Try not to underestimate the importance of what you are doing. Although it may not be apparent just now, your hard work will pay off.
"No one told me I'd feel like this!"
Many parents feel guilty if they don't feel as if every moment with their baby is wonderful. We have an expectation that this should be one of the most satisfying, contented periods in our lives. When it isn't or fails to come up to what we have always dreamed of, disappointment follows.
Aim to be honest about how you feel and find some like-minded friends. Parent groups can be excellent for emotional support, so can friends, neighbours and other parents who have had similar experiences. Avoid feeling as if you are the only person who feels as you do. The reality is that feelings and attitudes around parenting are more common than what we often acknowledge.
Of all the cares you provide for your baby, meeting their nutritional needs will be one of the most time-consuming. Breastfeeding, bottle feeding or a combination of both, takes time and planning. One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that it is portable, so transportation is not a major issue.
Your baby will have developed some sleeping patterns by now. Perhaps they fall asleep straight after their first morning feed, or this is when they like to stay awake. Mid-morning may be an unsettled, wakeful time for them and you have trouble encouraging them to go off to sleep. The afternoons may find you treading the pavements and pushing them in their pram because this is the only place they will settle.
Sleep changes constantly throughout a child's life. It is not a static or stable condition and does reflect other changes going on in their lives. As parents, you can try to have a predictable, secure daily pattern in your life, but this is not always possible. Older children do need to get dropped off at school and groceries need to be bought. In essence, lives need to be lived.
Try to fit your baby into your lifestyle and be flexible about how things are done. Each day is unlikely to be exactly the same as the one before. Take comfort in the fact that it will be the overall patterns of care that your baby receives over the months of their life, rather than the precise times they receive this care which ultimately counts.
Behaviour and Development
You'll find your baby can bear some of their weight on their little legs now. Hold them securely upright and see how they can support themselves for a moment or two. If your baby is tired, hungry or cranky, this won't be the best time for this, of course. Watch their little face as they concentrate on trying to balance.
More vocalising, cooing and even blowing raspberries this week. In fact your baby's salivary glands may seem to be working overtime, causing you to wonder if just perhaps, they could be teething. The answer is no, unless they are doing this at a particularly early stage of their development. Generally, the first teeth erupt through the gums after 6 months. Though this, like everything else is dependent on individual differences.
You'll be noticing your baby's different cries by now. Tired and sleepy; "I'm still awake" whines; hungry and bawling, demanding cries; even those cries that just tell you they need a reassuring cuddle. Some parents subscribe to the view that interpreting cries can be done by listening to the sounds their baby makes. Others listen to the pitch and intensity of the cry and the feelings this generates in them. There is no one right way to respond. As long as parents are sensitive and do attend to their crying baby, without leaving them to "cry it out" this is what is ultimately important.
Babies of this age cannot modify or change their behaviour as a result of how their parents care for them. They are simply too young and their brain too immature to be capable of this.
Your baby's only means of communication is their cry and until they can talk and describe what is wrong, you will need to develop some deduction skills and trust your inner voice.
Have a little flexibility with feeding times and use your baby's cues or signals to let you know they are hungry. Searching for the nipple or teat when you are holding them, putting their fists in their mouth, not settling or it being just a couple of hours since they last fed are all hints they are probably hungry.
Just as you look for your baby's cues that they are hungry, aim to be just as sensitive and alert to the signs that they are full. No longer sucking, turning away from the nipple or teat, fussing when laid down in a feeding position or even going to sleep towards the end of their feed are all hints that they are satisfied.
When parents override these signals that their baby gives and continue offering milk, this can, over time, teach their baby to ignore the signs of satiety (or fullness) that their body is giving them. This can lead to food issues in the long-term.
Healthy, well-fed babies are able to tell when they are full and don't want any more milk. As parents it is important that we listen to them.What You Can Expect
If you are still feeling teary at times give yourself permission to do so. Hormonal fluctuations in mothers are still common at this stage so feeling cross, sad, overwhelmed and exhausted are all within the realms of normal. However, if you are feeling very anxious and unable to cope with each day, this may be a sign you could be depressed.
Postnatal depression affects around 10-15% of women who give birth, making it a reasonably common condition. If you feel you could be depressed or are not enjoying your baby as much as you could be, speak with your healthcare professional, clinic nurse or GP.