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10 Ways to Calm a Crying Baby

Every parent has been there: the night from hell. Baby has been fed, changed, and swaddled up tight, but still won’t stop crying. For some, this happens on a rare occasion. For others, it’s a nightly occurrence (and possibly most of the day as well!) Either way, you will want to try these 10 experienced-mom tricks to calm a crying baby.

How to Calm a Crying Baby

Get moving

Remember when you were pregnant and the baby would sleep soundly while you were walking around all day, only to have a burst of energy when you laid down to try and sleep for the night?

Being in motion is soothing for babies.

Capitalize on the calming effects of motion by trying these while holding baby:

  • walk around your house while shushing/bouncing baby
  • bounce up and down on an exercise ball
  • rock in a rocking chair or glider
  • push baby in the stroller
  • put baby in a swing or mamaroo/rockaroo

You can even sneak a little workout in by holding baby while you do lunges and squats (my husband’s favorite baby hack!)

Try some music

Music has the power to completely change a person’s mood. It should definitely be part of your baby care arsenal!

If singing a sweet lullaby isn’t cutting it for your little one, thrown on a CD or play songs on Alexa. It doesn’t have to be annoying kiddie songs either- put on any tunes that you enjoy. Dance music, relaxing folk songs, classical, maybe some 90s rap- who knows what baby will enjoy.

Get outside

It has been well-documented that being in nature promotes relaxation for all people, babies included.

One of the main benefits of being outside is that fresh air reduces stress hormone levels.

Taking the crying baby outside is also great for the change in scenery: different things to look at and different sounds to distract the baby.

Get outside to calm a crying baby

Stephanie of Expect More Clean Less says: “When all feels lost, go outside! A change in scenery/weather is the easiest way to reset if naptime isn’t working, teeth are cutting, baby can’t stop crying. Talking a walk in the woods is good for parent & baby – and using a baby carrier often turns it into naptime without a fuss.”

Go for a drive

I think all parents have gone for a 4am drive with their screaming baby at one point or another. Something about being bundled into the car seat and the motion of the car works so well to make babies sleepy.

It also satisfies that urge you get to bolt from your house after dealing with a fussy baby for a long stretch of time!

Look for pain/discomfort

This is one I always do when the baby seems to be crying unusually hard for no apparent reason. I have read stories of babies who, unbeknownst to the parents, had a hair or a thread wrapped tightly around their toe cutting off circulation and causing them a great deal of pain. If your baby’s cry seems to be indicating pain, this is always something to check for.

Other possible sources of discomfort include:

  • baby is too hot or too cold
  • teething (run your finger over the gums to see if you can feel anything)
  • fever (take baby’s temperature if you think they feel warm)
  • gas (try circling baby’s legs and gently massing their abdomen to help them work it out)
  • ear infection (usually comes with a fever so check for that, also note if baby is pulling on or grabbing at their ear)

The worst nights of crying with my babies almost ALWAYS indicated an ear infection, so I quickly learned that if they woke up screaming and had a fever I should give some baby Motrin and take them to the pediatrician the next day.

Put them in water

10 Ways to Calm a Crying Baby

This was a trick I learned from my second child’s therapist. She said, “when you need to change someone’s mood, just put them in water!”

It sounded a little too simple, but I thought about all the times going for a swim had cured my child of a horrid mood and decided it was worth a try.

The next time my son had a tantrum, even though it was nowhere near bath time, I put him in the bath. And the crankiness turned off as if by a light switch.

You can try this on a newborn too. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of the night or if they already had a bath. If baby is inconsolable, strip them down and put them in a warm bath.

You don’t need to use soap or anything, just let them feel the calming effects of the water.

Often times this will be like hitting the “reset” button on your baby’s mood.

Gripe water

I never had to use Gripe Water personally, but some Moms who have dealt with colicky babies swear by it.

It is said to relieve pain from gas, colic, and hiccups and has a pleasant taste (the sweet taste alone may be what makes babies happy, who knows). Just make sure to consult your doctor and follow the dosing instructions before giving any to your baby.

Sensory intervention

I discovered completely by accident with baby number 4 that when he was crying, if I stepped directly in front of the blasting air conditioner, he would stop crying.

Friends of mine have reported similar responses when they open the freezer and hold baby while standing in front of it.

Even if your baby doesn’t feel particularly hot, the sensation of cold is a jolt to the senses that can grab the baby’s attention.

