Sure, you know babies go through loads of nappies, they sleep a lot and they sometimes cry, but chances are your friends left out a few details.
No one wants you to enter motherhood focused on the hard or negative parts.
However, more often than not, dealing with the unknown is actually scarier than knowing what to expect.
In fact, nothing on this list is really scary, it just feels that way to a first time mother who had no idea to expect it.
Here are 7 newborn details your friends and family probably forgot to mention:
#1: A “Good” Baby Probably Won’t Last Forever
When I had my oldest, and during the early weeks with my second, I pretty much amazed myself. Baby slept great, I got things done, and aside from spending a lot of my day breastfeeding, I felt things were going pretty smoothly.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I was lucky to find two minutes to brush my teeth!
It turns out that most newborns take some time to “wake” up. They’re simply transitioning to life outside the womb. Provided you feed, change, and cuddle them, they don’t need much settling.
Once they “wake up” you’ll really be initiated into motherhood.
However, the good news is a “good” baby is pretty much a myth. A quiet, never crying, sleep through the night baby isn’t “good” and a high needs baby isn’t “bad.” Each baby is a unique individual.
Regardless of your baby’s temperament, understanding typical baby development can help you and baby cope with the early weeks.
Follow our Baby Week By Week series to learn more about each stage.
#2: Babies Don’t Always Latch Well
Breastfeeding is our biological norm. As women, we’re designed to lactate. And babies have natural instincts to breastfeed.
That said, being our natural and biologically normal way to feed doesn’t make breastfeeding inherently easy. It takes practice for both mother and baby. Even if you’ve breastfed before, baby will still need some practice.
You might be thinking: “if it’s normal and natural, shouldn’t it be easy?”
Have you ever watched a toddler learn to walk? Walking is our biological norm, we just naturally get up and keep trying. And trying. And trying. In the same way, a newborn might latch, unlatch, latch, sort of latch, try to latch, fail and try again all in the matter of a minute or two.
Be prepared to work at breastfeeding and know where to seek help. An IBCLC certified lactation consultant, an ABA counselor or a LLLI leader can offer you support as you and baby learn to breastfeed.
Be sure to read How To Breastfeed – 5 Key Steps For New Mothers to help get breastfeeding off to a good start.
#3: Acne Isn’t Just For Teens
When we think of acne, we often think of a young teen’s body adjusting to many hormonal changes. We rarely think of young kids.
However, baby acne is very common in newborns. In many ways, their bodies are adjusting to hormonal changes like that of a teen as they withdrawal from your hormones.
The good news, it clears on its own and there’s not really anything you need to do.
It’s important to mention any skin changes to your baby’s doctor or nurse at their health checks. Baby eczema sometimes presents in a way that looks like baby acne.
#4: Baby Will Cover You In Many Bodily Fluids
We all sort of expect a bit of baby pee, especially if we have a baby boy. Unfortunately, newborns don’t stop there.
Baby poop has been known to fly across rooms. I once took too long changing the nappy while my daughter was in an incubator and the nurse had to take it apart to fully clean it! It went down into every crevice.
On top of poop and pee, there’s drool, spit up, and even breastmilk. If you have a strong let-down, newborns (well, all babies really) are known to unlatch unexpectedly leaving you spraying breastmilk all down your front, and even across the room.
#5: A Baby Can Bring Out ‘Mama Bear’ Instincts You Didn’t Know You Had
You expect to worry about your baby. You expect to keep them safe. But you might not expect a primal feeling that completely startles you at times.
You can logically know your baby is safe in someone’s arms and still want to grab them back quickly.
You might hear your baby cry and want to question anyone nearby about what they might have done to upset her.
And if someone so much as sniffles near your newborn, you might be tempted to push them faraway.
#6: You Can Fiercely Miss Your Newborn
That seems obvious, of course you’d miss your newborn if you’re away. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
You can fiercely miss your newborn who is asleep in their bassinet just inches from you. You can miss your newborn who is safe in daddy’s arms. Basically, you can miss your newborn any moment they aren’t physically attached to you.
And on the other hand, you can be so touched out from that constant contact…and still miss them when you aren’t physically attached.
#7: Your Baby’s Breathing Can Be Scary
SIDS is an incredibly scary but also unlikely scenario. No matter how unlikely, we still fear it and think about it.
It can drive us to constantly watch our peacefully sleeping baby. We accidentally wake them up checking to be sure they’re still breathing.
If you’re going to do all this watching, you should probably be aware that infant breathing patterns seem a bit unusual.
Sometimes newborns have a pause in their breathing. They might not inhale for 5-10 seconds. Those few seconds can seem long! The pause is often followed by a deep gasp, which can be relieving and scary at the same time. They’re simply learning to pattern their breathing.
Babies also pattern their breathing with nearby adults. Perhaps that’s why we have mama bear instincts and are wired to miss our babies when not physically attached.
Certainly anytime you’re unsure if a breathing pattern is normal, it’s important to touch base with their doctor. In most cases, baby’s body is simply learning how to function outside the womb.
Having a newborn around can be challenging as you learn what is normal newborn behavior and what might be of concern.
Even with this list, all the baby books and your prenatal classes, you’ll probably be surprised by something, if not many things as you adjust to life with a new baby. The more you know before baby’s arrival, though, the easier the transition can be.