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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!

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.

Want to make sure you’re prepared for ALL stages of pregnancy and new motherhood? Don’t miss the Oh Baby Pregnancy Planner and Journal, 50+ printable pages of checklists, to-dos, and worksheets that cover ALL aspects of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and much more!

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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

And if you want the real scoop on all things pregnancy, baby, and breastfeeding, be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

How To Manage Labor Pain Like A Boss

Of all the worries first time moms-to-be have about labor and delivery, the pain of childbirth is probably the biggest.

Whether you have your heart set on a drug-free delivery or you just want to delay getting an epidural as long as possible, it’s a good idea to be informed of all your pain management options. It’s just about unheard of to have a pain-free delivery, so every pregnant woman should have an arsenal of tools at the ready to help with the pain of labor.

If you are wondering what the best options are for managing labor pain, read on for a comprehensive list of techniques. You will also hear from experienced moms answering the question “what helped you get through labor?”

how to manage labor pain

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click one of the product links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Use Music

Many women have found that making a labor playlist to listen to when you’re in labor helps to distract from the pain. This is especially the case when used with headphones, so you can silently retreat into your own little world.

 “I don’t know what I would have done without my labor playlist and headphones! This helped to keep me relaxed and focused on something else. Also, a hot shower helped tremendously.” -Inez, For The Love Of Mom

“When I was in labor, I had a specific song to focus on and keep me grounded. I would sing it in my head over and over again. This helped distract me for the most part, but when the pain was really rough, i did kegels!” -Melissa, sheis.com

“Prior to my epidural, music. It had to be through headphones, though. Listening to music that way has always helped me block out everything around me.” -Desteny, A Frugal Desteny

Birth ball

how to manage labor pain

Most maternity wards come equipped with birth balls, which are just regular yoga balls used during labor. Chances are if you have one at home you’ve already been enjoying it during pregnancy, as sitting on it helps take away some of the pressure on your back.

During pregnancy I also loved sitting on it with my legs out wide and swiveling my hips in a circular motion. This action not only feels good on your back and hips, it can also help the baby move down more and get into optimal position for birth.

Jessi, aka The Coffee Mom, tried a little of everything, including the birth ball:

“I had terrible back labor. The only thing that helped at all was getting on all fours and rolling on my yoga ball. Getting into a hot bath helped as well, for a little while. No lie though, I got the epidural after 5 CM.”

Julie (Fab Working Mom Life) describes how the ball and massage helped during early labor:

“I used the exercise ball for a while, rolling around sitting on it. I had back massages and the tennis balls in a sock trick helped at first. After a while, Pitocin got too intense.”

Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing is a popular technique based on mindfulness, breathing, and relaxation. The theory is that you need to counter the urge to panic, because that creates adrenaline which pumps blood faster throughout the body as it prepares to fight-or-flight. When you remain calm, the blood is pumped to the uterus where it can do its job of helping the baby move down.

Amy (Mum of the Tribe) says, “I hypnobirthed my second baby drug free- it works but it takes practice. The practice alone is worth it as it allows you go into deep relaxation and really connect with your baby while you’re pregnant.”

The book Amy used as her guide is HypnoBirthing, The natural approach to safer, easier, more comfortable birthing – The Mongan Method.

Aubree of A Mother’s Field Guide writes, “I used the Hypnobabies program, which helped me to relax and focus during my labor. Not only that though, I did a lot of prep work before labor ever started. ”

I think all mothers can agree, being prepared for birth is critical. If you don’t have a comprehensive prenatal class available to you through your hospital or birthing center, here is my favorite online birth class:

how to manage pain in labor

Counter-pressure and massage

During my 22 hours of labor with my first, the only thing that helped take away some of the pain was counter-pressure. We had learned this technique during birth class and I’m so thankful that we did.