Other sensory interventions could be:

  • holding something that crinkles or squeaks
  • hearing the sound of a rainmaker or bells
  • lightly brushing the bottom of their feet with a brush
  • chewing on a rubber toy
  • squeezing a squishy ball.

Just like older children who respond to sensory input when they’re having a tantrum, babies thrive on the right amount of sensory input. Having one sensory-stimulating object provides them the right amount to focus on without being overstimulated.

Do a hand off

Ways to Calm A Crying Baby

If it’s the middle of the night an you’ve been walking around baby’s room for the last hour while they scream, guess what: you’re frustrated.

Not only do I know you’re frustrated, but your baby knows it too.

Your baby can feel the tension in your muscles, your breathing and heart rate. Instead of making them feel safe and calm, your tension is adding to their own frustration.

This sets off a negative cycle of biofeedback between the two of you.

Break that cycle by switching off with someone else. (Most likely this would be Dad, unless you have one of your parents or another adult there to help you.)

When you hand off the baby to a new person, he or she will immediately feel the shift in energy. This person is “fresh”, they aren’t as stressed or tense as you are in that moment.

After you do the hand off, leave the room. Go do something that relaxes you. Even if Dad can’t calm the baby down, you can get to work on calming yourself down.

Change your mentality

Sometimes babies just cry as a release, without any problem that needs fixing.

Crying is a scary but normal newborn behavior. It is also a form of exercise for babies.

No, changing your mentality is not likely to make your baby stop crying. But it might make it less gut-wrenching for you to listen to.

If you have tried everything and baby is still wailing, just hold them and let them cry. This is in no way neglectful; they will know you are there for them.

Repeat a mantra for yourself like “Babies cry. This will pass.”

And truly, it will pass. The amount of time babies spend crying decreases at the six week mark and drops off significantly by 3 months of age. You will get used to the crying just when it starts to decrease and fade away.

If your baby continues to cry more than a typical baby (especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as poor weight gain), discuss your concerns with your doctor.

What is your go-to method to calm a crying baby?

I’d love to hear from you!

And for more on pregnancy, babies, beyond, be sure to follow me on Pinterest:

12 Ideas For Baby Christmas Pictures You Need To See

If you’re looking for ideas to capture the most precious baby Christmas pictures, check out these Instagram shots of babies who totally nailed it!

Baby Snowman

How adorable is this tiny newborn snowman? All you need to do this at home is a knit snowman hat, little scarf, and any plain white blanket to swaddle the little one up.

Baby’s First Snow

This handsome little sweetie didn’t actually need to feel a touch of cold to achieve this photo, it’s just an effect put on the photo digitally. But it sure does look wintery!

Dear Santa…

What would your baby ask for in his letter to Santa? I love how the old fashioned typewriter gives this photo a vintage, rustic feel.

Under the Christmas tree

This sweet baby girl embodies the magic of Christmas with her expression of wonder looking up from under the Christmas tree! With some good background lighting this one can be recreated at home by anybody. Just don’t put any breakable ornaments within baby’s reach.

Baby booty wrapped in Christmas lights

Nothing could be cuter than a baby’s bottom… unless it’s a baby’s bottom at Christmas time! The lights give this photo a warm, seasonal feeling that just adds to the baby cuteness.

Baby Elf on the Shelf

I can’t even with these babies as the Elf on the Shelf! Total cuteness overload. This has to be one of the best baby Christmas pictures I’ve ever seen.

Milk and Cookies Bath

Combine Santa’s love of milk and cookies with your baby’s love for taking baths to get this fun and adorable photo.

Christmas Ornament

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Babies love to look at shiny things, so capture their attention by dangling a Christmas ornament over them. With the Christmas tree glowing in the background, it makes for a magical Christmas photo.

Coming Down the Chimney

I love a little humor in a Christmas picture. Baby is heading down the chimney the same way he came down the birth canal- head first!

Baby Santa and his pup

This little Santa may be snoozing under the Christmas tree, but Santa pup is keeping watch. Babies + dogs = double the cuteness.

Away in a Manger

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus after all, so why not recreate the scene by photographing your little one in a manger?

The best present of all

This precious baby girl was born on Christmas Eve. I know there was no gift more special than her under that Christmas tree!

Need help creating your own unforgettable baby Christmas pictures?

