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The Fourth Trimester: Dealing with Postpartum Feelings
Some people—accurately—call the first several months of motherhood the “fourth trimester.” The reason that’s such an apt description of this tumultuous time is that you’re still stewing in a hormonal brew; you’re exhausted and possibly overwhelmed; and your body is still not even close to yours again. Here are common postpartum feelings, so you know you aren’t alone:
Exhaustion: Okay, being more tired than you ever thought possible before isn’t exactly an emotion, but the kind of bone-weariness common to new motherhood triggers other feelings. It’s hard to cope with the emotional and physical demands babycare when your mind and body are screaming for rest. In this fourth trimester, the most important thing you can do, not just for your own wellbeing but for your baby’s sake, is to prioritize sleep as best you can. If that means handing the baby off to your partner, mother, or friend, do it. Sleep whenever you can; all other pulls on your time and attention can wait.
Anxiety: Wait, what? You’re just sending us home with this baby by ourselves? If that’s what you thought when the hospital staff wheeled you and your newborn to the door and waved goodbye, you’re hardly alone. You have so many questions! Can I swaddle the way that awesome nurse did? What if the baby won’t latch on without that wonderful lactation consultant by my side? What if I don’t fall in love with my child? If you’re experiencing anxiety, it helps to know that no one is a baby expert right out of the gate, and that bonding is a process, not a lightning bolt. And even fragile looking newborns are far heartier than they look.
Confusion: You may feel an internal struggle between your emerging identity as “someone’s mother” and the person you were before. Even though intellectually you’re well aware that you’re not going out for cocktails with your girlfriends quite yet (instead, you’re a baby cocktail bar yourself!), don’t be dismayed if you stare at your baby in certain moments and wish she would just sort of disappear so you could sleep late, putter around your house, read a book, see a movie, or enjoy a leisurely dinner, a shower, a conversation… anything. Don’t hold these feelings in; talk to your partner or a sympathetic friend.
Joy: It’s true! You will feel pure bliss bubbling up in these early weeks, no matter how grueling the rest of the time might be. Sure, those happy interludes will probably take place when the little one is (finally) peacefully asleep, and you can stare at his sweetly composed face with understandable awe. But even more amazing will be the times – and we swear, they’re coming – that your baby looks into your eyes, smiles, coos, laughs, and the joyful moments will happen more often and stretch out for longer.
Doubt: Did I do the right thing by offering the baby I swore I’d exclusively breastfeed a few ounces of formula, so I could sleep while my husband fed her? Was the woman at the grocery store right and I should have put a hat on him (or, you know, not put a hat on him)? Should I have started saving for college when my baby was still an embryo? And heck, should we have done this whole procreating thing at all? Doubt and second-guessing are part of the landscape now, as you’re finding your parenting feet. To counter the worst of it, remind yourself that you, like every mother in the history of time, are doing the very best you can.
Sadness: This one is tricky, and can be serious. Sadness in the immediate postpartum period is very common, and part of its cause is hormonal. All those pregnancy hormones plummet after you give birth, throwing you into a muddle of chemical confusion for a few days or even weeks. Then there’s the sleep deprivation, which heightens and intensifies all emotions, particularly negative ones. This is what you’ve heard called the “baby blues,” and for most women this emotional jumble of zig-zagging between joy and tears gradually dissipates. But please take note: If your sadness overtakes you, if it lasts longer than six weeks or includes any of the following symptoms, please talk to your doctor right away:
Postpartum depression is not in your head, and it can be treated. For more information, Postpartum Support International.
Dr. Deena Blachard and Dr. Sara Connolly answer all of your questions on how to get your baby to sleep better. You find all you need to know about how much sleep is enough, crib safety and much more.
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By Dr. Deena Blanchard
"Could it be?" Parents will ask in hush whispers? The “C-word”? That's right, colic. Colic is a word that can draw fear in the hearts of even the most experienced parent. As a mom of a child who had colic, I can say first hand that those weeks are really challenging as a parent.
What exactly is colic?
All babies cry some and some cry more than others. For most babies, crying will start to increase around the second week of life and peaks at six weeks of life. Colic is defined by the rule of threes. Colicky babies cry for more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 days a week. Commonly, babies with colic will cry around the same time every day, with the most common times being late afternoon/early evening. Between periods of crying and fussiness, colicky babies will act in an age-appropriate manner. Typically colic will start around 3 weeks of age, peaks around 6 weeks of age and greatly improve by 14 weeks of age.
What causes colic?
The truth is that no one knows exactly what causes some babies to have colic. There is some thought that it represents the upper limits of crying that most infants do. Babies with colic can be difficult to soothe and what works on one day may not work the next. There are other theories that think it may be related to an immature gut and nervous system. We do know that parents DO NOT cause their little ones to have colic. It is important to realize that there is nothing you have done as a parent to cause your baby to have colic.
Should I talk to my pediatrician about my child’s symptoms?
Absolutely! It is important for your pediatrician to rule out other causes of prolonged crying such as food intolerance or reflux.
Is there anything I can do to help my baby?
