By Dianne Kemp BA, RN
Originally Published on July 3rd, 2018.
You’ve made it through your first 24 hours as a new mom. Maybe you have other children, but you are a new mom all over again, and now it is your baby’s second night.
Suddenly your little one discovers that he’s no longer back in the warm comfortable – albeit a bit crowded – womb where he has spent the last 8 ½ or 9 months – and it is SCARY out here! He isn’t hearing your familiar heartbeat, the swooshing of the placental arteries, the soothing sound of your lungs or the comforting gurgling of your intestines. Instead, he’s in a crib, swaddled in a diaper, a tee-shirt, a hat and a blanket. All sorts of people have been handling him, and he’s not yet become accustomed to the new noises, lights, sounds, and smells. He has found one thing though, and that’s his voice…and you find that each time you put him down, when you are sure he is asleep – he protests – loudly!!
In fact, every time you think he is asleep and put him down – he cries. This goes one for hours!! Many moms are confused – they may think baby is hungry (and if breastfeeding, that their “milk has not come in’ – that’s a whole different article!), that they should not pick him up because that will spoil him (that may be grandma’s advice). However, it isn’t that. The baby’s sudden wakening is because he has been taken away from the most comfortable place he knows – his mother. He knows her smell, her sounds, her voice and especially loves to lay on her chest so he can hear her heartbeat.
So, what do you do?? Don’t be so quick to put him down. Move him gently to a comfortable position – preferably skin to skin with you, where he is cozy and can hear your heart. Babies go into a light sleep state first and then cycle in and out of light, REM and deep sleep. He will move around to try to get comfortable, give him time to get into a deep sleep.
Another helpful hint – his hands were his best friends in utero. He could suck his thumb or fingers anytime he was the slightest bit disturbed or uncomfortable. And suddenly, he’s had them take away from him and someone has put mittens on him!! He has no way of soothing himself with those mittens on. Babies need to touch -to feel – so take off the mittens and loosen the blanket to he can have his hands.
My theory on letting him “cry it out”. Imagine you were placed in a cage in a dark room and left alone. You yell for help and no one comes to get you. Now imagine you are in that cage in the dark, you cry, and someone immediately picks you up, holds you, calms you. Which scenario would help you develop trust? If I knew someone was always there to meet my needs, I don’t think I would need to cry as much and I would know that I could trust. There are many who disagree and use the cry it out option – that is a parent’s decision.
Moral of this story – understand your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb. Be patient. I know you are tired but try to enjoy this special newborn time -it passes quickly.
And, when mom needs a break – skin to skin with dad is a great second option.
Dianne Kemp was born in Detroit and moved to Lexington at age 9. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing Science in 1972 from SC4, and a Bachelors in Healthcare Psychology from Graceland College (Iowa) in 1996.
Dianne’s career developed from her love of babies. She was a Maternal Child nurse for 45 years – developing and teaching childbirth and parenting education classes, working as an RN in Mother Baby Care and was the first lactation consultant in the county. She is now volunteering as a chaplain at River District Hospital since losing her vision in her left eye due to a retinal detachment in 2010.
Dianne is the proud mother of three children (one who was disabled and passed away in 2007) and two grandchildren.
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