You have been through pregnancy, gone through labour and have even mastered breastfeeding. It’s now time to understand and welcome your new born. After all, this is a relationship that you will nurture for the rest of your life, says Sonali Shivlani, Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a child nutrition counsellor.
Let us start with some physical aspects:
● Your newborn is born a little bluish. This is because the blood is not yet oxygenated. Don’t be alarmed as the blood will get oxygenated a few minutes post birth. Then, your baby will take on a pinkish hue. The skin is also covered with a whitish substance called vernix, which is meant to protect the baby’s skin when in the womb.
● The head is slightly large and can appear conical. You also have two soft spots called fontanelles. This primarily means that the skull bones have yet to fuse, and this is completely normal.
● The eyes appear a little cockeyed as the eye muscles are still developing. The nasal passages have very fine hair. This means that your newborn may sneeze a lot.
● The genitals and the breasts appear swollen and you can expect some colostrum to leak from the breasts whether you have a baby boy or girl. Vaginal discharge is also very common in the first few days of life.
● The umbilical cord is cut at birth and what is left behind is a small stump. This will fall on its own, and all you need to do is keep it clean and dry. Avoid covering it especially with a nappy or diaper.
Things to shop for:
There’s no denying that babies need a lot of things, and I am sure you have been shopping. After all, who can resist the cute and attractive baby clothing and booties available in market, right? But before you go all out, do remember that your baby is going to grow rapidly and you may not really need everything that the stores point out as ‘essential’ items. The absolute necessities are clothes, nappies, diapers, some swaddle wraps, a cap, some mittens, wash cloths. Stock up on these and you are set. You could, of course, invest in other equipment like a cot, a bath chair, a rocker, a carry cot, a stroller, a car seat and so on. They’re not necessarily, essentials. Now, if you are a breastfeeding mom, which is highly recommended, you don’t need the whole range of bottles, breast pumps, sterilisers, bottle warmers etc. Actually, the less you buy for your baby, the better. A simple policy to follow is buy it when you need it. After all, stores are open every day, but if you can’t find the time to step it, you can always indulge in some online retail therapy.
Infant massage is an age-old tradition in our country. However, doctors today do not recommend it because it can cause infections and injuries. That said, one of the greatest benefits of infant massage is touch therapy and bonding, something best done by the mom or a family member. Your prenatal class can teach you some infant massage strokes and techniques that you can use. Massage helps babies to relax and sleep better, but they really need a very gentle massage. Be sure to do a patch test for the oil or lotion and do not apply any product on the baby’s face.
Another aspect of touch therapy is bath time. Bath time is a fun time for your baby because babies love water. However, never leave your baby alone in the bath. Get everything ready and then bring the baby in. But remember, while they may love water, somehow they don’t like to have water poured over their heads. Babies lose a lot of heat from the top of their head and this can make them feel uncomfortable and cold so always bathe baby first and then wash baby’s hair if needed. Use a gentle baby wash and shampoo. Remember, babies do not need a bath every day. They don’t get that dirty.
Playing dress up
While I can’t blame you for falling for those adorable rompers and dresses you may see in those big-name brands, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind when investing in baby clothes. Your baby will outgrow them in a matter of months, and baby clothes tend to be on the pricier side. Choose wisely. Moreover, all the clothes that you use on the baby should be made of cotton.
Keep in mind that your baby is delicate so buying front-open pieces will make dressing your baby really easy. In the nights, when it’s cooler, make sure you keep your baby as warm as possible. Sleep suits work well as they tend to cover your baby from head to toe.
Sleep, feeds and everything in between
Babies are not meant to have a schedule. When they were in the womb they slept when they wanted, ate constantly and in general, had nothing to regulate them. Post being born, they are suddenly expected to follow a routine. This is not very practical. Let them feed on demand and catch up on their sleep on their own schedule. Of course, you want to nudge them into learning the difference between night and day and this can be done by keeping the day time noisy and bright and the night time quiet and dark.
Your baby loves to be spoken to and loves being cuddled. So talk to your baby, hug your baby and cuddle your baby. Your newborn will not get spoilt or habituated in this early time. If you feel your baby is tired then make the room quiet, gently swaddle the baby and hum a soothing lullaby to help your baby relax. This is also a great way to bond with your baby.
Vaccinations start at birth and continue till 15 years of your child’s life. It is important to understand the vaccinations and keep a track of the schedule, along with your paediatrician. The vaccinations recommended by the doctor are also the same which are suggested by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics in association with the Government of India. If you are travelling with your baby to another country then you may want to check and see if any additional vaccinations are required.
As a final note, I would like to leave you with one simple thought —your baby is a human being with feelings, wants, desires and emotions. Do not treat her like an object that has to be handled and managed. You will have to try and put yourself in those tiny booties and think like your baby. Try and understand what she is feeling and what the baby may want. Then, trust your instinct. This little process will go a long way in helping you be an amazing parent. |MB