After the wedding and pregnancy phases in the series of posts entitled “Parenthood“, there isn’t any reason why the next one in the list should not be dedicated to parenthood and everything around a new-born baby. To be honest, I started writing bits and pieces of this post several weeks back when we were busy preparing the first birthday celebrations of our son. Good opportunity indeed to talk about the experience acquired during the past year. And as you can guess, this post gonna be a lengthy one.
The pre-delivery preparations
If you expected me to start the post with the arrival of the baby at home, then you are wrong because the preparations start long before the expected delivery date. Ideally, if a baby is on its way, the to-be-parents should not wait for the last moment because :
- It becomes more difficult and sometimes painful for the mother to move around as the long awaited date gets nearer and
- Sometimes, the baby might unexpectedly come earlier, much earlier than what was planned. So, better be ready in advance.
The best thing to do is to keep a shopping list in which you continually add anything you might find necessary to purchase. It is a good idea to ask help from new parents or even your own parents. The contents of this list are mostly made up of the basic necessities that will be needed immediately after the birth of the new one. Just to give you an idea : some feeding bottles, nappies, clothes and other essential equipment like sterilizer, kettle or a carrying bag to keep his / her items when moving around ( To and from his pediatrician visits for example).
Next, parents also need to think about the environment in which the new born baby will stay. For example, tidy up the room thoroughly, remove any unused items or furniture, fix any broken item or even better, paint/decorate the room with lively colors. While some parents prefer to purchase a cradle (ber / berceau), some parents sometimes prefer to finalize the purchase only after the birth.
The arrival of the baby
After the great moments of joy surrounding the birth of the new born baby, the new parents can drive back home after one day if a normal delivery was performed or up to 3-4 days if a cesarean was done. Of course, this also depends on the health condition of both mum and baby.
In his / her new room, the baby should be made comfortable by
- Avoiding the use of powerful lights on the ceiling or nearby,
- Keeping noises to a minimum to avoid disturbing the baby,
- Keeping the room at a warm temperature since this is particularly important as the baby’s body cannot regulate its temperature by itself yet.
Before moving to the next topic, there’s something I need to inform you here because I was surprised that practically nobody talks about this. When a c-section is performed, it is important to note that the next days (and weeks) might be painful for the mother because of the cut made. It does take some time to heal but the scar might only fade out, meaning that it will remain visible lifelong. If you don’t believe me, ask any mum who has previously done a c-section. But most moms will say : the experience was totally worth it!
Feeding the baby
Earlier, I believed that feeding the baby with mother’s milk was critical for a good health and growth. However, I was surprised to learn that a baby can be fed with specialized formula milk (powder milk) as from day 1 itself. This type of milk already contains all the necessary ingredients and supplements to help in the well-being of the baby. However, it is still recommended to feed with the mother’s milk if available. Additionally, mother’s milk can be extracted and stored in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
There might be several reasons why one might need to use these commercially produced milk straight-away but in both cases (natural mother’s milk and commercial formula milk), it is good to know that :
- The frequency of feeding varies as the baby grows. For example, he / she needs to be fed every 2 hours for several weeks after birth. This means that you need to make sure that the baby gets the milk on time, without having to wait for cries. Parents hence need to set regular alarms or a shift system to do the feeding as required.
- The quantity of milk fed to the baby also increases gradually.
- If the baby is feeding on formula milk, you will need to change the product depending on the age of the baby, I think every 6 months or so.
As you can guess, only milk is fed to the baby for the first months (up to 3-6 months, depending on his / her weight). And then on-wards, the baby can start having water and then, some cereals early in the morning and as he grows older, he / she can have crushed food (purée) : vegetables first, followed by crushed meat or fish. You can buy these in supermarkets or you can prepare them yourselves.
Next, crushed fruits or yogurt can be fed as dessert. The pediatrician will carefully plan a diet for the baby depending on his / her needs and growth. So, don’t worry in case your baby is not feeding at the same rate as described on web sites or other babies you know. And later, you can feed him / her with KFC, Mac Do and all those fast-food stuffs you love. But please, follow the strict diet at the beginning.
