Tuesday, January 28

The Baby Learning Curve


"You didn't mention you were new at this."


You think babies learn fast? I would argue that new moms learn even faster. In just one week with you new little one, you learn what their different cries mean, how they want to be held when they are fussy or sleepy, and the list goes on.

You know that saying, "People who know everything about parenting are the ones who have never been parents." It couldn't be more true. I read almost every book I could get my hands on when I was pregnant, and I was pretty sure I had this whole baby thing figured out. Nora has taught me more over the past 5 months than those books taught me in 9 months. Don't get me wrong they were helpful but nothing is a better way to learn than actually doing. 

Since Nora was born there are somethings that I learned or figured out that really make being a new mom easier. I wish I would have learned them earlier, but that's what being a NEW MOM is all about... a learning curve. Oh well next time I'll know, Right? Or maybe not! HA

Nursing Aids
We all have heard "breast is best" and most women want nothing more than to be able to nurse their new little one, but sometimes it is hard. Nora was so small that she would not latch on. Did you know they make this thing called a Nipple Shield?! It really is awesome. It reduced the chapping greatly along with lots of Lanolin. (Don't leave the hospital with out lots of this!) It also made it so she could nurse. She eventually just didn't need it anymore, but while we used it it made nursing much more pleasant. I also learned that the best way to avoid mastitis is to empty yourself when you feel full. I thought there would be like a magic formula to tell you when you needed to pump, but really it's called listening to your body. I pumped when I was full (which was sometimes 3-4 times a day) and I still had plenty to feed nora. I also think it really helped to establish my supply! I learned to seek out help in the form of the lactation consultant, my mom, or even friends who had been exactly where I was. 

Plan Ahead
Before I had Nora I was not the kind of person to plan ahead. I would pack for a big trip the night before. That just doesn't work when you have a baby that needs to eat every 2-3 hours.
In the beginning Nora would eat on average every 2 1/2 hours!! That meant that if I was not ready to hop in bed after her 8 o'clock feeding, I would only get a little over an hour of sleep before I was up feeding again. So I would get ready for bed, have the diaper change all laid out and the pump clean and hooked up and then feed her. 
Another way I learned to plan ahead is have snack and my water bottle on the night stand so that I could refuel and hydrate while I was feeding. Nursing makes makes me so hungry and I knew to keep the best milk for Nora I needed good snacks. You also have to eat meals. No skipping lunch because you were too busy... Cook extra for dinner, put a lunch size serving in a container and heat it up! It's so important not to neglect your body when you are nursing and planning ahead made that so much easier.

Work on sleep habits at nap time
If Nora had napped in my arms all day, how could I expect her to go to sleep in her crib that night. At about 2 1/2 months we transitioned to her sleeping in the crib. I started with nap time and it wasn't long until bedtime was a breeze! Each time she fell asleep on her own in the crib during the day would reinforce that skill for the next time. Babies have to learn that their crib is just as safe as your arms. I'm not going to lie the first time it took over 30 minutes for her to fall asleep. I never got her out of the crib, but just soothed her every time she would cry. Each nap took less soothing than the last. I also learned that if I tried to fight the sleep battle at 11:30 at night I was just too tired and so was she. We BOTH were in a better state to learn how this whole sleep thing works during the day.

Well... Nora is 5 months and I am still trying to figure this whole mom thing out. Like when do you take a shower? or better yet how do you find time to go to the gym? 
I have a feeling I'll be learning for the next 18 years.

3 comments:

  1. Love this post. Love you. Love her!

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  2. This is really good advice! I was given a nipple sheild due to latch issues as well and Ava STILL uses it. It's a pain having to use it every.single.feed but hey whatever works. I am going to try to transition Ava to the crib soon. She is JUST now napping in her bassinet in our room. So far so good! I have also found that she really likes the sleep sack! It must make her feel cozy and gets her in the mood to sleep..yey! :)

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    1. Don't worry about how long she uses it. It was just like all of the sudden Nora didn't need it any more. I am a firm believer that not one thing works for all babies, but usually you can find that one thing that really helps them succeed at sleeping. I have gotten so much better with a bedtime routine and that has made it even easier!

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~Clara