The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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You’ve no doubt been dreaming about your baby for months: what he’ll look like, whether he’ll be laid-back like his dad or a Type A like you. But chances are, if it’s your first child, you don’t know much about taking care of a newborn.
Well, we’ve been there, and we’re here for you, with everything you need to know to care for yourself as well as your baby in those exciting but often frustrating first weeks. Let’s get started!
How to get motherhood off to a great start while you’re still in the hospital.
After being completely focused on your pregnancy for nine months, it can be sort of shocking to see just yourself when you look in the mirror after your baby is born. As you heal and get into the swing of new motherhood, you might start eyeing your postpartum body with suspicion and wonder if you’ll ever fit into your prepregnancy jeans again.
For the first two years that new father Greg Barbera stayed home to care for his son while his wife returned to her job, he didn’t refer to himself as a stay-at-home dad (SAHD). He wasn’t ashamed—Barbera knew that his was an important, challenging and rewarding opportunity. But the arrangement didn’t sit as well with a lot of people the Durham, N.C.-based journalist encountered, so it simply became easier for Barbera to say, “I’m staying home right now and freelancing while I look for another job.”
Before you know it, your stationary infant will be crawling so fast you’ll barely be able to keep up with her. If you have a yard, you’ll want her to enjoy the sights, sounds, textures and fresh air that the great outdoors has to offer. Here’s how to protect her from potential dangers there:
New parents obsess over the contents of their babies’ diapers, but most of it is normal. In newborns, it can range from one thick, pale-yellow bowel movement per day to more liquid but grainy bright yellow squirts after each feeding, says Andy Clark, M.D., a pediatrics expert on JustAnswer.com. Here’s the first month’s poop scoop:
Your baby screams and clings to you, wild-eyed, as if your leaving means instant peril. And in his mind, it does. “A baby doesn’t have the conceptual ability to trust that we’ll always return, so he protects our disappearance as if it’s a life-threatening event,” explains child psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D. “His DNA programs him as if he’s living in the Stone Age; he doesn’t know he’s perfectly safe at day care. To him, when you walk out the door, he could be eaten by tigers.”
Sure. Stay out of restaurants for the next year or so! Let’s face it: When you’ve got a toddler in tow, you’re going to find very few restaurants that are able to serve quickly enough to suit your family. Even though you might be craving a meal out, taking a young child with you will very likely not make for a relaxing or enjoyable time. A toddler’s reason for living is to find fun.
Those sounds are probably caused by sliding tendons, which happen when soft tissue (tendons) interacts with hard tissue (bones). It’s very common for a baby or toddler to make clicking and popping noises—similar to the sound of cracking one’s knuckles—in the spine and around the shoulders, knees and ankles.
Carotenemia. Eating lots of carrots—as well as many other carotene-rich yellow and green vegetables—can lead to this completely benign skin discoloration. In fact, having a baby with skin this color means you’re doing a good job: He’s eating a healthy diet! Many parents confuse this discoloration with jaundice, which is fairly common among newborns but can be a sign of liver malfunction, red blood cell breakdown or other illnesses at different ages. Luckily, jaundice is not very common after the newborn period.
At a backyard barbeque a month before I delivered my twin boys, the dads tossed around a Frisbee while the moms sat around a table predicting that my marriage was about to implode. “You guys will fight over the stupidest stuff,” one woman insisted. “You just wait!” I wasn’t buying it. After all, my husband, Paul, rubbed my swollen feet every night during my third trimester. He told me I “glowed,” and he folded the laundry.
She could. Clogged tear ducts, or nasolacrimal duct obstructions, are very common during the first year of life—so common, in fact, that I see dozens of babies with perpetually runny eyes. These obstructions are almost always perfectly harmless and nothing to worry about, even though the resultant tears may give you pause.