I turned to Etsy to find these adorable baby outfits and props:

Baby reindeer knit outfit

Baby snowman bunting

Newborn Christmas tree hat

Santa beard and outfit set

Wood letters to Santa box

Burlap lights

Wooden manger

After the Christmas photo shoot, it’s time to start your Christmas shopping!

Here are my practical gift ideas for filling baby’s Christmas stocking.

Don’t lose your inspiration: Pin this post for later!

Baby Christmas Pictures

And for all things pregnancy, baby, and parenting, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

How To Exclusively Pump and Keep Up Your Supply

“How To Exclusively Pump and Keep Up Your Supply” is a guest post written by Tiffany Thomas. Many thanks to her for sharing her wealth of knowledge on this topic!

How to exclusively pump

This post contains affiliate links, meaning a small commission may be earned at no extra cost to you.

Having a new baby should be a wonderful, joyous time for mothers.  While it is not perfect (how can sleepless nights be anything but?), it can be one of the most rewarding things you do.

Nothing can ruin those feelings more than the stress of having an inadequate breastmilk supply, especially when you have to pump exclusively.

For both of my children (and for future little ones), I have only been able to pump.  Tongue ties combined with flat nipples, mixed with severe health issues on my part have created a perfect storm of not being able to nurse.

While there is nothing wrong with exclusively pumping at all¸ it definitely has its challenges.  The biggest stress of pumping is ensuring you have an adequate milk supply for your baby.

It can be so disheartening to pump for literally hours every single day and only come away with 3-4 oz – total.  

I’ve put together some tips that can help boost your milk supply.  As you read these, however, please, please, please keep in mind that every woman’s body is different.

No matter how much milk you provide, or how much you need to supplement with formula, what matters most is that your baby is shown your love and affection.  Don’t let the stress of “not enough milk” interfere with that.

If you know you’re going to be pumping (not necessarily exclusively but while you’re at work) I HIGHLY recommend taking Milkology’s Ultimate Back To Work Pumping ClassIt will walk you through step by step how to build a freezer stash, how to talk to your employer, helping your baby go back and forth between bottle and breast, and much more!

How to Exclusively Pump Part 1: What you need

Get a good double breast pump

How to exclusively pump

 

The most important aspect of pumping is to have a good quality breast pump!  There are dozens of posts and reviews out there, so I won’t go into details in this post.  I give a few general guidelines, though:

  • See if your health insurance will provide a breast pump.
  • Try to get a hospital-grade breast pump.  My insurance company provided a rental (since these cost over $1,000) after my OB wrote a prescription.  Some hospitals will also rent them
  • While it is tempting to buy a used one, they are not able to be sterilized since the air circulates through the motor (unless it is hospital-grade)
  • Get a double breast pump.  Not only does this save time, you also don’t lose the milk from the other side when a let-down occurs.

Have the right supplies

There are a few must-haves (for me, at least) when I am pumping:

  • Hands Free Pumping Bra  The person who introduced this allows me to have both hands free while I pump.  I can then multi-task (like work or even play with my children) while pumping.
  • Something that smells/sounds/looks like your baby.  When you can see, smell, or hear your baby while nursing, it encourages more frequent, quicker let-downs.
  • Pumpin’ Pal Flanges  These are amazing.  Because they curve, you can lean back a little when you pump.  It helps my relax and not feel like my back is going to break!
  • Something to do.  Whether it’s work, reading a book, or even just browsing Facebook, you need to be able to do something other than sit and think about how much you could be doing if you weren’t pumping!
  • A comfortable place to sit.  Nothing will make you want to rush pumping more than feeling uncomfortable.

All of these things will help increase your supply because you will be less likely to be stressed and rush your pumping session.  If you are on edge or uptight, then you won’t be able to have as effective let-downs.

How To Exclusively Pump Part 2: Keeping Good Supply

How to exclusively pump

Stay hydrated

If you are not producing enough breast milk, one of the first things you should look at is how much you are drinking.  Water is preferable; you should avoid sodas, sugary drinks, and even sugary fruit juices.  Gatorade might be a bit better than water.

If you’re like me, and plain water makes you feel a bit sick, add some lemons or other flavoring methods.  I will water-down juice or powdered drink mixes, usually ¼ mix and ¾ water.  One thing that helps me is mix up an entire pitcher each morning and then leave it on the counter to drink throughout the day.

The average person should drink 64 oz per day, but that varies for each person. When breastfeeding, you should add an additional 32 oz to what you already drink (so around 100 oz per day).