With each contraction, the pain wrapped all the way around lower belly and into my back. When I’d feel a contraction starting, I would lean over the side of the bed and have my husband press his fists as hard as he could into my lower back on either side of my spine. This helped take away at least half of the pain! It helped so much that when he needed to use the bathroom I made him run in between contractions so I wouldn’t have to endure even one without his counter-pressure.

manage labor pain

Stormy (Pregnant Mama Baby Life) also enjoyed her husband’s counter-pressure as well as laboring in the tub:

“I labored for a long time with my first. The two things that helped me most were getting into a warm tub of water and having my husband push really hard on my hips during contractions. These two things help so much! Made the pain much more tolerable.”

Anna (Abrazo and Coze) enlisted the help of a Doula to get her through the pain. One of her techniques included counter-pressure as well:

“With my last birth, my Doula was the biggest factor in dealing with 12 hours of labour pain effectively. She played a fun game with Mr. A and I as distraction. Later on, she applied pressure on my back during contractions, which made the pain manageable, despite being on a full dose of pitocin (known for making contractions more painful and intense than without).”

Let water work its magic

how to manage labor pain

Laboring in the tub or with a shower head aimed at your back are both great ways to take some of the pressure off the contractions. Warm water is also a known pain reliever as it helps your body produce endorphins and promotes relaxation.

“When I was giving birth to my son getting in a warm bath helped with contractions so much! If your hospital has a tub I highly recommend giving it a try!” Kayla, Parenting Expert to Mom

Jennifer of Modlins Multiply simply says “Being in the water was a total game changer for me.”

Bella describes how she used the tub in conjunction with hypnobirthing:

“When I was in labour I slept in the bath until my body started pushing. It was so relaxing and peaceful. I had done hypnobirthing so that helped massively.” Documenting the Drews

Heather (Fearless Faithful Mom) confirms the pain relieving power of water:

“Water helped me! With one kid it was the running shower on my belly and with another sitting in a tub of hot water.”

Farrah says, “Warm water was instant pain relief for me. I loved to have the bath filled and have the shower running on me at the same time. (I had home births for my last two).”  New And Natural Mom

Practice relaxation

Contractions feel like an involuntary tensing and tightening of the abdomen. Most people’s reaction to the feeling of contractions is to tighten and tense up the rest of their body. Making a conscious effort to keep your muscles relaxed can actually help you deal with the pain. Think about keeping your body calm while letting the contraction wash over you like a wave.

Susannah of Simple Moments Stick writes, “Labor is all about relaxing for me. Consciously letting all your muscles go limp and focusing on that, not the pain, is a game changer!” 

Do what you can to promote a sense of calm in the room. Dimming the lights, keeping it quiet, and relaxing music can help you feel at peace.

Michelle writes, “Essential oils and fake candles played a part in keeping me calm throughout the fifteen hours.”

Heat or cold

manage labor pain

I used both heat and cold during my labor to help cope with the pain.

During early labor, I used my rice sock. This is a tube sock filled with rice that you can microwave to turn into a long flexible heating pad. It felt comforting around my neck and shoulders, and later under my back.

Aileen also found heat to be helpful as one of her pain management techniques:

“I had a doula who used a warm towel and essential oils around my neck. Counter pressure on my hips was the best until I hit transition. This was my third birth and a VBAC.” AileenCooks.com

As labor progressed and became more intense, it is normal to feel overheated. This is when I started favoring cold- especially washcloths soaked in a bucket of icy water. I put these on my forehead, the back of my neck, even my belly when it started to feel hot.

Ice also helped me from throwing up when I started feeling nauseated during transition.

Michelle of Bottles n Bellinis lists cold as one of the three things that helped her during her natural childbirth. She also illustrates why all pregnant women should have a backup plan for pain management, because sometimes an epidural isn’t an option even when you wanted one!

“Three things helped me during my natural drug free (not by choice) labor: 1) my nurse running her cold finger tips along the lines of my hands to deflect from the pain; 2) my midwife pushing on my lowering back during the peaks of my contractions; and 3) concentrating on breathing in and out! I was not prepared to labor without the assistance of an epidural, however, the anesthesiologists did not feel I was a candidate due to a rare blood condition that I have.”

