Life with a New Baby
Although the majority of prenatal education is aimed at helping mothers understand the birthing process, it’s important for you to be prepared for what happens once the baby has arrived.

Initial Sleep and Feeding Schedule

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that many babies are sleepy in the first 24 hours after birth and during this time, it is a good idea to wake your sleepy baby to feed every one to three hours. After 24 to 48 hours the baby will begin to be more awake and alert and become more interested in breastfeeding. It is very common for your baby to want to breastfeed more frequently during this time, as many as 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.

You should attempt to nurse your baby whenever he or she acts hungry and at least eight times in 24 hours. Feedings will average between 5 to 30 minutes. Babies typically feed more frequently at night in the first few weeks, so we recommend that new mothers nap during the day while their babies are sleeping. Also consider putting your baby skin-to-skin before and/or after feedings by placing your baby on your chest and covering both of you with a blanket to help calm the baby.

Understanding Baby’s Cries

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that crying is a normal part of infant development. On average, babies cry one hour and 45 minutes a day when 2-weeks old and three hours a day when at 6 weeks. Most babies have a fussy period each day, usually early evening, which starts at about 3 weeks and continues until they're about 12 weeks. Sometimes babies cry because they are hungry, tired or uncomfortable or they want to be near other people. Sometimes babies cry for no reason at all.

One way to help understand your baby's cries is to remember the acronym PURPLE:

P = peak pattern — Crying peaks during the second month of life.

U = unexpected onset — Crying comes and goes unexpectedly, for no apparent reason.

R = resistance to soothing — Crying continues despite all soothing efforts by caregivers.

P = pain-like facial grimace — Infants look like they are in pain, even when they are not.

L = long crying bouts — Crying can go on for 30 to 40 minutes and longer.

E = evening clustering — Crying occurs more in the late afternoon and evening.

Accept Help from Familiar Faces

Family and friends will be excited to help and visit with your baby. Don't be afraid to take them up on their offers to assist with housework, cooking, laundry or other tasks. This is your time to focus on the basics of eating, sleeping, feeding your baby and enjoying time together as a family. Here are some additional suggestions on how loved ones can help:

  • Care of the baby so you can nap, hydrate and rest
  • Change the baby’s diapers
  • Take the baby for a walk
  • Bring food, load the dishwasher or fold laundry
  • Give you some quiet time
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