It is time to leave the hospital with your new baby! You pack up your car, bundle your baby into the car seat (hopefully after being checked by a safety technician!) and arrive home. Then it hits you; you are the sole caregivers for this tiny person. The baby is going to do what every baby does- poop, pee, eat, sleep and cry. These things seem manageable in your mind, but the reality is that it is sometimes overwhelming, scary, exhausting, and all brand new. You think to yourself, ‘Now What?!’
To help both you and your baby have an easier transition home, we have provided 5 tips and insights from our expert postpartum doulas to help ease your transition into parenthood.
1. Labor or Exercise Ball
Remember that big yoga ball that is sitting in your corner, perhaps used during your labor for rest and comfort? That ball is a great way to bounce a baby. Babies like to move; they were rocked to sleep consistently inside your uterus, and that desire doesn’t change. Rather than standing and rocking, at least you get the opportunity to sit and get a little rest!
2. Go Outside
Most parents will tell you that a fussy baby settles quite quickly if you go for a walk. The fresh air and change in scenery provides fresh prospective for you and knocks them right to sleep. A walk isn’t even always necessary- step out to enjoy your deck or patio as the weather gets nicer, and see if your fussy baby goes to sleep!
3. Use Your Knuckle
Babies like to suck to sooth, but not everyone wants to use a pacifier, especially in the beginning if breastfeeding. A fussy baby may just want to suck a little and fall asleep, and your knuckle is a perfect tool. It has less germs than our fingertips (we recommend still washing your hands first), has no nail that could scratch the baby’s mouth, and it is wide enough that it more similarly mimics sucking at the breast (because we don’t want the baby to just latch to the nipple, which is the size of your finger). This trick will never sooth an actual hungry baby for long, but works well if a full baby who is not sleeping yet just needs a little more encouragement!
4. Blow Dryer
We know this sounds strange, but give us the benefit of the doubt! Babies often hate being changed- think about how you would feel if you were warm and cozy and suddenly someone was taking your clothes off and putting a cold wipe on your butt unexpectedly! Put a blow dryer that you would use for your hair on the changing table. Put your baby down, set the dryer to the low, warm setting and then change his diaper. Your baby will love the warm air and the noise mimics what they heard in utero, making for a happy baby throughout the whole change! This is especially useful for nighttime where your baby maybe almost sleeping after a good feeding but he needs to be changed.
Sometimes babies cry and nothing we do helps them feel better. They could be gassy, overtired, or just irritable; remember, they are little human beings! Earplugs will NOT block out all of the sounds your baby is making, but it can take the edge off. It is scientifically proven that humans react to the sound of a crying baby more than other distressing sounds like a dog whining. Sometimes you just need to find a way to cope that will still allow you to comfort your child. Earplugs also work well at night if you are a parent that has trouble sleeping due to hearing every little noise. Earplugs will block out the little grunts and squeaks, but they will not block out a baby that is actively crying. If concerned, make sure one care provider is not wearing them while the other is, allowing more opportunities to rest AND making sure there is someone responding to baby’s needs. This tool would not work for everyone, as it might make you more anxious to NOT hear everything; it is a method that will help if you are having trouble managing specific moments. For those of you interested in learning more about babies specific cries, you should check out The Dunstan Method.
If you would like to discuss other ways we could support you at home with your newborn, please feel free to get in touch! What everyone needs more than any tip or trick is consistent, nonjudgmental support for your ‘fourth trimester’ and beyond. You don’t have to do the work alone!