TENS machine

A TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit is a handheld device that uses electrodes that stick to your back to transmit electric stimulation to your nerves. It doesn’t affect the sensation of the contractions directly, rather it interrupts the pain signal on its way from the nerves to the brain. In other words, the pain is still there, but you are not interpreting it the same way.

TENS is a low-risk pain management technique used in all kinds of different therapies and by chronic pain sufferers. It is largely unknown in the U.S. but is frequently used in Europe and Canada.

Susana of pregged.com says:

“I had back labour and the thing that helped most was my TENS machine. You need to put it on early though, when regular contractions start. After having it on for 5 or 6 hours the amount of endorphins I was producing due to the TENS made the whole thing far less painful than my other births. In fact I’d go so far to say I was in a state of bliss. It was a truly magical experience.”

Focal object

A focal object is anything you use to focus on during labor that directs your attention to something positive. It can be a photograph, a mantra, a song, or even a thought.

Focusing on holding your baby can help keep the pain in perspective as you realize it’s all moving you towards a positive outcome.

Amy (Daily Successful Living) used lots of pain management techniques including this focal thought:

Giving birth is tough! I don’t have one specific thing that helped me but had a lot of little things the helped distract me. I had a great playlist of inspirational songs, I walked around as much as possible, I almost broke my husbands hand squeezing and most importantly I meditated and focused on a positive outcome and being able to hold my baby for the first time.

Capricon (Dream Big Blog Hard) used a mom and baby focal picture:

My first one was cesarian, and because of that on my second birth I was stuck in bed with the monitor. I didn’t have the luxury of walk or warm bath and the labor lasted for 10 hours. The one thing that helped me was a focus on the picture on the wall. It was of a mother holding her baby. I keep telling myself that I will hold my baby soon.

Ashley from 5 Kids and a Bunny says:

Find something to stare at and just stare and breathe through contractions. I had them put on a stupid show I didn’t like just to have something to concentrate on.

Move around

When you’re laboring naturally, take advantage of the fact that you are not confined to a bed. This freedom to be up and about means you can look for whatever position is most comfortable for you in the moment. Walking around also helps speed up labor and bring baby down.

Tavia of Big Brave Nomad did lots of moving and changing positions during labor:

“I labored mostly standing next to the bed swaying my hips, then when I went into transition I moved onto the bed and labored on all fours with my arms draped over the back of the bed. I would blow raspberries with my mouth through contractions. I freaking love giving birth — hands down the best part of the pregnancy experience.”

Throw manners out the window

When you’re in the midst of physical agony, do whatever it takes to get through the moment. Go ahead and rip your gown off if it bothers you, squeeze your husband’s hand until he screams, or curse like a sailor. Your labor and delivery providers have seen it all before!

Ashley’s advice is, “Ignore everyone. If I didn’t feel like speaking or responding, I didn’t. Manners don’t matter right now.”

Alaina-Lee, www.momeh.ca, says: “I screamed profanity at my husband and doctors … that seemed to help a lot.”

Epidural

Some women are superhuman and make it through all of labor and delivery without the help of pain medication. But for many women, they reach a point where the pain either becomes too intense, or labor goes on so long that they are too exhausted to keep doing what they’re doing. Getting an epidural can allow you some much needed pain relief as well as rest.

Even if your goal in life was to birth a child completely drug-free, you should never feel like a failure if you end up getting an epidural. Delivering a child is an amazing feat no matter how it’s done!

If you’re curious about what it feels like to get an epidural, I answered that and any more questions in All Your (Not So) Stupid Birth Questions: Answered!

It’s also a good idea to have a general idea of what a C-section entails, just in case you unexpectedly end up needing one, which happened to the guest poster of 15 Things You Need to Know About Having A C-Section.

Those who have given birth before, what helped you manage labor pain? For those who haven’t yet, what are you planning to try?

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