After your pediatrician rules out any underlying disease; the most important thing is to realize while these can be a challenging few weeks, your baby is healthy. Infants with colic are healthy, growing and thriving developmentally. It may seem impossible to believe but the crying will not last forever. Some tips for soothing a fussy baby include: introducing a pacifier, white noise, rocking, swaddling, and bouncing with your infant. Some studies have shown that using probiotic drops in infants with colic can help reduce the amount of crying. Walking with your baby in a baby carrier or going out for a stroll (or drive in the car) can help as well. Keep in mind some of these things will work at times but nothing will work all the time.
Unfortunately, babies this age are not predictable and that can be frustrating when your little one is colicky. As adults, we tend to be rational, thinking, planning individuals but sadly our little ones are not. You may have done X yesterday and your baby slept for four hours straight. Then you do the same today and it doesn't work. Babies this age act unpredictably, and worked today may not work tomorrow. If you can accept that randomness from about 2-13 weeks of life, it will make it easier to get through (yes, easier said than done).
Seriously though, will this ever end?
As a parent when your little is crying for even a few minutes it can feel like an eternity. The symptoms of colic start to improve around 8-10 weeks of age and dramatically improve by around 14 weeks of age. The other good news is that having colic as an infant does not predict your little one’s temperament as they get older.
Having a baby with colic can be really frustrating and challenging as a parent. It can be truly nerve racking! It takes a village to raise a child and there is no shame in asking for help. It is okay for you to need a break. Let family or friends watch the baby so you can nap, shower, go out with a friend, or do something that is relaxing for you. If no one has reached out to you, they may not want to bother you. Ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed and don't know where to start, start by calling your pediatrician. They can help you and provide you with more resources.
When you are in the trenches, it is hard to imagine that this period will ever end but once it passes you start to forget just how hard it was. Keep in mind, it's nothing you did or didn't do, and just because your child is on the more fussy end now does not mean they will stay like that forever. My seven year old cried every day for weeks 3-10 of life and he is the sweetest, most adorable, easy going child. So hang in there. As with most things in life, this too shall pass.
Newton Baby’s founder, Michael Rothbard, is a sleep industry veteran who is proud to share the best the company has to offer from their families to yours.
Michael Rothbard is a third-generation sleep entrepreneur with over thirty years of experience in the industry. As a founder and entrepreneur, he has devoted his career to the pursuit of all things beneficial to a good night’s sleep for the whole family. Newton Baby was born out of concern as a parent of three young children that existing baby sleep surfaces weren’t breathable enough to ensure adequate airflow. Upon learning about Wovenaire technology, Michael knew that a mattress comprised of this unique fabric would quell his concerns, and the “rest” is history.
Miss Megan is the founder of Conscious Proactive Parenting and Mantra Sleep Solutions, and is Newton Baby’s in-house expert on babies’ sleep. As a sleep coach with over a decade of experience under her belt, she focuses on proactive and positive discipline to encourage steady, restful sleep. Her mission is to make bedtime more like a dream than a nightmare for the sake of the entire family’s wellbeing. The “Miss Megan Effect” has proven effective for countless babies and children aged 12 weeks through 12 years. Newton Baby is proud to have her on board to share wisdom on best practices for healthy, happy sleep.
In addition to this mother-of-two’s extraordinary qualifications as an infant sleep expert, Miss Megan is a Montessori-trained directress, board-certified holistic health coach, and life coach.
Dr. Deena Blanchard is a board-certified pediatrician and partner at Premier Pediatrics in New York City. Dr. Deena regularly contributes to leading parenting blogs including Big City Moms and Momtastic, and has also been featured on AOL, The Huffington Post, The Bump, CBS, CUNY-TV, and more for her skillful health and parenting tips.
Dr. Deena’s impressive resume includes a master’s of public health from Temple University, where she specialized in health education. Dr. Deena then attended medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she was awarded both Alpha Omega Alpha and the American Medical Women’s Association Glascow-Rubin Achievement Award. Her formal training concluded with a residency at Columbia University, where she served on the family advisory committee and was honored as Physician of the Year in 2007.
Dr. Deena earnestly supports Newton Baby’s products and initiatives that encourage safe, healthy sleep for babies, so much so that she proudly counts on Newton Baby for her little ones at home.
Newton Baby was created out of the founders’ mission to offer the safest, healthiest, and best sleep products for babies. As veterans of the sleep industry (and concerned parents themselves), they had a keen understanding of the market and where current offerings came up short. Thus, the “revolution-airy” Newton Crib Mattress was born.
The main component of the Newton Crib Mattress is Wovenaire, a material comprised of food-grade polymer and 90% air by volume. Its unique, first-of-its-kind composition allows for the highest level of airflow for babies to breathe easily and sleep soundly, thus giving parents the peace of mind they need for the only periods during which their little ones aren’t under continual surveillance.
Although experts recommend that babies sleep on their backs, rollovers inevitably occur. Traditional crib mattresses can pose a suffocation risk, and thus Newton Baby sought to create a safer sleep environment in the event of these particular instances.
