Secrets of a baby whisperer
Ask anyone who’s had a baby and they’ll tell you: the advice of a Tresillian nurse is gold. They are the modern day baby whisperers who know everything from the best techniques to settle babies to how mums can stay healthy and feel good while caring for their little one.
Tresillian has been giving parents advice and tips for many years and their nurses have seen and heard it all when it comes to babies and small children. Below they answer the most frequently asked questions to prepare new mums and dads to navigate their way through parenthood.
Q. My baby settles fine, but then wakes up 20 minutes later, screaming. Why does this happen, and how can I make sure he/she is sleeping longer?
A: We know from experience that babies often wake from a light sleep around the 20-minute mark and although this is not fully understood, it does seem to give them the opportunity for a brief environmental safety check, prior to entering the deep sleep phase. Perhaps this physiological occurrence stems from primitive times, where short cycles and brief periods of alertness just before going into a deep sleep would have served more of a protective function. While modern day sleep environments are much safer by far, this brief check still occurs and young babies call to their parents or caregivers for reassurance that all is well.
Your baby may just need to feel your comforting presence close to them before they are able to nod back to sleep. However, if your baby is getting upset or distressed, by all means pick them up for a cuddle to let them know they are safe, then place them back in the bed when they are calm and relaxed. When your baby gets used to their safe sleep environment, they will be more likely to easily transition through this phase and go on to link up two or more of their sleep cycles.
Q. Every time I breastfeed, my baby falls asleep before I can switch sides. How can I make sure they stay awake while I feed?
A: It sounds as if the relaxing breastfeeding hormones are doing a great job! Babies and mothers both experience what is known as prolactin-induced sleepiness, and the increased fat content of mothers’ breastmilk enhances this for babies as the feed progresses. It may also be that your baby has had enough and is satisfied and ready to sleep.
Generally, babies should be able to drain the first breast in approximately 10–30 mins, but this will depend on your baby’s age and physical ability. If you feel your baby is not latching correctly at the breast or is not able to effectively drain and soften your first breast, then use a few measures to gently wake them up. Try talking to them, sitting them up or changing their nappy, then encourage them to go back to the breast and continue to suckle. Offering the second breast is always a good idea, but this side may not always be required, especially by a very small baby with a tiny stomach. The second breast is there to support the nutritional needs of infants as they rapidly grow and develop, or in some cases, to feed more than one baby. If your infant ever appears unwell, jaundiced (yellow) or has less than 5-6 wet nappies per day, consult your doctor.
Q. I’m too scared to drive with my baby in the car. How can I make sure they’re 100 per cent safe?
A: It’s not unusual for a mother to feel under pressure when driving with her new baby in the car. If you have had a caesarean section, don’t drive until you have physically recovered and have medical clearance. Without this medical clearance, your car insurance may not be valid if an accident occurs.
Otherwise, don’t worry. Take as much time as you need to gain confidence and start out with someone else driving or at least travelling with you. In the early days after giving birth, just do short trips to the local shops and stay within familiar areas. As you become more accustomed to car travel with your baby, you will gain confidence and be able to go further afield.
Many babies seem to enjoy the gentle motion of car travel and often fall asleep, but if they become distressed instead, find a safe place to pull over and respond to their need to be soothed before continuing your trip.
Unfortunately there is no way to 100 per cent guarantee a baby’s safety in a vehicle, but you can take every measure to purchase an approved seat that is appropriate for the size, age and weight of your baby and have it correctly installed and adjusted. The Kidsafe.NSW.Inc website provides car safety seat and restraint information and lists centres authorised to check, repair or install car safety seats. Take care to comply with all road rules and signals and do not rush your journey. Also, avoid driving when you or your baby are overtired or stressed, as you need to focus all your attention on the road. Finally, remember it is dangerous and illegal to use your mobile phone whilst driving!
*Questions answered by Tresillian Nurse Educator.
Are there any questions you would love to ask a Tresillian Nurse? Can you relate to any of the ones asked above? Do you have any good advice for new mums?
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