Eat well

Did you know that you need more calories producing breast milk than you did being pregnant?  The average pregnant mother only needs an extra 300 calories in the second trimester and 400-500 calories in the third trimester.  However, when you are breastfeeding, you need at least an extra 500 calories per day.  (There are about 20-25 calories in each oz of breastmilk.)

So many mothers try to go on a diet to lose the extra baby weight, but what it really does is take away the calories needed to make healthy breastmilk for your baby.  You may also want to take a multivitamin, or continue taking your prenatal vitamin, so your breastmilk is full of nutrients.

Set a schedule that fits your body

Everyone’s bodies are different, so it makes sense that your body will produce and empty milk differently.  A baby will nurse until they are full, no matter how long it takes for the breast to empty.

For me, it takes forever to empty.  I do best pumping 5 times per day for an hour at a time. 

Yes, you read that right – an hour at a time.

It takes forever, I know, but I get 75% of my milk during that last 10 minutes of the hour.  I try to set a schedule that works, and my body gets used to producing the milk at that time.  In fact, if I am running late, I will still have let-downs during my scheduled pumping time, even if I am not actually pumping!

(Although I will point out that for the first month or so of my baby’s life, I just pump every time she eats, which is usually 10-12 times per day, for about 30 minutes each time.  Then I adjust to the 5 times per day.)

Try power-pumping

How to exclusively pump

When babies go through growth-spurts, they tend to nurse almost constantly, for short periods of time, for a couple of days.  The mother’s body will increase the amount of milk because of the high demand.

In order to mimic this in your own body, you can do “power-pumping” for a few days.  This will take more time, so it might be good to do this over a weekend (instead of trying to pump during breaks at work).

The way power-pumping works is that for each session you pump, you pump for 10 minutes, take a 10  minute break, pump another 10 minutes, take another 10 minute break, and pump for a final 10 minutes.  Repeat this 6-7 times  each day for 2-3 days.

This should increase your overall supply.  Nursing mothers will have full, uncomfortable breasts for a few days after a growth spurt.  Their body will then naturally lower the milk supply to match the baby.  However, since you pump, you should be able to maintain this increase!  When you need more milk, just power-pump again!

I tried to power-pump at least once a month when I had babies.

How to Exclusively Pump Part 3: Mental and Emotional Support

How to exclusively pump

Find a support system

Lastly, what you really need to have a good supply is a good support system.  If you are stressed about pumping and want to throw in the towel, having support is vital.

One of the best places I found support was through Facebook groups.  There are several different Facebook groups that are devoted to women who are exclusively pumping.  It’s a great place to ask questions, get advice, and interact with other women who are in the same place you are.  Odds are, they’ll also be up at 2 am pumping when you are, so you can have someone to talk to!

Keeping things in perspective

This may be a difficult journey, and exclusively pumping may not be what you had planned.  It definitely wasn’t how I envisioned I would feed my baby.  But I ended up loving it so much more than nursing, and it was the best fit for my family.

Just remember, every ounce of that liquid gold is worth it.

If you have to supplement with formula, you are not a failure.

Even if you do every one of these tips and only get 5 oz per day, you are not a failure.

Each ounce of breastmilk that comes from your body goes towards helping your child grow and builds their immune system.  But more important, fed is best.  If it just isn’t working out at all and is damaging how you feel about your worth as a mother, then let it go.  Purchase some formula, and enjoy snuggling your baby.

In the end, those snuggles and love will help your child more than anything.

Do you have any questions about exclusively pumping?

Leave me your question in the comments and I will answer!

And if you’re just starting out on your breastfeeding journey, don’t miss the 5 must-dos for breastfeeding success.

ABOUT THE GUEST POSTER

Tiffany Thomas is a former math teacher and SAHM who loves finding good deals!  She and her husband, who is an engineer, work together on The Crazy Shopping Cart.  They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.

Follow her here:

 

 

What It’s Actually Like After Giving Birth

When you’re pregnant for the first time, you will find yourself diving into research-mode about so many topics. Labor, childbirth, newborn baby care, breastfeeding, infant gear, safe sleep, and more. Somehow, it’s so easy to neglect to think about yourself and what actually happens to you after giving birth.

Most people (myself included) think of postpartum depression when they hear the word “postpartum”. But all postpartum actually means is after giving birth.

So many things go on with a new mom after delivery, both physically and emotionally. Here is a summary of the most notable experiences that stood out to me after birth that I wish I had been a little more prepared for.

