Common Myths of New Motherhood
As if you needed another challenge on top of learning to be a mom and getting to know your baby, there are a bunch of myths about new babies in circulation. By ridding yourself of some erroneous bits of information, you can streamline your life and make your days and nights more pleasant.
If your baby sleeps most of the day away and rarely cries or fusses, you need to take her for a visit with the pediatrician. What you might regard as great baby behavior can be a sign that your baby is ill. Periods of wakefulness or distress in babies are common and completely healthy.
Myth: Babies Should Sleep Through the Night
Lack of sleep is an oft-cited reason to dislike the first months of new motherhood. Sleeping like you did prior to pregnancy is not going to happen for a while. However, there are a couple of key things to remember about nighttime sleep when you're a new mom.
For one thing, no one actually sleeps deeply through the night. If you look at what sleep researchers have known for years, the truth is that everyone passes through different cycles of sleep each night. These are periods of both light and deep sleep. Many adults have minor waking episodes at night. When your baby wakes you up with crying, it might not be much different from those experiences.
Second, in many cases, it is dangerous for babies to sleep through the night. This is because a baby has a tiny belly that cannot hold enough food to get her through the night. By waking to feed, even in small amounts, babies get what they need to survive and thrive. In the beginning, most babies wake up two or three times each night. By three months of age, this has gradually decreased for most families, though it is not uncommon to have a baby who is still waking up once a night even at nearly nine months of age.
Does it help to give a baby cereal before bed?
Though you may have heard about this "miracle cure" for restless babies, cereal before bed will not help them sleep through the night. If you give your baby cereal prior to the time recommended by your pediatrician, you could introduce the potential for food allergies. Pediatricians generally recommend starting solids around six months of age.
Additionally, waking to feed your baby a few times a night gives you the opportunity to meet some of her other needs. This might include changing a dirty diaper or moving your little one into a better sleeping position. Some mothers are also anxious about sleep periods that last too long, so night waking can ease these worries.
Myth: You Will Get Skinny Right Away
You will probably be sad to know that you'll most likely wear maternity clothes home from the hospital. Though you lose a lot of weight when your baby is born, you may also suffer from some swelling, particularly if you have intravenous therapy in labor or postpartum. You will have stretched your abdominal skin, which will take a while to return to its original shape. Remember, it took you nine months to put on the weight, so you can't expect to lose it overnight. However, you will see the most dramatic changes during the first six weeks after birth.
The good news is that breastfeeding can burn up to 1,500 calories a day. It also taps stores of maternal fat that were established in your body specifically for breastfeeding during pregnancy. This makes breastfeeding the natural way to shed unwanted pregnancy pounds.
Myth: The First Six Weeks After Birth Are Unbearable
Surely you have heard this one. Everyone says those first six weeks of little sleep, endless feedings, a sore body, and other physical issues will nearly kill you. Truthfully, many women actually find the first six weeks interesting and pleasant. Many of the sweetest moments you will share with your baby come during late-night feedings and other supposedly "terrible" moments. Don't expect the first six weeks postpartum to be miserable; you may end up pleasantly surprised to find these few weeks go more smoothly than you thought.
Myth: After the First Few Days You Should Feel Like Your Old Self Again
Giving birth is hard work. You will likely feel drained from pregnancy and birth for weeks to come. You'll probably also be a bit overwhelmed by the task of shaping your parenting theories, not to mention tired from a few sleepless nights. While the physical issues are normal and simply take time to heal, your new role as a mother will take the place of certain other activities you enjoyed as your "old self."
It will take at least six weeks for the majority of the physical healing process to occur. During this period of time, your uterus will shrink back down to its prepregnancy size. You will lose the majority of your weight, though it will take additional work to strengthen and tone your muscles. Your hormones will start to level out, and your body will heal any wounds incurred during the birth process.
More on: Adjusting to New Motherhood
From The Everything Mother's First Year Book Copyright © 2005, F+W Publications, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company. All rights reserved.
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