Baby’s First Year: Week 2
- September 24, 2020
- by Melissa Lawrence
Hi new mamas and papas and welcome back to CloudMom. This is the second post and video of my new series on Baby’s First Year, and I’m tackling Week 2. I’ll be first discussing the growth and development of full-term babies, then moving on to postpartum issues for mom, breastfeeding, and bottle feeding, and finally turning to my experience with my own two-week-old Bracey, who is currently in the NICU. Bracey was born at 30 weeks and as of today, is 32 weeks old in terms of gestation. He had a monumental week between hiccups and diaper changes, which I will describe in a bit.
2 Week Old Baby Growth & Development
Have you noticed that your newborn loves to stay curled up in a ball – that’s the fetal position. Because your baby is so used to being in a tight space, it will take them several weeks before they become comfortable with stretching fully out. Enjoy this since it feels so cozy and warm to have a little sleeping ball of wonder on your chest.
Umbilical Cord Care
Since your baby’s birth, you likely have been asking yourself how to care for their umbilical cord. Good news! Newborn umbilical cord care amounts to this: leave the umbilical cord alone. Your baby’s umbilical cord stump may have fallen off by now (most of my babies’ umbilical cords fell out towards the end of Week 1 and Bracey’s fell out on Day 7). If it hasn’t, leave it alone and let it fall out by itself. There’s no need to intervene and you should not apply anything to encourage the umbilical cord to fall, nor touch it. Until the umbilical cord does fall, allow to it have access to the air by rolling the diaper down below it. I saved my umbilical cords, which my kids find kind of gross, but if you are sentimental like me you might want to consider doing this.
Newborn Weight Gain
By around the beginning of Week 2, most babies have regained their birth weight. (Thank Heavens Bracey had regained his tiny birth weight of 3.3 pounds by Day 7). A full-term baby will continue to grow a lot during their first month, on average two-thirds of an ounce (20-30 grams) per day. This is approximately what Bracey is currently gaining although he is only 32 weeks old in terms of gestation. Your doctor will be monitoring this closely. More below on breastfeeding, but if your baby is developing properly and gaining weight, your doctor likely will advise you not to worry about breastmilk supply and might even allow you to follow and every four-hour feeding schedule during the night (assuming your baby is cool with this — smile!).
Sucking and Rooting
Your baby will pucker his mouth like a fish and look for your breasts. He might even latch onto your partner if he is holding him bare-chested! Pay attention to this because it is your sign (as is crying) that he is hungry. See below for my tips on how to put baby on the breast when he is rooting. The sucking reflex allows baby to efficiently suck the milk out of your breasts and boy, can babies suck hard. Because babies suck so rigorously, I recommend breaking the suction when you are finished nursing on one side by placing your pinky finger in a glass of sterile water, and inserting that between baby’s mouth and your breast to break the suction.
Babies can curl or spread out their toes when you caress the inside or outside of their feet.
Moro or Startle Reflex
Even though Bracey is only 32 weeks old in terms of gestation, I’ve been noticing this reflex a lot. He seems to startle in his sleep and move suddenly, almost as if he is having a bad dream. At this stage, my other babies threw their arms out suddenly upon hearing noises. To comfort your baby while they sleep, swaddle tightly with the arms in.
Are your baby’s eyes changing color? It’s true: your baby’s eye color is not set in stone until they reach their first birthday. So while light-skinned babies are typically born with blue or gray eyes and dark-skinned babies are born commonly with brown eyes, this can change! Speaking of eyes, your baby can now look at your face, which is indicative of your baby’s slowly improving vision. Surprisingly, your baby can only see in black and white at the moment! To your baby, the world looks like an old movie.
Still exhausted from the birth and getting used to a plethora of new smells, sights, and sounds, your newborn likely will sleep for between 14-18 hours a day. To me, this has always been a challenge since it rendered getting in a complete feeding very challenging. I would change my baby’s diaper and even change their outfit to wake them up; I would also gently squeeze their fingers and toes. The process of having baby nod off and trying to wake him up made these earlier breastfeeding sessions very time-consuming and they sometimes endured for as long as 1.5 hours. When you are feeding every 3 hours, that’s long! But I preferred this to having baby nod off and breastfeeding every hour, which is what happened when I did not try to get a full feed.
