Even with an adorable 2 week old baby in the house, you might not think to celebrate the end of the first week of your baby’s life.
The reality is by day seven, you probably don’t know what day it is, and if you do, you’re too tired to do much celebrating!
Labour and birth are already fading into memory as your new life demands your full attention. Your little one is beginning the most rapid development of her life outside the womb.
Your body is recovering from labour, and either a vaginal or c-section birth. So it’s an important time of rest for you both.
Your uterus is shrinking down to its pre-pregnancy size over the next several weeks. You might still experience some light bleeding. Pay attention to the amount of bleeding as it can be a clue if you’ve done too much.
If you notice your bleeding gets heavier after more physical activity, take this as a sign to slow down and rest. It’s easy to start getting back to your busy life, but your body deserves and needs the time to fully recover.
Many cultures worldwide recognize this first month after birth is a time for the new mother to be cared for, as she recovers and gets to know her baby. Read more in our article Why Is A Post – Natal Month A Good Idea.
While some amount of “baby blues” is normal, be sure to reach out to your health care provider if you’re having intrusive or disturbing thoughts.
Some postpartum mood disorders have symptoms that appear or peak at 2-4 weeks after the baby is born. These conditions need to be taken seriously, as appropriate treatment is important for the safety of both mother and baby.
Breastfeeding your 2 week old baby
By week two, if your baby’s feeding effectively and efficiently, any nipple tenderness should now be easing. Your breasts will begin to adjust to the supply and demand rhythm of breastfeeding.
You’ll spend most of your waking hours with your baby at the breast – and quite possibly, most of your non-waking hours as well!
It might help to read our article about The Early Days Of Breastfeeding – What’s Normal And What’s Not?
This second week is an important time for your breasts to get feedback from your baby.
This helps to establish a good milk supply and prime the cells which produce milk, in order to maximise production.
Your baby is still learning, so you can expect it to take a few attempts at each feed to get her attached.
She might doze off to sleep mid-feed and have a short nap, before rousing again and getting on with it.
This is due to her immaturity, and it can make nursing sessions drag out over more than an hour!
Rest assured, as she grows, she will become more focused and efficient.
Both of you are learning new skills, so it might help to read the tips in our article How To Breastfeed – 5 Key Steps For New Mothers.
At week two, your baby might breastfeed for an average of 8-12 times in a 24-hour period. Sometimes it can be more often than this!
It’s a sign your baby is growing rapidly and needs frequent feeding. It is not a sign you aren’t making enough milk for her.
Sometimes one feed can even run into the next one, which is called cluster feeding.
Your breastmilk will now be mostly mature, with the last traces of colostrum fading by the end of this week.
Your breasts will feel firm and full before you feed, and softer afterwards. If your baby and your breasts get out of sync sometimes, you may experience engorgement.
You might occasionally or regularly leak some breastmilk and need to use breast pads. Don’t worry if you don’t – leaking varies between women and isn’t related to your milk supply.
If you’re formula-feeding your baby, read our article Formula Feeding – 9 Things To Avoid When Using Formula for important health and safety information.
This week your baby will regain the weight lost in the first week. She should be back at her birth weight by 2-3 weeks.
She’ll now be having at least five heavily wet disposable nappies and at least five bowel movements each day. These are reliable indicators she’s getting enough milk.
Settling your 2 week old baby
You’ll find your baby settles best when held against your warm body, especially if you’re also moving. She’s used to the movements felt while in the womb as you moved during pregnancy.
Rocking, bouncing and swaying are instinctive movements we make when soothing a crying or sleepy baby. These movements aren’t accidental. They’re crucial to help your baby develop proprioception – an awareness of their own body.
This is important to help your baby learn to move her limbs from a bundle of uncoordinated reflexes to purposeful movements.
Babywearing is one of the best ways to keep your baby close to you for feeds and to naturally provide them with lots of movement. It’s also great to help you get some things done hands-free.
Wearing your baby in a sling or wrap also soothes a fussy baby and promotes bonding. Your partner and other caregivers can get in on babywearing too.
Read more and get more details on the reasons to wear your baby in Babywearing – 10 Benefits To Wearing Your Baby.
Sleep and your 2 week old baby
At 2 weeks if your baby isn’t feeding, it’s likely she’s sleeping.
Newborns don’t really spend much time awake. When they are, they usually want to feed.
It’s also normal and natural for a 2 week old baby to end a feed asleep at the breast.
Day and night, you’ll probably find your baby sleeps best when in contact with a parent or in close proximity to her mother.
