After Giving Birth, 0-3 Months

Safe sleeping

Or maybe this should be called not sleeping. Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the most challenging aspects of parenthood. Especially when you’re a first timer and you’re trying to master your “new job”, on two hours of broken sleep a night. How or why any of us ever have a second baby is beyond me :)

Read our full Baby Sleeping Article >

Weight gain

Your health visitor will weigh your baby when she visits you at home. After birth your baby will actually lose weight, but she will probably have regained this weight by the time she is around two weeks old. Once your home visits with the health visitor come to an end, you can attend baby clinics where you can have your baby weighed.

Your baby’s weight is recorded in their Personal Child Health Record (red book). Breast fed babies gain weight slower than bottle fed babies. The World Health Organisation are introducing new charts specifically for breast fed babies, as the current charts are based on bottle fed babies. This can make it look as if your breast fed baby is not putting on weight at the correct rate.

Breast and bottle feeding

Whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby is a choice that only you can make. I would suggest doing plenty of research into both options before making a decision. That also means that you are prepared for all eventualities. When established, breastfeeding can be a lovely experience for both you and your baby.  It very often takes a lot of perseverance to get your baby to latch on and find which feeding position suits you best. You also have to wait for your milk flow to become established. Some people do struggle but if you want to breastfeed, then get as much help as you can from your midwife, health visitor or specialist breast feeding counsellors, who can give you the benefit of their experience. Poor positioning can prevent your baby from latching on properly and can cause feeding to be painful, leading to a frustrated baby and sore, cracked nipples. Most areas have breastfeeding support groups where mums can meet and get help and advice from each other, as well as the health visitor present. 

Every baby is different and this is certainly true when breastfeeding is concerned. It was only with my third baby that I managed to feed for a few months and I’m sure that was due to being more confident and patient! I was also more determined and carried on when it was really uncomfortable and gradually I managed to get feeding established and totally painless. I was really proud that I had been able to do that for Livvy.  I think a really common misconception is that breastfeeding comes naturally to all women, making those who are struggling feel like a failure. They then believe that they can’t do it and give up.

But whilst breastfeeding has health benefits for both mum and baby, it is important to remember that bottle-feeding is an excellent alternative. Today’s formulas are highly sophisticated recipes, providing babies with essential nutrients and vitamins. No mum should be made to feel guilty for bottle-feeding, whether she does it through choice or due to having difficulty breastfeeding. You need to be able to enjoy your baby, so if bottle-feeding’s best for you then go for it and don’t listen to any negative remarks.  I know it’s not the done thing to admit this but I actually preferred bottle-feeding, although I was glad I had breastfed too. I certainly don’t think that makes me a bad mum. The main thing is that your baby is loved and well cared for. You should be able to enjoy this time with your baby, and if that means opting for a bottle, then that’s the right choice for you.

Advantages of Breastfeeding

  • It’s so convenient – it’s on tap! You don’ have to worry about sterilizing, making up feeds or heating up bottles to the right temperature.
  • Breast milk adapts to your baby’s individual needs.
  • It passes on antibodies from you to your baby, leaving them less susceptible to allergies and illnesses.
  • It’s free.
  • Your health benefits too, with a reduced risk of developing certain cancers and osteoporosis.
  • It helps your uterus contract back to its normal state.
  • It aids weight loss, as fat stores laid down for lactation are passed on to your baby.
  • Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby, whilst forcing you to sit back and rest.

Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

  • Unless you express milk, you are the only person who can feed your baby. This can be tiring and demanding, especially during the early stages.

Advantages of Bottle-feeding

  • You can still bond with your baby when you snuggle up for a feed.
  • Dad, grandparents and siblings can experience this too, helping them to feel involved.
  • You will have more freedom and independence and REST, when you share the feeding.
  • If you found breastfeeding a struggle, it can leave you free to enjoy your baby rather than stressing about feeding. These times are too precious to be taken up with worrying.
  • You can see exactly how much milk your baby is taking.

Disadvantages of Bottle-feeding

  • Sterilizing and making up bottles can be time consuming.
  • Feeding your baby whilst out and about can be inconvenient. You will have to carry more equipment.
  • It’s much more expensive than breastfeeding.

Equipment for Breastfeeding

Nipple pads – to avoid those embarrassing wet patches caused by leaky boobs.

Breast pump – if you wish to express milk to give a bottle feed or for your own comfort. You can either get hand pumps or battery/electrical pumps. In some areas you can buy hand pumps at a massive discount from your midwife or health visitor. Ask if this scheme runs in your area.

Sterilizer – if you are expressing.

Nipple cream – anyone who’s suffered from cracked nipples will tell you that this is essential. Check if the cream needs to be removed from the nipple area before feeding. Some do some don’t.

