The first three months with your baby is no less than a post-wedding experience!
The parents try to adjust to the baby as much as the baby tries to adjust to the new world. Till a while back she was cocooned inside a safe environment where all needs were being automatically taken care of. And suddenly there is too much light everywhere and some giants around expect her to do things their way. When the parents try to understand and adopt means to comfort her with the best of their abilities, the biggest challenge for the little one at this hour is to accept that the “automatic” button is off and she’ll have to take her own initiatives to make things happen.
Once you are done with comparing the features and complexion of the baby with both sides of the family, you are left with shrill wails at weird hours expecting strange favours.
The first concern with the baby is feeding her, and feeding her appropriately. Initially you are expected to feed her once every two hours. If the mother is feeding the baby, it is extremely important to be careful about what she is consuming as the same goes to the baby as well. Often it is advised that the mother consumes lots of ghee and Ajwain around this time so that she can internally heal and also pass the benefits to the new-born who is feeding on her. In our community, new moms are fed with onions chopped thin and fried well in ghee. In Maharashtra, they swear by methi ka laddoo for the same purpose. A friend of mine from Uttar Pradesh suggested that I boil fennel and ajwain in water and drink only that water instead of normal water. Every community has such offerings which end of the day serves the same purpose.
While breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best for the baby, please don’t panic if you can’t. Yes it is true that every doctor or relative in the world will vote in favour of breastfeeding. And that certainly is the correct thing to do. But what if you can’t? What if the baby is not getting her feed from you and she is severely discomforted? What if you are not lactating enough?
Sometimes babies can’t latch in properly. For that you can simply rush to your hospital and the nurses will help her and you to find the perfect feeding posture and they will get the baby to latch in. If there is an issue with lactation, or if breasts have gone heavy due to improper or insufficient secretion, there are also therapists who will come in to give you a massage and start the process. If still you can’t feed your baby, and it just seems to be an endless torture, then stop doing that to yourself. I have known women who have taken injections and have gulped down Ayurveda powders and have subjected themselves to enormous pains to get themselves lactate. For most of them, it still did not help. It was funny to hear from my doctor, that when her first baby was born and she was finding it difficult to feed her, relatives advised that she needed to take the initiative and stop acting lazy!
I have been a baby who did not feed on mother’s milk. And I can vouch, that I am way more fit and my immunity is excellent compared to many others who did get mother’s feed. So don’t panic; just switch to top feed. With my baby the challenge was, he was never happy with the quantity of top feed he got. He always wanted more and shouted endlessly when we tried to restrict his intake as per the instructions on his prescribed consumption levels. Doctors warned that we were over-feeding already. But beyond a point it was impossible to hear him crying and we gave him what he wanted unheeding to what anyone else had to say. It was actually a friend who drilled sense into my brain. “What do you do if your baby is not happy with the quantity you are giving him? Leave him under-fed?” She said.
This taught me a fundamental theory. Every baby is different from the other and their needs or rules to life differ; you have to take care of their unique symptoms and act accordingly.
It is advisable that parents choose to adhere to the culture that they wish to set for their babies
right from day one. We often underestimate and overlook the impact of apparently harmless ambiance, but they have their long-term effects.
The hospital where my son was born also advised me strongly against using feeding bottles. They said those were the primary sources of infection. They suggested that we use spoons that were sterilized at home before serving the baby. True that, but the fact is, you give yourself in to more practical way of doing things eventually. There are lots of organisations like Avent, Pigeon and others who offer well-made bottles who also promise to be colic-free. They ensure that the gap offered in the nipples of bottles are designed such that air bubbles passing through those are minimised, thus reducing chances of colic pain. Also there are excellent electronic sterilizers available in the market waiting to service you in the most hassle-free way. Of course it is not too difficult to do it at home either.
Initially I woke up every two hours to feed the baby when the Doctor called HALT. He suggested that if the baby is being appropriately fed all through the day, if the number of times he is passing urine is normal and if he is passing motion regularly, there’s no need to stay up at night. Rather it is better if the baby gets uninterrupted sleep all through the night; that is, if he is the one to sleep through the night. Mine did, and life seemed a little better sorted.
It is advisable that parents choose to adhere to the culture that they wish to set for their babies’ right from day 1. We often underestimate and overlook the impact of apparently harmless ambiance, but they have their long term effects. The challenge mainly lies in identifying them. For example, try to set up a peaceful and pollution-free area for your baby. Stop talking to each other loudly, keep the volume of television in control, make sure doors and windows are not slammed open and shut, etc. These disturb their tender nerves. I played instrumental Indian classical music, preferably flute or santoor, in very low volume while putting my son to sleep. The music played on even after he slept. My son today is three and a half year old child, extremely naughty and restless. But he still calms down and listens in silence, every time I play the music even in broad daylight. Today he appreciates it. Both me and my husband being authors, we expose or child to lots of creative people so that he connects to that world strongly as he grows up. Many parents read out stories, and show the kids animated pictures which can be touched and felt, all in relevance with the story. That is a fantastic way to treat the child right from a very early stage. Some parents prefer that their child spends lots of time in the garden; they would sit with them in the lawns, roam around showing them flowers and leaves and birds. Given the kind of pollution we have today, it is an excellent decision so the child is exposed to fresh air and sunlight in the abundance of oxygen. However, make sure this is not done after sunset because that is when the plants emit carbon dioxide!
All through this journey, a very important role is played by one or two friends who double up as your confidantes. They are usually the people who have become parents a few months before you and hence have gone through a lot of things with all memories afresh. They give you the psychological support, share information, prepare you for things to come and are there to handhold you when you need immediate help. Identify them well in advance, so you have a shoulder to rest on, while going through the grill of first three months.
Another crucial part of the first three months is massage and bath of the baby. This however is informative enough to become a fresh article altogether, and I reserve this for next week.
Summarising the points mentioned above.
- Mothers must eat properly if they are feeding the baby.
- If they aren’t, no need to panic.
- Every baby is unique. Understand the terms of your baby.
- Take practical decisions to adapt to situations; but make sure your procedures are harmless.
- Set the culture at home right from day one.
- Identify the confidante