(Note that my birth experiences were both vaginal births, so if you have a c-section some, but not all, of these may be different.)

What It's Actually Like After Giving Birth

Being forced to get up and walk

I had never heard of this requirement in my life, but a mere 90 minutes after giving birth for the first time, I was told I had to get up and walk to the bathroom. I have no idea what the medical reason is for this, but I can tell you it was downright terrifying.

First of all, I had an epidural that was not fully worn off yet and one of my legs was still numb.

I also had brand new stitches from “many” second degree tears down there. Not to mention the blood loss.

All of these factors combined made for quite the show out of my hobble to the bathroom which was probably only 3 yards from my bed.

Immediately upon getting up I felt extremely dizzy and was scared I was going to faint. The one nurse who was helping me realized she needed backup and called for another nurse to help support my other side. I almost asked for a chair to sit down on half way through, but it felt ridiculous given how close I was to the toilet already.

I have since heard of many postpartum nurse horror stories that are so much worse than this, that I don’t even want to complain too much about it. But at the time, I felt very humiliated and unsupported over this walk- no, shuffle- of shame. If I’d been given just an hour or two more to recuperate I’m sure it would have been a lot easier on me.

The pain of peeing

After pushing a baby out, you might have first, second, third, or even fourth degree tears (the one that goes all the way through- try not to wince, and don’t worry- these are rare). But even if you’re lucky enough to make it through without any tears severe enough to require stitches, you still had a great deal of stretching which is enough to cause many minor, fine tears in the tissue.

These will heal quickly on their own, but when you sit down to pee and the urine washes over them, it will burn like your entire womanhood has been lit on fire.

To avoid this, this handy dandy little squirt bottle will be your best friend. Just squeeze cold water on yourself while peeing and you will barely feel the urine on the cuts.

They give these out at most hospitals, but you may want to check and ask ahead of time and make sure they do at your hospital.

The scary first poop

After giving birth

Ok, I apologize that so many of these revolve around toilet issues. But this is the real deal and I’m trying to be honest more than polite.

Having to poop after giving birth is scary.

Maybe you are lucky and can avoid having to go in the first day or two after birth. Typically your body “clears out” before delivery, and you typically can’t eat during labor, so it’s possible.

But sooner or later, it’s going to happen.

Right in the midst of hobbling around feeling like your insides are falling out, while you’re rocking your padsicles trying not to feel anything down there- you have to push out a poop. I’ve been told this particular poop can feel like pushing out glass.

Luckily I had been warned ahead of time that when they offer you the stool softener, you say yes.

Without this warning, I’m sure I would have been perplexed as to why it was even being offered to me. “No thanks, I’m good, I’m not even constipated!” could have been my completely naive response.

Thanks to an older sister who had given birth before me, I said “yes please” and avoided a terrible post-delivery poop trauma.

Not gonna lie, it was still a little scary. But at least it didn’t feel like glass.

The most sore abs you’ve ever had

Think of pushing a baby out like the most intense ab workout you’ve ever done.

The pushing stage could go on for hours, especially if it’s your first. And chances are you haven’t done any ab exercises in many months.

Makes sense that you’re going to feel very sore after? You bet!

 

Want to be 100% prepared for labor, delivery and beyond? The Birth Smart Planner is a bundle of over 75 Printables with checklists for everything including packing your hospital bag, prepping your house, writing your birth plan, and more (oh how this would have helped my disorganized mommy brain when I was pregnant!) My favorite part is the Breastfeeding Handbook- it’s comprehensive, yet straight to the point for when you need quick answers during those first few weeks of figuring out breastfeeding.

Postpartum bleeding

My midwife had warned me ahead of time that it’s normal to bleed for up to six weeks after giving birth. I scoffed at that timeframe and thought “no way is it going to last that long.”

Well the karma gods must have heard me and laughed, because I ended up bleeding for TEN STRAIGHT WEEKS.

The first few days postpartum is when you experience the very heavy bleeding. You may have even heard about “golf-ball sized clots”.

This is the time when you need the big mama pads. Don’t send your husband out to go buy some cute little pads. Get the biggest, ugliest pads you can find. Pair them with the biggest, ugliest underwear you can find as well, because chances are they are going in the garbage after.

The next couple of weeks after that, the bleeding is similar to a normal period. You can use normal pads, and you’ll probably want to wear your comfy maternity underwear.