Cabbage leaves or gel pads – to cool and soothe sore inflamed breasts.  

Nursing bras – allow easy access to the breasts for feeding.

Breastfeeding cushion – U-shaped cushion to support your baby when feeding. Buy during pregnancy to rest bump on in bed for added comfort!

Access to breast feeding counsellor – either local based support groups (ask you health visitor) or call the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) for help and advice. www.nct.org.uk

And finally - a sense of humour :)

Equipment for Bottle-feeding

Bottles – there are hundreds of different types to choose from.

Formula milk powder – if you are unsure of which one to use ask your midwife for advice.

Formula storage pots – clever devices with 3 separate compartments to measure formula powder into, for when you are on the go.

Cartons of formula – more expensive than powdered formula but oh so convenient when out and about.

Sterilizer – you will need to sterilize bottles and teats.

Bottle brush – to make sure bottles are cleaned properly.

Bottle warmer – the easiest way to heat up baby milk. Or you could use a jug of hot water. Never heat bottles in the microwave as it doesn’t distribute heat effectively, causing heat pockets, which can lead to your baby being burnt.

Bibs – be prepared for the mess!

Guide to Breastfeeding

1. Sit in a comfortable position with your back well supported. Turn your baby towards your breast with her nose in line with your nipple.

2. Brush your baby’s upper lip with your nipple to encourage the rooting reflex.

3. Place the majority of your nipple in your baby’s mouth. If she just sucks the end of the nipple it will be painful for you.

4. Allow her to feed until she is satisfied. Her lower jaw should move indicating she’s sucking. You may be able to hear her swallowing your milk.

5. She should be having plenty of wet nappies as well as dirty ones, to show she’s getting enough milk.

6. If you have any concerns with positioning or the amount of milk your baby’s taking then speak to your midwife or health visitor. Getting your baby weighed regularly is important to make sure she is gaining enough weight.

Guide to Bottle-feeding

1. Fill the kettle with fresh water, boil and allow to cool. Do not use un-boiled or re-boiled water in your baby’s bottle.

2. Wash and rinse bottles and place in a sterilizer and use in accordance with the instructions.

3. Make up each feed when required. New guidelines recommend you don’t make up feeds in advance.

4. Pour the desired amount of cooled boiled water into the bottle. Add the required number of scoops of formula. The measurements for the water to powder will be on the formula container.

5. Make sure you use level not heaped scoopfuls.

6. Shake well.

7. Heat the bottle and test the temperature on the inside of your wrist. Never heat the milk in the microwave. Shake again before feeding.

8. Throw away any leftover milk after one hour of making up the bottle.

Winding your baby

When your baby feeds she will take in air along with her milk. This is true with both bottle and breast fed babies. To relieve the discomfort that wind can cause you need to help your baby to burp. There are different winding methods and you will probably find one that works best for you and your baby.

  • Place your baby over your shoulder supporting her bottom with one hand. With your free hand rub or pat her back. This is an effective method as her body is straight and upright, making it easier for the air to escape.
  • A variation of this for little babies is, laying her along your arm, with her head by your elbow and tummy in the palm of your hand. Lower your arm so her head is higher than her tummy. This a good position for soothing your baby.
  • Lay your baby face down across your lap, supporting her with one hand and rubbing or patting her with the other.
  • Sit her on your lap and hold her chin for support. Lean her slightly forwards and rub or pat her back.

Some babies find it harder than others to part with their wind. You may find it helpful to try a combination of these positions.

Wind your baby during breaks in feeding and after a feed. Do not stop your baby feeding if she is sucking happily, as if she cries she could take in more air. Use a muslin or blanket to protect your clothes when winding.

If wind is persistent and causing discomfort then you could ask your health visitor about using a colic remedy such as Infacol >>, Colief >> or Gripe Water (after one month old).

Colic

Colic is tummy pain in young babies, usually between 0-3 months in age, but it can go on longer. It is thought to be caused by the baby being intolerant to lactose in milk and also by air taken in during feeds. Although nobody knows a definite cause.

Symptoms of colic are:

  • She will cry or scream uncontrollably for long periods of time; but is not tired, hungry, wet or dirty, hot or cold, uncomfortable or sore.
  • Drawing her legs up to her stomach.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Reddening face.

Relive colic symptons ?

