Why the Four B’s?
The Four B’s are tools for coasting through the newborn phase. Having a baby is hard work. No matter what type of birth you have it is exhausting and there are so many unknowns. If you have a hospital birth you then spend the next two days in a strange hospital haze. You had the baby, but you have help, but you kinda don’t…what?! The nurses are there to make sure everything goes smoothly. Then you are discharged. Now you’ve brought another human into the world and have to make sure it survives and thrives. All while taking care of your run-down self.
The newborn phase can be overwhelming on a tired new mama, but it does not have to be ridiculously hard. It will be hard I assure you, but learning the Four B’s will help ease your worries. If you do feel overwhelmingly sad or overdone get some help and make sure you are prioritizing your health, as babies do need a healthy mama.
1. Breast or Bottle
The first B is breastfeed or bottle feed. Feeding your baby is an obvious need for you and your baby to survive and thrive. Overhunger is a common reason why baby could be fussy or unhappy. One of the ways to ensure your baby gets fed when he is hungry, is to look for hunger cues. These include rooting, sticking tongue out, making smacking or sucking noises, and putting hands or objects to their mouth.
If your newborn is showing hunger cues whip out that breast or bottle. Sometimes it is not as simple as having breast or bottle though and that’s okay too. Feeding is not always super intuitive. Many factors come into play when feeding your baby the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is stay calm and follow your gut (freaking out doesn’t make a crying baby any happier).
Tips for Breastfeeding in the Newborn Phase
If you are worried something is wrong regarding your breastfeeding be sure to seek out help. You can read my post on the problems that can occur during breastfeeding and what to do here. The main things to look for when breastfeeding baby are that babe is latched properly, gaining weight, has wet and soiled diapers, and seems generally satisfied after a feeding. Don’t stress about how many ounces you are feeding your baby if they are meeting these marks.
Use your intuition if something feels off, reach out to your care provider a simple phone call might ease your worries. Otherwise allow your body to regulate to the baby and provide the nutrition your newborn needs. In the newborn phase your body is learning to adjust to your baby. So even if you have a ton of milk and get engorged, just feed baby as needed. Pumping on top of breastfeeding can cause your body to overproduce milk because it thinks your baby needs more food. Unless you are building a stash for when you go back to work, avoid increasing your milk supply by pumping. If you’re in a lot of pain hand expressing can help take the edge off and be less intense than a pump.
Offer both breasts. Allow your baby to nurse on one side for as long as needed till baby is satisfied, then offer the other breast. Your newborn babe might not want to eat on both sides, but to ensure your baby is full be sure to offer it. Try to not stress about feeding baby, your body will work optimally when you are calm and relaxed. (hah…but usually new moms are pretty frazzled so don’t stress about being stressed 😉 )
Bottle Feeding in the Newborn Phase
Fed is best, but when bottle feeding you want to ensure proper feeding as well. In the newborn phase the baby will cry a lot and sometimes our natural tendency is to just stick a bottle in their mouth. . When you bottle feed it is a lot easier to overfeed because you can just keep refilling a bottle right away, unlike an emptied breast.
If you do choose to bottle feed research paced bottle feeding. As adults our bodies take a second to tell our brain we are full, same goes for baby. Allow baby to experience that feeling too. Try to maintain a feeding schedule. Soon baby will start to pick up on the schedule and that can help prevent random feedings. Finally, switch the side your baby feeds on (as breastfeeding mother’s do) to ensure baby is stretching both ways, a helpful hint from Cornerstone Chiropractic.
The second B is burp your babe. Okay, I know what you’re thinking? Tani are you even allowed to call this advice?! Does my baby need a burp, what dumb question! Well to tell you the truth, I think a lot of the fussiness experienced with my first newborn was due to not properly burping her.
Some babies are great at burping on their own, but often times as newborns they need a little help. A good rule of thumb is to burp between each breast or if bottle feeding, half way through. Sometimes baby will swallow air and will be uncomfortable because they cannot burp. Another reason you should burp your newborn is because your babe could think she is full, but it’s a lot of air (usually due to a poor latch or the type of bottle you have).
If you find your baby screaming once you buckle them into the carseat after you just fully fed them, they might need a burp. Sometimes it takes a minute for the baby to get the burp out. You can burp your baby in a few different positions. My favorite is the hand cupped under babies chin and sitting sideways on your lap, then firmly pat baby’s back (see picture below). Another position is to put baby tummy facing you on your shoulder and pat the back. Babies are actually pretty tough if you can’t seem to get a burp out you might try a little more force. If a burp is really stuck I will stand up at gently bounce baby while on the shoulder position and patting her back. It isn’t rocket science, but you will figure out what technique works best for your babe.
The third B is to put you baby to bed. Newborns sleep A LOT. That is why this phase can be the easiest phase of your babies life. Your baby should be sleeping a ton at this age. If your baby is fed and burped and still fussy he’s probably tired. Your newborn probably wants to go to bed if he is yawning or nuzzling down on you. Sometimes being a new mom you feel guilty if your baby is sleeping all day. Let me give you a hint, don’t. You are going to miss these days that baby slept for hours multiple times a day.
If you are unsure if your baby is tired you can gently rock them on your shoulder or whatever position they prefer. If baby starts to make tired faces or cues, you can gently place them in their crib. Babies usually go down easiest when they are very sleepy, but not totally asleep yet. Just think of a big kid, they will easily change spots and sleepily walk from the couch to their bed if they are not in deep sleep. But when they are out cold and you try to move them they do not do as well. You can utilize mirrors to help you check if your baby is falling asleep when holding her up on your shoulder.
Sometimes babies will get overtired and often times that makes it very hard to get a baby to go to bed. To prevent your baby from getting overtired try to create routines. When baby starts to follow a general schedule it is easier to for both you and baby to know when it is time for bed. Some people do a whole bedtime routine that includes bath time, baby massage, singing, and reading. Do what feels right for your family. I prefer not bathing my baby often during this stage, they don’t even smell and it’s not great on their skin to constantly be washing them.
The fourth B is spend time bonding with baby. In a world of modern technology it is easy to forget to intentionally bond with our child. Babies are just miniature humans, they want to interact with other humans too. It is okay to let baby nap for four hours. Use that time well to sleep, clean, eat, or whatever you need to do. Then when baby is up use that time to bond.
You might be thinking, “how do I bond with a newborn?” Actually it’s super simple, all you do is look baby in the eyes and talk to her. You can tickle her feet, make motions with your hands for baby to practice tracking, sing a song or even read a book. There is really nothing to it. Doing these simple things for your baby will not only help with bonding, but development in general.
Bonding or play time is a great time for you to attempt “tummy time”. Some babies love it, but many babies get frustrated after a while. Even if you baby dislikes “tummy time” stick to it and help your baby strengthen her neck and mobility. Tummy time does not have to be a long painful process. A few minutes a day can really benefit your newborn and be an opportunity for bonding.
The four B’s to make the newborn phase easier are breast/bottle, burp, bed, and bond. These are really all you need to survive the beginning stages of having a baby. Unfortunately in the world of baby gear and consumerism we are flooded with gadgets and products that are called “necessities” but they are really just extra. The truth is baby does not need much. Do you and your newborn a favor and just stick to the basic 4 B’s for an easier newborn phase.