For an unknown number of weeks following that, the bleeding is much lighter. It changes from bright red blood to pink, then yellowish. It gradually tapers off to nothing just when you think you’ll never be able to live without pads again.

The fatigue

After giving birth

If you’re like me, you have something written in your birth plan about how “baby will room in with me” or “keep baby with me at all times.”

It’s a good goal to have, and certainly some new moms are able to pull it off.

Just consider the possibility of this:

  • Your water breaks at 1am after only a couple hours of sleep
  • The rest of that night is spent preparing and making your way to the hospital
  • 20 more hours are spent in labor
  • 2 hours are spent pushing
  • You are handed your bundle of joy and you have now completely missed TWO NIGHTS OF SLEEP IN A ROW.

In any other circumstance in life, after pulling two consecutive all-nighters you would go home and fall into a 12 hour coma-like rest.

But now you have a newborn, so you are sleeping with one eye open for maybe 90 minutes at a time.

If you decide in that moment that you’d like the nurses to keep the baby for a couple hours so you can get something that almost  resembles real sleep, forgive yourself. You are allowed to change your plan.

Believe me, it won’t be the last time that your motherhood ideals don’t mesh with the reality of parenthood.

Not being able to handle visitors

During pregnancy, you are so excited at the thought of your new little one being here, you can’t wait to show him off to all your friends and family. You might even tell people you want them to come meet the baby while you’re still in the hospital.

I would caution against this in most cases.

The reality of the hospital experience may be very different than what you imagined. Of course there is the hefty dose of exhaustion, and there is also a revolving door of doctors and nurses coming and going to check on you and the baby. Vitals need to be taken, tests need to be done, more blood needs to be drawn.

After giving birth

Added on top of that is the stress of trying to figure out breastfeeding. There will certainly be no such thing as a schedule for a baby who is only a couple days old at maximum, so you will need to nurse at unpredictable intervals, possibly every hour.

Trying to coordinate a time for people to come might just be overwhelming to you during all of this. Even more so if visitors drop in unannounced.

You honestly might just be dying for some alone time.

My advice would be to hold off on visitors outside of the immediate family until you get home and decide you’re ready. Or, decide in the moment how you’re feeling in the hospital and let the people you want to see know when you want to see them. I recommend giving them a short window of 20-30 minutes so they don’t overstay.

Remember, you can always invite more people or extend visits longer. It’s much harder to take back an invitation that you previously extended or try to cut a visit short while it’s in process.

The clothing dilemma

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who left the hospital maternity ward in their pre-pregnancy clothes. It’s like the baby name myths of Lemonjello or La-a.

For the rest of the world, you’re going to leave the hospital in maternity clothes. Possibly the same size you came in with, but probably your second trimester size clothes.

You’ll also be sore, so stretchy clothes are your friend.

When packing your hospital bag, it’s a wise idea to pack a couple options of clothes (especially if you’re going with pants) because it’s very hard to predict how much swelling you’ll have or how fast your belly will go back down.

Don’t dress for fashion, you’ll be sporting humungo pads and mesh underwear and you will just want to be able to walk comfortably.

A lose-fitting comfy dress might be a good choice too, especially in the event of a c-section when you won’t want anything rubbing near your scar.

The rollercoaster of emotions

Even if you’re not a crier, get ready for a ridiculous amount of tears after you give birth.

I promise you, there will be crying.

You’ll cry because you dropped your pen. You’ll cry at every single commercial on TV. You might feel like you’re going crazy crying over these ridiculous things.

It’s just the insane amounts of hormones that built up throughout the pregnancy rapidly exiting your body. Some call it the baby blues, and it’s completely normal.

What you want to watch out for (and alert your partner to help you be on the lookout) is the normal baby blues becoming postpartum depression.

Crying for silly reasons and then quickly laughing it off during the week or so after giving birth = baby blues

Feeling anxious about being alone with your baby, not wanting to leave the house, not wanting to see anyone, feeling like you’re a terrible mother, or thinking that you shouldn’t have this baby, are not baby blues. These are red flags for postpartum depression.

If you’re even questioning that you could have postpartum, call your healthcare provider and let them do a screening and decide. If you feel unable to make that phone call, ask your partner or someone you trust do it for you. Don’t suffer until your 6 week follow up if you think there may be a problem sooner.

The sweating

Another fun side effect of the hormonal changes is night sweats.

I gave birth in the dead of winter and New England and still woke up in the night completely drenched in sweat.