Your baby still wakes about every three hours to eat. Although some babies have one longer stretch in a 24 hour period.
It’s around this stage many parents reevaluate family sleeping arrangements.
You might find your baby spends less time in her carefully decorated nursery than you anticipated.
Here are some tips to help you decide where your baby will sleep.
Daytime sleep can often happen against your chest after a breastfeed.
You might worry about using this time effectively by tackling some household chores while your baby sleeps. However, you also need to rest as often as you can. Day-time naps are a great way to do that.
It’s important to avoid falling asleep on a sofa or armchair, as they are not safe sleep spaces.
Instead, plan to nap together by learning to breastfeed lying down in your bed, following guidelines for safe bed-sharing.
Here is more information about safety and co-sleeping.
Your midwife, lactation consultant (IBCLC) or child health nurse can show you how to breastfeed lying down.
Play and development
In the brief periods when your 2 week old baby is awake, alert, and isn’t hungry or tired, she’ll enjoy getting to know you by gazing at your face.
A newborn’s vision is fuzzy and while she can make out light and movement, she can only focus on things around 20-30 cms (7.9-11.8 inches) away. This just happens to be the distance from your face to her eyes while feeding.
It’s probably instinctive anyone meeting a newborn for the first time moves their face to this distance directly in front of the baby, and smiles broadly.
Don’t take it personally if she frowns at you though! As your baby watches your face and expressions, she’s practicing her own facial expressions.
At this age, most babies close their eyes when feeding. But your baby enjoys looking at the facial features of her parents, siblings and close family members and beginning her first interactions.
Talk and sing to your baby, say her name, and match her expressions. Even at just two weeks old she’s learning about language, conversation and emotions.
The best time to interact with your baby in this way is when they are in a quiet-alert state. This is when the baby isn’t fussy or sleepy but is gazing with wide eyes and her limbs are fairly still.
At two weeks of age these quiet-alert times aren’t very long or frequent, so pay attention and catch them while you can!
Remember newborns get overstimulated quite easily. Your baby can communicate with you about this by some very subtle actions.
One way a newborn let you know they’re getting overstimulated is by looking away from you, breaking eye contact, and turning their head.
Your baby gets the hiccups or start getting a bit fussy if things are getting too intense for them.
Make sure to pay attention to your baby’s cues. They each have their own personalities and limits. You’ll be amazed at how much they can communicate even at this young age, and your response really supports their development!
Tummy time is recommended on a daily basis from the time your baby’s umbilical cord falls off. In these early days, place your baby on her tummy on your chest – she’ll try to raise her head in response to your voice. Wearing your baby against your chest also is a way to get some tummy time in for your little one.
Not all babies enjoy tummy time and it’s important to introduce it gradually for very short periods.
Check out some ideas to help you both enjoy the experience, in our article Tummy Time – 6 Ways To Do It (And How To Make It Fun!
All babies cry. It’s the primary way our babies can communicate with us.
Babies may cry for a number of reasons. As you get to know your baby, you’ll become better at deciphering what your baby is trying to tell you.
Research shows consistent response and physical closeness reduces infant crying.
Follow your instinct and don’t worry about “spoiling” your new baby.
Remember human infants are born more immature than other mammals. During this “4th trimester” they’re adjusting to their life and environment outside of the womb.
Physical growth and development
Your baby’s physical development happens from head-to-toe, and from the trunk out to the smaller muscles of the hands and feet.
This means your baby’s first big physical task is holding up of the head and gaining control of her neck.
Newborns can hold their head upright for short amounts of time, but still, need a lot of support as they practice this skill. Tummy time and babywearing against your chest support this milestone.
Newborns don’t have much control over their movements at this point of development. They’re born with several neurological reflexes:
- Moro (sometimes called the “startle” reflex – your baby will pull her legs and arms tight into her body if she feels a loss of support. Safe swaddling can help settle her if this reflex happens often.
- Grasp reflex – your baby’s hands are often in tight fists. They only relax when she’s sleeping or finished feeding. Your baby can hold onto your finger but letting go isn’t a skill she can consciously control. So don’t put toys in her grasp as she may hit herself!
- Suck/root reflex – your baby searches for a nipple and sucks when her cheek is brushed. She might suck in her “dreamy” state of sleep too!
You’ll almost be able to see your baby grow over the next few weeks, although this period can sometimes cause concern about your baby’s weight gain. Understanding how babies grow and how growth is measured will be helpful – you can learn more in our article Baby Weight Gain – What’s Normal? 5 Questions Answered.