Once you are pregnant, the reality of becoming a mom grows with each day. You feel your baby’s movements, you see your baby during ultrasounds, you hear your baby’s heartbeat… You can even feel when the little one stretches or has the hiccups! 😉
Your hormones are raging… Wherever you go, you notice little kids… The Internet and TV are full of baby commercials. You see babies who are utterly happy, healthy, and with perfect skin. And the MOMS! They look beautiful too — perfect bodies, no dark circles under their eyes (implying that they get full nights of sleep), their makeup and manicure are spot on (obviously, they have lots of spare time 😉).
The house looks spotless, dinner is ready and served, and the baby’s nursery looks gorgeous. Every detail is perfect.
Now that you have this perfect image in your head, you can’t help thinking this is exactly how everything is going to look for you. 😉
Then, finally, the BIG DAY comes!
You give birth to your baby. You marvel over every move your little one makes. You jump whenever you hear the slightest sound from your baby. Of course you still feel pain everywhere — but it will all go back to normal once you get home. At least that’s what you think now. 😉
Unfortunately, reality back home might turn out to be… a bit brutal. 😉 The first days seem to be reasonably quiet and peaceful. Basically, the baby just eats and sleeps. You were probably smart enough to freeze some meals ahead of time, and, since the house is still pretty clean, you can focus 100% on your little one. You feel tired and your body is aching, but surely… it’ll pass. 😉
The moment you start to realize that the perfect images you’ve seen on TV and on the Internet have nothing to do with your reality, your optimism starts to fade…
Why is your baby’s skin not as flawless as you’ve seen in those glossy pictures? Why doesn’t your baby smile as much as all the babies on social media do? It’s quite the opposite, frankly. It seems like crying is the only thing your baby does. You do your best to figure out what’s going on. You try nursing ONE MORE TIME… Whoops, nope, that’s even worse. Nothing helps. You have no idea what to do.
You look in the mirror and start to wonder “Who is this person staring back at me?” Your skin is pale, every day is a bad-hair day, you have dark circles under your eyes, and, hmmm makeup??? What an exotic concept??? Not to mention the lack of a manicure; swollen, painful breasts; and the fact that sitting down is a real challenge at the moment. Even the laundry chores have no mercy — and dust also does not seem to understand that you’ve just had a baby!
Am I the only one feeling this way?
Don’t worry! If your life doesn’t look like the paradise modeled on social media — that’s totally normal. 😉 Seriously, the majority of parents feel just the way you do and share similar experiences. And, just like you, they lose hope that it will ever get easier. 😉
But is it so hard?
For your baby, the first three months of life are spent adapting to the new environment — one which is so different from mommy’s belly.
The pediatrician Harvey Karp calls this period the missing FOURTH TRIMESTER, during which the baby needs to start functioning outside of the womb.
It’s a massive change, indeed! Suddenly everything is new and different from the tight, warm, and cozy surroundings of the womb.
A baby now doesn’t recognize the boundaries of his or her own body as well as before. Instead of feeling warm amniotic fluid, the child feels cold air on the skin. The way a baby now eats and breathes is also very different. The light is so much brighter and the sounds seem strange — not the same as in Mom’s belly. What happened to the calming sounds of Mommy’s blood flowing through her veins; and what about that soothing heartbeat? Where is the gentle rocking with every step Mommy took? It’s all missing. And gravity! It all can get really challenging!
Karp, the author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” claims that babies are born… three months too early! (While it would not be physically possible to carry a child for three additional months, considering the baby’s “readiness” at normal birth, three months is about as much additional time as a newborn needs to resemble those babies on the Internet. 😉)
Interestingly, Dr. Karp also describes the newborn’s brain as a small suitcase — the only thing that the child can take to an adventure into the unknown. This suitcase is filled with only the essentials that ensure survival; with the expectation that, in time, the child will adapt to the real world. 😉
And this is precisely why newborns are equipped with a whole range of reflexes that help them survive. More advanced skills will come later.
Some newborns are more demanding than others. For example, they may cry constantly, have to be carried or cuddled all day, or want to be nursed non-stop. They might have a hard time calming down when their brain receives too many or too few stimuli. Or, quite the opposite, they have no problem falling asleep anytime and anywhere.
Does this intensity ever end?
Absolutely! 😉 Once their adaptation period is over, the vast majority of babies — even the neediest ones — turn out to be less demanding.
By the 4th month, babies start to be interested the world around them, and they get better at controlling their own bodies and surroundings. They willingly use their hands to have fun (like by putting them into their mouths). Going from one stage of activity to another happens more smoothly — as if the little one at last understands what exactly he or she wants and needs. 🙂
Until then, trust me, your baby DOES NOT have to:
– look or behave like the babies you’ve seen on social media,
– demand to be fed at regular hours — and know the difference between day and night,
– love tummy time or fall asleep on a bed, or
– lie symmetrically, reach for toys, or smoothly go from one stage to another (“I’m tired so I’ll go to sleep” or “I’m hungry so I’ll latch on right away”).
You have to keep in mind that newborns do not need a huge pile of toys, loud rattles, or flashing lights. Instead closeness, touch, warmth, and rocking are the MOST WELCOMED accompaniments. 😉
I JUST WANT SOME PEACE AND QUIET… What kind of peace are we talking about? 😉
This may surprise you, but peace and quiet might mean something completely different to your newborn than it means to you. Certainly, it is not chilling on the beach and drinking lemonade in silence.
A newborn baby does not know this kind of relaxation just yet.
Instead, what they do know is a tight and warm womb, constant rocking, and noises that they were surrounded with for many months. That is why, PEACE AND QUIET for a baby often means being close to Mommy, hearing her heartbeat, as well as… feeling her movement! (Did you notice that when you were pregnant your baby would get particularly active the moment you lay down to go to sleep? Maybe this is how they asked to be rocked some more? 😉)
“Peace and quiet” for the child also entails accompanying your baby in his or her development. It is being aware what that development should look like and how it can be supported through daily activities. By support, I mean following your child’s individual needs — and not expecting the baby to do something which he or she is not ready for. 😉 You can read more in these posts:
- Did you know that hiccups and yawning might be signs of overstimulation?
- It’s so loud in the womb! Although everything does sound different because noises are muffled by the amniotic fluid, it actually gets pretty loud in there (30-96 dB). In comparison, we are surrounded by noises ranging from 50 to 60 dB every day.
- From your baby’s perspective, carrying him for even 12 hours throughout the day is a massive reduction! Remember, you used to carry your baby 24/7… 😉
You may also be interested in:
Let your baby develop as nature intended. Learn how to spend time with your baby to support his or her natural development. I’ve call this Playtime! From Birth to First Steps — Check out my e-book:
E-book: A COLLECTION OF IDEAS FOR THE MOST FUN PLAYTIME WITH YOUR CHILD:
- H. Karp (2002). Happiest Baby on the Block, Warsaw 2002.
- J. Sloboda; I. Deliege (1996). Musical Beginnings: Origins and Development of Musical Competence, OUP Oxford.