How to Cut Baby’s Nails
You might find that your baby’s nails grow so quickly that you have to trim them as much as two times per week. Filing might prove sufficient (I found this tricky since the nails are so soft), but if not, invest in a baby nail clipper. Push down on the skin below the nail and clip from one side to the other. Trimming baby’s nails is a good idea since they easily can scratch themselves. If you are too intimidated, you can try baby mittens but I found that those easily fell off (and sooner or later, you are going to have to learn how to trim his nails, anyway).
Week 2 for Mom
Having just given birth, you probably have a lot of questions about postpartum bleeding (and in particular, about how long postpartum bleeding lasts) and your vagina. During Week 2, you will still be tending to a healing vagina if you had a vaginal birth. I noticed this time that during Week 2 a lot of the swelling had subsided and by the end of Week 2, at around Day 14, I had minimal postpartum bleeding. Rather, I had just light spotting in a panty liner and did not need the heavy postpartum maxi pads anymore.
When do Pregnancy Hormones go away after Birth?
During Week 2, you might notice that certain pregnancy symptoms begin to subside. Generally, it takes the genital organs six weeks to two months to return to their original size and function. The pregnancy hormone relaxin, which makes the ligaments and muscles more elastic to prepare for birth, will remain in your body for up to five months. Go figure! Even though my baby currently is only two weeks old, I felt a big change over the past week. My left hip was a big issue for me during this pregnancy and I developed a stiff piriformis (middle buttock) muscle and a sore psoas muscle, which runs along the front of the hip. This made walking difficult and climbing up stairs impossible. The pain from both these areas has improved greatly during Week 2 and yesterday, I stepped up my first set of stairs. Hurray! Also, with this pregnancy, I had horrible veins in that area, especially on my left leg, that were very swollen and appeared to cause spider veins down the leg. Those inner leg veins have now shrunk and the spider veins have lightened, thank goodness.
You might find yourself still crying during Week 2 at the drop of a hat. The other day, Paulus commented on how I had opened a bag of potatoes chips incorrectly and you guessed it, I burst into tears. I filmed a video about these postpartum mood swings, which stem from the hormonal changes going on in your body, the fatigue, and the sheer stress of caring for a newborn. To battle this, try as hard as you can to get enough rest, follow a good diet with low sugar, and enlist help. Do not shy away from enlisting your partner or a family member to change a diaper, run to the pharmacy, prepare dinner, or simply to hold the baby. It takes a village and asking for help is crucial. For baby to be good, mama must be good. That said, if you have anything beyond these tearful episodes that subside, and are feeling hopeless or violent, enlist the help of a health care practitioner immediately.
What causes Postpartum Constipation?
Twenty-five to 50 percent of all women struggle with postpartum constipation in the weeks following birth so welcome to the club, mama. Your rectum can be swollen for a few weeks after giving birth and this can cause constipation. Treat this in a healthy way, recognizing that there is no overnight solution. Try to avoid laxatives which create a dependency, and, if you are breastfeeding, check with your doctor or pharmacist as to what breastfeeding safe alternatives you have. I went yesterday to the pharmacy and they gave me a fiber drink and some aloe pills, each of which is breastfeeding safe. The main causes of constipation are a diet low in fiber and dehydration, so drink tons of water, eat foods rich in fiber, walk around, and give yourself some time to relax.
Constipation from C Section
I’ve never had one but experts say that the procedure causes the bowels to effectively shut down for 24 hours and that the first bowel movement after a C can take longer (from four to five days) than after a vaginal birth. Some suggest gently placing a pillow on your incision while you are on the toilet.
Sore Perineum After Birth
The perineum is the area between your vagina and anus (who knew?). This can become irritated during a routine birth. It is common for doctors or midwives to cut the perineum during a vaginal birth (this procedure is called an episiotomy). Keep the perineum clean by using a sitz bath (the hospital will give you a bottle for this) two to three times a day. For the sitz bath, natural health advocates recommend mixing herbs that are antibacterial and antimicrobial (e.g., lavender, yarrow, and chamomile) to aid healing.