Yes, it’s gross, but luckily it only lasted a week or two and then it was back to dry PJs (well, dry except for the leaking breasts).

The pain of breastfeeding

After giving birth

I’ve written before in 7 Breastfeeding Surprises how I felt extreme pain and cramping in my uterus while breastfeeding shortly after giving birth.

In addition to that, many new moms experience painful breast engorgement and cracked nipples.

It’s safe to say you can expect breastfeeding to be uncomfortable at the start. The range could be anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to very painful.

Most of the time, these issues are resolved pretty quickly and breastfeeding should not continue to be painful beyond that initial stage. If it is, there is probably an underlying issue like a tongue tie or lip tie, and you should have a doctor look into it further.

Feeling like you don’t matter anymore

This is truly one of the hardest parts of the postpartum experience, and it’s rarely talked about.

When you’re pregnant (and especially at the end when you’re very noticeably pregnant) everywhere you go you get comments, accommodations, and just generally people trying to help you out. Everyone wants to give you a seat, hand you a glass of water, make sure you’re comfortable. Everyone asks how you’re feeling, how you’re sleeping, if you’re hungry.

As soon as that baby exits your body, all (or almost all) of that care and concern shifts to the baby.

Of course, in a way, that’s how it should be. The baby is a helpless new life and you’re an adult woman.

But that doesn’t mean that the change isn’t jarring, and that it doesn’t hurt.

If you’re lucky, you will have one or two close people in your life that still remember to ask how you’re doing and if they can help you with anything. Your partner, if he’s a good one, will still be looking out for your comfort and bringing you food and water.

Just don’t be surprised if all the other family members barely act like you’re there.

And if it makes you feel invisible, or sad, or like you don’t matter anymore, remember to talk to the people closest to you and remember that you are important. You are important now more than ever! The new baby craze will die down soon enough, and you will resume your normal, average place in society.

Most of all, remember that a good mother makes herself a priority. Seek out the support you need. Let others know how you’re feeling and get help when you need it.

The postpartum experience is paradoxically one of the most difficult and most beautiful times of your life! Remember to treat yourself gently. And when it gets hard, remember that it doesn’t last long.

After giving birth

Moms, what was your postpartum experience like? First time expectant moms, what are your concerns about the recovery after giving birth?

Terrifying Things Newborn Babies Do That Are Completely Normal

Bringing home a fragile, helpless new baby is scary enough. But then you start to notice they have some seriously freaky characteristics. Try not to worry, because these terrifying things newborn babies do are actually completely normal.


Disclaimer: This is not to replace medical advice. If you have concerns about your baby, you should always consult a doctor.

Pulsing head/soft spots

Newborn babies are typically born with one or two soft spots, or fontanelles, on their heads. These are gaps in the skull plates which allow room for the rapid brain growth to come.

You may be afraid to touch these soft spots, but even without the layer of bone there is still a reasonable amount of protection. Normal baby care should not pose a threat to the head.

One frightening sight to see is when your baby’s soft spot appears to be pulsing. Rest assured, you are not witnessing your child’s brain bulging or anything as bizarre as that. It’s simply the blood rushing through baby’s veins which pulses in relation to their heart pumping blood throughout the body.

Sleeping with eyes open

things newborn babies do

It can be unsettling to see your little one sleeping soundly while they seem to be looking right back at you! But sleeping with eyes open (or partially open) is actually very common in babies.

Known as nocturnal lagophthalmos in the medical community, sleeping without the eyelids shut is harmless in babies under 12 months. If it concerns you, or you want to prevent baby’s eyes from becoming dry or irritated, just gently stroke their eyelids shut.

The reason babies can sleep with their eyes open is unknown, but may be related to their differing sleep cycles and spending more time in REM sleep than adults.

Changes in breathing pattern

Ever settle in to sleep with your baby nearby, only to sit up in a panic because it sounds like baby’s breathing suddenly pauses, followed by rapid short breaths? It’s completely terrifying, but also totally normal.

Due to their immature respiratory systems during the first few weeks of life, babies may have bouts of Periodic BreathingWhen this happens, baby will return to breathing normally on their own without intervention.

Take caution that Periodic Breathing is NOT the same as baby stopping breathing or struggling to breathe. If you notice any signs of respiratory distress or lips turning purple or blue, seek emergency medical care.

Exaggerated startle reflex

Newborn babies are born equipped with the instinct to startle easily. Their entire body will suddenly jolt as they throw their hands up in response to a loud or sudden noise.

