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I thought it would be interesting, and hopefully helpful, for me to summarize life each week. I will do this until it doesn’t seem worth it anymore :). These first weeks can be so hard and require so much troubleshooting that it can be nice to see what others have done.
Before I start, please do not be discouraged by the smooth things for us. Not only is this my third baby, but in writing this blog I think about this stuff all the time. All the help that I have given to others has taught me a lot. So not only do I have my personal experience, but I have learned a lot through the experiences of others. With that in mind, here are some interesting points from our first week with McKenna.
While still in the hospital, my husband and I noticed that McKenna had gas pains. Brayden was also a baby who had gas pains, though we didn’t notice until he was 6 weeks old. And when I say we, I mean a friend of my little sister’s noticed. Her baby (who was then 9 months old) also had gas, so she recognized the symptoms. Luckily for McKenna, we were much faster at noticing her gas pains.
Kaitlyn never had gas pains. Because of our experience with Brayden, I bought several bottles of the gas drops before she was born, only to literally throw them away last fall when they expired. This time, we didn’t have any purchased. My husband went to the store and bought some gas drops before we left the hospital. I then started giving her gas drops after every nursing.
The first couple of nights home, McKenna had severe gas pain for a period in the middle of the night. Since then, however, she has been fine. The gas drops seem to be doing the trick.
McKenna is a great nurser. She is efficient and has an excellent latch on. She has nursed well from the beginning. In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg mentions that your baby needs to nurse at least 15 minutes on one side to get all the fatty milk she needs, but preferably a lot more. She suggests you shoot for that length of time before switching and offering the second side. She wants you to focus on single-side nursing.
I have always been a two-side nurser. McKenna does both right now. About half of the time, she literally refuses to even open her mouth for the second side (not to try to put actions in a newborn that aren’t there; she just really isn’t interested in that second side). It isn’t even that she is asleep and hard to wake up. Her eyes can be wide open and she just isn’t interested.
Kaitlyn was one who nursed 10 minutes on each side from birth. She gained weight really fast. Despite that, the words of Hogg have been ringing in my ears bringing me doubt in the ability of McKenna to get what she needed in 10 minutes.
Today I read What to Expect the First Year. I like their advice on nursing length. That is that every baby is different and nurses at a different pace. They also mentioned that some younger babies simply can’t handle nursing from more than one side at a time at first. McKenna is a tiny baby, so I can see that being true of her.
Ultimately, McKenna is a fast nurser. Sometimes she will take two sides, sometimes she won’t. I still have to wake her for 6 of the 8 feedings in a day (including night feedings), so she is obviously getting enough to eat right now. I know I have more than enough milk, so she is just getting satisfied with one side for now.
Something interesting about McKenna that I noticed in the first couple of days of her life is that a diaper change in the middle of a feeding is never productive. This trick was my sure-fire way to get Kaitlyn to wake up to eat for side two. For McKenna, it seems to prevent any chance of her eating from side two. I just have to get her done as fast as possible.
I always hate figuring out how to best burp the baby. I don’t consider myself a good “burper.” What worked for one child isn’t necessarily going to work for another. Honestly a very happy time for me is when baby finally gets to that point where burping is easy. Burping is very important. I have had two babies with gas and one with reflux, so I know how vital it is.
Hogg had the trick for McKenna in her book under her section on “gas.” That is to rub up the left side of baby’s back under the ribs. This is where the stomach is. This works really well for her.
I am a lot smarter about waketime with McKenna than I was with Kaitlyn. With Kaitlyn, I tried to keep her up for an hour at a time. I have since learned that for a newborn, a much shorter waketime is perfectly fine (when looking toward nighttime sleep) and preferable. McKenna’s waketime lengths vary from 30-45 minutes. I do not watch the clock for the length; I watch her. But I do take note of what time I got her up and what time I put her down.
Our activities are very simple. We eat. We change diaper. We change clothes if needed. We do sponge baths and wash hair. We look into each other’s eyes. That about does it. There are a couple of times a day that she has interaction from her siblings. They hold and kiss her. But I try to keep those interactions short and few so she doesn’t ever overstimulated at this young age. She will also have some interaction with Daddy, but it is calm :).
This is a topic of great interest. Here is the rundown of McKenna’s sleep since we have been home from the hospital:
McKenna ate at 10:15 PM, 12:00 AM, 2:15 AM, 4:45 AM, and I woke her at 8:15 AM. What a night! Why so many feedings? One, she is small. She is under 6 pounds, so I definitely wasn’t going to try to hold her out at all if she was hungry. Also, my milk was still colostrum and I don’t think that was holding her over. Finally, she had awful gas pains that night, so she woke frequently.
McKenna at at 9:50 PM, 1:30 AM, and 4:00 AM. I got her up at 7:45 AM. This was much better. She did have a gas pain situation this night, also, though.
McKenna at at 9:50 PM, 1:45 AM, and 4:45 AM. I then woke her at 7:45 AM. This was the night that I first had to wake her for a night feeding. I woke her at 4:45. I could let her go up to 5 hours, but I want to keep morning waketime as consistent as possible. I also need to have at least 8 feedings in her and she does better with a longer schedule in the day–resulting in needing two night feedings right now.
McKenna at at 10:15 PM, 2:15 AM, and 6:15 AM. I woke her at 8:15 AM. I woke her for all four of these feedings listed.
McKenna at at 10:00 PM, 1:35 AM (she woke for this), and 5:15 AM. I then woke her at 8:00 AM.
So you can see that nighttime sleep is really going well for her thus far. I would be interested to see how long she would go at night, but my desire for consistent morning waketime along with keeping 8 feedings a day has me setting my alarm and waking her up 🙂
Naps are going really well. I wake McKenna for the great majority of her feedings. This is not uncommon with a newborn.
We swaddle McKenna for all naps and nighttime. She likes to be swaddled tightly.
McKenna also puts herself to sleep. I implemented the 4 S’s described in Hogg’s book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems when McKenna was three days old. McKenna goes down for every nap of the day awake and has never cried for even a second. Love it!
McKenna sleeps at night in her bassinet in our room right now. She takes all but one nap in her crib in her room.
So there are the basics of our first week. I have a few things I have learned that I will put into individual posts. All in all, I am completely satisfied with how things are going so far.
These are the books I have consulted this week:
- On Becoming Baby Wise
- What to Expect the First Year
- The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding, and Behavior–Beyond the Basics from Infancy Through Toddlerhood