Do Iron Supplements cause Constipation?
Week 2 proved to be even more challenging for me in the constipation department and I started to wonder what was up. I researched this and discovered that iron supplements can cause constipation. The doctor prescribed these for me the day I checked out of the hospital. Bingo. I’ve since gone off these iron supplements and am going to try to get iron naturally for a week or so by eating a lot of: dark, leafy greens, beef, tofu, chickpeas, beans, and fortified grains.
What is Cluster Feeding?
A 2-week old baby can incur a major growth spurt. As a result, the demands are high and constant and you might feel as if you are feeding non-stop. This can result in newborn cluster feeding, which is exhausting for any mom and known to occur between Weeks 2-3. My experience has taught me that you just have to go with the flow when these cluster feeding episodes arrive. Just when you think you are finished with a feeding, your baby will want to eat more and suck more (sometimes I felt like a human pacifier). The difficulty for me was that like many women, I tend to have less milk in the late afternoon and early evening, which is when the cluster feeding attacks struck. So I grew concerned that my milk supply was the issue. Talk to your pediatrician but unless your baby is having fewer wet or poopy diapers or not growing adequately there likely is not an issue with your breastmilk supply. Moms usually find that when baby feeds more during periods of cluster feeding, their milk supply increases. In fact, some experts advise that cluster feeding is your body’s way of getting geared up for a bigger baby who requires more milk. Take extra special care of yourself and your breasts during this time by applying breast milk to your nipples after each feed, hydrating extremely well, and eating healthy foods (it’s way too early to diet). Oh, and you’re probably asking yourself “how long does cluster feeding last?” In most cases, cluster feeding endures for not much longer than two days. If you do notice this kind of constant feeding going on for longer than that, talk to your pediatrician to make sure your infant is getting enough milk.
Week 2 Newborn Breastfeeding and Sleep Schedule
With such a young baby, there is no set schedule and you might find yourself feeding more frequently than what I am laying out here. That said, remember to feed no less frequently than every three hours from the beginning of each feed. Try when possible to give the baby and your breasts a break between feedings. And try to end a feeding when you see that the baby is awake and full (recognizing that it won’t be easy to keep them awake so as to finish the feed!). Although Week 2 is topsy turvy, this schedule hopefully will help you keep track of feedings, making sure that you feed the baby at least every three hours from the beginning of a feed. I found that when I allowed the baby to sleep past three hours at this stage, they awoke more frequently during the night. The beauty of sticking to this feeding schedule or routine is that you ensure that your baby is awake for a lot of the day and consuming the milk they need during the daylight hours. Another advantage of this schedule is that you ensure that you are consistently stimulating your breasts to produce milk, rather than taking elongated breaks.
- 7am — sleep 8:30-10am.*
- 10am – sleep 11:30-1pm.
- 1pm — sleep 2:30-4pm.
- 4pm — sleep 5:30-7pm.
- 7pm — sleep 8:30-10pm.*
- 10pm — sleep 11:30pm-1am.*
- 1am — sleep 2:30-4am * (ask your doctor if you can feed every four hours during the night).
- 4am — sleep 5:30-7am** (ask your doctor if you can feed every four hours during the night).
* Mom tries to sleep too!
Mom Sleep Between Feedings
As set forth above, try to grab good chunks of sleep between the nighttime feeds, the evening feeds, and the first-morning feed. To accomplish this, organize everything you need for bed beforehand. Throw your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and put your water glass and sleep mask on your nightstand table. In my case, I have my sexy nasal strip pasted on! Try to prepare yourself like this in the early evening so that you can sleep from 8:30-10! You’ll need to tell your partner that the era of a glass of wine and romantic comedy will return in a few months.