Study #1: Suffocation Risk
To ensure that the product fulfilled its purpose and reached the highest possible standards, Newton Baby submitted a sample crib mattress to a multinational, CPSC-accredited inspection/product testing laboratory for review in 2015 to gauge the risk of infant suffocation. They used a mannequin with the weight and respiratory capabilities of a six-month-old baby, and introduced three competing crib mattresses in addition to the Newton as benchmarks.
The Newton Crib Mattress showed the lowest risk of suffocation, which was half of that of two competitors, while the third showed an unusually high risk of suffocation. (Suffocation potential took into account the pressure for normal airway flow resistance and elastic recoil of the lungs and chest when the mannequin was face down and breathing through each of the mattress samples.) Additionally, the Newton measured significantly below the limit for a surface to be potentially fatal on account of airway obstruction (15 cm H2O), with an average measure across 30 tests at 2.12 cm H2O. (It is worth noting that the normal rate of unhindered breathing for a newborn is 2.0 cm H2O.)
During the final assessment stages, the Newton Crib Mattress was compared to being “just like breathing” by the technicians at the lab analyzing the data. The findings were then shared with a leading neonatologist (doctor specializing in infant care), who is also an expert in infant breathing disorders. The doctor concurred that the Newton Crib Mattress posed a considerably low risk of suffocation.
Study #2: Carbon Dioxide Rebreathing
Another study was conducted in the same year by the same inspection/product testing laboratory to measure carbon dioxide rebreathing rates. Carbon dioxide rebreathing increases respiratory effort, and the rebreathing of exhaled air is considered to be one possible cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS.
The researchers used a mannequin with a simulated respiratory system akin to that of a one-month-old baby, comparing its carbon dioxide rebreathing patterns on the Newton sample paired with a muslin cotton sheet along with that of a conventional waterproof mattress with a muslin cotton sheet; a long-haired sheepskin blanket; and a bean bag (mimicking a sinkable surface with waterproof lining).
The research showed that the Newton Crib Mattress significantly had the lowest amount of carbon dioxide retention, thus proving to be a “very benign” surface for a resting newborn. The bean bag proved to be the biggest hazard for carbon dioxide rebreathing, followed by the sheepskin blanket and then the non-Newton waterproof mattress.
The findings were then shared with the same expert neonatologist from the previous study. After reviewing the research, the doctor confirmed that the Newton Crib Mattress did not pose a significant hazard in terms of breathability for infants, while also noting that it posed a significantly lower risk of carbon dioxide rebreathing than a conventional crib mattress.
Study #3: Suffocation Risk for the Newton Crib Mattress Pad
In 2017, Newton Baby introduced its crib mattress pad to the market, and in the same year submitted a sample to the same inspection/product testing laboratory involved in the previous two studies. This time, a mannequin with a mechanical lung system akin to that of a one-year-old was used to gauge the risk of suffocation on the mattress pad, which was fitted over a Newton Crib Mattress sample.
The researchers conducted five trials with the mannequin face down, breathing through the mattress pad. Similar to the first study with the Newton Crib Mattress, the Newton Crib Mattress Pad showed a very low risk of suffocation. The Newton measured significantly below the limit for a surface to be potentially fatal on account of airway obstruction (15 cm H2O), measuring at 2.46 cm H2O, 2.05 cm H2O, 1.92 cm H2O, 2.42 cm H2O, and 1.87 cm H2O across the five trials.
This medallion appears on all of Newton Baby's products, certifying that Keeping Babies Safe recognizes and supports our brand's tested, proven, and—most importantly—safe sleep solutions for babies.
Newton Baby is a proud Charitable Sponsor of Keeping Babies Safe, a nonprofit organization whose prime mission is to advocate for safer children’s products and practices, thus leaving babies out of harm’s way from preventable circumstances.
Newton Baby’s contribution to KBS, in addition to those of other Charitable Sponsors, have allowed the organization to produce an educational video played on The Newborn Channel in thousands of medical facilities nationwide. Additionally, funds raised have allowed KBS to distribute useful guides to new parents upon discharge from the hospital.
Keeping Babies Safe was born out of tragedy by Co-Founder and President Joyce Davis, who lost her four-month old son, Garret, in 2000 due to complications spurred by a supplemental crib mattress that was marketed as safe. Through KBS, Joyce is determined to prevent this unspeakable heartbreak for other families by educating parents and the general public about safety standards for cribs, baby products, and sleep practices. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 3,500 annual sleep-related deaths of babies per year in the United States alone. KBS is committed to significantly reducing that number with its numerous initiatives.
KBS is active on several fronts, including but not limited to the governmental level, where they helped facilitate the passage of federal crib safety regulations. Furthermore, the organization works with manufacturers, retailers, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission with the end goal of banning supplemental mattresses entirely from the market. On the charitable level, KBS donates safe, federally compliant cribs to families in need, believing that no family should have to compromise safety on account of financial hardship.
Keeping Babies Safe is a free, trusted resource for parents seeking reliable crib safety and product recall information, best practices for baby safety, and more. To join the mission, read more about Keeping Babies Safe or consider donating to the cause.
Newton Baby's Director of Customer Experience, Krystal, and Co-Founder, Chris, participating in a 5K benefiting Keeping Babies Safe.