I feel like it's important for us to take a look at some overall newborn basics so you can have a better idea of what's going on with your baby when you finally get to meet them. Not only will this allow you to have a better understanding of why your baby may be "acting a certain way," but having this info in your back pocket can help you decide what to put in your "mommy (or daddy) tool belt!"
This post's goal is to outline a few key pointers that will hopefully help alleviate and prevent some of those newborn parent jitters. We hope to help you be able to enjoy your time with your new baby as much as you can, because this phase passes by so fast!
The 4th Trimester
In my experience as a first time mom (FTM), let alone of multiples, no one once mentioned to me the concept of the "4th Trimester." The 4th trimester is the idea that a baby's first 3 months of life is an extension of life in the womb. Given the fact that they were carried around for 40 weeks with their moms voice and heartbeat to soothe them 24/7, have had no concept of hunger, and have never been "alone," it makes sense that babies will need some help adjusting to THEIR new world!
"When babies are first born, they don't have the brain maturity to deal with the outside world. They depend on their parents for basic survival, but also for soothing, because they just don't know how to soothe themselves until they are about 4 months old," according to Jennifer McArthur, co-director of the Northwest Association for Postpartum Support.
Personally, I feel like new parents are not equipped with enough PROPER information to understand why their new baby's behaviors can be so "unpredictable" and often times stressful. For example: It is important to remember that YOU CAN NOT SPOIL A NEWBORN! I feel like our society gives off the impression that their babies should self soothe and that parents should refrain from tending to their babies in ways that "nature intended." Babies thrive and survive on love and attention, but boy can it be EXHAUSTING!!!!
A few of the things that we did to help the girls adjust to life outside the womb were: LOTS of skin-to-skin, babywearing, and following our babies cues. I miss the days of just laying in bed with the girls on top of me. With them listening to my heart and my voice (we read and chatted a lot!) while helping them regulate their own heart rates and body temperatures.... the list of benefits goes on and on! READ MORE ABOUT SKIN TO SKIN! (It's especially perfect for preemie loves!)
Newborn Growth Spurts
Did you know that babies triple their birth weights during their first year of life?? And that they grow 10 inches in length on average? Welcome to the wonderful world of growth spurts (no scarasam WHATSOEVER!) Growth spurts (often referred to as the WONDER WEEKS) not only refer to physical growth, but also to MENTAL growth! (Which is why I recommend being familiar with them! It's always nice to know as much as I can about what the girls are going through!)
The first few growth spurts commonly occur around 10 days old, 4-6 weeks, and again around 3 months.They continue on through 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less; but they keep going all the way through toddlerhood!) Growth spurts usually last 2-3 days, but can sometimes go on for a week or so. Now since babies can’t read calendars your baby may do things differently, BUT it is helpful to know about when to expect these so that you can determine if a sudden change in behavior has growing "to blame."
Signs that your baby is having a growth Spurt: -Baby eats NON STOP! Cluster feeding will become your new best friend -Baby sleeps SO much! Consider dream feeds if needing to monitor feedings -Baby is up more frequently at night! This is where our routine really helped out because we almost NEVER had issues with this -Baby is cranky and wants to be held ALL THE TIME! Babywearing is a GREAT way to get a win-win out of this situation. (Evening family walks were our most favoritest part of the early days!)
More times than not babywearing has saved the day! And we are talking from infancy through toddlerhood! (Don't forget to browse our babywearing journey as well!) Babywearing is one the of the best ways to provide your baby with a "space" that allows them to reap SO many benefits needed in the 4th trimester!
Not only does wearing your baby put them in a pouch that recreates the womb, but it gives you FREE HANDS! Taking into consideration that during growth spurts especially, your baby will go through times where they are going to want to be held constantly.... Now, take it up a notch and throw twins into the mix and it can get to be REALLY challenging until.... BAM! Up they go! Taking walks all wrapped up is one of our favorite pastimes, especially in the early days when we were pretty limited being able to take the girls out because they were preemies.
Our series "Beginning to Babywear" has more details for those who are looking to venture out into the babywearing world for the first time. From covering info to help you decide which carrier/wrap options are best for YOU to providing you with tips, tricks, pointers, and additional resources to help you, this place is your ONE STOP SHOP for all things babywearing!
First off, it is SUPER IMPORTANT to remember that routine DOES NOT equal schedule!!! It's not atypical for babies to have their days and nights mixed up! Doing certain things like keeping a dark/dim lit room for MOTN (middle of the night) feeds and diaper changes can help guide them to relearning your schedule from the "outside."
For us routine is all about WHAT ORDER we do things, NOT WHAT TIME we do it. For example, we may not have always had the same bed TIME since birth, but the girls know that a diaper change, lotion massage, and story means bedtime is just around the corner! (This kind of consistency can REALLY help the time pass when you are in the middle of a wonder week or when you have to implement some temporary cluster feeding!) Read more about our routines from birth through toddlerhood!
When suggesting a routine in regards to feeding, ON DEMAND should always be priority!!! "The Daily Grind" chart is simply a way to track feedings, which can REALLY come in handy with that newfound "mommy brain." There are TONS of apps out there as well. I LOVED the Similac one, AND it was FREE!!! So in case you aren't stuck in the 90's, and don't like writing things down you have options!!! We had to make sure the girls ate every 3 hours max to make sure the consumed enough daily calories, and having this info, really came in handy! It makes packing for outings, or trying to make plans for your own day SO much easier. (The chores don't do themselves, and I don't know about you, but I HATE being knee deep in something and having to stop!)
