Week four can be an interesting time with a newborn. You’ll find you’re well on the way to physical recovery from the birth and may even have a little more energy this week.
With big, life-changing events it can take weeks and even months to process the enormity of a situation. And having a baby, whether it’s your first or your tenth, will still take some getting used to.
So from both physical and emotional perspectives, you’re making progress this week.
Your baby will have developed their own little behaviours and routines by now. They’ll have a history which is more than just how they entered the world. You’ll be getting familiar with their little noises and habits, cries and signals and the feelings these generate in you.
What can I expect in week four?
A greater sense of emotional connection with your baby, which you may not have felt until now. For many women, labour and birth comes as a real shock, especially if it didn’t proceed as expected. Processing this and coming to terms with disappointment can take weeks. But as a baby’s personality emerges and there is more to their life story than just their birth, things often start to change.
Week four tips for me
- Remember, self care is the number one focus of your day. If you look after yourself, this will flow onto your baby.
- Move every day. Whether this is going for a walk with the pram, doing a post-natal exercise class or some stretching exercises, try to be active. Swimming will be out if you’re still bleeding.
- Socialise where possible. Avoid day-long outings. If you do something in the morning then have the afternoon at home and vice versa.
- Make a six-week postnatal appointment with your maternity care provider. Mark this on your calendar and set a reminder on your phone.
- Expect yourself to be forgetful. ‘Mummy brain’ really does exist so don’t think you’re the only one whose memory seems to have deserted them.
- Invest in some good quality maternity bras if you haven’t done so. You’ll find your breast shape and size has changed with lactation.
- Brush and floss your teeth. Dental caries are caused by bacteria which are easily passed onto babies.
- Get outside at least once a day. This will give you a different perspective altogether.
Week four tips for my baby
- Is that a real smile I see? Your baby will be able to focus on your face with more intent and start to smile in recognition. Wait to feel your heart melt when this happens.
- Feel happy about what you’ve named your baby? If you’re unsure, then it’s not too late to make changes. Make sure you’ve submitted a birth registration. Check here for more information.
- Breastfeeding should be getting easier by now. Although breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, it still requires a set of learned skills, for a mother and her baby.
- Try not to introduce formula milk if you’re breastfeeding. If you feel you have a low supply, check your baby’s growth with your child health nurse.
- If you’ve had a boy, don’t feel you need to do anything specific about cleaning their foreskin. Forcefully retracting this can lead to trauma.
- If you haven’t already, make an appointment with a child health nurse. These health professionals can be a source of immense support and guidance.
- Weight gains need to be around 150-200 grams/week now. If your baby hasn’t regained their birth weight plus at least 300 grams, there’s probably a feeding issue.
- Tummy time every day during wakeful times will help prevent plagiocephaly – a flat head. Experiment with different ways your baby likes to lie.
- Wash your baby’s hair and head every day. Cradle cap can easily build up and is much easier to prevent than treat. Gentle massage with baby wash or shampoo, rinsing well and towel drying can help to avoid crusty build-ups.
What makes things easier in week four?
- Being organised. Household chaos can lead to feeling a lack of control. Try to find that balance between flexibility, prioritising and the sense of achievement from getting important things done.
- Organise your baby’s nursery; you’ll be spending a lot of time in there. A changing area, storage for clothing and toiletries, and having necessities at hand are priorities.
- Wear clothing which is easy to unbutton and access your breasts for feeding. Wear skirts and pants/shorts with blouses rather than dresses.
- Wear shoes which you can slip on your feet and don’t require doing up. When you’ve got your arms full of baby this can make a big difference.
More week four tips
- Try to spend some time with your partner. If your focus has been baby, baby, baby in the last three weeks, acknowledge your partner’s input, too.
- Connect with your family. Mothers are not meant to be socially isolated and your best emotional and practical supports will be from family and friends.
- Try to relax. Prioritise what matters and let go of what doesn’t. Anxiety can overwhelm these early days and really, it should be a time of joy.
- Unpack your hospital bag, sort out your baby’s welcoming presents and write on your baby’s cards what gifts were given by whom. In years to come you’ll be glad you did.
- Get some intergenerational family photos. Organise a family function where everyone can meet each other and welcome the new baby.
- Supervise the family dog at all times when they are near the baby. Even if you have the gentlest dog in the world, they are still an animal and will act on instinct.