24 hours in the life of parents of a newborn(35 Posts)
We are the first in "our crowd of friends" to be expecting a baby. My husband keeps asking what sort of day/night we can expect in the first few weeks of having a baby.
Can anyone talk me through a typical 24 hour period, warts and all, don't sugar coat it.
Everything you will both do revolves around the baby. You will leak, a lot. Tears are common (hormones, tiredness). Sometimes finding time/spare hand to make food or go to the loo can be hard. Time is spent feeding baby, cleaning up baby/changing nappies. Wondering whether to feed baby, worrying, wondering why baby is crying, trying to stop baby crying, holding baby in awe. Trying to put baby down, baby waking up... Repeat. Feeding. More feeding. Nappy changes, more feeding. All fall asleep exhausted for 1.5hrs.
Babies feed 8-12 times in 24hrs, but not evenly spaced. They might feed on and off for 6hrs, then sleep for 4hrs. This could be any time of day or night. Often no two days are the same. 'Feeding' can be a lot more involved than pick up, feed, put down. Babies like being held. Cribs are not necessarily the same as being held. Sometimes you might just be taking it in turns to hold the baby who doesn't want to be put down. Sometimes a baby poos mid feed and needs changing... Then wees all over clothes whilst being changed necessitating full cleaning and starting over. By which time they are hungry again...
The house will become a disarray of washing, burp cloths, stuff generically.
It is hard to explain. Like being in a foreign land without a translator, where the rules are different and sleep is discouraged. In places it is wonderful. It passes fairly quickly, but can feel like an eternity.
For me, the first few weeks were a bit if a blur of feeding with short bits of sleep in between.
Babies don't know day from night when they arrive and often clusterfeed at night. They aso often want to be held all the time including while they sleep, which can be exhausting.
I cried a lot - hormones and exhaustion will make you feel all over the place. I was so tired I thought I was going crazy!
But it is also wonderful and sometimes, despite being desperately sleep deprived, you will just sit and stare at your baby when they sleep.
Just anticipate being entirely consumed by everything baby, cleaning and cooking etc will need to be on the back burner and its amazing how obsessive you can suddenly become about feeding, naps, poo etc.
Everything Penguins just wrote!!
When we had ds he wouldn't settle to sleep anywhere except on me or dp. So, terrified of co sleeping, we took it in turns to hold him. For 10 days. I'd bf him, watch a Harry Potter film, feed him then go wake dp for him to hold ds for 2 hours. Very soon days and nights blended together. I cried a lot. Everything was an effort, going to the shops, getting a shower, eating a meal....
You think it will never end or get better. We looked at each other wondering what the hell we'd done. The weight of responsibility was heavy and we seemed to think that our nervous exhaustion was the only thing keeping this tiny baby alive, that if we stopped fretting even for a second we'd accidentally kill him.
But it does get better, you heal and adjust and stop crying and learn to cope. And you love them so much that it doesn't even matter!
Then you do it again 19 months later, or at least I did
As pp have said, it will be a blur! Someone told me to get through everything in threes; first 3 days, first 3 weeks, first 3 months. Anyway that worked for us because by 3 months things had calmed down a lot.
For those few weeks don't worry at all about what you "should" be doing, if baby wants to be held you can't do it too much. If they want to be fed just be guided by him/her. There'll be plenty of time to stress about the routine or what should/should not be happening, but those early days/weeks are not it.
My DS is 48 hours old (exactly). I have spent the day in bed sleeping while he is and feeding on demand. He was up all night feeding constantly establishing a milk supply. This is my second child so my DH slept and has taken DS1 to do something fun today.
With your first, this might happen on night 3 or 4, your DH should be on hand to walk around with baby between feeds while you sleep. You'll be a hormonal mess.
Visitors would bombard you but there is plenty of time for that so spread them out!
Your DH will need to do everything around the house while you medically recover. He should bring you a constant supply of nutritional snacks, water, meals etc.
You may get the baby blues, talk to people like HV or Community midwives who have heard it all before and can support you.
Before long there will be something which resembles a routine. Don't rush it - this chaotic time is precious.
