of over-eating. We celebrate with food, we treat sadness or happiness or anything else we can with food. We, as a country, overeat. Newborn babies have a very small stomach capacity.
When a mom tells me baby threw up after every bottle, my first thought is never “something’s wrong with mom or her milk”, it’s always: “how much did she eat?” How many oz did you give her? Almost always the amount is inappropriate for the age of the baby. If you overfill a baby, they give back what they don’t have space for.
2. Baby is more difficult at night and can’t be settled
Every night for what seemed like months, but was probably more like weeks, my son lost it around 6pm. Didn’t matter what happened that day or how much we had fed, rocked, cleaned or played with him. At 6pm he became really rough for no reason at all. I never once assumed it was me or anything to do with my milk.
Some call it colic, some say gas, others say hunger but what fit the situation best was what my grandma called the witching hour. At the end of a long day my older kids came home from school and we had a lot of interaction between homework, dinner and baths. The baby boy was just over stimulated. Plain and simple. Life gets overwhelming when you’re new. This often starts around 2 to 3 weeks old and can last weeks or even months. The thing to remember is that it has nothing to do with your milk or babies intake of that milk.
3. Baby is starving/greedy/big/hungry and never seems satisfied
I hear this so often. More often than not, it’s a lack of setting realistic expectations of babies with moms. What may seem like all of the time, is often not so much, when feeds are broken down. Newborns take in such small amounts the first few days, and even weeks, that they seem to need to eat more often than new moms expect. If your belly only held a few tablespoons at a time, you would want to eat often also.
4. Not enough milk
This is by far the biggest concern. So, what happens? You think baby isn’t getting enough milk from you. You then start “Topping baby off” and after the bottle of formula baby sleeps. Unfortunately, this begins a cycle that’s hard to break. Every “Top Off” is a time when stimulation is lacking at the breast. It’s sending your body the opposite signal we want to send, by telling your breast that’s good, enough milk was made. However, your baby ate more. The next time you go to feed baby you will have even less milk to work with. This means you have to give more formula for the “top off.” Before you know it, you don’t have enough milk for baby and now the thought of pumping to increase supply while also supplementing becomes overwhelming. Why? Probably because you are tired and stressed from dealing with baby and cleaning bottles and pumping boobs. Before you offer that first “top off” try to ask yourself why you are giving it. Is it because a medical professional said to? Is it because baby is underweight or losing weight? Is it because you think you and your milk production is somehow inadequate? Keep in mind that, most of the time, feeding your baby often and on demand will provide everything baby needs with no need to “top off.”
5. When will I Sleep again? 18 – 25 years from now!
Seriously, though, you’ve just had a baby! They aren’t supposed to sleep through the night, that’s not the biological norm, despite what your mother in law says. I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s not normal for a new baby to sleep through the night. It doesn’t matter what or how you feed them, sleeping through the night is an unrealistic expectation of a newborn baby. Do some babies do it? Maybe, or maybe the mom saying that isn’t being completely honest. Or just doesn’t remember that it was actually months or years before her child slept through the night. Cut her some slack! She was probably sleep deprived also. Looking back though, we forget all the nighttime changing, feeding and rocking because, of course, we all had perfect babies.
Most importantly: Don’t give up
Seek help. Get help from family, friends and the professionals you have access to. Remember that when it comes to babies, and kids in general, everything is a season and in a week or two weeks things will look different. Whatever your baby’s doing this week, that you don’t seem to understand, don’t even worry because next week it will be something totally different that you’re trying to figure out!
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About the Author
Jennifer Bergman, Lactation Consultant - Guest Blogger
Jennifer Bergman, IBCLC is a mother of two boys and a girl. She is a board-certified, state licensed lactation consultant who resides in Dallas, GA. She is currently on staff at Breastfeed Atlanta LLC, helping moms in the Metro Atlanta Area, and owns a small private practice in her hometown. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.