Bringing Home Baby: Calming Newborn Nerves

A friend of mine just had her first baby and she’s feeling a little distraught about the adjustment for both herself and the baby. I remember feeling really out of sorts and a bit nervous about being able to meet all the needs of my new baby too.

The truth is your newborn goes through a lot right after he’s born. Whether the birth was natural or assisted, he experiences a great deal of stress as he copes with the abrupt change in the world as he knows it. No wonder he’s a little out of sorts.

Remember to be kind to yourself too. It’s not uncommon for moms to feel out of sync with their babies in the first few weeks. You’ve also experienced a lot of stress and big life changes.

The first days home with baby can be trying. He’s adjusting. You’re adjusting. Everyone is a bundle of nerves. If you stay calm, however, these simple tips will ease the transition for both of you.

*Sing and talk to your baby. Your newborn begins to hear your voice while still growing inside you. By the time he is born, the familiarity of that sound has a remarkable calming effect. Talk to him, sing your favorite lullaby, and read books to him, especially stories that rhyme.

*Make eye contact. While baby’s do not have 20/20 vision at birth, they can see you. By making eye contact with your baby when you talk to or massage him, you are communicating with him, and if you watch his cues, you”ll learn how he communicates with you.

*Touch your baby. It’s natural act, yet so powerful. Stroke his arms, legs, head, and back. The sensations relax both of you and enhance your bonding. If possible, learn about infant massage techniques and incorporate them into your daily routine. Research suggests that simple massage strokes relieve colic and constipation, as well as help infants establish regular sleep patterns and form stronger bonds with their caregivers.

*Hold your baby close, often. Research shows that keeping your baby close is good for him. Of course you know I advocate for babywearing, so remember an easy way to help your baby thrive is to carry him in a baby carrier sling or baby wrap. Cuddled next to you, baby feels your warmth and the comforting beat of your heart. The familiar rhythm helps him relax and feel secure.

Using a baby sling also frees your arms and hands so that you can do a few things around the house, while still enjoying the benefit of snuggling with your baby. And that might help you feel calmer, too.

*Respond to your baby. It’s that simple. Though crying can be nerve-wracking, it’s the only way your baby has to let you know he needs something. He cries when he’s hungry; he cries when he’s wet; he cries when he hurts or doesn’t feel well; and he cries when he just doesn’t know what else to do.

While this barrage of bawling might make you feel like crying, too, the best thing to do is simply to respond to his needs. Pick him up, cuddle him, and try to figure out just what it is he needs. Soon you’ll recognize his cry for hunger over his pain cry and be able to soothe him by quickly filling the need.

Worried that you’ll spoil him? Don’t be. Meeting your baby’s needs is not spoiling him. By regularly responding to your newborn, you’re forming a healthy bond that makes him feel secure.

Don’t worry too much if you feel out of sync with your baby in the first few weeks – it’s a natural transition period. But communicating your love to him through all his senses goes a long way toward calming those delicate newborn nerves.