I have met some lovely parents to be over the past few weeks at three Mothercare Expectant Parent Events across Cardiff. Mothercare asked me to do some short presentations about topics that new parents might find helpful and to be available to answer questions on anything to do with pregnancy, birth and babies.
Having a new baby can put you on a bit of a steep learning curve and parents often look like they could hug me when I turn up at their door on the first visit at home. Worries about room temperature, dry skin and sticky eyes are all very valid and very common concerns. I thought I would seize my moment at the Mothercare events and help to answer a biggy "How do I know that my baby is feeding well?
I find that parents who choose to breastfeed can be particularly concerned about this issue as they just can't visualise how much milk baby is having at each feed. An obvious help to knowing that baby is having sufficient calories is an observation of baby's weight in the early days. In Cardiff and Vale, breastfed babies are weighed after 72 hours and again on day 6. Bottle fed babies are weighed next after delivery on day 6. It's quite normal for babies to loose up to 10% of their birthweight on these occasions and they should start to head back up to their birth weight by the time they are about two weeks old. However for parents who are at home waiting for the next weigh-in a good clue for how well baby is feeding is in the poo. Roll out my pre-prepared whiffy nappies in Mothercare....
Black treacle lined the first nappy to represent the first sticky tar like poos that babies have called meconium. Your baby is born with meconium in its bowel made of amniotic fluid and the white waterproofing substance that has covered your baby called vernix. This dark green or black poo requires some gentle determination to get off skin and in the first one to two days your baby should have two or more of these per day. Your baby should also have one or two small wees per day at this stage
Pesto poos are what you might find on days 3 and 4. We call these brown to green poos 'changing poos' and are a sign that baby is starting to get more milk in their diet. Baby should be having three or more wees at this stage and the nappies should feel heavier from the increasing volume of urine.
Finally chicken korma sauce poos. By day five or six for breastfed babies, at least two nice soft or runny yellow poo is a sign that baby is digesting milk and that there is no more meconium in the bowel. Bottle fed babies poo may be more of a putty like colour. Some babies at this stage will start to poo a lot! Don't be alarmed that your baby might start to give you a poo at most feeds over the next few days. Babies at this stage should be having five or more heavy wet nappies a day.
Newborn babies in the early days are rarely constipated so if your baby is not pooing for you, it can be a sign that baby is needing more milk. It is a good idea to chat with your midwife if this is the case.
Other surprises that you might find in a nappy are a small amount of peach or pinky staining called urates. These are salts in the urine that babies can sometimes pass, usually once in the early days. They are harmless but can be a sign that baby might need to feed more often or might need help to feed more effectively so its worth a mention to your midwife. Little girl babies can also have a mini pseudo period from all the hormones they are receiving from mum. Its very normal and lasts only a very short time.
Sore boobs don't have to be a normal part of breast-feeding and can mean that you and baby need some help to get baby positioned and attached in the best way possible to allow baby to feed effectively from the breast. You should be given lots of information on how to access help before you leave hospital or when you are at home.
I am not expecting the parents from Mothercare to have committed the nappy talk to memory but hopefully in the tired haze they may look at a nappy at 3 am, see chicken korma sauce and think "I have seen this somewhere before."