Today, most moms are eagerly and lovingly preparing their birth plans, their maternity suitcase and their baby’s room. But there are still few of us who are prepared and informed about the first days with baby. For example:
Do you know how your little one will behave during the first 3 days of life?
What will he need to live this incredible transition that is birth?
Do you know what you will need as a mom to take care of him and yourself during those 3 days?
If you don’t have the answers, that’s wonderful because they’re in this article ? You’re going to discover that the first 3 days with baby are lived over 3 periods, all different and more or less demanding ? ! Here we go!
This article could not have been written without my participation in the amazing Golden Month Evenings, organized by Celine Chadelat and Marie Mahé-Poulin, authors of the best-selling book The Golden Month. I wrote this article following the evening with Ingrid Bayot, Les trois premiers jours de vie du tout petit. Thank you Ingrid for all this rich information that I am happy to share with my readers.
Period #1 of the first 3 days with baby: active awakening (0 to 2 hours)
Baby has just been born! If everything went well, he was placed against you, skin to skin. This maternal proximity is very important to allow a sensory and relational meeting between parents and their baby. Skin-to-skin contact also offers the baby a sensory continuity similar to that of pregnancy, which is very comforting and reassuring.
These first hours are called the period of active awakening because the baby secretes hormones in response to stress that make him vigilant, active and very enterprising. This explains why some babies climb to their mother’s breast to suckle. They are lively and you can see it in their eyes, so intense and piercing.
In our minds, these first two hours are often associated with the beginning of breastfeeding and the care of the baby. This is a pity because we forget that it is above all an immense moment of encounter between the mother and her baby, between the second parent and her baby. This meeting is supported by the hormones secreted by the baby, as we have just seen, but also by those secreted by the mother which are oxytocin and endorphin. These are two hormones that encourage her attention and receptivity towards the baby.
So ideally during these first two hours of active awakening, the mother, the second parent and the baby should benefit from this wonderful cocktail of hormones that allow them to meet and get to know each other. Then, in a second time, of course, to leave the place to breastfeeding (if such is the choice of the mom), but by taking its time! It is important not to rush anything since the baby usually takes 50 minutes to access the breast just after birth. So leave yourself some time!
You should know that the course of these first two hours can be the subject of a paragraph in your birth plan. You can put your wishes and describe the way you want to welcome your baby, inspired by this first part of the article but also by what the Haute Autorité de Santé recommends by following the following link: https://www.has-sante.fr/jcms/c_2820763/fr/accueil-du-nouveau-ne-en-salle-de-naissance
Period #2 of the first 3 days with baby: post-natal recovery (2h to 24h)
A big move for baby
After these two hours of intense encounters between the mother, the second parent and the baby, the hyperactivity of the whole family gradually subsides. It is a calmer period where the baby and the mother recover from the birth. It is also a period marked by the new adaptations that the baby experiences.
In fact, the baby goes from an aquatic universe to an aerial universe where it must breathe:
- aquatic to an aerial universe where he must breathe.
- constantly at 37 degrees to a universe where he must maintain his body at a good temperature and warm himself up if he is cold.
- where he is continuously fed to a universe where he must feed himself.
So we must understand here that life outside the womb is a real challenge for the newborn. It is a new world of energy for the little one.
This is why, from this period of post-natal recovery, it is necessary to accompany him so that :
- That he has enough energy
- That he saves his energy.
These two dimensions are essential for him to grow and develop well, from his first days.
How to save and give energy to your baby?
The best way to accompany him in these two dimensions of energy supply and saving is to favor maternal proximity and skin-to-skin contact as much as possible.
Maternal proximity allows the mother to be as close as possible to her baby and to spot his signals of hunger or discomfort, even the most discreet. It is by spotting them that the mother will be able to feed or make her baby suckle so that he has enough energy to wake up the next time and seek the breast.
Skin-to-skin feeding saves the baby’s energy in many ways. It allows the baby :
- To have a good thermal balance, that is to say that he will not be too cold or too hot on his parents. Therefore, it does not request its resources to maintain its body at good temperature.
- To breathe a more humid air. This makes it easier and more comfortable for him to breathe, which also saves energy.
- To have a good immune balance because when he is in contact with his mother, he is colonized by all her microbial universe. Thus, he is much less likely to get sick and lose energy.
The maternal proximity and the skin to skin also allow the parents to secrete hormones which favors among other things: breastfeeding, rest and attachment. So, abuse it ?
The post-natal recovery of the mother
Between 8 hours and 12 hours after the birth, the mother feels a great fatigue. Nothing surprising considering the colossal work that her body and mind have just done.
She therefore needs to rest and sleep to recover but also to prepare herself for the third period of these three days… You will see why in a few moments.
Ingrid Bayot strongly advises to designate a sleep guardian who will watch over the baby while the mother sleeps and recovers during this period. This can very well be the dad, or another close relative, as dads can also need some rest after giving birth.
Period #3 of the first 3 days with baby: the agitated and frequent awakenings (24 to 72 hours)
This 3rd period is marked by great agitation of the baby, which occurs mainly in the evening and at night. The second and third nights of the newborn are called Java nights.
These are evenings and nights when the baby will wake up very frequently, when he will have a great need to be carried/contained and when he may cry a lot.
Why does he behave this way?
Firstly, because the baby is experiencing a lot of new sensations from :
- From the outside: sounds, live voices, smells, lights, manipulations that he did not know before.
- From his body: he must now breathe, the air is dry, he feels gravity, his food is no longer given to him continuously…
We can therefore understand that all this is very lively and new for him.
He needs time to get used to it. But not only! As Ingrid Bayot shares with us, it is by offering the baby a transnatal continuity, that is to say a continuity with the pregnancy that the baby is best soothed. Indeed, he feels safe and comfortable when he :
- Is contained and cradled.
- Recognizes his mother’s voice and smell.
- Can suck and swallow.
Secondly, the baby is very agitated during this period because of his mother’s impending milk supply. That’s right, when the milk comes in, there is an influx of maternal pheromones that change the smell of the mother and attract the baby to her. In fact, these pheromones would inform the baby that a milk rush is about to happen and would invite him to participate.
Finally, the baby seems dissatisfied because of the low flow rate and the low amount of colostrum he gets at each feeding in the first days. He is experiencing a real disconnect since he was continuously ingesting much larger amounts of amniotic fluid during pregnancy. It is as if he was deprived of something and this logically generates frustration in him which he shows intensely during the nights of JAVA.