Pumping After Each Feed
As explained in many of my videos and Week 1, I am a huge fan of using pumping to encourage milk supply, and I recommend pumping after each feed (as early in your baby’s life as possible) using a strapless nursing bra while you are burping your baby, and then storing this milk up during the day until you have enough to freeze. Do not mingle warm and cold milk in the fridge and try to freeze in small quantities when the milk is fresh, and always on the same day. When you pump after each feed: 1) you increase your supply, 2) you even out how much stimulation you are providing to each breast, and 3) you reduce stress since overtime you have a nice quantity of milk stored. One extra ounce per feed totals 8 ounces over the course of a day, although I do not recommend pumping after nighttime feedings when you do need the sleep. However, I do strongly recommend pumping in the morning when many women’s milk supply tends to be at its highest point. Here’s a video with guidelines on how to freeze and store breastmilk.
Formula Feeding Week 2
If you are formula feeding, consult with the pediatrician regarding what amounts you should be giving to your baby per feed. During the second week, your baby should consume approximately 16-32 ounces over a 24 hour period, which equals around 2.6 to 5.3 ounces per feed. Some experts suggest waking your baby after five hours but, as I mentioned during Week 1, I would not go this long. Letting your baby sleep five hours after the feeding will mean going six hours between feeds and this, in my view, is way too long and will lead to more awakenings at night. Even at this stage, you want to encourage your baby to eat and be awake during the day and to sleep and not eat at night. For this reason, I recommend feeding no less frequently than every four hours from the beginning of a feed. Although it is difficult to stick to a strict routine at this stage, keeping track of feedings gets you on the right track. That said, your schedule might look something like this:
- 7am — 9am nap
- 11am — 1pm nap
- 3pm – 5pm nap
- 7pm – 8pm bedtime
- 11pm – right back to sleep
- 3am – right back to sleep
Week 2 Baby Care
Why Do I need a Changing Table?
Week 2 presents a good time to talk about my recommendations for changing a diaper or nappy, as they say across the pond. After a lot of trial and error, I figured out that like many things when it comes to nursing a baby, you have to get your act together, meaning organization is the key. I support changing tables (I just bought one from IKEA) because they allow you to keep all of your items organized and in one place, allowing you to change diapers more efficiently, and are easier on your back (which might already be taking a hit from all the breastfeeding). Changing diapers on your bed or a sofa is fine from time to time but I would not make a habit of it because you will strain your back. It also requires moving around your diapers, wipes, and creams.
How to Change Baby’s Diaper
Organize your diapers, wipes, and creams so that they are within reach by one hand. With everything at your fingertips, place your baby gently on the changing table. Maintain one hand on the baby at all times. Place the new diaper underneath the old diaper. Why? Because if your baby has pooped, he could dirty the whole changing table cover should you not do this. Invest in changing pads to reduce how often you need to change the changing table cover. Always maintaining one hand on the baby, place the new diaper under the old diaper. Unstrap the old diaper and grab a wipe. Clean thoroughly (my How to Change a Baby’s Diaper video explains how for boys and girls). Remove the old diaper and boom, place the front section of the new diaper in place. Quickly apply diaper cream, only if necessary. Strap the mew diaper on as high and as tightly as possible. Buy your diapers slightly big to prevent explosions up the back. I’ve seen a lot of those volcanos and they ain’t pretty.
How to Swaddle a Newborn
For a newborn, the best blanket for burping and swaddling, in my view, is the hospital burp cloth. It’s soft, absorbent, does not stain and absorbs the breast milk. Muslin blankets though elegant do not do this and, in my view, are not strong enough to keep baby tightly in the swaddle. I was addicted to swaddling. It really helped my babies sleep. Here’s my step by step guide on how to swaddle a baby. If it makes you more comfortable. practice with a doll or stuffed animal.
Week 2 with a Premature Baby
Pumping with a Premature Baby
I want to take a minute to explain how I have gone from droplets of colostrum to producing more than what the baby is consuming (by Day 14, about 320ml per day). At first, I was advised to pump every two hours for 15 minutes. That did not do it for me. From Day 2, I began pumping for longer periods, for as long as an hour every three hours on a lower setting. My quantity developed gradually over Week 2 and by the end of the week, I had approximately 400-450 mil a day. Now, many would NOT encourage pumping for such a long time since they would say I am encouraging over lactating. But I did something comparable for four of my five babies and it always worked for me. You mamas will decide what works for you.
