Advice from a mother to her adult child when she becomes a new mother: The first time I saw your face, I was in love. You were soft to the touch, and crying uncontrollably. I was so emotional looking at your distress, desiring for your free flowing tears to stop streaming down your cheeks. Your arms and legs were flailing all about. Your father first held you in his arms before I had a chance to. When I held you in my arms, I was captured, forever in love. For nine months you had been protected in my womb and all you had need of was automatically supplied. I wanted to cry with you for the world is an incredible place as well as a dangerous one.
Now, I would never see anything from only my perspective. You would be in my thoughts, dreams, decisions, and future plans. You looked uniquely like yourself, with no resemblance to either parent. You had eyes of blue, blonde curly hair, dimpled cheeks, all your fingers and toes. 21 inches in length and 9 lbs. and 10 ½ oz. in weight. As I rested while watching you sleep, I noticed how you slept on your knees with your bottom in the air. You were a beautiful living baby doll. Too good to be true!
You had a soft spot on the top of your head that is called a fontanel. It is 2.1 cm in diameter and sometimes takes a year to grow and close up. Your brain is continuing to grow and expand. I must be extremely careful when I hold you, until that fuses together, you might suffer injuries in that vulnerable period. There could also be times you feel insecure unless you are snuggled close. That is what I want to experience with you my firstborn, the process of bonding. Bonding is defined as: the formation of a relationship between mother and child.
Skin-to-skin contact between mother and child have some health benefits. For the infant it helps to lower blood sugars, regulates body temperature, heart rate, breathing. Contact calms the infant and helps with the baby’s first feeding. For the mother skin-to-skin contact helps the uterus contract, decreases heavy bleeding, and stimulates milk hormones.
Breastfeeding started in the hospital, and at first was awkward, my nipples became dry and chapped. Staying focused and interacting with you was life changing. This natural bonding experience became easier when we were in the privacy of our own home. Seeking peace and quiet by listening to lullabies, and relaxing with you on a pillow in front of me prepared us for this nurturing time. Lots of practice, times when we drifted off to sleep together.
Feeding you developed into a family affair. Your dad fed you a bottle the first day at home. Grandmother purchased a breast pump, filling the freezer soon after we came home. They were able to spend precious moments with you. I was able to take a sitz bath. You averaged eight feedings your first day.
I knew you were hungry by your fussiness and gnawing on your little fist. You would become alert and interested in your surroundings when you were full. Burping needs to take place when a baby swallows air while eating. Burping rids baby of excessive air to relieve gas or being colicky. Burping was done with a firm pat to your back or placing you on your stomach on my lap. Patting gently on your back until a burp is emitted.
Swaddling is a practice of bundling your infant that helps them to feel secure and sleep better. This keeps the baby warm, and safe without a blanket in crib that is a smothering hazard. Swaddling prevents the baby from having the startle reflex. This practice should only take place for four to six months. Swaddling then may be stopped as the infant is growing, stretching arms and legs.
On the first day coming home from the hospital, you travel in your own car seat. You are buckled in and I want to hold you in my arms. Arriving home you are carried in and are rocked back and forth in the old rocking chair. I sat in this rocker anticipating your birth and here you are. The evening falls and night begins.
The first day in completion is upon us. Sounds in the night are comfortable and somehow reassuring. Crickets are chirping in a symphony as I stand on the front porch holding you in my arms. Stepping back inside we continue with feedings every two to three hours. Changing your diapers about eight times in a day is satisfactory. Sleep seems like one continuous doze, and we are told at about three months of age the baby should be able to sleep through the night. Their weight will be about 12-13 lbs. when they are sleeping through the night.
Temperature must be just right, neither too cold or too hot; between 68 to 72 degrees. Try to avoid sudden noises, by using a white noise machine. There are times it isn’t easy to determine why the baby can’t sleep and is in distress. Physical signs can be crying or bringing their legs up to their chest and kicking. When newborns coo and make gurgling sounds it sounds so pleasant. Grunting sounds is usually related to digestion. The baby is adjusting to mothers milk or formula.
At night, develop a before bedtime routine. First a nice warm bath, pat dry and put on some lotion. Give the nightly feeding and apply a clean diaper. Dress in clean sleeper pajamas, the kind that covers little hands so baby won’t scratch their face. Sing a song or lullaby to the baby. When you put baby to bed place them on their back.
Make sure no noises disrupt the baby’s sleep. Dim lights in the evening. Swaddling your baby for more relaxing and better sleep especially at night. Try to keep baby awake as much as possible in the daytime. Use natural lighting, you can open curtains or blinds. Throughout the day go outside and sit in the sun or take a walk. During the day keep household lighting and noises as you would normally. Enjoy this new part of life’s journey and the role you have in it!