GHS Cares: Top Six Tips for a New Mom (from a Dad’s perspective)
Happy Mother’s Day! That phrase has taken on a whole new meaning to me as my first child was born just a few weeks ago. The past month has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, feedings and diaper changes, lots of tears (both mom’s and baby’s), all rolled into a sleepless delirium. I will be offering a column each month targeted toward families with children. Please look for it beginning regularly beginning this summer.
As a new dad, I want to offer some new-baby tips for moms:
- Learn how to swaddle. Every baby is different when it comes to what comforts them when they are crying. Swaddling in a blanket will calm many babies because it makes them feel snug and secure. Swaddling may also help your baby sleep and can also prevent your baby from waking up if he startles while asleep. Not every baby likes to be swaddled, however. If he is frequently breaking out of the swaddle, it may be time to stop swaddling him because you do not want loose blankets in the crib. You also want to stop swaddling when he is able to roll over. Remember not to swaddle the hips tightly because it can affect their hip development. When it comes to comforting your newborn, just remember the S’s: swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking (using a pacifier — if breastfeeding, try to wait until 2-4 weeks of life when breastfeeding is well established).
- Use only a fitted sheet. To reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), cover the mattress (which you want to be firm) with a fitted sheet only. Avoid using blankets, stuffed animals, and bumper pads because they could cover your baby’s mouth and nose. Also, he should sleep on his back!
- Sleep when your baby sleeps. While newborn babies typically sleep 18 or more hours a day, your baby will wake up every 2-3 hours to eat! This can be exhausting, so try to sleep when he does. Room darkening shades may help.
- Ask for help when you need it and let others help you. A new baby is a lot of work! If you need a quick nap or just a break, give the baby to Dad or another family member for a while. Going outside for some fresh air and sunshine can help. You do not have to do it all, so don’t feel guilty asking for help. If your baby is very fussy, no one is there to help, and you are feeling very frustrated, it is okay to put the baby in his crib, shut the door, and take a break for a few minutes.
- Talk to your doctor or a loved one. After your baby is born, your life is forever changed and your hormones are all over the place. This can have a big impact on your emotional well-being. Many women go through a period of emotional changes after giving birth. Let your significant other or doctor know if you’re feeling sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, or helpless. Mild symptoms are common the first 2 weeks or so after birth, but if symptoms last longer or are extreme, take care of yourself and ask for help.
- Trust your instincts. You know your child better than anyone. If something seems different and you are worried, talk to your baby’s doctor. Some of the reasons you’d want to call your baby’s pediatrician are: fever (rectal temperature of 100.4 F or higher); skin looks more yellow; difficult to wake; has fewer than 3 wet diapers daily after the 5th day of life; excessive crying; or any other concerns.
Dr. Kelly Hayes is a board-certified pediatrician expanding community access to quality pediatric care at Granville Primary Care, Oxford. The practice is located at 1032 College Street in Oxford.