I really believe our children are our greatest teachers in life; in fact they are the meaning of (my) life.. The newborn phase teaches us so many things. It challenges us to the very core of our humanity, testing our limits of patience, love, sleep deprivation (aka torture), hygiene, energy, cleanliness, insecurity, resilience, endurance, strength, surrender, pain, pleasure, and everything in between.
We welcomed our second son, and third child; Jett Benjamin Acott in the peacefulness of our home on 6th July, 2015 at 6:03pm.
This little guy from the start has totally surpassed all my expectations, and assumptions. Third time around I thought I had a benchmark from which to work from – from conception, to ‘intuitively knowing’ the gender, to pregnancy, to labour, to birth, to post birth.
Firstly, I could have bet my life I was carrying a girl (wrong), I assumed my labour would be fast like my second – at 2hrs (very wrong), and I thought the post birth experience would be the same as the other two (wrong again).
Just about everything is different third time around, which is why I am really learning what it means to truly let go of any expectation we place on ourselves, our babies, and life in general.
My greatest lesson this time around is the past certainly does not equal the future. We can never predict how things will unfold – regardless of past experience. There are just some things we are not supposed to have “control” over. I am a big believer in the law of attraction, but even this cannot override fate, or the higher power at play here. It’s bigger than us. And when it comes to our babies (regardless of how many we had), each are different in personality, genetic makeup and temperament; largely impacting how sensitive they are to their environment, how often (and loud) they cry, how well they sleep, how susceptible they are to illness, teething, colic …. and the list goes on…
As I sit here on day four with leaky engorged boobs, sore grazed nipples, after birth pains reminding me too soon of my 36 hour labour, a wobbly tummy, and nether regions which somewhat resemble roadkill, I am equally as grateful for the “happy hormones” enabling me to mask the inevitable negative in an all-encompassing blissful bubble of newborn love, gratitude, and happiness.
My top 10 lessons; surviving the first week:
- Just like my spiel above – you cant expect any consistency from a newborn. This goes for day naps and night sleep. They will sleep… a lot! I always advise to wake for a feed within 2hrs to avoid day/night confusion – and to hopefully save up the long stretches of sleep for the overnights!
- Don’t kill yourself even attempting any routine for now. They key focus is really feeding and sleeping (the play component is limited in the early weeks!). Ensure your baby doesn’t become overstimulated or overtired by sticking to a max awake window of 1hr. The more you surrender all expectations and follow your baby’s lead, the easier the transition will be
- Feed on demand where you can – especially if breastfeeding, this is essential for milk supply and ensuring your little one puts on weight. Because newborns only have tiny tummies, they need to feed more frequently – 1.5-3hrs around the clock is perfectly normal! Breastmilk is also digested very quickly so if it feels like you have them permanently attached to the boob – you’re probably right on target! If you are formula feeding, then you can space out feeds a little more
- There isn’t much time for play at this age, but when you experience a period of wakefulness following a nappy change or feed (where they don’t fall back to sleep on the boob!), then use this time to connect and communicate with your baby. Remember they are whole people who understand much more than we give them credit for, and deserving of our respect. Communicate your intentions and actions with them rather than just “doing” things to them, and acknowledge their cries and emotions. E.g. – “I’m just going to change your nappy now. I know it must be cold and uncomfortable for you, you don’t like that do you. I will be finished very soon and then I can give you a feed”. When you put them down or hand them to another person, let them know who will be holding them and where you will be (e.g. even if nearby just to have a shower or toilet break)
- Avoid visitors past 4pm in the afternoon – too many hands, varying energies, loud noises, bright lights, keeping them up for too long at a time (past 1hr) will lead to them becoming overstimulated – resulting in; increased crying, fussiness, and over tiredness – leading to increased wakefulness overnight
- Say yes to offers for food, childcare and support from friends and family
- If you’re not catching the zzz’s overnight, then sleep where you can during the day – get family to help out with house chores or babysitting where possible. Regardless if your baby was born through the sunroof or down below, either is no small feat – and everyone has their battle scars. Resting, relaxing and recovery should be a top priority for all new mums
- Know you can’t spoil a newborn baby – Lap up the newborn cuddles – baby wear during the day, allow them to sleep on your chest for day naps, feed them to sleep, rock them, sing to them, co-sleep (safely) – anything you can do to shower them with love and affection to make them feel safe, and to encourage secure attachment
- Be mindful about introducing the dummy or bottle too early if breastfeeding – as this can cause nipple confusion. This being said, I introduced the dummy on night one, as my little man found this extra soothing for sleep times (and gave me a much needed rest in between constant feeds with very sore nipples!) – which leads to another one I think of; do what feels right for you, your baby, and family (keeping up with the Jones’ can be exhausting… and misleading!)
- Your baby will cry… a lot. Especially when changing their nappy! By crying, our newborns are usually communicating a primary need, or discomfort – dirty nappy, gas, cold, hungry, tired etc. I have found Dunstan baby language to be a great technique to desipher the different cries at a young age. One of my favourite articles of all time is by Janet Lansbury; and serves a good reminder – it’s not our job to always stop the crying – but to acknowledge the cries for communication, and respect our babies. You can read more here
- Breathe, relax, and enjoy every single precious, yummy, snuggly moment – as it is all gone in the blink of an eye!
For more tips on 0-3 months, you can download my Ready to Go sleep plan available for only $19 here