Having a baby is an exciting time for you and your new family but it also comes with some downfalls that you just can’t comprehend pre having a baby.
You need to take things slowly at the beginning and if all you want to do is follow a healthy eating diet plan and maintain a healthy lifestyle, remember to listen to your body and if you’re sleep deprived and exhausted, don’t push yourself.
Sleep…. People talk about the lack of it!! It does get better, however if you’re currently in the cloud of exhaustion, tiredness and the sound of a baby crying makes you want to cry too then hopefully this article will alleviate some of that for you.
When parents hear their baby cry there is a natural worry that comes over them and sometimes guilt because they can’t work out the cry and what’s wrong with them. Sometimes it’s easy. Feeding, clean nappy and making sure they are warm is all they need. Other times it’s not so easy. Babies are meant to cry. It’s their way of telling us something isn’t right. Up until baby is 6 weeks old they will cry a little more each day until it reaches that peak around 6 weeks. It is normal for babies to be unsettled and cry up to four months of age.
When ascertaining what’s wrong with your baby there are many factors to take into account. Firstly you need to rule out that your baby isn’t crying because it is unwell. If you suspect that your baby is unwell then seeking assistance from your GP is the next step. Other issues could be pain. Pain can be associated with teething, tummy aches and many other minor issues. Colic in babies is a term that is often used too frequently. The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne describes colic as the time when a baby cries a lot or is unsettled for a period of time. This is a normal concept of all babies however it can be exhausting and frustrating for parents who search for answers to soothe their baby during this time and in most cases unsuccessfully.
Reflux is another concept in babies that is misdiagnosed. Every baby has some degree of reflux as it is a normal part of digestion. It can also depend on what is coming through the breast milk. However if you suspect you baby has reflux you should have your baby checked by a doctor. Many babies with true reflux will cry when put them down after a feed and will have small vomits that cause discomfort.
It is normal that babies have an unsettled time of day. Some people refer to this as ‘witching hour’. It is most common in the late afternoon in babies from 2 weeks- 4 months of age. Breastfed babies may also cluster feed at this time.
So as a parent how do you manage this sometimes stressful time in your parenthood? You need to try to remain calm. You can’t think clearly if you’re worked up and it doesn’t help your baby. Rule out wet/dirty nappy, hot/cold baby and hungry/thirsty. Learn soothing strategies such as massage, bath, carrying in a sling, walk in a pram (however this is not a habit you want to form with every settling/ sleep period), sing to your baby, play some soothing music. Keep a diary to see if it occurs at the same time everyday so you can better prepare yourself and get dinner ready early if the unsettled period is at dinner time (most common time as reported by parents).
Some babies just want to be with their mum. You have carried and nurtured them for nine months this is what they know and what they know is safe. Be reassured that you don’t see 18 year olds being carried around by their mothers! Try not to get caught up reading materials that adapt strict routines and feed times. You need to do what works best for you and your family.
Never shake a baby!!! It can be very frustrating when you have tried everything and you do get to a point where you just feel like yelling ‘what is wrong with you’! Every parent has been there. It’s amazing how the green ogre comes out when you’re tired. In recent years Shaken baby syndrome is on the increase so therefore it is important to educate parents the importance of not doing it.
So just remember after you have eliminated any medical problems crying is normal. If you find yourself getting upset pop your baby in a safe place and go a get a cuppa. Take deep breaths and return and try again. If you have any concerns at all see your GP or speak to your local Maternal Child Health Nurse.
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Written by midwife Ali Pickles
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