Deciphering Baby Cries: 7 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Having A Baby

A year ago, if you would have told me that I would be able to tell what’s wrong with my baby by just listening to his cries, I would have looked at you like you had just said I could learn to speak French from a parrot. Despite the many different children that I’ve nannied and babysat, there were things about being a first time mom that I had no clue about and was worried that I would be the odd one who didn’t catch on. So for all of you who are like me, here’s my first time mom advice:

1. You may not have a hard time nursing. I prepared myself for the roughest weeks of my life when I learned about nursing. I read as many horror stories as I could about cracked nipples, bad latches, and  horrible bouts of thrush in an effort to be ready when it happened to me. I hoarded lanolin, watched videos on how to get your little one to latch properly (yes, I was shocked that they had those too) and studied diagrams. Then I researched the best pump and nursing bra, learned how to make nursing tanks, and stock piled books, shows, and snacks for the hours I had ahead of myself. When Killian was born and it was time to nurse him, I took a deep breath, steeled myself for the  pain, only there was none…. there was only the tugging sensation of him nursing. I literally just put him there, and he did the rest. No pain, mastitis, bad latch, or low milk supply. I didn’t use any of the lanolin, just a soothing nipple cream to help the callouses (found here). I realize that by writing this I may be subjecting myself to a mob of angry mothers with sore breasts, but sometimes the baby doesn’t have any trouble nursing, and that’s ok too.

2. It’s ok to sleep with your baby. There’s a movie that I watched growing up. In it, a new mother sleeps to close to her baby and rolls over on him in the night, and that terrified me! Sean and I prepared a newborn napper just for our little one to prevent any tragedy like that from happening (and to protect us against our bed becoming a family bed), and then the only place Killian would sleep was in my arms. I felt guilty, paranoid, and a bit ashamed. When I mentioned to my midwife that he was sleeping with me, instead of getting a horrified look in return, I got a smile. She assured me that as long as he was in a safe place, it was fine. She told me that we humans are pack animals, and mothers have been sleeping with their babies for centuries. My nurse practitioner backed up my midwife later by telling me that mothers bodies can sense the wellbeing of their baby when they are sleeping with them, and it can be safer, in some cases, than sleeping alone.

3. There is no such thing as holding your baby too much. People may say things like “how are you going to get things done if you’re holding them all the time?!” But that’s the point– if you’re supposed to be recovering, the best thing to do is sit with your baby. It promotes bonding, and helps you learn their personality and decipher what their noises mean. At first I felt selfish for  holding the baby for hours while he slept, but my husband reassured me that it was a very good use of my time especially while the baby is so young. Eventually you will be ok with putting the baby in his/her bassinet or swing but until then, rock away!

4. Repeat after me: You cannot spoil a newborn. That means you can’t feed them, play with them, or sing to them too much. They are great at making their own schedule. If you feel like you are being used as a pacifier, then have someone else hold the baby and try to rock him/her to sleep before you give in to every “feed me!” cry.
5. It’s your baby. Ultimately, you and the father will know what’s best for them intuitively. If something doesn’t feel right, then change it. I had a break down a few days after Killian  was born because I was so overwhelmed with things I felt like people were saying I was doing wrong (they weren’t, but hormones will do that to you). Sean reminded me who’s baby Killian was, and it gave me the freedom to do what I felt was right.

6. You may forget everything right when you need it most. I’ve been taking care of kids for a long time, but for some reason, I forgot how get him dressed and change his diaper for a split second. It was terrifying! I felt completely inadequate! But rest assured, I remember now, and you will too.

7. Your body will adjust to the lack of sleep. I wasn’t sure how I would survive with only a couple of hours of sleep each night, but your body figures it out. I now understand why parents get so excited when their child “sleeps in” until 6 AM. That is no longer considered very early, and your body learns how to get by with less sleep.

I realize that I am not an expert on childcare by any stretch of the imagination, but these are all things that I wish someone had told me from the beginning.

Do you have anything to add? Comment below and help a new mother out!


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