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Up to 1 week old

Katie de Klee
Your baby’s development, what you need to do and some great tips for the week ahead.

In this article we will look at:

  • Changes this week
  • You and your newborn
  • Jaundice
  • Engorged breasts
  • Feeding tips
  • Parenting 101
  • This weeks to do list


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Changes this week:
  • Coming home with your baby.
  • Falling deeply in love.
  • You can see what colour your baby’s eyes are... For now. This might change.
  • You will feel extra emotional: no question about it.
You and your newborn:
Did you know that babies lose up to 10% of their birth weight in the first 3 days – and that’s totally normal? On average, it takes 2 weeks to get back to birth weight. Most Moms stay in hospital with their babies for the first 3 days, but the most common challenges between days 3 and 5 (once you're back home) are jaundice and engorged breasts. Don't worry, you're not alone in these! Here's how to deal with them.

The first warning sign that your baby might be jaundiced is if they are too sleepy to feed on days 3 to 5. Most babies become jaundiced on day 3... just as you’re leaving the hospital. Other symptoms to watch out for are a yellowish tinge to the eyes and skin, but most babies look a little jaundiced, so only worry if they’re too sleepy. If you can’t get your baby to feed within 5 hours of their last feed, contact the hospital or call your doctor for a jaundice test.

Engorged breasts:
If your breasts are very engorged, they may feel too hard for your baby to latch easily. The simplest way to manage engorgement is with heat for five minutes before you feed: a hot shower (not always possible!) or hot cloths or a heated beanbag work wonders. If you’ve got a breast pump you might want to try and express for a few minutes before feeding, to soften the breast.

After feeding, apply something cold to the breasts for 10 minutes – refrigerated cabbage leaves are great, as are silicone gel packs in the freezer or (believe it or not!) a wet newborn nappy with 150ml water. Pop it in the freezer while you're feeding and it will be lovely and cold when you're finished - simply wrap the nappy around your engorged breast. It goes without saying that you shouldn't choose an already used wet nappy… The other must-do if you're struggling with engorged breasts is to feed very two to three hours - if you have engorged breasts, wake the baby up to feed.

Feeding tips:
Lactation consultant Heather Wood suggests aiming to feed for 10 to 15 minutes per breast, every 2 to 4 hours. And the latch must be comfortable – it’s a fallacy that your nipples will be sore and you just have to toughen up. Sore nipples are damaged nipples and you have to correct that. If you're not sure what to do or how to latch correctly, ask a lactation consultant. You’ll know when your baby has finished feeding if they’ve been feeding for 15 minutes per side – you can safely take them off the breast. Or if they unlatch by themselves and look comatose that's generally a good sign that they're full!

One of the biggest challenges in the first week to two weeks is that babies are often very sleepy and want to sleep most of the time. It's important that your baby is awake long enough to feed, so you may need to wake them, particularly between breasts. One of the most effective ways to do this is to change their nappy and then offer them the second breast. If the nappy doesn’t need to be changed, simply undress your baby - it’s the undressing that wakes them up. You can also wind them for 2 to 3 minutes between breasts. Other waking techniques that work particularly well with newborns include: tickling or nudging their face, rubbing their ears, wiping wet cotton wool on their face or rubbing their toes.

Finally, you'll no doubt be staring deep into your baby's eyes a lot this week. Your newborn will keep their eyes closed most of the time but you might glimpse their eye colour when they open their eyes. This could change in the first few months as darker pigment develops – your blue-eyed baby may become green- or brown-eyed. But they will remain every bit as beautiful!

Parenting 101:
Congratulations – you made it through childbirth! You are a champion, and Mom to a little miracle. Now it's time to get down to the fun of parenting.

Whether or not you choose to breastfeed is entirely up to you. If you have chosen to breastfeed, you will have noticed that the first time your baby feeds they receive colostrum – a creamy, nutrient-rich substance that comes before milk. At first, you'll be feeding six to ten times a day, but in tiny portions. It’s essential that the latch while breastfeeding is comfortable – ask the hospital for a lactation consultant if the latch is not comfortable or if your baby is too sleepy to feed. This is very common, and makes it more likely that you’ll get engorged breasts.

Winding is something that many Moms (and Dads!) worry about. But it's actually much simpler than it seems. All you need is 2 to 3 minutes after each breast, in a forward upright position. This could be on your chest or over your shoulder. Just hold your baby, with a little pat or rub if you like, but no need for vigorous patting. If the wind doesn’t come up, it will go down! What’s most important is your baby’s posture. If they are relaxed, you can settle them peacefully: you don’t have to wait for a burp to come up to settle your baby. If they are wriggly, pulling up their legs or groaning and moaning, you can’t put them down because they’re uncomfortable and needing to be settled. It could be cramp or wind. If they don’t settle after 2 to 3 minutes of winding, then try the 5 Ss to soothe them: shushing, swaddling, side or stomach position, swinging (jiggling) and sucking (a finger or a dummy).

Between days 3 and 6, you may notice huge changes in your mood, with lots of tears and mood swings. Many new Moms feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility when they arrive home with their baby for the first time, and the hormonal changes that come with bringing in your milk certainly don't make anything easier! It's natural to feel completely emotional and worry about breaking your new baby. Rest assured, you won't…

It’s your partner's job to be gatekeeper. Putting a note on the gate or buzzer saying: 'newborn baby at home, please don’t ring the bell' works well, as does setting up visiting hours at home so that you can manage how many visitors arrive, and when. A new baby is also a fabulous excuse not to see people you don’t want to - anyone who makes you feel anxious or unconfident is not good for you right now (or possibly ever!)

This week’s To Do list:
  • Coming home with your baby.
  • Sleep is your biggest priority – get as much sleep as possible, any time you can.
  • Control visiting hours. You’re no doubt excited to show your baby to everyone, but if people are popping in every half an hour you won't have time to feed your baby, or rest.
  • Get as comfortable as possible with breastfeeding.
  • This week is really all about you and your partner and your baby: spending time together and getting to know each other. It's the beginning of a lifelong relationship, how amazing!

If you have 5 minutes… Mom’s top tip.

Newborns often find it reassuring to be wrapped or swaddled in a blanket – it reminds them of the comfort of the womb.

Curious about next week?
Click here to find out what happens next week… And the week after.

Share your thoughts and concerns.
Chat with other Moms in your area or at the same developmental stage as you in BabyGroup Forums.

BabyGroup says…
This article has been checked by Heather Wood, Nursing sister, Midwife and Lactation Consultant. A member of the BabyGroup Medical Council.

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11 April 2016 12:13

Hi this is all great advice but what do you have for advice with Pre-babies?
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