Dear tired, new mama…
I see you holding your fresh new baby. I feel your conflicting emotions of intense love and exhausted overwhelm. You never want them to feel anything but safe and loved, but at times you feel so inadequate.
The overwhelm of a tiny person who is wholly dependent on you. All the changes to your body and life. It can be a lot to deal with all at once, whether you're a first-time mum, or you've been here before.
Newborns are delightful and challenging all at once – some more so than others. All too often it can feel like just when you figure out one thing, up pops a new challenge for you to decipher.
All you want is a calm, happy baby, who sleeps at least some of the time (and of course to get some more rest yourself).
This is where it can help to get a grasp on the concept of the fourth trimester. To check your expectations against the reality of your baby's situation.
In a nutshell: your baby grew inside you for 3 trimesters (9 months). The outside world is nothing like the life they led in utero and so you can't expect them to immediately adapt. Typically babies take a good 3 months (an extra trimester) to form some kind of routine, sleep longer, and adjust to the new sights, sounds, and sensations of the outside world.
By the way, the same goes for you, mama – you have a lot of adjusting to do to your new life as a mother of this little love. So, be kind to yourself and know that with time and support things do get easier.
Fortunately, many of the challenges that are common in the newborn period tend to go away or become less intense after the first 6-12 weeks. If you persevere (and don't be afraid to ask for help), you'll find that things will soon turn a corner. Your baby will adapt to the outside world, as will you to your new normal.
Until then, though, how will you get through?
Aside from support from family and friends, my number one suggestion for new parents is a baby carrier. I wouldn't have been without one!
Many parents find that they are one of the most used (and valued) parenting tools from the newborn phase, right up to (and even beyond) toddlerhood. The wonderful thing about babywearing is that it's somewhat of a cure-all for babies who are struggling in the newborn phase. It seems to make almost anything better. Turning chaos into delicious new baby bliss, and who doesn't want some of that magic?
As a mum of four little ones, I've learnt that many things come down to trial and error and understanding your little one's idiosyncrasies. While other challenges have an simple solution - babywearing. Here are five challenges you might encounter with your newborn that I’ve found babywearing can instantly solve…1. Reflux & Colic
Babies experience reflux when some of their milk moves back up their esophagus, sometimes spilling out of their mouth. It's actually quite common for young babies after feeding. Their tummies are relatively small, their diets liquid based, and they tend to spend a lot of time lying down. It's only a problem if they spit up a lot after each feed, appear to be experiencing pain or struggle to gain weight.
Colic is another common issue for young babies. While some crying is normal and to be expected, when your baby cries for hours at a time for no obvious reason, you might be dealing with colic. Some parents notice a link between their baby's discomfort and gas or indigestion, but nobody knows exactly why it occurs. All you can really do is hold and comfort your baby and try to make them as comfortable as possible.
Holding them securely and upright in a baby carrier, with their knees supported above their hips can be very soothing for colic babies. This position helps them pass that uncomfortable gas and the pressure can aid their digestion. The upright position can also help with reflux, as it uses gravity to keep the milk from coming back up. Either way, if your baby is experiencing discomfort from colic or reflux, comforting them in a carrier is a great way to soothe them (and save your sanity).
Does your baby want to be held constantly? You might not realise at first, but this is completely normal. After spending 9+ months inside your body – you are your baby's safe place. It's quite possible that won't feel safe and comfortable anywhere other than on you some days.
But just because it's normal, doesn't mean you want (or have) to be stuck on the couch with a sleeping baby all day every day. After all, you have things to do, places to be, dinner to make (and eat), and shopping to do.
When you wear your baby, you meet their primal need to be held close to you, while meeting your own needs to function and find your new normal.
We all get told about the importance of tummy time… but what you might not be told is how much babies hate it!
Tummy is an important developmental activity for newborns. It helps to develop their upper body and neck muscles and reduces the risk of their soft heads becoming flattened from too much time on their back. The most common advice to prevent flat spots is more tummy time, but young babies don't usually like lying on their tummies for long.
Carrying your baby in a carrier also reduces the pressure on their head, with the added benefits of providing comfort and security. And we all know happy baby = happy mama. Babywearing is also a great way of getting your newborn to sleep for more than 15 minutes intervals during the day. This of course means less time lying their back, which reduces the chance of a flat spot developing.
Young babies are easily overstimulated. This isn't surprising when you think they grew in a dark, quiet environment for 9 months, only to emerge into a loud, bright, busy and unfamiliar world. An overstimulated baby will cry more or get overtired.
Babywearing is a simple and easy way of reducing the chances of over-stimulation. When carried against you in an ergonomic carrier, your baby can snuggle into you for reassurance and block out the world when it all becomes too much. If your baby still seems overstimulated, try popping up the hood* on your carrier and gently moving to help them relax.
* Make sure their airways are still clear and visible.
It's late afternoon, and you need to start getting dinner ready. You hop up from the couch and just as you reach the kitchen, your baby starts to cry. You go to pick them up and they want to feed. So, you feed them for half an hour until they fall asleep. But they won't transfer to the cot, instead starting to cry again… meanwhile, everybody wants dinner. You may have heard of this often referred to as 'witching hour'. Only it often lasts much longer than an hour.
In the early days it can seem that your baby wants to feed and be held all.the.time in the afternoon and early evening. This is perfectly normal when you consider that they might be getting ready for their biggest period of sleep.
Witching hour can be frustrating, but having a baby carrier handy can make it much easier. With a carrier, you can comfort and soothe your baby, leaving your hands free to get dinner ready (and eat it).
Having a new baby can be challenging and downright exhausting. But babywearing can make your experience together much easier and more blissful. Carrying your baby in a carrier can help you mimic the womb environment for your baby. Helping them to relax, feel safe, secure and close to you - right where they belong.
Remember, mama, it's not forever. As your baby grows, you will come to realise (more and more) the truth behind the saying "the days are long but the years are short". So, cuddle your baby close and know that it's the most important thing you are doing right now. When you look back on this short time, you won't regret a single cuddle.
If you're an experienced mum who has been on this journey already, I'd love for you to share here in the comments…
What other problems has babywearing helped you with?
What was your experience like as a new mum?
P.S. If you're on the lookout for an amazing baby carrier to get you through the fourth trimester (and beyond!), you might want to check out our online store. We stock a range of practical and pretty baby carriers to suit all needs. From ring slings and stretchy wraps, to structured carriers, meh dais, onbuhimos, and woven wraps.
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