Congratulations on making it to your 4th trimester, which is basically just an extension of life in the womb (You’ll soon come to realize that there are say, 14 trimesters or so left. But worry not – you will sail through! ) After being comfortably snug in the womb, the outside world would be a bit of a rude shock to the tiny newborn baby. He relies completely on the parents, who most times like you and your partner are pretty clueless when it comes to baby care methods and solely trust the hospital nurses, doctors, friends & well-meaning “out-of-touch with baby stuff” family. This is precisely why you need to zero in on a gynecologist and hospital that’s up-to-speed on everything that’s right and wrong. This is pretty important, because in a country like India, there are a lot of age-old practices people cling on to and don’t attempt to understand why that’s not the right method; Like pulling the baby’s fragile nasal area with their fingers to make sure that he/she doesn’t have a flat nose – TOTALLY unnecessary. There’s a lot more of such things- but that’s a story for another day.
[I’m not a child-rearing expert, but thankfully, the hospital I delivered in gave a complete run-down of what to do and not do, and we truly appreciate the support of our lovely docs there! So I realized I haven’t documented an entry on my personal online space about the birth yet, and wanted to post some excerpts from the very personal “Day One” app entry I have been maintaining while at the hospital.]
Hahaha! I could totally see the husband roll his eyes when I took this selfie and other selfies at the hospital. Also typo: *meet.
So, here are 8 things I I’d like to tell my FTM self, in the fourth trimester:
1- The baby doesn’t have a sleep manual
People around you will first tell you it only takes 40 days for the baby to adjust to the outside world. Once that passes, it becomes a 3 month period to establish a sleep routine, and after that it becomes at least 6 months – and by that time you lose confidence in human race for telling such blatant, hope-giving lies, that babies sleep through the night. They don’t. At least mine didn’t. And now at 2 years+, he still doesn’t on many days.
For those who don’t understand, sleeping “through the night” usually means sleeping for eight to 12 hours straight without needing a nighttime feeding. Although this happened briefly during 4-6 months, we were back to square one after that with waking up at least 3-4 times at night. Needless to say, I was irritable and a bit of a zombie. Sleep when the baby sleeps is what everyone will you, but it’s the hardest thing to do, trust me. Try!
2- Don’t set time alarms
Do not look at the clock when he wakes up or count how often he wakes up. It doesn’t change how much he’s gonna wake up, and you will only feel more stressed. It’s great you are documenting your baby’s every feed & pee & poo – but you really don’t have to wake up that sleeping baby to feed. He will wake up crying pretty soon. Wait an hour!
3- Switch off that white light
I know you are constantly overwhelmed by a gut-wrenching fear over the safety of your baby, and feel helpless when the night arrives – SIDS is real, but please don’t be paranoid and keep watching the baby in the bright light of the room. It’s advised to use a small night light (red light’s great) and dream feed as much as possible. This dream feeding thing would have been such a game changer for you.
4- Get all the help you want
If you feel like you can’t handle the baby, just wake that sleeping husband and let him take over. Your maternity leave is no reason for you to feel like you shouldn’t disturb an office-goer’s sleep (even though this sounds harsh, it’s perfectly alright and any day better than being frustrated that the baby gives you no sleep at night!)
5- Belt it!
Wear that abdominal belt as advised by your doctor: Helps in tucking in your tummy, and offers lower back support!.In retrospect I realize how MUCH needed this is.
6- Make healthy choices
EXERCISE when the time is right – when your gynec grants the approval. As much as you care about not having food that might make the baby gassy, you must understand that Vita Marie gold or white bread isn’t a great snacking option, no matter how much you seem to like it now, suddenly. Have healthy snacks handy and do not indulge in the unhealthy stuff that you order at night from bigbasket.
Don’t be scared to try babywearing. Get a wrap or make a wrap and hold the baby close. Maybe that will help him cry a little less. Coconut gravy, Pickles and basically food is the only thing that spoils. There’s no such thing as “spoiling babies” and especially by “keeping them close”
There will be dark days when everything will seem too difficult. Days when you are bound to feel as though you’re not the right person to be a mother, and days of nothing but darkness. But it will be in these moments you meditate, your strength will truly grow. Trust Him who is able and over-write all the negativity.
I know you’re constantly paranoid over the safety of your baby, and it’ll be your baby that you’ll see in every news report, in every shocking video, and in every nightmare. While that’s something that I have no advice for, I would also tell you that a baby has an extraordinary way of filling your life – give you countless reasons to smile every day, and rejoice. You’ll see beauty in so many places, discover empathy in you, happiness in so many mundane moments, and joy in what each and every tomorrow may hold, because every day is a unique day in your life with your new baby! Won’t be new for long – time just flies! Hold him a little tighter and cuddle while you still can.
Becoming a mother will be nothing like what you expect, but I can guarantee you that it’ll be so much more wonderful than you can ever imagine.
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