I just had my second baby last week. I haven't been able to sleep for more than a 2 hour stretch in the first 24 hours, or any day since. I find that the hardest part. Other than that, it's feeding, nappy changes, thirst and hunger (mine), random tears, lots of love and hap
... Happiness. (Sorry pressed post too quickly). But nothing can prepare u for the crappy sleep .
Keep visitors to a minimum!!! If they do come, get DH to usher them out after 2hr stay max.
There is absolutely no routine to what they do. They cry because of all sorts of reasons that even they can't distinguish - so hunger, cold, windy, tired, emotional, it's all the same to them at first. In the next few weeks they'll get better at signalling what they need.
Our DD is almost 5 weeks and in the last 2-3 weeks has been sleeping for a decent chunk at night with 1-2 changes and feeds. There's no two babies alike so you might have a calm baby like ours or a constant screamer!! And just as you think you've worked them out, they change! It will always get better though. This book is amazing:
Typical 24 hours in the first few weeks? They will probably sleep a lot. You might well be in pain from the birth and will be bleeding.
8am: wake up and feed, change nappy, it's soaked through, so outfit change. Dp on pat leave so take turns showering. Other one holds the baby. Try to find something to wear which you can breastfeed in and fits.
9am: run around the house trying to make it look ok for visitors. There's loads of washing to dry.
10am: visitors arrive just as baby poos through its clothes again. Sit and breastfeed whilst dp makes tea and washes up. Baby is sick all over you.
12pm: visitors leave. Baby sleeps. More washing up/ washing/ cleaning/ online shopping/ writing thank yous
2pm: baby wakes and wants feeding again. Poos through again. Just as you change it, sick again, all over you and him/her
3pm: escape the house for a walk. Need to stop within an hour to feed.
5pm: home. Feeding/ washing/ wondering what to eat for dinner. Forgot to eat lunch.
6pm: make beans on toast. Eat it either one at a time or one handed.
7pm: baby asleep. Watch TV. Phone ringing. Organise more visitors. Look at photos of the baby. Write a to-do list (register birth/ buy more thank you cards/ apply for child benefit)
9pm: feed, change nappy
10pm: have a bath
11pm: put baby in moses basket, go to bed
11.10pm: baby wakes, wants feeding
12am: go back to sleep
2am: feed baby, change nappy and clothes as he/she's wet.
3am: back to sleep.
3:30am: baby wants feeding
4.30am: back to sleep
6.30am: baby wants feeding. Might as well get up as midwife is coming and you want to have eaten, showered and bathed baby before she comes.
8am: feeding etc...
Both DC were pretty chilled and slept for good chunks of time from the start. Both BF but neither were particularly demanding, periods of cluster feeding early evening. I remember it as a lovely time...I watched a lot of box sets with the baby sleeping on me. I do remember being unsure a lot...are they feeding enough, not enough, etc etc but its such a moving target that what concerns you one day is quickly replaced by something else and before you know it they aren't tiny newborns anymore. I think just go with the flow and remember its a short few weeks and it will fall into place, its a precious time and yes, you are tired and can feel teary at times but its such a precious time too. Enjoy it as much as you can!
Thank you so much everyone, all very helpful
and eye opening
Thank you for the book recommendation too, I'll be ordering it this weekend.
Also try "what mothers do especially when it looks like nothing" by Naomi Stadlen. It might not make full sense until after the baby is born, but is the best and most reassuring parenting book I have ever read.
You will feel sore however your birth ended. If vaginal you will feel uncomfortable, dirty because it never felt clean down there for me despite how many baths I took, you leak a lot, it smells. Sorry if it sounds gross but no one warned me of this, not even my own sisters! It's awful for the first week down there.
Baby will sleep a lot. Only wake for feeding really. You will wonder if you should wake them to change their nappy because they will just be sleeping in a soggy nappy, but let them sleep. When they are sleeping you will be just watching them thinking wow! Or holding them with your feet up. Of course, housework is still there so you won't be fully putting your feet up, although hubbybshould be helping! Bottles need washing, sterilising!
