Perinatal Neonatal

CompanyName


Coping with your Infant

A newborn can bring a whirlwind of activity and excitement to your life — and plenty of stress and fatigue. Whether you're a first-time parent or a seasoned veteran, consider 10 practical tips to keep stress under control.

1. Take care of yourself

Resist the urge to count caffeine as a major food group or a substitute for sleep.

Instead, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water and get some fresh air. Sleep when the baby sleeps — and work out a nighttime schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby. Do something you enjoy every day, either with the baby or on your own.

Good habits will help you maintain the energy you need to care for your newborn.

2. Establish visiting rules

Friends and loved ones might come out of the woodwork to admire your newborn. Let them know which days work best and how much time you have for a visit.

Insist that visitors wash their hands before holding the baby, and ask anyone who's ill to stay home.

Don't be afraid to set aside your social graces, either. Let trusted visitors care for the baby while you get some much needed rest.

3. Go with the flow

Allow plenty of time each day for nursing sessions, naps and crying spells. Keep scheduled activities to a minimum. When you need to head out, give yourself extra time to pack your supplies and change the inevitable out-the-door dirty diaper.

4. Expect a roller coaster of emotions

You might go from adoring your baby and marveling at tiny fingers and toes to grieving your loss of independence and worrying about your ability to care for a newborn, all in the space of a single diaper change.

Chances are, you and your partner are both tired and anxious as well.

To help you stay connected, talk about what's bothering you — such as a strained budget or difficulty soothing the baby. A shared laugh might help lighten the mood.

5. Relax your standards

Hide the broom and leave dust bunnies where they lie. Store clean clothes in the laundry basket — or in stacks on the floor — until you need them. Clean the bathroom with a fresh diaper wipe. Serve cold cereal and peanut butter toast for dinner when you're too tired to prepare a more traditional meal.

6. Get out of the house

If you're going stir-crazy with a fussy newborn, take the baby out for a walk. If you can, let someone you trust take over for a while.

7. Accept a helping hand

When friends and loved ones offer to help, take them up on it. Suggest holding the baby, folding the laundry or running a few errands — whatever would help you the most.

8. Nurture other relationships

Your newborn needs your love and attention, but you won't let your baby down by spending time with others.

If you have other children, set aside one-on-one time with each of them. Schedule dates with your partner. Meet a friend for lunch or a movie.

9. Keep your perspective

The newborn days won't last long. Step back and appreciate the moment, even amid the chaos.

10. Know when to seek additional help

Parenting is a challenge, even on a good day. If you're depressed or you're having trouble adjusting to life with a newborn, consult your health care provider or a mental health provider.

Learning to handle the new stress in your life can help you enjoy the riches parenting has to offer.

Colic

Does your infant have a regular fussy period each day when it seems you can do nothing to comfort her? This is quite common, particularly between 6:00 p.m. and midnight—just when you, too, are feeling tired from the day’s trials and tribulations. These periods of crankiness may feel like torture, especially if you have other demanding children or work to do, but fortunately they don’t last long. The length of this fussing usually peaks at about three hours a day by six weeks and then declines to one or two hours a day by three to four months. As long as the baby calms within a few hours and is relatively peaceful the rest of the day, there’s no reason for alarm.

If the crying does not stop, but intensifies and persists throughout the day or night, it may be caused by colic. About one-fifth of all babies develop colic, usually between the second and fourth weeks. They cry inconsolably, often screaming, extending or pulling up their legs, and passing gas. Their stomachs may be enlarged or distended with gas. The crying spells can occur around the clock, although they often become worse in the early evening.

Unfortunately, there is no definite explanation for why this happens. Most often, colic means simply that the child is unusually sensitive to stimulation or cannot “self-console” or regulate his nervous system. (Also known as an immature nervous system.) As she matures, this inability to self-console—marked by constant crying—will improve. Generally this “colicky crying” will stop by three to four months, but it can last until six months of age. Sometimes, in breastfeeding babies, colic is a sign of sensitivity to a food in the mother’s diet. The discomfort is caused only rarely by sensitivity to milk protein in formula. Colicky behavior also may signal a medical problem, such as a hernia or some type of illness.

Although you simply may have to wait it out, several things might be worth trying. First, of course, consult your pediatrician to make sure that the crying is not related to any serious medical condition that may require treatment. Then ask him which of the following would be most helpful.

  • If you’re nursing, you can try to eliminate milk products, caffeine, onions, cabbage, and any other potentially irritating foods from your own diet. If you’re feeding formula to your baby, talk with your pediatrician about a protein hydrolysate formula. If food sensitivity is causing the discomfort, the colic should decrease within a few days of these changes.
  • Do not overfeed your baby, which could make her uncomfortable. In general, try to wait at least two to two and a half hours from the start of one feeding to the start of the next one.
  • Walk your baby in a baby carrier to soothe her. The motion and body contact will reassure her, even if her discomfort persists
  • Rock her,run the vacuum in the next room, or place her where she can hear the clothes dryer, a fan or a white- noise machine. Steady rhythmic motion and a calming sound may help her fall asleep. However, be sure to never place your child on top of the washer/dryer.
  • Introduce a pacifier. While some breastfed babies will actively refuse it, it will provide instant relief for others.
  • Lay your baby tummy-down across your knees and gently rub her back. The pressure against her belly may help comfort her.
  • Swaddle her in a large, thin blanket so that she feels secure and warm.
  • When you’re feeling tense and anxious, have a family member or a friend look after the baby—and get out of the house. Even an hour or two away will help you maintain a positive attitude. No matter how impatient or angry you become, a baby should never be shaken. Shaking an infant hard can cause blindness, brain damage, or even death. Let your own doctor know if you are depressed or are having trouble dealing with your emotions, as she can recommend ways to help.

Resources