The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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First Sign of Illness
Baby acne, bouts of crying and loose, seedy poops are normal, but do call your doctor immediately if your newborn experiences any of the following:
• Changes in eating, such as repeatedly refusing to nurse
• Very watery stools
• Excessive sleepiness or unresponsiveness
• Excessive irritability
• A red and swollen rash anywhere on the body
• Redness or swelling at the base of the umbilical cord
• A fever of 100.4F or higher (The most accurate way to take an infant’s temperature is with a digital rectal thermometer. Coat the end with petroleum jelly. With your baby lying on his stomach, insert the thermometer into his rectum just beyond the tip. Gently press the buttock cheeks closed for one to two minutes and remove.)
First Crying Jag
It’s difficult to listen to a baby cry, but think of it this way: Crying is his only way of communicating with you. So what can you do to soothe him? First check to see if his diaper is soiled, if he’s too hot or too cold, or if his diaper is pinching his skin.
If that doesn’t do it, watch your baby for a few seconds to see if you can read his cues. A hungry baby may turn his head from side to side, lick his lips and try to suck on anything near his mouth. An overtired baby will flail his arms and turn his head away; his cry will be persistent and escalate.
If your baby’s not hungry or overtired, try soothing him: Walk with him, rock him and sing to him. Re-create a womblike environment, advises Harvey Karp, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block (Bantam Books). “Your baby was packed tight into the fetal position in your womb, enveloped by the warm wall of the uterus and rocked and jiggled for much of the day,” he writes. “He was also surrounded by a constant shushing sound a little louder than a vacuum cleaner.” Swaddle your baby snugly, hold and jiggle him with fast, tiny motions and shush loudly in his ear, Karp says.
First Sleepless Night
Many babies start out life by sleeping during the day and staying up all night. “Know and accept that and adapt your life to your baby’s life for the first six weeks,” says Corky Harvey, R.N., M.S., a certified lactation consultant and co-founder of The Pump Station, a breastfeeding support center in Santa Monica, Calif.
That means preparing to get up at night and resting whenever possible during the day. Playing “tag team” at night works for many couples: One of you goes to bed early and the other sleeps late. This way, each parent can get a healthy dose of sleep while the other watches the baby.