Things they never told me…

Standard

… about newborn babies and being a mom.

Ok. So nearly all my friends have children. Of course, during pregnancy they gave me advice ranging from what to expect during labor & delivery to raising my child. But the list of things they forgot to mention is a mile long. I’ve managed to figure it out on my own (so far!), with the help of my amazing husband. For all you moms out there with newborns, this is my list of things they never told me.

Stock up on wipes. Yes, you will need a BILLION of these. When Owen had his first blowout a few weeks in (it does happen sooner, so I’ve heard), I must have used TWENTY wipes on that one diaper change! Plus, until you get the hang of cleaning off a soiled baby butt you’ll probably use way more wipes than necessary (but that’s okay – they’re inexpensive!). Not only are they good for cleaning up poop, they’re also handy to keep stocked around the house. I have used them countless times on my hands, as spur-of-the-moment spit-up wipes and for cleaning up a small spill. They’re just downright useful things to have stocked everywhere.

Poop schedules vary. The first day or two that passed where our baby didn’t have a bowel movement, we freaked out and called the pediatrician. I assumed babies were supposed to have at least one good poop per day. This is apparently not the case. My pediatrician told me that all babies are different: while one baby may go 1 (or more!) times per day, some may only have a bowel movement every 3-5 days. And it’s completely normal! Now that Owen’s system has “straightened” out, we’ve determined he poops around once per day, but still has weeks where he goes every other day…and then there’s some days when he goes 2-3 times. All completely normal, mamas! Of course, if you have a feeling something may be wrong, please DON’T HESITATE to contact your pediatrician.

Baby boys pee. A lot. When Owen was ~3 weeks old, he went through eleven diapers in a 4 hour period. I am not kidding. He generally goes through 15-20 diapers per 24 hour period, give or take a few. I am finding out that this is all completely normal (thank goodness!). Insane, but normal. And I thought I peed a lot when I was pregnant.

DON’T stock up on diapers. Just have a few small (not 236 ct!) packages of newborn and size one on hand. Throughout my pregnancy, the OB told me to plan for a large baby – at least 8.5 pounds or more (gasp!). Based on the ultrasounds everything seemed on track for having a big baby. I honestly thought he’d be over 9 pounds, so before he was born we purchased everything in 3+ months. Owen weighed 8 1/2 pounds at birth but lost some weight while we were in the hospital. Size 1 diapers were way too big and of course we didn’t have any at home. He wore newborn diapers for 4 1/2 weeks and literally OVERNIGHT he went into a size 1. He’s been in size 1 diapers for 3 1/2 weeks and those are getting snug, so I imagine he’ll be in a size 2 very soon. We now have a butt-load of size 1 diapers we can’t use (but will donate or give to friends).

Keep baby’s wardrobe small. Just make sure you have the essentials! Yes, everyone told me that he would grow like a weed but I couldn’t resist whenever we took a trip to Target or Babies ‘R’ Us. Between the items I purchased, the clothing we received at the baby shower and the 5 LARGE bags of gently used clothes we received from family, we were swimming in clothes. Most of it, unfortunately, was never worn because he outgrew them so fast – and he’s only 2 months old! We also assumed he would be too big to fit into newborn clothing – wrong. We ended up having zero outfits on hand and my mom made an emergency trip to JCP. In my opinion, the clothing staples to have on hand include the following, all in newborn to 0-3 month sizes:

  • Cotton and fleece sleep sacks
  • Cotton long-sleeved (winter) or short-sleeved (summer) onesies
  • Zippered (much easier than snaps!) pajamas with feet – great for Ped visits!
  • Cotton sweatpants
  • Socks (these double as mittens!!)
  • Cotton Hats (usually come in 0-6 months)

Breastfeeding may not work out. I decided I wanted to breastfeed from the get-go. I thought things were going to be easy and my baby and I would be in breastfeeding heaven for a year or so. The first time he breastfed was about an hour after birth and he latched on and fed like a champ! I mentally high fived myself. This was going to be a breeze! Over the next two days I had to have the lactation consultant visit 3 times and needed the nurse’s assistance at least 5. Things were NOT going as planned and I was suffering emotionally and physically. My nipples were chapped, blistered and swollen – and they hurt. BAD. Our first day home, Owen wouldn’t latch and I was in too much pain to continue breastfeeding, so we supplemented with formula (something I did not want to do) for a few feedings while I pumped enough to support his hunger. The guilt I felt was horrible. I knew it wasn’t my fault but I still felt like he wasn’t getting the proper nutrition and antibodies needed for a newborn. So, I tried exclusively pumping…

Pumping may not work out. Pumping was HARD. In order to maintain supply, I had to pump every 2-3 hours religiously, which also meant zero sleep because we couldn’t get my pumping and his feedings on the same schedule. Even when pumping regularly I still wasn’t producing enough breast milk to feed Owen exclusively on breast milk. Sometimes I’d get 2-3 oz. (total) per session, other times only 1 oz. It was extremely frustrating. I continued pumping as often as I could for about 2 1/2 weeks. After not pumping for 9 hours one day (due to an outing), my breasts didn’t feel heavy, didn’t hurt and certainly weren’t engorged. This worried me, but secretly it was a blessing. After a few days of attempting to re-establish my supply, I decided pumping just wasn’t going to work out. I stopped pumping and we now exclusively use formula – and he’s doing WONDERFULLY! Sometimes breastfeeding and/or pumping just doesn’t work for you and/or your little bundle – and that’s OK.

Bottle feeding. In all the parenting classes we took while pregnant (4 in total) not once did anyone mention how to bottle feed a newborn. Yes, I know it’s fairly easy, however it would have been nice for a small segment on the subject. None of my friends or family provided feedback on this topic either. In my experience over the past few weeks, bottle feeding IS easy, but following these tips can make it easier and more comfortable for both mama & baby.

  • Have a burp cloth and light blanket on hand.
  • Use a small pillow under the arm baby rests his/her head on to support baby and save your arm from discomfort!
  • Invest in a bottle warmer. LIFE. SAVER.
  • Purchase a quality, comfortable glider or rocking recliner. Might as well be comfortable for as often as you’re going to do this.
  • You do not need tons of bottles. 6-8 will get you through just fine.
  • You also do not need to sanitize the bottles each time you use them – only the first time. As long as you are using soap and hot water, you’re good to go.
  • Storing a jug with pre-made formula (around 20 oz. at a crack) in the fridge is SUPER helpful – especially in the middle of the night!

Invest in receiving blankets. The thin cotton ones. Not fleece or flannel – but these are nice to have on hand too! These are excellent for multipurpose use. We have used them for everything including pillows, head cushions in the car seat (rolled up on either side), changing table liners, swaddling, a light blanket, a burp cloth, a towel, etc. They’re just wonderful!

As my experience with motherhood marches on, I’m sure I’ll be encountering other “things they didn’t tell me” about infants and toddlers! Stay tuned! 

– The Midwest Mama

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