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All moms agree that childbirth comes with serious physical, mental, and emotional changes. For one, the idea of having to take care of a tiny human being can be overwhelming for some. You'll also need time to adjust to your changing body, not to mention all the hormones affecting your mood.
But no need to panic! These insights from fellow moms and a pediatrician will help you through the first few months of motherhood.
For the baby
Keep your little one happy and healthy with these practical tips:
1.Feed them every two to three hours.
Infants have tiny stomachs, so frequent feeding is key to making sure that they get proper nourishment. Crying is an obvious cue that your baby wants to eat, but that's already a late sign of hunger.
"Don't wait for them to ask for it," says Dr. Mheldy V. Calavera, a pediatric junior consultant. Look out for early cues such as lip licking, smacking, and hand sucking, and feed them before they get fussy. If they're asleep, wake them up to eat. Don't forget to burp them after each meal to avoid abdominal discomfort due to swallowed air.
2.Establish a bedtime routine.
Your baby will have erratic sleeping patterns in the first three months of his life (his circadian rhythms also need time to adjust). He'll doze off a lot but won't stay asleep for more than two to four hours at a time. Beyond that, his sleeping habits will start to match up with yours and stretch for longer periods of time.
A calming and consistent bedtime routine will improve his sleeping schedule. New mom Bea Umali, 32, attests to this: "Our son started sleeping from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., with two to three feeds in between, at three months, when we introduced him to our nightly routine."
3.Take them on early morning outdoor strolls.
Fellow mommy Isa Mendoza Mina, 31, considers this one of the best pieces of advice she's ever received about infant care. And with good reason: Babies can benefit greatly from a little direct sunlight. As much as 15 minutes under the sun will boost the production of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. It also stimulates the production of serotonin, which improves their overall mood.
4. Keep baths short and sweet.
Upon returning from the hospital, you can give your baby quick sponge baths with a warm, damp washcloth. You want to keep the umbilical cord stump clean and dry as it heals until it naturally falls off in about seven to 21 days. After that, you can start giving your child tub baths.
According to Dr. Calavera, "there is no right or best time for bathing newborn babies." What's important is to keep each bath short, and to always use warm water to avoid hypothermia. Babies are unable to regulate their own body temperature for the first few weeks of their lives, so it's important to keep this in mind.
Make sure to only use a mild soap to avoid irritating your baby's delicate skin. Try Baby Dove, a line of baby care products made with a hypoallergenic formula that's dermatologist- and pediatrician-tested. Not only is Baby Dove gentle and mild, but it also helps replenish essential moisture in baby’s skin to help limit the risk of rashes and allergies.
For the mom
Don't forget to look after yourself, too. You need to stay healthy not just for your baby but also for your own wellbeing.
1. Get as much sleep as you can.
If there's one thing all parents can agree on, it's that sleep becomes a luxury once your baby arrives. One technique many moms swear by is taking a nap when your baby naps. Take advantage of this opportunity.
2. Ask for help.
You don't have to do everything. Enlist the help of your husband, mom, close relatives and friends, and a nanny (if your budget allows it).
"Having my husband around to help me with our son definitely pulled me through the puyatan days," Bea points out. "In the first month, I tried letting my husband sleep through the night since he worked during the day. But I eventually cracked and asked for his help. We worked out a shifting schedule and delegated tasks."
Mom-of-one Angela Smith, 35, recommends the same: "Sometimes, my husband would take charge of feeding at night. I would just pump milk during the day and store it in the freezer so he could warm it up and pour it into a bottle while I was sleeping."
3. Set aside a few hours for "me" time.
"I love being with my son 24/7, but having my weekly me-time definitely keeps me sane," Bea adds. At least once a week, find someone to take over baby duties and take a few moments for yourself. Get a massage, go on a date with your husband, or have dinner with friends. Don't feel guilty about this short time away from your baby.
4. Take it one step at a time.
Parenting is a work-in-progress, and no one has it all figured out. You can learn along the way, take cues from books and the people around you, "but the final decision is always yours," says mom-of-one Camille Barrios Malicdem, 27. "Having a newborn is wonderful, but there will be times when you disagree on arrangements with other people because everyone wants what's best for baby. But you will know what to do and what is right for your kid."
Angela echoes this sentiment: "At the end of the day, you just have to trust your intuition. It will lead you to the right choices."
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