Getting Organized to Pump
Whether you are pumping as I advise for 5-10 minutes after each feed, pumping several times a day, or pumping for a baby who cannot yet latch on and breastfeed, you need to get organized. I recommend having at least two sets of the nipple shields, tubing, bottles, and the connectors that link the shield to the bottle. You can wash all of these accessories in hot water and soap, rinsing well. Steam them every few days to disinfect. Have all your stuff washed, in one place, and accessible so that the second you are ready, you can reach and get the pump going to save time. The Medela Easy Expressions Strapless Pump Bra is a must. I could not live without it.
Can I Get Mastitis from Pumping
At the beginning of Week 2, I developed a nasty case of mastitis. The bottom part of my left breast was red, swollen, and sore. I was lucky enough to consult with the lactation consultant, who encouraged cold showers (that is the latest, the prior recommendation being hot showers) and to massage before pumping to encourage the outside milk glands to flow. This advice worked like a charm. Within two days, my mastitis was gone.
How to Massage Your Breasts to Treat Mastitis
It’s worth explaining to you guys how the lactation consultant instructed me to massage my breasts before pumping since these massages effectively got rid of the mastitis within a day or two. She recommended placing my fingers along the bottom crease of the breast and pushing up, and then moving the fingers all around the bottom of the breast and performing a similar motion. She also recommended lightly pressing the fingers around the whole breast. Then, she recommended gently squeezing the nipple at about an inch distance from the center using the thumb and the forefinger and working my way around the nipple in a clock-like fashion. I performed this massage for a few minutes a few times a day, making sure to do it before I pumped.
Trying to get a Premature Baby to Latch onto the Breast
Bracey is only 32 weeks and most babies do not develop the ability to latch until 34 weeks, so I am trying to be patient with the whole thing. On Days 13 and 14, he sucked for a bit on the breast. He sucked so hard it killed! When it hurts this much, even with a premie, you need to break the suction and try to get the baby to latch on again with a wider mouth. The nurse helped me, gently pushing Bracey’s chin down to widen his mouth. That helped. He sucked for about 5 minutes before he got tuckered out and fell asleep. Having him on the breast is crucial for the milk production and for him, so I am going to try and do it every day from now on until he is breastfeeding.
Bracey started the week in the non-intensive care section of the NICU. He spent most of his time dozing and producing dirty diapers. Yesterday he made a particularly poopy diaper and the nurse looked at me and said, it would be good bonding for you to change him. I joked “I’m good.” I’m blessed because one of my best friends Tricce is one of the veteran nurses at the clinic, so we have a lot of fun chatting during the day.
Paulus left on Day 16 to go visit his beautiful kids in the US and I was very concerned about handling things on my own. It didn’t help that he left during my teary phase. I was really worried about managing everything. The next day was the kids’ first day of school and I was having the apartment painted. There were air conditioning technicians in my apartment all week running the AC from my room to the terrace so that we can put Bracey there when he comes home. You get the picture — a lot going on. I have learned a lot through nurturing five babies and kids and now this experience. I’m more capable than before. When I get stressed, I tell myself to do one thing after another, step by step, to make a list, and to cross off my items. I tell myself to stay calm and take things slow. That’s how I talk to myself and I want you guys to do the same. Nurturing a newborn is difficult and can be extremely stressful and exhausting. You want to keep your inner calm. Stay organized, stay calm, one thing after another, you can do this!
By the end of Week 2, Bracey was eating 37ml of milk every three hours, and they had decreased his feed time from 2 hours to 1.5 hours. He weighed 1.700 kilos. On Day 14, Bracey was upgraded to First Class. He is now in an open water bed, which we are allowed to take him into and out of ourselves. I believe in trying to find the positives in any experience. I’m trying to make friends with the other moms and enjoy the bonding time with Bracey. I feel so blessed at my age to have another baby and I’m so happy my little fighter is here.
Sending love to everyone and see you back next week!