Sunday, January 29, 2012

newborn learnings

as the oldest of 9 children, i've often felt like i'ad already been a mom many times over, so the idea of having my own children was never daunting or scary.  i always thought i'd be more than adequately prepared for when it happened.  i mean, i had changed more than my fair share of diapers growing up, had baby-sat (both my own siblings and neighborhoods full of kids) more than anyone else i knew, and had always loved babies.  plus, i love to read/research, and i had done plenty of that in regards to childcare in the months leading up to ronan's birth, so i felt as prepared as i could be.

but having my own child, someone who depends on me for EVERYTHING is a completely different story!  i often found myself overwhelmed and unsure about what to do these first few weeks of ronan's life.  so before this time become a distant memory, for my sake i wanted to jot down some of my key learnings, mostly practical, that i've taken away (from our pediatrician, mommy friends and online resources).

  • hiccups are normal - ronan get the hiccups A LOT!  after almost every feeding, and while they don't seem to bother him all that much, it breaks my heart to see his whole body shake with them for long stretches of time.  but according to his doctor, hiccups are very normal, some babies are just more prone to them, and really they're just caused by spasms of the esophagus.  the best thing i can do is make sure he's adequately burped and wait it out.
  • keep the baby uprightt - at a 45 degree angle at least - after a feeding, for about 15 minutes.  this should greatly help with tummy/gas issues and even hiccups.
  • burp sitting up - rather than placing ronan over my shoulder and patting his back, our pediatrician said a better method when babies are this young is to sit them up, place your hand under their chin to hold their head in place, and pat them on the back.  this method has definitely been more successful with ronan.
  • pump legs in bicycle motion - advice given by a dear friend and mommy of two, this helps extract the gas bubbles that sometimes cause him pain.
  • congestion is normal - i managed to catch a pretty bad cold toward the end of ronan's first week home, and it lasted over a week.  i was extremely congested among other things, and started to notice that ronan was also becoming more congested.  on the couple of occasions i asked the pediatrician and his nurse about this, i was reassured that congestion is very normal in newborns and it would only be concerning if he was so congested it interfered with him breastfeeding.  most likely he didn't catch anything from me, and it was important for me to NOT keep my distance from him, as the antibodies provided in my breast milk were very much needed by him.  i was advised, however, to not kiss on him while sick, and let me just say that was the hardest thing ever!!
  • rapid breathing or panting is normal - again, very common in newborns, and i noticed it never lasts for very long.
  • using a pacifier is ok - this is more of a personal decision and something i just had to come to terms with.  i had sworn i wouldn't use a pacifier with my children but that went out the window the at ronan's first dr. apt on day 2 when he was screaming bloody murder b/c his feeding was long overdue. the paci worked wonders, and while we won't be using it all the time, it's definitely come in handy since.  plus i was reading pacifiers have been show to decrease the risk of SIDS...go figure.
  • newborns don't require daily baths - they don't really get dirty, so sponge baths every few days or even once a week are adequate, especially until their umbilical stump falls off.  also, it's important to keep water out of their ears when washing their hair as it could lead to ear infections.
  • newborns can't see clearly more than 12-18 inches away - apparently, their eyesight is perfect from the beginning, but their brains can't process all the information they see until about 6 months of age, so in the beginning, they can only focus on objects 12-18 inches away.  they also love high contrast colors, and i definitely notice he's drawn to black & white.  the nurse recommended a black & white mobile...maybe a project i can work on when my crafty sister comes to visit in a week.  :-)
  • spit-up is ok - as long as it's not projectile vomit, it's normal for babies to spit-up
  • colic usually doesn't set in until the 3rd week or so - i always assumed that colicky babies were like that from the very beginning, but that's supposedly not the case.  also, in order for a baby to be considered 'colicky' they must cry for more than 3 hours/day, 3 times/week for at least 3 months.  so far so good with ronan, and i'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed.  i CANNOT imagine how difficult it would be to have a baby that was inconsolable for that length of time.
  • hats are good - babies (and probably adults also) lose about 80% of their body heat through their heads, so our doctor recommended a hat for ronan, and the romo mama in me is more than happy to oblige.  even though our house has been kept at 72-73%, it always seems just a bit cold, especially downstairs, so having a hat on his sweet little head just makes me feel better.  

i know this list will continue to grow as i continue to learn the oh-so-many things i DIDN'T know about raising a newborn!

would also love to hear what you other moms out there learned along the way...


and because i can't help myself, here's a quick pic of my little man in one of the most adorable little outfits he's received - and so appropriate for our little RBI!  :)


Bobi said...

you covered pretty much everything I can think of right now. There is a lot of learning happening once a child enters a family. I love to learn I just don't ever want to take a test on what I'm learning :).

jgorger said...

great list. I also say, never say never and its ok to change your mind. Just like you said about the pacifier thing, you just have to do what works, even if its different from what you always thought you would do. (ps. I hope Ronan isn't colicky either, both my kids were and its rough...but at least it does end! With Aidan I never believed it would end...I thought that was just how it was! Em was the same way, and knowing it would pass was one of the only things that got me through it without losing my mind.)