Looking back on the first couple of weeks, things may be a bit of a blur. Where has that time gone?
Night and day may well have morphed into one, with night feeds still a reality in these early weeks. But many mothers find the wee small hours a special time, a chance for some quiet, one-on-one time with their baby, which isn’t shared with anyone or anything else.
What can I expect in week three?
A little more predictability to each day. Some exhaustion, more hunger and a sense of relief that you and your baby are fine. For a lot of mums there can be a delay in acknowledging that all went well with the labour and delivery. This is human nature. We are biologically programmed to focus on priorities and what will maximise our survival.
Reflecting on the birth is normal but not if it becomes a preoccupation. Speak to your GP and/or Child Health Nurse if you’re concerned.
Week three: Tips for me
- The reality of having a newborn baby may really hit you this week. The initial shock is waning and the long road of parenting is stretching ahead. Take some deep breaths if you need to and remind yourself that one day at a time is all you currently need to focus on.
- Try to be ‘in the moment’ in week three. When you’re sitting feeding your baby don’t think about what you could or should be doing.
- Focus on the here and now and be grateful for it. These early days will pass too quickly so make the most of them.
- Your mood may be a bit more stable this week, but don’t despair if you still feel a bit up and down. Breastfeeding hormones and sleep deprivation both play a part in this.
- Go to bed early if you’re tired. It doesn’t matter if it’s before 8pm – if you’re tired then your body needs sleep. Early nights are especially important if you’re getting up through the night to feed.
- Make sure you’re doing your pelvic floor exercises. Build up the repetitions and frequency of these.
- Don’t despair if all you can fit into is your maternity clothing. It can take up to 12 months or more to return to pre-pregnancy weight. Be patient and kind with yourself.
Week three: Tips for my baby
- A daily bath isn’t essential but will make your baby feel more comfortable. Make time for this and don’t rush it. Bathing is a lovely way to emotionally connect.
- Encourage your partner to bath the baby. This can become a special one-on-one opportunity for both of them.
- Noticing your baby’s feeding is becoming a little more predictable and less constant? By week three there’s often a bit more structure around feeding and sleeping. But cluster feeding in the late afternoons and evenings is normal.
- Is your baby becoming more awake and alert? Babies need time to recover from labour and birth as well. By week three there are often changes to wakefulness.
- Look for your baby to be focusing on your face and responding to your voice. Very soon they will start to smile in response.
- Your baby’s cry may be changing. You can detect subtle changes in the pitch and volume of their cry and will be getting used to what they need.
- Your baby will be stretching out more and appear longer than they did. They are no longer confined.
- Make sure you give your baby tummy time everyday while they’re awake.
- Let your older children hold the baby, with your supervision, of course.
What makes things easier in week three?
- Try to establish daily routines which work for you all. If you feel your life is chaotic this will lead to anxiety. Some structure around each day can help.
- Make sure you’re using every labour saving device you own. There’s no point in having lots of technology around if you don’t use it. Food processors, microwave ovens, slow cookers and steamers are all designed to make life easier.
- Double the quantities of the evening meals you’re cooking and freeze another meal’s worth. You’ll be so glad you did.
- Do online grocery shopping if it’s easier for you. Even a ‘big’ shop for heavy items can make a big difference if you then only need to go out to buy fruit and vegetables.
- Don’t start new projects. Keep life simple and easy. This isn’t the time to take on more than you need to.
More week three tips
- If you haven’t changed the sheets on your bed since you got home, this is the week. Strip the bed, air it and make up with fresh linen. The pleasure will be worth the effort.
- Organise everything you need to be close and handy for overnight nappy changes. A low-voltage bedside lamp is kind to night-time eyes.
- Avoid the temptation to co-sleep with your baby. As tired as you are, make sure you settle your baby in their own cot/bassinet beside your bed. Check www.sidsandkids.org
- Ask your partner to care for the baby so you can have a sleep-in. You can take turns doing this.
- Make a list of what you want to achieve by the end of the week. Be realistic about what you can do and don’t aim too high.
- Organise a playdate for your toddler/preschooler with a little friend. Go to the park after breakfast or after they wake up from an afternoon sleep.