Expect a lot of visitors. I hated having them round. People panting like dogs wanting to cradle your baby when really you want them
Back after 15 minutes because it's your brand new baby! You will probably feel overwhelmed with that side of it, I did. I just wanted a week alone really with my baby.
Your appetite will probably go, hubby will be normal but bit tired I expect if they are helping with night feeds.
Thank you cards need writing, so make a list as and when you receive gifts!
It's all go. Which is why next time around for me I'm not having visitors apart from immediate family, feeling obliged to clean up the house for them and let them hog baby all for hours.
I had first DC in May. Totally agree with time completely blurring and just basically surviving. DD would only sleep on DP or me. She couldn't get the hang of latching to BF, so feeding involved DP syringe feeding her whatever I expressed and then topping up with formula, while I expressed. It took almost an hour each time. I was completely focused on feeding. All the time. It was honestly an obsession and when I hit the third day postpartum it just completely overwhelmed me. I cried pretty much all day.... Then realised it was the baby blues. I carried on BF but it was one of the hardest things I've ever done and more than anything I wish I had been prepared for that.
I felt is never really understood the phrase 'every waking moment' until I had DS.
It is all short bursts. DS would feed for 20 mins, sleep for 10 mins, feed for 20 mins, sleep for 10 mins, ooh be awake for 10 mins, poo...repeat...ALL DAY.
It was not difficult as such - there is not a great variety of needs so once you have got used to nappies etc the actual sort of functions of caring for him were do-able - but it is totally constant.
And I wasn't prepared for how my body would feel after labour, I thought once I'd actually given birth I'd be fine, but for the first few days I felt like I'd been in a car accident. Emotionally I was ok except the second week when I was hit by the most intense feelings of anxiety to a level of almost panic. I was lucky and it gradually faded over time but it is the closest I think I have ever been to madness. But I don't think this is an experience everyone has, or not to that intensity. Sorry if that sounds a bit scary.
But it was also fascinating, empowering, magical. I remember when breastfeeding first really clicked after about a week and I saw DS's 'milk drunk' face for the first time and had great giggles with the midwife as he looked like a tiny, boggle eyed emperor....I'm going all soft just just thinking about it...It is a time of really intense hard work but in a few months or a year it is SO different. You will do it because you just will.
And there was also some watching of box sets in bed with DH and sleeping baby which was pretty great!!
Things I vaguely remember through the haze:
You will hurt all over (labour is really hard physical work, so all your muscles will be stiff), and going to the loo will be scary because it is likely to hurt. Poos become a big deal for the first few weeks. You will bleed a lot at first, more than a heavy period for the first couple of days.
For most people, breastfeeding takes time to get right, and the first couple of weeks are spent worrying that you are doing it all wrong, with lots of crying.
Every time you think you are ready to leave the house, the baby will either want to eat, or do a poo.
Many newborns will only sleep if someone is holding them.
You won't have the faintest idea what you are doing, or what the baby needs, or why s/he is crying. You will learn by trial and error. You will be exhausted from the sheer amount of new stuff you are learning to do. It's a bit like being dumped in a country where you don't speak the language and having to learn how to communicate.
It might literally, physically hurt you when your baby cries (not everyone gets this).
Lots of people respond to the chaos and uncertainty by drawing up lots of charts and schedules. You will look back and think it's crazy, but it makes perfect sense at the time.
Sometimes, newborns will sleep for five hours at a time. At other times, they will only sleep in chunks of ten minutes. They will have days where they do nothing but feed for hours at a time.
The first 6-8 weeks are really intense, but after that you will know what you are doing, although you won't realise that you know what you are doing and will feel like a big fraud.
It's ok to think of your new baby as a sort of very high-maintenance pet. They don't interact much at first.
If you breastfeed, the poo smells nice.
None of the other parents at baby groups know what they are doing either.
You will spend most of your time trapped under a sleeping or feeding baby.
I'm in the midst of this me, week 3, second time around. It's lovely and tough all at once. This time around I knew that the focus had to be feeding. Im breastfeeding so the moment she was born, skin on skin then feeding on demand, getting past the stage of sore nipples (this for me was bad pain). Last time My c-section recovery was bad and the baby lost weight because I hadn't focused enough on feeding. It's really the only thing that matters (in terms of the baby) in the first few weeks.
DD is 2 now so I echo what's been said. I also think what made life the easiest was to accept that I had to follow her lead for the first 3 months at least. Feeding at night is safest as the predators are asleep so mum can stay in one place. Newborns can do nothing for themselves so they don't want to be alone, they are too vulnerable and they have been inside mum for 9 months! So DD didn't want putting in her crib, we practiced safe Co-sleeping. She fed on demand completely, I ignored all advice to do otherwise after a horrendous 9 day hospital stay being forced into a 'routine' that DD hated.
Sometimes I was so tired I thought I might actually die from lack of sleep, then DD would surprise me by sleeping for several hours and I'd feel better.
Don't be surprised if some days the answer to the question 'what have you done all day?' is 'feed the baby and get her to nap'!
I remember when breastfeeding first really clicked after about a week and I saw DS's 'milk drunk' face for the first time
I've just fed my 3 wk old. There is nothing like the milk drunk face, I love it
Advice for OP- sleep when the baby sleeps even if at the time you only feel moderately tired. Later that night you might well be absolutely exhausted and regret not taking the nap. Sleep, eat, and feed the baby- those are literally your only essential tasks.
The schedule cornish wrote was very accurate in this house too.
Other random stuff - looking at baby and thinking "we made that". The newborn baby smell. Little finger and toe nails.
I might get flamed but just for balance: we too were the first of our friendship group to have a baby. Being relatively young meant that we had plenty of energy and I had plenty of milk. A midwife told me that once ds had fed not to offer the breast again for a least an hour, it worked well. Things I did in the first 2 weeks included going to a neighbouring town with my mum on the train, going out to dinner with DH while dm babysat, post-natal yoga as well as loads of baking. At 8 weeks I took him to Spain to visit relatives without DH, ebf babies are easy and portable. Before maternity leave I worked 50 hour weeks of days and nights on my feet for 13 hours, so it felt like a lovely relaxing holiday.
We weren't the first in our group to have a baby but we never really spoke much to anyone or read up on what newborns were like so it was a shock!
- constant feeding for the first few weeks of life. DD had a feeding tube and as soon as that came out, she was demanding the bottle constantly. On one particular day we made up 15 bottles as she could only take very small amounts to begin with!
- sleeping! She was quite happy to go in her Moses basket during the day when she had her nights and days mixed up. We blissfully watched tv and stared at her, then she came alive at night - in hindsight we should have also switched our own days and nights too and slept with her, as at night she would only sleep in our arms.
- laundry - if your OH can help with this then that will take massive pressure of. It's amazing how much babies can go through, especially if they are particularly refluxy. We go through at least one/two muslin cloths at every feed (so now about 10 a day) and at least two changes of clothes. The washing machine gets put on every night without fail!
One thing that I really wish I had known early on is that babies get overtired REALLY easily. Had I known that there was a magic wake limit before she needed another nap then I think our lives would have been a lot easier. At 5.5 months it's about 2 hours, at newborn I think it is about 15 minutes!
I downloaded an app that recorded baby's feeding, sleeping, nappies. As we were feeding on demand it was an incredibly useful tool in the midst of sleep deprivation to know when she last fed, had a dirty nappy etc. It also made me feel like I had some control and after a few weeks I could start to see routines forming naturally.
Every day is different with a baby (from my experience anyway). They will sleep at different times for different lengths, eat at different times, their moods will be completely different.. But when you start getting those smiles, laughs, and seeing a personality start to appear it is just amazing and so hard to believe that you MADE that little human.
Oh and one final thing, go by your instinct and don't listen to the "creating a rod for your own back" rubbish. When DD hit 3 months we started to panic that we were creating bad habits (rocked to sleep, fed to sleep, no naps in cots, etc...) and we got all sorts of "helpful" advice such as stop swaddling, let her cry it out.. We have done none of that and she is now starting to drop those habits of her own accord. You will know your LO best and what they need; they will grow so fast that you do really need to make the most of it.
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