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How your baby's growing
Babies love and need to suck, so don't discourage it. In fact, you may have already discovered that a pacifier works wonders in helping your baby calm down. (If you're nursing, it's best to wait to offer a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established – usually around three or four weeks after birth.) When the "binky" or your finger isn't available, your baby may even be able to find her thumb or fingers to soothe herself.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving a pacifier at nap time and bedtime, based on evidence that using a pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). That said, there's no need to reinsert the pacifier if it falls out once your baby's asleep or to force your baby to use one if she doesn't like it.
- Learn more fascinating facts about your 3-week-old's development.
Your life: Bonding
Some moms talk about feeling an instantaneous, consuming love right from the beginning. That's become the prevailing image of what "bonding" is supposed to be like. But bonding isn't a single, magical delivery-room moment. For more than half of new mothers, feeling connected takes a bit longer – and for good reason.
Birth, delivery, and recovery can be taxing physical experiences, especially if there are complications. If you've never spent a lot of time around babies, let alone been completely responsible for taking care of one, anxiety and worry about doing everything right can intrude too. Your relationship with your child is not so different from your other relationships – it can take time and many interactions for those feelings of attachment to develop and grow.
So there's no need to feel guilty if you look at your long-awaited baby and feel like you're staring at a little stranger. In a sense he is. Give it time and eventually you won't be able to imagine life without him.
If after several weeks, feelings of aloofness or even resentment continue, however, you could be suffering from postpartum depression. Ten percent of new moms suffer from this form of depression, triggered largely by hormonal changes after delivery. In addition to prolonged feelings of ambivalence about motherhood, symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, changes in appetite, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Postpartum depression has nothing to do with your fitness as a mom and everything to do with biochemical changes you have little control over. Call your ob-gyn or midwife now – don't wait until your postpartum checkup. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you'll feel better.
Learn about: Colic
What is colic?
Colic is uncontrollable crying in an otherwise healthy baby. It's thought to affect between 8 and 40 percent of babies. All infants cry more in the first three months of life than at any other time, but colic is different.
Some doctors define it by the rule of threes: three hours of crying at a time, at least three times a week, for at least three weeks in a row – usually starting between the third and sixth week of life. The "colicky" episodes often come on suddenly in the evening hours. Many babies will cry intensely, unable to be soothed, clenching their fists and drawing up their legs. Every baby is different, but colic usually fades away by around 3 months.
What causes colic?
No one's sure. Some people theorize that it's due to a baby's immature digestive system or to food allergies. Others believe the cause may be a still-developing nervous system or a baby's temperament that allows her to be easily overstimulated. Another theory is that colic is sometimes caused by an imbalance of healthy bacteria in the intestines. Studies have shown that infants with colic have different intestinal microflora.
What can I do about colic?
It's a good idea to talk with a doctor about your baby's crying. He can rule out other potential causes, like intestinal problems or urinary infections, and he'll want to check that your baby is eating and growing normally. He'll also help you determine the best course of action for your baby if she does have colic.
Each baby is different and is comforted differently, so you may need to experiment with a few techniques to find what works best. Here are some suggestions to create a calming environment that mimics what life was like in your uterus – snug, warm, and relaxing:
- Swaddle your baby firmly in a blanket or wear her in a carrier.
- Rock her in your arms or in a swing.
- Try holding her in an upright position to help her pass some gas.
- Turn on something that makes a loud, repetitive sound, such as a vacuum, dishwasher, clothes dryer, or "white noise" machine.
- Take her out for a car ride or stroller walk – the motion is soothing.
Other ideas: a warm bath, a warm hot-water bottle or towel placed on your baby's stomach (make sure the temperature is comfortable on her skin), or a pacifier. Some parents report that their baby's colicky symptoms improve with an over-the-counter medicine called simethicone, which may reduce intestinal gas. And treatment with probiotics (specifically Lactobacillus reuteri) has been shown to help with colic symptoms in some babies.
Hearing your baby cry can be frustrating and exhausting. It's helpful to have someone who can take turns soothing your baby. If you have to set your baby in her crib or another safe place for a few minutes to use the bathroom (or to have a good cry yourself), rest assured that leaving her alone for a few minutes, even if she's crying, is not going to hurt her.
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