Your little baby is here - how exciting! In this article I outline some of the unexpected but completely normal things that can happen in those first few days with your new baby. Knowledge really is power, and knowing what to expect can help you to feel more confident as you navigate your new role as parents.
After the birth of your baby you will have bleeding for the first few weeks. Initially this will be like a heavy period, then it will become more of a pink/brown colour. Most women bleed for 2-6 weeks, which is a long time but this bleeding is often quite light in the last few weeks. Stock up on maternity pads during your pregnancy as you will find that you will use many in those first few weeks. If you are passing clots or having to change your pad more than once every hour because it is full then please contact your midwife or doctor as there may be a problem with your blood loss.
Frequent feeds for your baby
Parents are often surprised by how often their baby feeds. Most babies will feed 8-12 times per day in those first few weeks. This is very normal as their stomach is only the size of a cherry to begin with, but grows rapidly to around the size of an egg by four weeks of age. Demand feeding means feeding your baby when they are showing signs of being hungry, like turning their head from side to side or putting their hands in their mouth. It’s important to feed your baby when they show these feeding cues, rather than following a set feeding schedule (unless medically advised) as this allows your baby to get all the milk that they need to grow, and also assists in building your milk supply and preventing mastitis.
Your baby wanting to be held lots
Your baby has spent nine months in your womb where they are held, kept warm and gently rocked as you move throughout your day. Once they are born, most babies take a few weeks to adjust to life on the outside world. It is completely normal for your baby to want to be held lots in those first few weeks. This is their safe place – it’s warm, they can hear your heartbeat and they are gently rocked by your movements. Rest assured you are not setting them up with poor sleep habits, this is purely responding to their needs and helping them to adjust to their new world. Baby carriers are also a great option as they can allow your baby to be close to you, while allowing you to have your hands free.
Meconium – the black poo
Your babies first poo will be black or dark green, sticky and quite thick – it is often described like tar. After a day or two the poo will change to a green, and then mustard yellow colour. It also becomes softer and is often a toothpaste consistency or even quite runny, especially if your baby is breastfed. The first dirty nappy can be quite tricky to clean because it is so sticky, but rest assured it will get easier as the days go on! One great thing is that meconium usually doesn’t smell. Your midwife in hospital will be able to assist you with how to change your baby’s first nappy.
Feeling overwhelmed and teary
While this is an incredibly exciting time in your life, for many women it can be quite an emotional rollercoaster. Baby blues refers to the low mood that some women experience 3-5 days after birth. This is a time where many hormonal shifts are happening, your milk is coming in, and you may be tired from your birth or waking frequently to feed your baby. Baby blues is normal and often resolves in time and with good support from your partner, family and midwife. For some women these feelings persist, which is where postnatal depression may be diagnosed. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression. While postnatal depression is common, it is absolutely treatable with the right support. If you or your partner experience any symptoms for more than two weeks, or you are concerned with how you are feeling please reach out to your midwife or doctor.
Article written by PBC Expo Midwife Hannah
Photo credit: Sophie Mosss Photography