5 things I wish I had been told about baby’s first year

There is actually a whole mountain of things that I wish people had told me about – including how postpartum will really affect a mommy (and you WILL breakdown and cry on the bathroom floor on the 4th day); how your body will change and feel alien after giving birth; how there are days that you feel like you can cope and some that you can’t; … the list continues. But these are 5 things that I wish I knew from the beginning.

Breastfeeding

This is so SO hard… nothing prepares you for it.

I remember the first 24hr after giving birth and having the midwife come into our hospital room every 2hr (yes… every 2hr… 10pm/midnight/2am/4am/6am) to wake up the baby, push her against my breast and try to get her to latch – what this actually did was make Monkey scream and refuse to latch and we eventually had to give her some milk (and a bit of my colostreum) via a syringe as she had gone 24hr without so much as a drop.

The journey over the first few days was fraught with an overwhelming sense of failure as she continued to refuse to latch – arching her body away from me and screaming every time she was placed face first with a nipple. What was I doing wrong?? We tried every different method of holding her, squeezing the nipple to provide a drop or two to get her hungry… to no avail – so it was back to providing milk via syringe…

The lactation expert from the hospital tried to console me, making sure that I was ok and if I was still willing to continue to try (all done without any sense of judgment).

On the way home from the hospital, we rented a double breast pump from the pharmacy – I was pumping every 2hours, between her 2hrly bottle feeds and after a 2-3 weeks – exhaustion, tears and a horrible sense of failure settled and I finally gave up (especially since my milk supply was so small that I couldn’t even manage to provide 20ml from both breasts over the course of 24hr). I was devastated to say the least. Nothing prepared me for this level of failure.

What they don’t tell you is that there are MANY MANY woman who want to breastfeed and can’t… and that it is OK! Our Monkey is formula fed and she has turned out healthy & happy. She still gets the love, cuddles and bonding during feeding time and thankfully it also means that someone else can step in at feeding times – not just mummy and her boobies!

And for those who got it right – it is also hard! Cracked & bleeding nipples, leakage, mastitis, engorgement…. etc

Sleep

You will never sleep properly again… Just kidding… not really?!?!

When they start eating solids, they will sleep better” they said – *LIARS*. Our Monkey has been on solids for almost 3months and we still struggle with a good nights sleep (except that ONE time she slept through). In fact, at 9months old, I find sleep regression at its absolute worst! PLUS periods of teething make sleep impossible (for her and therefore also for us).

Our current routine (9months) is as follows:

    1. Morning nap at Crèche for 30-40minutes
    2. Afternoon nap at home for 1hr30-2hr30minutes
    3. Evenings: (on a good night): 7.30pm-1am/2am-5am and from 5-6am, I put her in bed with me for a dozing cuddle. Sometimes we have a few more wake-ups and sometimes she goes from 7.30pm all the way until 3/4am. Every night is different.

But sometimes putting her down to sleep at 7.30pm becomes a nightmare… since she has been able to pull herself up to standing – she needs to be really sleepy to go into the crib otherwise, she stands, shakes the crib bars and screams until you return to the room. After an hour of this – I want to sometimes scream as well.

I have tried the Cry it Out (CIA) method in 3, 5 and 10 minute intervals.. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

9 months

Poop

Probably the main topic of conversation for any new parent. We chat amongst ourselves about consistency and regularity.

It is very normal for some babies to only poop once or twice a week, just as normal as it is for a baby to have one after every single feed. Most breastfed babies poop after every feed, but this slows down the older that they get. There are many shades & consistencies – 99% of them normal and explainable! Also remember that is normally for baby’s face to go red while they push… this doesn’t mean constipation – just that they have not yet mastered the art of contracting their stomach muscles to push.

Seriously – every new parent goes into panic mode when their own Monkey doesn’t poop for a day or two (or in our case 3.5days…) but after using a prescribed suppository, everything was back on track = even if it did take 2 parents and over an hour at 3am to insert the first suppository…

Newborn – it is normal to see greenish/black sticky poop in the beginning. This is meconium – which is linked to the liquid that baby ingested while living inside of mommy (amniotic fluid, etc). This will normally change to a green coloured (and less sticky) poop over the first few days days.

Hard & dry –baby may be constipated. Check with your doctor or clinic if there is something required – like giving them juice/water (but normally this is not something to stress about)

Yellow with white specs – absolutely normal. The white “cottage cottage” specs is actually the undigested milk. Yellow generally means that the milk is moving through the baby’s system quite quickly – when the process slows down, it starts to turn a shade of green.

Green – for breastfed babies, then it could be something that mommy ate and if baby seems happy then nothing to worry about. This is considered normal for formula fed babies.

Brown – formula fed babies have more like a peanut butter type poop which could range from a yellow to a green hue. Considered normal.

          1. When to seek medical attention: When baby has diarrhea (more water than solids) – either more than 2/3 diapers or over the course of a day or two. When there is blood in the poop. When the stomach is distended. If there has been no poop in 3-4days, consider seeking medical advice about the use of a suppository. Or if there is a sudden change or she seems unhappy.
          2. Suggestion: Chat to your Doctor about giving baby a probiotic. Our’s suggested Protectis Drops to aid in the digestion process (and may relieve infants colic symptoms)

FEVERS

A fever is normally a sign that your Monkey’s body is fighting some kind of an infection. A normal baby’s temperature ranges from 36-37.5 degrees Celsius. I remember how stressed we got when our Monkey (at 6months) had gastro & a fever of 38,3 degrees Celsius – we took her to the hospital – and although they treated the gastro – the nurse did tell us that they only considered it a fever when the temperature was 38,5 degrees Celsius and higher (and only then to administer a paracetamol).

          1. When to seek medical attention: When baby is less than 3months old and running a fever. When the fever is accompanied by any other symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, signs of earache, cough, etc) . Or if there is a sudden change or she seems unhappy accompanied with fever
          2. Suggestion: Take a lukewarm shower with baby to lower fever or use a cool damp cloth on their head and legs. Discuss usage of paracetamol or ibuprofen (only with Doctor’s consent). One of our BCT mums suggested using a contactless thermometer for long feverish nights (like Nanny’s choice) as the use of a rectal thermometer can become stressful for all concerned.

Going out

You will never be able to leave the house in the same way again.

Being on time is going to take far more planning and preparation. I.e. I always have a “going out” baby bag packed and ready at the door which includes a change of baby clothes, nappies, nappy rash cream, plastic bags (for dirty nappies – not all your friends appreciate a smelly used nappy in their dirtbin!), wipes, a toy (or plastic kitchen item which seems to be the current favourite item of discovery) and at the last moment I will either add a pre-measured bottle with water & a pre-measured container of formula or a baby snack of some kind (baby boudoir biscuits and baby yoghurts are firm favourites with our monkey) depending on the time of the day or how long I expect to be out for.

Going out time is also a huge consideration. As much as I wanted to be THAT person who could continue with my pre-Monkey life as is – I now need to take into consideration nap times and our bedtime routine.

Oh… and don’t be surprised when your Monkey decided to do their poop about 5minutes before you were hoping to head out …

PS – I am not complaining at all – I just wanted to share a few “truths” that I wish someone else had told me before. Although, having said that, I am not sure I would have listened or even taken any of it in. But one thing I can tell you is that I am 110% grateful for our wonderful little Monkey who has changed our life (on good or bad days)

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