You’re expecting, it is your 1st and you have no idea what you need to do in preparation for the upcoming arrival of your little one. It is a daunting world of products and advice out there and no doubt you have been given a heap of advice from family and friends and are just now confused on what to have and what you actually need..?
Well don't fear, here in this week’s blog I will help you understand what is needed with my 5 top tips for the 4th trimester!
I have also invited some great advice from Rachel from Barefoot Birthing. We recently did a live on IGTV to discuss these topics pulling from personal and professional experiences. If you would like to watch this session jump over to www.instagram.com/barefoot_birthing/ on Instagram and it is there in the IGTV.
So let’s get into it…
Perhaps you are expecting your first baby and feeling slightly overwhelmed with what is to come. Many friends and family have given their two pence worth of advice and some of it is all very conflicting and you are just not sure what to do.
Or perhaps this is baby number two or three coming along and you want to be better prepared, because the first one almost put you in that grey place of exhaustion and you just don’t want to go down that path again.
So what is really needed in the first few weeks?
Rachel’s first golden nugget of advice is to have a postnatal plan!
This is such great advice which I wish I had when I had Leo. She recommends to how you want those first few days and weeks to look and feel like. How/when will you rest, what household jobs are you willing to let go, what are you not prepared to leave, who is helping you?
Stock up the freezer with easy meals, perhaps even book a supermarket delivery, and finally and perhaps most importantly set expectations. This is a huge one because when your Father In Law pops over and you need to feed the baby you may not feel comfortable doing so in front of him on the sofa just quite yet.
Rachel’s second golden nugget of advice is to know your port of call, where to get advice from, breastfeeding, sleep, postnatal advice.
When you have that baby in your arms and you are struggling with feeding you want to know you have, in your little black book, that phone number to call right away to get the help in ASAP.
There is no point persevering with something you are struggling with when you know there is professional help out there to help you in your moments of woe!
Parenthood is trial and error, and when you are trying something new out, stick with it for a good few days, be committed and patient. I always say you need to try something at least 7 -10 days before you see any changes so give yourself time to see if it really does work.
And we can both tell you as Mum of two ourselves, when you have just worked it out, it is very likely to change again because babies grow and change daily!
#1 IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE A SWADDLE!
I cannot express how important I feel a swaddle is for the first few months of life. Imagine, you are wrapped up cosy in a dark and warm place for 9 months.
And BOOM…out you come and it’s bright, and you are laid down on a flat surface and it’s hard! Harder than what you know anyway! So a swaddle will help with this transition. It also stops the fight or flight reflex, The Moro Reflex. This is when a baby’s arms suddenly jerk and this wakes your baby. You don’t want that to happen especially if you have just spent an hour trying to get baby to sleep!
Many parents tell me their baby simply does not like their swaddle, and 99% of the time it is because the swaddle has not wrapped correctly or it is the wrong size or shape for your little bundle and they wriggle out of it super easily.
If done correctly it will keep your baby snug as a bug in a rug! There are many swaddles on the market but my favourite would be the Miracle Blanket or just a plain large sized muslin square. If you are confident in wrapping then Aden and Anais have some beautiful prints and the size is just perfect for your new born.
I must stress though, PLEASE wrap your baby with caution, not too tight, you should be able to pop one or two fingers comfortably in the wrap at the front under neck / chest. And just as important ensure your baby has their legs in the “froggy” position. This will keep their hips healthy. For more information on this please go to the hip dysplasia website. hipdysplasia.org/
The Love to Dream swaddle I prefer for later in the 4th trimester. And this is because the baby’s arms are up above their head. I find this is something to transition to and works better for babies around 12 weeks plus.
ALWAYS TRANSITION YOUR BABY OUT OF THE SWADDLE AS SOON AS YOU SEE HE FIRST SIGNS OF YOUR BABY ROLLING OVER
There are ways to do this slowly by taking one arm out for naps and the first part of the night for a few days and then the second arm and then introduce both arms for all naps and nights and then you can transition into a sleep bag.