Pediatrician visits and vaccines
The frequency of visits to the pediatrician will highly depend on the health of the baby at birth but you might be required to visit the pediatrician probably as soon as one week after the discharge. Then visits might be on a monthly basis depending on the vaccines needed.
There are various types of vaccines, some of which aim at provoking the baby’s immune system by allowing them to fight live but weakened versions of viruses contained in the vaccine itself. It is also good to know that some vaccines can have side effects, like a temporary fever or even skin rash. No need to worry but if these side effects are more serious or last long, it is advisable to inform the pediatrician.
Just like any other medical treatment, baby follow-ups are free of charge in hospitals but I don’t know if exactly the same vaccines are administered by private practitioners. Most probably yes. The price of these vaccines vary from the cheapest at around Rs 200 to the most expensive at around Rs 3,000. However, it is good to know that insurance companies do not cover the cost of vaccines but you can ask for reimbursement of the doctor’s fee for each of your visits.
Common health problems
Since babies are more fragile, they are sometimes more prone to catch health problems during the first months. Hopefully, your baby will not have to go through these problems but some of the most common ones are :
Since the baby mostly depends on the milk, it is important to ensure that the baby does not get dehydrated, for example if he / she is vomiting after each and every feed. In these cases, the pediatrician might recommend an admission in the hospital / clinic in order to put the baby under medication / serum. Nothing alarming since this will ensure that the baby gets the necessary nutrients and medication. Now, coming to vomiting… It is often a normal behavior if you are treating your baby against phlegm. Since the baby doesn’t know how to get rid of that phlegm like we, adults, it can thus be eliminated from the body through either feaces or vomiting.
Important phase in the life of anyone, the toothing period is most often very painful for the baby. Do you remember the last time you were in pain because of your wisdom tooth? Now just imagine the pain that the baby needs to go through. Toothing gels can help decrease the pain (I did try it lol) but nevertheless not for long.
While toothing can cause several other problems such as fever or vomiting, it is also a period whereby the baby can refuse drinking or eating as he/she used to. Fortunately, this lasts a short period of time. They also drool a lot and might start chewing anything which comes in their hands.
Having a baby is not just about changing nappies or feeding with milk. Far more than that. Right now, I’m thinking about
- Washing and sterilizing all feeding bottles (10 minutes x 3 times a day)
- Boiling water [for mixing with powder milk] (5 mins x 2 times per day)
- Cutting, crushing and cooking vegetables ( 30 mins x 2 times per day)
- Cutting and crushing fruits ( 10 mins x 1 time per day)
- Cleaning the baby room ( 30 mins x 1 time per day)
- Washing and ironing the clothes ( 1 hour x 3 times per week )
- Bathing the baby ( 30 mins x 2 times per day)
- Shopping for fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, nappies and medicines
- Visits and follow-ups with pediatrician
And those, non-quantitative tasks that take up the rest of the day and night :
- Putting the baby to sleep
- Playing with the baby
- Trying to calm the baby while crying
- Cleaning the mess made by the baby (toys etc)
And of course, change nappies and feed with milk. As you can see, taking care of a baby is not just a full time job but very often, you need to do unpaid overtime hours too!
Don’t get outta control
A last advice for new parents : Be careful when having sexual intercourse at least a few months after delivery. There are greater chances for her of getting pregnant AGAIN. So, don’t forget the protection kit 🙂
On the positive side, Statistics Mauritius has recently published a report showing a decrease in the number of births for the period of January – June 2015. Additionally, it has been statistically shown that the number of deaths will be more than the number of births in some couple of years. The authorities have thus officially encouraged Mauritians to have more children. So, the future of our island is now in
your our hands.
I hope that this post has been beneficial and informative, especially for new couples. Feel free to add any comments to mention points that I might have forgotten.
Happy parenting to all!