When you’re expecting your first baby, you have a million different thoughts about what being a new mom means, and what the baby will be like.
What will they like? Will they sleep? Will they eat? Will they be cute and coo and laugh and grab my thumb with their little fingers? Will I bounce back quickly after having the baby?
Sometimes the things you don't think about are the things that end up causing the most stress in the early days. For example, I never wondered “will she break out into a terrible rash?” Nor did I wonder about a few other unexpected issues that cropped up in the early days.
Here are some things my new baby and I came up against early on, and how we managed to get through - or are still working through!
My baby girl was barely three weeks-old when she developed her first cold. It was terrifying. She wasn’t sleeping longer than three hours at a time, but when she was, she was wheezing, sniffling, and understandably very miserable. There's no way to positively prevent a baby from contracting a cold virus, but frequent hand washing is a definite must. I totally became that mom who ran around with a pump of hand sanitizer every time we had company.
After the cold set in, we used a nasal aspirator on her a couple of times per day to clear her passages (or, for the daring or desperate, you actually suck the “crusty bits” out with your mouth!) We also invested in a good cool-air humidifier for her room. Lastly, we bundled up old towels and put them under the head of her mattress so her head was a bit elevated at night. Mucus runs downhill!
Right around that same three-week mark, our daughter broke out in a horrible, red, itchy-looking, scaly rash on her face. Over the course of a week, the rash got worse, despite all our efforts. We ended up at the pediatrician’s office where she took one look at our daughter and said “Cradle cap; you’ve got a really bad case of cradle cap.” The doctor told us that cradle cap starts on the scalp and then small infected skin flakes can fall onto the face – and that’s what causes the persistent break-outs.
Our doctor recommended we use Johnson’s Baby Oil, as well as the Johnson’s Head-To-Toe baby wash to get the cradle cap under control. I was skeptical at first, but I picked some up at the pharmacy before heading home from our appointment and I put our daughter in the bath the minute we got in the door. A baby's skin is 10 times more sensitive than adult skin, so I knew whatever we used had to be gentle!
We were instructed to scrub her head (as hard as one could gently scrub) in order to work the wash into the scaly lesions that had developed on her scalp. I also used it on her cheeks, forehead, and around her chin - and not one tear! The baby wash is ‘No More Tears’ and it really is gentle on still-developing eyes. (Okay, maybe one tear. From me. I cried because I felt like I was finally going to have my sweet baby with her sweet perfect baby skin back!)
Once bath time was over, we slathered her in Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Lotion and used the Johnson’s Baby Oil on the really dry and scaly areas. It’s amazing how her skin soaked up the moisture after a warm and soothing bath.
Disclosure: Please note that this was our personal experience, we would always recommend first consulting with your family doctor when treating your baby’s’ skin
The doctor also recommended a wide tooth comb to brush her hair away from her face to loosen any skin bits and then brush them off. It turns out babies love having their hair brushed, and as you can see, our daughter has some serious locks!
This is one thing I never wondered about before baby arrived, but once she did, it became a very real concern. There was a point in time where the temperature dropped drastically overnight. You know that night when all of a sudden you realize ‘winter is coming’? My worries kicked in that night.
Until that point, we’d been swaddling her over top of a sleeper and she was fine. But when temperatures dropped, I worried she was too cold. Of course, due to concerns over SIDS and other potential dangers, you can’t put a blanket on a baby. How the heck are you supposed to keep a baby warm without a blanket?!
Enter the sleep sack! It’s like a bag, but a bag for baby! You put your baby into this cozy little thermal bag and they sleep in it as snug as a bug in a rug.
Our daughter loves her sleep sack and I don’t worry about her pulling a blanket over her face at night. It also makes for a really fun bedtime routine. Now she knows when we zip her in and put the Johnson’s baby bedtime lotion on, it’s sleepy-time.
Babies have a way of just commanding all the attention, and rightfully so! They are sweet, chubby, new people who others just want to touch and feel and hug and talk to in high pitched voices. But in the fray of newborn-dom, mamas can lose themselves in a variety of ways while all the attention is focused on the baby.
In my case, my emergency C-section really gave me a run for my money and my confidence. I had intended to establish a walking routine soon after our daughter was born to help fend off postpartum depression, seasonal blues, and to just ‘feel good.’ But my stubborn incision just didn’t heal well. They told me to expect normalcy after six weeks, but I was not. At seven weeks postpartum, my incision opened up again and has been slow to heal ever since. What have I been doing to help? Moisturizing in the areas that are not overly-inflamed, keeping it dry, and airing it out when I can. And you know what? I’ve let myself be a bit angry about it. Sometimes, just letting out that frustration helps! My best mom-to-mom advice if you’re in this ‘incision won’t heal’ scenario is to talk with your partner or a close friend and then have a chat with your doctor. Bodies are weird. Someone pulled a human being out of your body. Cut yourself some slack. With professional help, things will get sorted.
It’s a fact of life that unexpected things and worries happen in those first few weeks and months of new motherhood. But you can get through it with the right advice from your doctor and chatting with other moms! We are now vigilant with the wash/lotion/oil routine before bedtime, with the sleep sack for sleep time, and in keeping the nasal aspirator always close by – being a sniffly baby makes for a sad baby (and mama!)
IMAGES COURTESY OF ERIN TRAFFORD