If your baby has rolled over you need to go cold turkey and remove swaddle and go straight into the Gro bag.
#2 SUPPORT THE SLEEP
Until around the age of 16-18 weeks your days will be erratic and no schedule at all. You may get into a rhythm as Rachel discussed on our Live, but don’t expect a routine. Your rhythm may look like feed, activity, sleep on a continuous loop all day and that is totally normal and expected. Go with it.
Your new born baby needs to sleep a lot. Around 14 – 17 hours in 24. You may find sling wearing very helpful especially if you have multiples or older children running around to tend to or if you are doing some shopping.
Rock, cuddle and even a motion nap in the pram are all healthy ways to support your baby to sleep in this 4th trimester. There are no bad habits here.
The aim is to have baby sleeping and if they need to be on the sofa all warm and cosy with you to do so, then go with it and enjoy it. You do not want an overtired baby on your hands!
#3 WHITE NOISE
This is a great tool to help mask external noises from the bedroom or even out in the pram. White, brown or pink noise are all used. Pink becoming the more popular choice these days. I always advise parents to have this noise on consistently with every nap and night sleep and also for the whole duration of the sleep. Many parents report to me that baby woke up as soon as the white noise switched off.
How loud should white noise be? Some say as loud as a hoover, (70Db) but I always say if it’s too loud for you to even think then it’s too loud for baby. However do make sure it is up enough to drown out the noises outside the bedroom or even the sibling in the crib next door…
There are many products on the market, we all know and love Ewan the Dream Sheep, but he is not so easy to take out and about with you all the time. The Marpac Hushh Portable is a great small size to fit in your nappy bag, small and lightweight.
The AVENTEK sound machine has 20 different sounds and different noise levels and can play on loop for hours! Both product worth checking out.
#4 FOLLOW AWAKE WINDOWS
Not a routine! Newborn babies sleep a lot in the early weeks. It is very common for babies to sleep 3 hours straight wake to feed then off they go again to sleep. Enjoy it! Rest as much as you can, take a shower, eat and relax if you can.
I know from my personal experience there is so much we feel we need to do but really is there? Don’t push yourself so much you burn out.
So what are those awake windows? Let’s take a look…
0-3 WEEKS 40 – 60 MINUTES
3 -6 WEEKS 1 HOUR 25 – 30 MINUTES
6 – 9 WEEKS 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES
9 – 12 WEEKS 1 HOUR 30 – 45 MINUTES
#5 A GENTLE LOVING METHOD TO HELP YOUR BABY FALL ALSEEP
Now when it comes to helping you new born fall asleep this is a wonderful hands on loving way to do so. It is called The Side Settle. Many babies who are struggling to fall asleep find the rhythmic patting of this very comforting and soothing and also you can lay your baby in their own sleep space which frees you up to go do something else like take that shower.. Or have a cup of tea!
How to do the side settle...
1. Swaddle baby
2. Lay baby in their sleep space on their side and support their tummy and head/neck with your arm and hand.
3. Use your other hand to rhythmically pat your baby’s back. Not too low you don’t want to be patting their kidneys!
4. If you baby is crying, unsettled, mimic this cry with firm fast pats
5. As they calm, slow down the pace and the firmness of the pats
6. Continue to do this until baby falls asleep and very slowly and gently support them as you roll then back onto their back for safe sleep.
7. Relax! Easier said than done-I know!
So there we have it, some golden information for you in the early weeks of parenthood!
If you know a friend who is about to embark on this journey or indeed is on this journey please share this blog with them and of course if you are looking for a hypnobirthing teacher Rachel is your girl!
Classes available online in group or in-person privately. To get in touch with Rachel, contact her at email@example.com or visit her website www.barefootbirthing.com/
Happy parenting everyone,
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant