When I had my child almost 8 months ago, I was completely unprepared. Of course I had a nursery ready for her, I had clothes, and I had diapers to last a year, but once she came out of me none of those things seemed to matter. I had heard about the struggle it is to have a newborn. I had heard about sleep deprivation. I thought I understood, but I really had no idea. Until you live it, there is no way to truly get it. Mo matter how prepared you believe you are, you’ll likely lose all confidence as you’re loading your 3 day old baby into your car in the hospital parking lot. I nearly had a panic attack.
In the frenzied days and weeks that followed, I did more googling than I had ever done before. The collective knowledge of the internet answered hundreds of questions for me, but also left me hanging on some. There were also things I learned along the way that I wish I had known sooner, but had not known to look for. So now I’ll add my admittedly limited knowledge to the vast resource that is the internet.
My newborn is screaming so much! What do I do?
For me, a big part of the answer was naps. I was totally unaware of how much a newborn actually needs and wants to sleep. She’d be crying and I’d be pacing the floor. I should have been trying to get her to nap nearly constantly.
My baby screams all night and sleeps all day.
The end solution for us was an earlier bedtime. Though getting there was really tough. We originally started by trying to put her down for the night between 9 and 10pm. She’d cry and cry and cry, so much that we were told she had colic. She’d only sleep for 30 minute bouts, and I was literally going insane. I would just lay down and cry with her. It was awful.
During the day, though, she’d sleep for 3 hour stretches. How did we switch her days and nights? Well, it started with not letting her get those long daytime naps. For one whole week I woke her up every hour on the hour during the day. At 7pm I would let her sleep as long as she wanted, and all night, until 7am. It was probably one of the hardest weeks of my life. She still screamed all night in the beginning, but by the end of the week she was taking her longest naps at night and was awake more during the day.
An important thing we learned from our doctor is that babies naturally desire to go to bed for the night between 6:30 and 8pm. Keeping them up later than that goes against their inborn sleep cycle and is inviting disaster. She’s almost 8 months old, and still going to bed at 7pm. It works wonderfully for her.
My baby has colic!
If you’re here reading this page because your baby has colic I’m so sorry. I am deeply saddened for you. I went through it, and I know how horrifying it is. It’s truly awful to hold your screaming and inconsolable child for hours on end. It’s scary, too. The first thing I need to tell you is this: It will end. It will end, your baby will sleep, and you will regain your sanity. Though you may suffer some hearing loss, no other permanent damage will be done to you or your baby.
Now for the answer I so desperately wished I had read about. Milk protein intolerance. My baby’s colic was due to a milk protein intolerance. This is not an allergy, and it’s not lactose related. It is a sensitivity to caseins, the proteins in milk. Whether you’re breast or formula feeding, this could apply. If you’re formula feeding and your baby has colic, try switching to a formula with hydrolyzed proteins. These formulas have an added enzyme that breaks down those proteins into a more tolerable form.
If you’re breastfeeding, cut all dairy from your diet. (It’s harder than you think! Non-dairy creamers have caseins. Margarine has whey. Look for vegan options, that’s the easiest thing to do.) See if this helps. For us, the colic stopped within a week of my removing all dairy from my diet. Of course, I didn’t know that dairy was causing the problem. When she was 7 weeks old I noticed blood in her stool. It took 7 weeks of dairy consumption to damage her insides to the point of bleeding. Of course she was screaming, she was in pain! If your baby has colic, it’s worth trying out.
My baby was breech, so I had a planned cesarean. I was terrified. I had been planning a natural birth, mostly because I had a severe fear of the epidural. Having no choice about it did not make me feel any better. And as I expected, the epidural was horrifying. After that, though, it was cake. I felt nothing when they cut me open, they took out my baby with no problems, and I was stitched up before I knew it. recovery wasn’t awful, either. My surgery was on a Monday, I went home on Thursday, I vacuumed on Friday, and went shopping on Sunday. It wasn’t all easy, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was slow moving, but I was totally able to function.
My surgery wound healed amazing quickly in the beginning, but then around week 4 the healing pretty much stopped. At my 6 week check-up they found an infection. I went on some heavy antibiotics, and slowly healed the rest of the way. It was 10 weeks before I was actually fully closed up. Part of this I think is due to my resistance to granny panties. I was wearing underwear that rubbed my wound. Not a good idea. Buy giant underwear. Seriously. It’s better if it hits your breasts than if it touches your cesarean wound. You’ll heal faster and be more comfortable if you just embrace the huge tall panties. Don’t wait 8 weeks like I did, you’ll regret it.
Skin pain after cesarean
Between my belly button and my pubic-line cesarean scar, I had significant skin pain. It started right away and lasted for months. I had numb spots and pain spots. It was a pretty shitty combination if you ask me. It slowly faded. At 4 months the pain was reduced by half, and at 6 months it was almost all gone. Now, at almost 8 months, the pain is completely gone. The numb spots remain.
Crazy swollen legs and feet after my cesarean
My legs were so swollen after my c-section that I could barley bend them. My feet were so large I had to wear slippers when I went to the store, my shoes didn’t fit. I was muffin-topping my socks. It was spectacularly uncomfortable, and no one told me to expect it. Apparently it’s really common. It was terrible, but would have been less terrible if I could find an answer to how long it would last. It lasted 3 weeks. It could be longer or shorter for you, but for me it was almost exactly 3 weeks.
I was so overwhelmed and tired and near delusional in the first few weeks that I neglected showering. At one point I actually went 5 days between showers. Gross. No matter what it takes, no matter what you have to do, take a shower every day. It’s not good for your wounds, cesarean or vaginal, to skip showers like that. And it’s not good for your sanity. You’ll feel better physically and mentally if you just find a few minutes to shower every day. Once I started doing that I really felt a lot better.
What one thing do I wish I had known about sooner?
Bumbo. I got my Bumbo when she was 4 months old, but I wish I had it earlier. Seriously, buy a Bumbo. Buy it and use it as soon as you can.
I’d say 2 or 3 months would be the ideal time to start using it. Don’t use it too soon, though, as it can damage baby’s young spine! Thanks to Commenter Naptime for correcting my mistake. And while it says never to use it on an elevated surface, I actually do that every day. Even though she can sit on her own now, and we no longer use it for floor play, I put it up on the kitchen counter while I cook dinner, so she can sit with me and watch me chop vegetables. It helps so much. I plan to buy a Bumbo as a baby shower gift for every person I ever know that is having a baby. With the tray. The tray is totally essential. I use it now for self-feeding. Put a few cheerios on the tray and she’s entertained all on her own. Bumbo = lifesaver.
I breast pump and bottle feed exclusively, no formula, and I have trouble regulating my flow. How to keep flow up?
Oh, how I wish I had found an answer to this question much earlier in my breastfeeding career. PUMP LONGER. That is really all you need to know. If you are empty after 8 minutes, pump for a total of 15 minutes before stopping. I can do this as little as every 6 hours and have success maintaining your flow. For the first 7 months I was fighting to keep my flow up, sometimes pumping every hour. It was awful! I didn’t know to pump for longer. Now I do, and I’m free from the pump! Well, except for 4 times a day, but it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Pump longer.
I use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, but I only use one at a time. I find it impractical as a double pump. I rarely need neither of my hands. If you are shopping for a pump, this is the one you should pick. I love it. I’ve used it every day for all of my child’s feeding for almost 8 months and it’s just as good as the day I got it.
And if you get this pump, or any pump really, I recommend getting new breastshields. I got 6 extra. Now I can go a whole day or more without having to run to wash the damn things constantly. And while you’re at it, pick up a pack of valves and membranes, because at some point you’ll lose one down the drain.
While I’m on this topic, I really wish there were more resources out there for woman who were unable to breastfeed and chose instead to pump exclusively. I found advice to be lacking. If you need advice on this subject, or any other subject, leave a comment here and I’ll try to help. I know what it’s like to see answers to everything except your question. I’ve only been pregnant once, and I’ve only been a parent for 8 months, but you never know what I might know.