…the first week.
In response to Kyla’s call for the truth about motherhood, we present this interview with noted baby expert Florence Liesalot and two-time mother BubandPie, who share their advice for moms of newborns.
What should moms expect during the first week?
FL: You can expect your baby to be very drowsy, sleeping for 16-20 hours per day. Don’t worry! It’s normal to sleep a lot, though you may have to get creative to keep baby awake long enough to nurse.
BP: [matching Florence’s chirpy tone] Right. That could happen. Or, on the other hand, your baby might be born a week past his due date. At this stage of gestation, you can expect the drowsiness to last approximately twelve hours, wearing off in sync with your post-partum adrenaline surge. Just as you’re sinking under a tidal wave of exhaustion, the baby may wake up and start crying. Don’t worry! The crying should ease up when your milk supply increases (four or five days later).
Can you explain the role of colostrum?
FL: Colostrum is liquid gold: it will sustain the baby admirably until your milk comes in. Don’t worry – during this time baby will not be hungry, because nature has designed this "liquid gold" to meet all his nutritional needs.
BP: Despite the famous nutritional properties of colostrum, you may find that your baby nurses for an hour, then screams in frustration, rooting around and looking for more. After four days, you may be concerned that your milk is not coming in. Don’t worry! Your milk will come in eventually (perhaps even causing massive and painful engorgement), and in the meantime you can either listen to your starving baby scream in desperation, or you can supplement with formula.
If supplementation is necessary, how should it be carried out?
FL: Supplementation should be avoided wherever possible, since it may compromise the supply-and-demand of breastfeeding, putting the child at risk for the possible loss of several valuable I.Q. points. If you must supplement, avoid bottles at all costs – instead, feed the baby from a cup held gently to the lips.
BP: While supplementation has the benefit of easing your starving baby’s hunger, each method of delivery has its drawbacks. Try alternating between cups of formula (which the thrashing baby will scatter everywhere) and bottles (the sight of which may initiate a panic attack as you prepare to kiss your breastfeeding relationship goodbye).
What emotions can a new mother expect to experience?
FL: As a mother, you will experience a love unlike anything you’ve ever felt before. Just gazing into the face of your newborn child will be an incredibly meaningful, euphoric experience.
BP: Right. That may happen. Or, on the other hand, you may find that gazing into the face of your hungry, crying child floods you with feelings of inadequacy deeper than any you’ve experienced before.
What about the mother’s physical recovery from childbirth?
FL: You can expect some discharge of blood during the first few days, fading gradually to pink with no large clots.
BP: Be sure to stock up on the giant, inch-thick pads from the hospital: for the first week, you’ll be dealing with a torrential flow that no commercially marketed maxi-pad can possibly absorb. If the clots are any larger than a tangerine, you may want to call a public health nurse for reassurance (grape- or clementine-sized clots are no problem).
How should mothers deal with the challenges of nursing?
FL: You may experience some discomfort while nursing for the first few days. Be sure to allow your nipples to dry out in the air until they’ve adjusted to the demands of nursing. Although some women use lanolin-based products to ease discomfort, no long-term studies have been done to prove that these are safe for the baby to ingest. Why take the risk?
BP: [becoming agitated] Why take the risk? Why take the risk? I had a shrieking baby who sucked me dry in two days, with no drop of milk in sight, I had a freaking Vesuvius running down my legs every time I stood up, my nipples were dry and cracking and don’t even get me started on the subject of stool softeners! Hand over the Lansinoh and the dark beer, lady, and take your advice to someone who cares.
(Although BubandPie’s youngest child is more than a year old, the effort of recalling the early days of motherhood appears to have precipitated some kind of emotional crisis. Psychologists are standing by, ready to intervene if necessary.)
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
…the first week.