Top 10 Surprising Things About a New Baby
Guys. I am a research guru. I am so freaking dedicated to finding trustworthy sources of information, it’s seriously an addiction. I LOVE to research. If I want to try a new dinner menu, I research. If I am concerned with my health, I research. If I want to mentally prepare (don’t we all?) for childbirth and raising… yep, you guessed it… I RESEARCH my face off! I don’t know how many articles I read about “first days home with baby” or “surprising things about newborns no one tells you”, etc. I am here to remind you that no amount of research in the world, no, GALAXY can prepare you for the sleep deprivation you are about to encounter and the “mom brain” that goes along with it. But what I can do is add to the ever growing lists of crap you should know before bringing your newest family member home, and hopefully ease your discomfort about the abnormal a little.
Newborn babies have weird breathing habits. They will pant, squeal, and even sound like they’re choking. It’s all just exercising their new lungs and it’s totally normal. Obviously you’re going to want to check on them to make sure they’re not turning blue or anything like that, but you’ll be able to recognize the sounds fairly quickly after you hear them a few times. P.s. The sounds are quite scary. You’ll pick them up super quick a few times only to scare the hell out of them and find out they’re okay. You’ve been warned.
Babies eat a freaking LOT. So in the hospital we were told every 3 to 4 hours… but at our first pediatrician appointment, we were told every 90 minutes to 2 hours for the size and weight of our baby. Realistically, they also cluster feed at times (fussy times or feeling sick, or even when they just want comfort, not food) so some days you may be feeding them for what feels like an endless eternity. I advise you to pump when you’re not feeding so your spouse can share in the sweetness of feeding your baby, and so you can take a shower. Just be advised that you’re going to basically spend the entire first week or two topless, so have people get used to seeing your boobs.
They will make lots of noise in their sleep. See above number one breathing habits, and also add in screams, fits, and full blown melt down cries in their sleep. Again, you will probably jump to pick them up, but if their eyes are closed I advise you to wait just a moment or so longer to see if they calm down.
Their poop changes colors. From newborn meconium which is a blackish brown, tar consistency to a greenish yellow, and finally ending up at a mustard colored, peanut butter consistency (for breastfed babies). Poop changes color with the meconium getting out of their system and as mom’s breast milk comes in.
They might have a favorite boob. For no apparent reason my son prefers my right breast. He latches better, suckles longer, and the breast milk is more fatty and produces more than my left, lesser boob. It’s okay to let them have their favorite! I pump my left breast a lot and will feed from my right. Studies show that it’s better to have a longer feeding on one breast than to have two small feedings on both breasts because the “fore milk” is more carbohydrates, and the “hind milk” is more fatty and protein rich, keeping baby fuller longer! Just note that the “favorite” boob will get bigger than the non favorite if you don’t pump as consistently as you breastfeed baby. Pump, feed, or be lopsided.
Newbs don’t cry for no reason. They either need to be changed, to be fed, or they have general discomfort (which is what you get to figure out). Might be gas, might be constipation, might want to be held. They can’t manipulate you yet, so there is no “no reason” crying.
You’ll actually stare at them a LOT. This one was kind of shocking to me. I didn’t think I’d be that mom that just watched their kid sleep for hours on end but I totally am. Not all the time, but he will smile and sometimes even giggle in his sleep and it just melts my heart, especially if he’s been a turd that particular day. You’ll also spend countless hours trying to figure out whose features he inherited from which side of the family or parent. Weird.
The suction in a newborn’s mouth is cray. All I’m going to say here is ouch. Get some heating and cooling pads and strap in. The first few weeks are torture on the nips. But don’t worry, they’ll eventually callus (this doesn’t make them look any different to me) and you’ll feel a lot better. If the latch hurts past a few weeks, you may need to adjust your latch or consult a lactation consultant or fellow parent for some advice. I needed to get more boobage in my baby’s mouth to make it comfortable and I had my nurse friends advise me a little on my latch. If you want your spouse to know what you’re dealing with, have them put their finger in baby’s mouth and lat him suck on it. It’s seriously insane.
They already have lots of preferences. Bottles, pacifiers, burping mechanics, swings, and so much more. You would think as little as they are, they wouldn’t prefer much over something else, but they totally do. So don’t spend a fortune on anything, and don’t stock up on pacis or bottles until you know which ones they like, instead, try to get samples!
The umbilical cord is gross until it falls off. It shrivels and kind of stinks towards the end of its life. We didn't do any care or maintenance to it except sponge bathe baby until it fell off at two weeks exactly. It shouldn’t ever ooze or look infected, but it will stink and look dried up.
Bonus (for boys only): Their manhood looks like it is sealed completely. If you are circumcising, this will not look like it’s sealed after the foreskin is removed, but if you aren’t, the foreskin is actually fused to the penis until around 4-6 months of age, at which point baby boy will discover his penis and loosen the skin around it on his own. A weird thing to think about, but boys will be boys I guess!
I hope this has helped you in any way, shape, or form as you transition into new parenthood!