To each his own; in no way, shape, or form am I implying that this is the way that EVERYONE HAS TO do this! This is just what worked best for us! If you breast feed then keeping track of wet diapers would be the equivalent to tracking oz. When having to keep up with newborn twins, or even multiple children, it can be hard to remember all the details! (Espec considering the likelihood of the new mom fatigue!)
Following Your Baby's Cues
This is the one thing I can not stress enough!!! No matter how much you read and prepare, your baby is a tiny human who will have needs that need to be met at his own pace. The best thing you can do is make sure you go with the flow and follow your instincts.
Oprah had a guest one time that did an AMAZING job of breaking down the different cries of a baby. CHECK OUT HER "MUST WATCH GUEST" FOR NEW PARENTS! (Not to say you need to memorize them and take notes, but having and idea of these can definately come in handy when your babe(s) is/are having a cry fest and you are at your wits end!)
In addition to following your baby's cues, TRUST YOUR GUT!!! From my personal experience, connecting with other moms on Facebook has been SUPER helpful! It seems like there is a group for EVERYTHING these days, and given the fact that it's not always easy to get out and about with babies in tow, its nice to have other moms "around." I have learned SO MUCH from just browsing these groups alone! Sure, you won't want to take ALL advice out there, but when you have some doubts or questions about something your baby is up to, chances are there is another mommy or 2 out there that has "been there done that."
It's advised to begin tummy time at birth! (Sometimes you may have to adjust according to babies comfort, and don't forget to take things like their umbilical cord into consideration!) We started at from day one by just having them lay on our chests. Espec considering their preemie status, we decided to kick it up a notch and do skin to skin as well. This not only helps them regulate breathing and body temperature, but it helps increase my colostrum production!
Also, having the girls look up at me from my chest, and knowing that they were listening to my heartbeat (like they had for the last 8 months) was more than I could have asked for. The benefits of tummy time not only include giving baby the opportunity to stregnthen their neck and back muscles while getting a "different" view of the world, but it can also contribute to baby hitting mobility milestones sooner! The MayoClinic has some GREAT info about the importance of tummy time.
You don't need a fancy/cutesy tummy time mat right away. (We started using ours after about a month or so, and liked to alternate between the bed and the living room floor.) You only need to aim for 5-10 minutes a day in the beginning, but as always use your judgement! Only you know what YOUR baby needs best!
We had 3 different mats (a bit excessive, but they were all gifts!) My favorite was the Kick and Play because it not only lasted us for a REALLY long time, but because there were SO many options for ways to entertain! We used this one up until 8 mo when the girls started enjoying their newfound mobility and didn't want to sit in one place anymore. The others we stopped using when they starting rolling over and scooting (5 months-ish).
Don't forget boppy's make for a GREAT way to enjoy both tummy time AND just some good chilling/hanging together time in the early days! Visit our BABY REGISTRY MUST HAVES for more things that we loved (and hated!)
Swaddling is defined as: "Swaddling is the art of snugly wrapping a baby in a blanket for warmth and security. It can keep your baby from being disturbed by her own startle reflex, and it can help her stay warm and toasty for the first few days of life until her internal thermostat kicks in. It may even help to calm your baby," by BABYCENTER.COM
Babies need to sleep on flat on their backs! Don't prop them up to sleep. (Their necks lack the muscle control needed to prevent asphyxiation. They can also accidentally roll over!) We stopped swaddling when the girls started rolling over. (We did arms out with SwaddleMe's from about 4(ish) mo.) Find more info from the APA HERE!
DID YOU KNOW: The babywearing world is not the only place that you need to know about hip dysplasia (HD)! Swaddling too tightly can contribute to HD! Learn more here!
Our favorite were the Aden & Anais blankets (WELL worth the $! Still using them well into toddlerhood!) We did like the SwaddleMe's as well, but because the girls were so small, we did not get as much use out of them as the blankets. BUT they are perfect for wiggleworms! REMEMBER to STOP swaddling your baby once they start rolling over!
Diaper Bag Checklist
The diaper bag is going to make or break you when braving it enough to leave the house with a new baby, or 2. The first step is finding the RIGHT BAG! You are like me, you won't feel as strong of an impulse to tote your bag around if you don't have the "perfect match."
We got our bags as baby shower presents (BOTH perfect gifts and timing!!!) Check out our diaper bag checklist for more ideas for newborn age up through toddlerhood.
If you are interested in ordering your Thirty-One bag today contact BROOKE FRANKLIN: TOTALLY TOTES for more info! (Don't forget to ask her how you can get YOUR FREE BAG today!)
Some of the checklists go hand in hand with our "baby registry must haves." I am working hard to keep this list updated to include not only OUR PERSONAL lists, but incorporate your feedback as well! (CONTACT ME to ask about submitting info to include!)
Diapers and wipes: All about quantity!
We have SO much more info coming to you soon! Be sure to follow the blog for all the up to date info (so that you don't miss a beat) of any of our new stuff! One thing that has SUPER helped us is having a Sam's Membership! Buying formula, diapers, wipes, etc (let alone for TWO) can become money consuming to the point that the rug gets pulled out from under you!
Fast forward to the days of solids (and one step more... towards toddlerhood and 2 more mouths to have to feed..... with THE HIGHEST metabolisms ever! lol) Our MONEY SAVING SERIES will have more info about this soon (including price comparisons and more!).....
There is (as you can see) more info and series so.... STAY TUNED!