As a new mum you’re bound to have lots of questions about your newborn. Why does he cry so much? Is it normal for him to have green poop? How much sleep is too much? The list is endless. To put your minds at rest, we sat down with Dr. Mascha Lindemann-Sayed, specialist pediatrician at HealthBay Polyclinic. Here she shares the things pediatricians wish new mums knew.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #1: Baby needs a lot of sleep
During the first few weeks you can expect your newborn to sleep up to 18 hours a day, waking every couple of hours for feeds. It sounds a lot, but unless your baby is literally sleeping for 24 hours a day there is most likely no reason to worry that they are sleeping too much.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #2: Baby needs to be fed on demand
Breast milk production is linked to the frequency of suckling. For this reason, breastfeeding on demand is the ideal way to keep a mother’s milk production in sync with her baby’s needs. In the first few days of a baby’s life, breastfeeding on demand helps to establish an adequate milk supply. It also helps newborns to regain their birth weight more quickly. When babies are forced to adopt a rigid feeding schedule they often have difficulty getting enough to eat. In addition, lactation consultants often note that babies who are left to cry for the breast (even if it’s just for a few minutes) may become unsettled and upset. This can make it harder for them to latch on correctly, decreasing the efficiency of feeds.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #3: Nighttime will be tough, but it gets easier
The first couple of months of a baby’s life is often the toughest for parents, as they find themselves being woken every couple of hours for feeds. It’s hard work, but completely normal because babies cannot make it through the night without eating. Occasionally you’ll hear about a newborn that sleeps eight to 12 hours at a time, but this is the exception, rather than the rule. The good news is that many babies start to sleep through the night (five to six hours straight) by two months of age. Of course, each baby has a different sleep pattern so there is no set time frame.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #4: Poop changes colour
All new mums obsess about the colour of their baby’s poop. The important thing to remember is that a baby’s stools will come in a variety of colours ranging from mustard, green, brown, yellow and black. The black stools, which are like tar in consistency, are just there for the first few days until the meconium is out of baby’s body.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #5: A little bit of jaundice is normal
In the first few days it’s completely normal for baby to have a bit of jaundice. The reason for this is that your baby has more bilirubin (a yellow-pigmented body waste) than it can get rid of. Normally bilirubin leaves the body through urine and stools but because babies don’t eat a lot in the first few days it takes longer for them to expel it. It’s also worth noting that breastfed babies tend to have jaundice for longer because there is a substance in breast milk that blocks the breakdown of bilirubin.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #6: Babies hiccup a lot
You probably noticed that your baby hiccuped in the womb and this is something that continues after birth. The reason for it is that the nerve that causes the hiccups is very sensitive and when baby gets over simulated, which happens a lot, it causes a spasm in the diaphragm. It’s perfectly normal though, so don’t worry.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #7: Vaccines are safe
There’s a lot of misinformation regarding vaccines, which makes the whole issue very scary for new mums. However, the research on the safety of vaccines is undeniable and there have been a variety of studies that have shown there is no link between MMR and autism.
Things pediatricians wish new mums knew #8: You can do it
It’s very easy to feel daunted in the first few days and weeks of motherhood, but try to trust your instincts. It’s tempting to read a lot online or go to lots of different friends and family members for advice, but in my experience this just leads to a lot of confusion. Ultimately I recommend you try to find a good pediatrician and perhaps have one or two friends or family members who you trust and can turn to for advice when needed.