There is no one cure for colic and it seems that different things work for different babies. Here are some ideas that are worth a try:

  • Massaging her abdomen in slow, circular movements.
  • Bottles designed to prevent colic.
  • Try different teats.
  • Ask your GP or health visitor about changing her formula milk.
  • Feed your baby in a more upright position.
  • Wind her well after a feed. Try laying her across your knee and rubbing her back.
  • Speak to your pharmacist about recommended over the counter remedies such as Infacol or Gripe Water.
  • Ask your health visitor about homeopathic remedies.
  • If you are breast feeding try cutting out foods that give you wind, such as certain veg, beans and spicy foods. Also try eliminating caffeine and alcohol.
  • A walk in the pram or a trip in the car may calm her down (and give you a much needed break).
  • Try carrying her over your shoulder or swaddling her.
  • A warm bath.
  • Weak herbal teas may give some relief. Cooled peppermint, chamomile or fennel are good.
  • Cranial osteopathy.
  • Give her a dummy.
  • The noise of the washing machine, dryer or hoover is calming.
  • Ask family or friends to mind your baby for a couple of hours, colic is so stressful for you too (I remember it well). Don’t underestimate how wearing the constant crying can be, so look after yourself as well.
  •  If you are concerned see your GP.

Anti Colic Bottles

  • Mothercare Anti-Colic Bottle.
  • Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottle.
  • Avent Silicone Bottle.
  • NUK Bottles.
  • MAM ULTI Vent Bottles.
  • Dr Brown’s Bottles.
  • Munchkin Bottles.
  • Boots Wide Neck Anti-Colic Bottles.

Available from

Jaundice

Jaundice is common in babies, especially those which are breast fed, occurring in around half of all newborns. This is due to their livers being immature and very rarely causes any harm. The symptoms include the skin and the whites of the eyes being yellow in colour. It is usual for babies to be jaundiced for up to two weeks, but if the jaundice continues after that period of time or if your baby has pale poo and dark urine then see your GP. Your GP or midwife may take a blood sample.

Cord care

Once the umbilical cord has been clamped at the navel and then cut it will begin to shrivel and die. It needs to be kept clean and dry. To clean the cord use plain water and cotton wool and dry well. The cord stump will eventually drop off. Don’t worry this won’t cause your baby any discomfort.

Changing nappies

Who said parenthood was going to be glamorous? Changing nappies is simple once you get the hang of it (plus you do become almost immune to it after a while). But changing a nappy can seem quite daunting to a first timer.

So brace yourself and follow our step by step guide:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Get everything you need ready and within reach – nappy (pins, liners, etc if using cloth nappies), wipes or damp cotton wool, nappy bags, nappy cream. If using Terry nappies fold them before you start.
  • Put your baby on the changing mat and remove her clothes that are covering her nappy.
  • Remove used nappy and clean your baby’s bottom. With girls wipe from front to back.
  • Apply nappy cream and then put on the clean nappy. For boys tuck the penis downwards.
  • Don’t cover your baby’s umbilical cord; fold the front of the nappy down if you need to.
  • Dress your baby and wash your hands.

 

Bathing and washing

Until the umbilical cord stump falls off it is easier to top and tail your baby.

1. You will need a towel, cotton wool, top and tail bowl with both sides filled with warm water, clean nappy (nappy bag) and clothes. And a nice warm room.

2. Whilst your baby is still dressed use a clean piece of cotton wool for each eye and gently wipe them. Clean the face, behind the ears, neck cease and hands. Wash your baby’s hair in that side of the bowl; gently tip the head back over the bowl and scoop water over the hair with your hand.

3. Undress your baby down to her nappy and wrap her in a towel. Unwrap each limb not forgetting the creases and folds of skin; clean with the clean water and then cover again so your baby doesn’t get cold.

4. Remove her nappy and clean her nappy area, being careful to keep the area around her umbilical stump dry (if you get it wet, pat dry with a clean towel).

5. Pat your baby’s skin dry and dress her again.

After cord stump has dropped off

Once the stump has come off you can progress to the bath.

1. You will need a towel, baby bath (or bath support, handy for use in your bath tub), baby bath, baby shampoo, cotton wool, or clean cloth or muslin, clean clothes and nappy (and bags), nappy cream and baby cream or oil and a bath thermometer.

2. Make sure the room is nice and warm.

3. Run the water into the baby bath or normal tub. Check the temperature using a bath thermometer. Then test it with your elbow to, to make sure it doesn’t feel too hot.

4. Undress your baby. Making sure her head is supported, lower her into the water. A bath support can make the process easier as it frees your hands. But never leave your baby unattended in the bath.

5. Wash your baby’s face, neck crease, behind the ears, hands and feet, arms and legs (all the creases) and body, wiping around the stump. Finally wash the nappy area. I would then wash your baby’s hair last, so that she is not lying in soapy water. You could take her out of the bath and wrap her in a towel before you wash her hair if you prefer. I used to wash my babies hair with a flannel as they hardly had any hair.

6. Pat her dry, making sure you dry between the folds of skin, then dry her stump. Apply moisturiser and nappy cream, and then dress her.

 

Cradle cap

Cradle cap begins as a red flaky rash and develops into yellowish scabs. Although it is most commonly found on the scalp, it can also appear in folds of skin and behind the ears.

Treatments for cradle cap include shampooing using a mild or specialized shampoo, using cream from the pharmacist or massaging with olive oil (leave it on the affected area overnight). Do not pick at the scabs otherwise they can become infected. In some instances, when the scabs come off so do some hairs, but don’t worry, they will grow back.

Dummies and soothers

Dummies are a subject that usually provokes strong opinions in people, whether they are for or against them. Personally speaking; when our eldest was born, we had decided that our baby would not have a dummy. However 36 hours after her birth (and we saw every one of them), a dummy was firmly in her mouth and our sanity was on its way to being restored. Then again, I have friends who would rather endure sleep deprivation than give their offspring a dummy, so it is all down to personal choice, there’s no right or wrong, whatever works for you.

Advantages of Dummies

  • Recent research claims that dummies can reduce the risk of cot death in babies.
  • They give comfort to your baby.
  • Dummies may help prevent thumb sucking. You can limit the amount of time that a dummy is given for.

Disadvantages of Dummies

  • It may become a difficult habit to break (oh yes how we all suffered!).
  • If the dummy falls out at night then the baby may wake for it.
  • They may affect speech; both quality and quantity if given freely during the day.
  • Dummies need to be sterilized frequently or they will become unhygienic.

Complimentary therapies for baby

There are many complimentary therapies that you can try with your baby. We suggest you discuss these with your midwife, health visitor or GP before giving them a try.

Baby Massage

Massage can help a host of ailments such as an unsettled baby, wind, colic and constipation. It can also aid restful sleep and is a great way to bond with your baby. You can perform massage yourself and even go to classes with your baby to learn massage techniques. Another alternative is to have a session with a masseuse to teach you how to do it.

When performing a massage, make sure the room is at a suitably warm temperature. Put a towel on your changing mat and lay that on the floor. Warm the oil in your hands before use. Perform long strokes to the arms and legs, little circles and strokes to the hands and feet. Circle the hands and feet gently. Do not massage your baby’s tummy if she is under a month old. If she is over that age lightly stroke in a circle around the tummy button, but do not press on the tummy. If your baby becomes upset or makes startled movements stop massaging in that area. Be led by your baby’s body language. To find a baby massage therapist see The Federation of Holistic Therapists >>

Aromatherapy

Most aromatherapy oils are unsuitable for babies under 12 months. However you can use Lavender or Roman Chamomile oil for massage. Use a very weak mixture of one drop essential oil to 15ml of carrier oil. But we would advise you to contact a qualified aromatherapist before using any essential oil. To find an aromatherapist visit The Federation of Holistic Therapists >>

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy can be used to treat a variety of complaints in babies. It is believed that birth is a traumatic experience for a baby’s body, including the head and can lead to uncomfortable conditions.
Cranial osteopathy can help:

  • Colic and wind
  • Unsettled or distressed babies
  • Feeding problems and sickness
  • Disturbed sleep

The treatment involves gentle pressure being applied to the head.

Anyone performing cranial osteopathy should be registered with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). To find a cranial osteopath in your area go to The Sutherland Society >>

Visitors

It’s only natural that everyone will want to come and see you and your new baby. However having just gone through labour and sleepless nights you probably won’t feel like receiving many guests. Now is the time to be selfish, you need time to recover and bond with your baby. So explain to close friends and family before you give birth, that you will see people as and when you feel up to it. Turn on the answer phone and rest!

When you feel ready, have a few visitors for short periods only, but don’t worry about the state of the house or think you need to be making cups of tea for visitors. Let them make their own (and your) cuppa. And remind all visitors to make a fuss of older siblings before looking at the baby. If it all gets too much and they don’t take the hint to go, do what I do – fall asleep!

6 Week Check-up

The 6 week check-up is generally carried out at your GP’s surgery. Your Health Visitor will weigh and measure your baby. You will be asked if you have any concerns. Your health visitor will want to know how your baby is feeding. Your GP will examine you; feel your stomach and if you have had a caesarean check your scar.

Your GP will ask about whether you are still experiencing any blood loss. You will be advised again about pelvic floor exercises. Your GP will also discuss sex and contraception with you.

Immunisations

Babies receive their first vaccinations at 2, 3 and 4 months. They are given as follows:

  • 2 months; 1st Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, HIB (Haemophilius Influenza type B), Polio and PCV (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine).
  • 3 months; 2nd Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, HIB, Polio and Meningitis C.
  • 4 months; 3rd Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, HIB, Polio, PCV and Meningitis C.

Your baby may have a raised temperature for a few days and be generally off colour after immunisations. If you are at all concerned then contact your GP.