The freaky part? Sometimes they do this when there is no noise or trigger whatsoever.

Slightly different is the Moro reflex, which is a newborn baby’s response to the feeling of being unsupported or falling. He will throw his arms up and out and draw his knees in to his chest when being lowered down quickly (or out of nowhere when they’re sleeping!).

Babies can wake themselves up from this involuntary movement, so swaddling can help little ones feel secure and stay asleep.

Crossed eyes

things newborn babies do

For the first 3 months of life or so, it is normal for your baby to occasionally go cross-eyed.

Seeing your baby’s eyes cross may cause you to worry that they will look this way forever, but don’t believe old wives’ tales that “the wind will change and they’ll get stuck like that!” It just takes time for baby’s optic nerve to develop and for the eye muscles to start working together.

If your baby gets older (6 months+) and his eyes are still crossing frequently, have an eye doctor evaluate him for strabismus. This is a treatable condition if detected early.

Explosive poop

Newborn baby poop is interesting at best and terrifying at its worst!

The first couple days of life, baby is still passing meconium, the black/green tar-like stool from when they were chugging amniotic fluid in the womb. If you’re the lucky one who gets to change these first bowel movements, you’ll find them to be about as easy to wipe off baby’s bottom as syrup.

Once you’re out of the meconium period, newborn poop changes to yellowish brown and seedy, like dijon mustard. It can be quite watery, and it’s normal for it to seemingly explode out of your little one’s tiny bottom with surprising force.

These explosive poops tend to shoot up a newborn baby’s back, causing the dreaded “poop-splosions” that stain clothes and require full outfit changes. Definitely inconvenient, but completely normal.

Peeling skin

things newborn babies do

When you imagine your baby after birth, you likely imagine beautiful, soft, flawless skin like the babies in a diaper commercial.

The reality of newborn skin looks more like the aftermath of a horrible sunburn: flaking and peeling all over, especially in creases like the ankles, hands, and feet.

The reason for this skin shedding is the loss of vernix, the waxy coating that protected their skin while they were in the womb. Once this is shed (and likely rubbed off vigorously at birth), the sensitive skin is dried out and exposed to all new harsh elements.

Wondering what you should do? The flaking and peeling will likely go away on its own in a couple weeks. It is not recommended to put any lotions or skincare products on such a young baby. If you feel compelled to put something, make it something natural and edible such as olive oil.

Bizarre colored spit up

When I was in the hospital after delivering my last baby, I noticed a spit up stain next to his face that looked almost exactly like a small egg yolk.

Seeing as this was my fourth baby, I was sure I had seen all there is to see regarding baby spit up before. But I had never seen bright yellow colored spit up before, so I was a bit scared that something was wrong with my newborn.

The nurses came and took a look and said it’s actually normal to see really strange spit up for the first 48 hours after birth. The reason? Baby is still clearing out mucus and amniotic fluid from his nine month stay in the womb.

(Another factor- remember colostrum is darker, yellower, and thicker than regular breastmilk!)

In addition to egg yolk yellow, newborns can have other freaky colors show up in their regurgitation.

You may notice red or brown flecks, a pink tinge, or small streaks of blood your newborn baby’s spit up.

This can certainly be frightening to see but it is easily explained by the baby swallowing small amounts of maternal blood. During delivery, it is normal for baby to come into contact with its mother’s blood and it can enter baby’s mouth. Another possibility for breastfed babies is that mom’s nipples can crack and bleed, which would certainly result in baby swallowing some of mom’s blood.

Grunting and snoring

things newborn babies do

Many first time parents are surprised to find out just how loud newborn babies are when they sleep.

The amount of grunting, sighing, heavy breathing and snoring can cause some parents to worry about their baby’s breathing or sleep quality.

Strange sounds during sleep are actually normal for small babies.

For one, their nostrils are so tiny that they are easily congested. So even the slightest amount of mucus can cause them to sniffle and snore. Using some baby saline drops should help if that’s the case.

Even with clear nasal passages, newborns can still be loud sleepers. One explanation is the frequent partial wakings babies experience as they pass through the lighter sleep stages in the sleep cycle. During these, they may move around and make noise or even cry out before settling themselves back into sleep.

These are just some of scary things newborn babies do!

Were you ever afraid of something your baby did when it was actually totally normal? Tell us in the comments!

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things newborn babies do

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