Birthing Individuals Canberra Doula 

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Baby has been earth side 3 months

What to expect in the first 3 months after birth - and - baby development in the first 3 months

The first 3 months is a crucial time frame for the development of the baby and for adjustment to life in your new roles as a family unit. Much of this occurs during the first 6 weeks post birth; however, this development and adjustment doesn’t stop once baby or family hit 6 weeks post-birth.

Within the first 24-48 hours post-birth, the blood volume in the divine birthing being (you) will return to pre-pregnancy levels and you will often pass large amounts of urine as the estrogen in the body dissipates. By day 3 (72 hours after birth) the body often starts to produce breast milk, but don’t worry, the body will produce a substance known as colostrum for baby during the time your body works on creating breastmilk. Colostrum is amazing stuff too – this substance provides your baby with antibodies, water, protein, minerals, fat, carbohydrates, and even vitamins to nurture your baby’s needs.

After birth, the discharge of a substance called ‘lochia’ will occur and may continue for several weeks. This is like a period and it is often recommended to wear maternity strength menstrual pads during this time frame. The discharge of the substance lochia from the body is usually separated into 3 stages. The first stage often involves discharge that is red consisting of blood and endometrial tissue – generally, this all just looks like a heavy period. The second stage occurs a few days post-birth and it can be spotted by the change in your lochia – it will change from red to brownish in colour with some red. Then the final stage will usually commence at the end of the second-week post-birth. During the final stage you will notice that the discharge has changed in colour to a yellow-white, but there still may be some blood present for several weeks after the birth. Contrary to popular belief this process can taper off (make you think it’s stopped) for hours or days and then return during those several weeks (usually around 4-6 weeks, give or take depending on your individual bodies). Another thing to be aware of is that bleeding can sometimes increase between days 7-14 post-birth.

During the first 3 months, your newborn may create significant demands on your energy levels, time, and even your emotions as a new parent. If you don’t have access to family, friends, or village-like assistance this can seem even more demanding and can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. It is quite normal to feel more emotional, upset or just a bit more ‘down’ than usual around the 3rd or 4th-day post-birth. This is called the ‘baby blues’ and it is believed to affect 70-80% of those divine birthing beings post-birth. It usually lasts for 48 hours, but sometimes it can last for up to 6 weeks. You might experience increased stress or anxiety, rapid mood swings, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, overwhelmed by the responsibility, feeling dependant on others, and may even notice that you just don’t feel like you are coping. But this is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to apologize for. In fact, it is normal and is believed to be a result of the hormonal changes within the body and of course the BIG transition you are going through as the new amazing parent that you are. Surprisingly or unsurprisingly depending on how you look at it, the incidences of baby blues have been demonstrated in some studies to be less in those who birth at home compared to in a hospital.

Now sometimes the emotional state of either parent can be much more significantly affected and the contributors to this can also vary significantly as can perceptions of experiences. However, it is believed that 20% of parents may find they are struggling with depression and/or anxiety post-birth, which is a bit more than the ‘baby blues’ and support by a mental health professional is important. For these parents, the signs and symptoms can be gradual, but they are significant and can last from weeks to years post-birth. If there has been an experience with postpartum depression with a previous baby the chances of experiencing this with a subsequent baby are estimated to be between 50-80%. The sooner you can acquire support for this the better, so it is important to recognize signs.

Postnatal Mental Health Warning signs:

  • More irritable than usual

  • Sadness and/or crying

  • Feelings of guilt

  • Loss of libido and lack of interest in everything

  • Changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)

  • Changes in appetite

  • Always feeling tired or always wanting to sleep

  • Never being able to sleep

  • Cannot concentrate

  • Difficulty focusing on things

  • Struggling to make decisions

  • New or increased fears or phobias

  • Heightened anxiety

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Not comfortable with dealing with the baby (either in lack of confidence and/or lack of feelings)

In some instances, parents may experience some, all, or none of the above but experience the following which may indicate other mental health difficulties requiring support:

  • Recurrent and/or intrusive distressing recollection of events

  • Experiencing flashbacks

  • Increased negative feelings such as anxiety or flashbacks when exposed to a location, items, pictures, videos, or people connected to a distressing event

  • Avoidance of things, locations, or people connected with a distressing event

  • Avoidance of thoughts or topics related to a distressing event

  • Inability to recall important aspects of events such as the birth or another relevant event

  • Diminished interest in activities that were once enjoyed

  • Restricted emotions

  • Outbursts of anger

  • Hypervigilance

  • Exaggerated startle response

  • Physiological reactions to being exposed to things that relate to the distressing event (sweating, racing heart etc)

  • Feeling baby is better without you

  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies

Please remember that if you do experience these difficulties or feelings this does not and will never make you a bad parent, nor will seeking help; in fact, it makes you an amazing parent for recognizing your struggles and seeking help. Employing the services of a Doula during pregnancy, birth, and/or postpartum has demonstrated to not just positively impact on pregnancy and birth journey, but also the postpartum journey with higher rates of breastfeeding, improved maternal competence, improved family bonding and even reducing the chances of postnatal mental health difficulties.

While experiencing all the significant emotional and physiological changes in the first 3 months your baby is experiencing a wide range of changes too. In fact, during the first 3 months of life they:

  • Take their first breath of oxygen (oxygen was previously transported via the umbilical cord – this is another reason to avoid cutting the cord if the baby needs help taking that breath)

  • Do their first poo called meconium soon after birth (soft greenish-black tar-like substance – these change to a yellowish colour over the first week of their life)

  • Pass 20-30ml of urine (around 1 wee) in the first 24hrs

  • Pass 100-200ml of urine (1-6 wees a day) over the first week of life

  • Start to notice faces and recognize the sound of your voice

  • Start to bring hands in the range of their eyes and mouth

  • Start turning their head to the sound of noises and voices

  • Begin to move their head from side to side while lying down

  • Smile for the first time

  • Learn to hold their head up

  • Enjoys close contact with parents and others (babywearing is great)

  • Begin to display a range of reactions to different voices or noises (loud, angry, unfamiliar)

  • Begin to coo, gurgle or squeal to communicate with others

  • Begin to follow slow-moving objects with their eyes (eye-tracking)

  • May begin reaching for things or swiping at dangling objects

  • May begin to push themselves up when lying on tummy

  • Begin to display different cries for different needs

  • Learn to make eyes contact when held

  • Begin to show interest in items and people

As you can see this is quite a lot of developing your little one will do over the first 3 months of life. So, what are some things you can do over those initial 3 months to support yourself, your family and your baby? Below we run through some of the things to consider.

  • Resting as much as possible, you could do this with your baby to enhance bonding

  • Ensure you are drinking enough water and eating lots of nutritious meals

  • Playing simple games of ‘peek-a-boo’ with your baby and talking to them frequently

  • Babywearing to provide that contact, encourage eye contact and communication

  • Providing hanging toys like mobiles to encourage baby to reach for objects and improve eye tracking abilities – change these toys often to support stimulation and interest

  • Place large pictures including basic patterns low on the walls for baby to look at

  • Provide tummy time with a toy to encourage baby to move head and other simple movements like reaching for items, pushing themselves up or other movements.

  • Provide play items made from different textures or materials and that make different sounds or no sounds so that baby can investigate and develop sensory and gross motor skills

  • Sing songs (singing some of the same repeatedly is great) to help support speech development and bonding between yourself and baby.

  • Babies love schedules just not breastfeeding schedules – breastfeeding on demand can improve breastfeeding success; don’t fret if you can’t create or stick to a schedule either, often babies will have their ‘own’ schedule (times they tend to fall asleep or feed) and once you notice these it can be much easier to create a schedule if you want to do this. One of the hardest things to cope with as a parent is that babies won’t always fit into our schedules no matter how great they are. The pressure placed on yourself trying to make a schedule work can at times create undue stress when you could be enjoying your baby and family. Just relax, enjoy your baby, get to know your baby and you will often find a schedule creates itself on its own as you find your own rhythm together as a family unit.

  • Don’t push yourself to be perfect; be proud of those track pants, rock that unbrushed or unwashed hair, ignore that pile of washing or dishes needing to be done – unless you find enjoyment doing this. If you can try to employ a Doula they will help significantly. A Doula can come in cook meals for your freezer and table, they can clean, care for the baby while you shower, care for other children while you rest and more. Many are happy to accept payment plans. Alternatively, you could enlist friends or family members to assist you with this.

  • Cuddle baby and get lots of rest; rest is important for your body to recover from birth and it is important for the baby to support development. Baby needs 14-17 hours of sleep per day.

ARTICLE AUTHOR DISCLAIMER: Lee is a Canberra Doula who also spent over 5 years working in the childcare field as a childcare educator (including as a Room Leader); she holds relevant children's services qualifications alongside her Doula qualifications. In addition, Lee holds a wide range of qualifications and training in related fields that include but are not limited to trauma and natural therapies. Lee is also a proud Aspie woman and mother of 5 children (2 with disabilities). If you have any concerns about your child's development, a family member's wellbeing or your own wellbeing make sure you speak to your Midwife or Doctor. 

 

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 We hope you have found this post informative and make sure you let us know if there is a topic you would like us to cover in our blogs. If you are interested in learning more and finding out about our Doula Services make sure you get in touch for a FREE initial meet – we’d love to meet you.

~Blessings Lee your Canberra Doula