Time flies when you have an adorable baby! Madeline is four months old tomorrow and I am just now getting around to sharing her fourth trimester and my favorite sleep products with you. Feel free to leave me questions in the comments section!
After Madeline was born, we ended up staying two nights in the hospital because it took a while (almost 24 hours!) for her to pee for the first time. She was a hungry, hungry girl and started pooping right away, but didn’t pee until a nurse gave her a bath when she was about twenty-four hours old. She wanted to nurse frequently and only slept for short periods of time, so I was completely exhausted. Finally, on the morning of January 4th, she was discharged and we got to bring her home.
The first few days were a blur. My mom was with us and my dad and stepmom arrived a few days after we got home. It was so nice to have my family around, as well as Ben’s, to feed us and love on our new baby in between nursing sessions. I wasn’t feeling too bad; I had some pain where my stitches were, but breastfeeding was actually more painful! I had to pee about every two seconds and was hungry and tired all the time, but other than that, I was just so happy.
We had to take Madeline to the doctor several times in her first week of life to monitor her jaundice, which was mild in the hospital but got a bit worse before getting better, and her weight. The doctor recommended nursing as much as possible, since pooping and peeing helps get the bilirubin out, as well as putting her in a sunny window (at-home phototherapy).
The doctor also recommended supplementing with formula, which I pretty much ignored. I’m so glad in retrospect that I didn’t do this, because it wasn’t at all necessary, and the first few weeks are key for setting up a good breastfeeding relationship and establishing an adequate supply of milk.
At one of our weigh-ins, the nurse told us Madeline had LOST 10 ounces since the day before! I told the doctor there was no way this was possible and asked them to weigh her again. They weighed her on a different scale and it turned out the first one was malfunctioning and she had actually gained weight! (I heard the doctor say to the nurse, “You know all those babies this morning who were low? We need to call their parents!”) It’s so important to ask questions and double check when something doesn’t feel right!
After about a week Madeline’s jaundice levels had begun to decline so we were able to stop going in for checks. No formula or light therapy needed!
We also went to see a lactation consultant when Madeline was five days old since breastfeeding was still quite painful for me. She was weighed before and after feeding at the office and had taken in two ounces of milk, which is great. The LC consultant gave me some tips for getting a deeper latch, but honestly it didn’t make a huge difference. The one thing that really helped was time! The pain decreased rapidly at first and then gradually, until I finally realized one day around 10 weeks, with happy surprise, that nursing Madeline no longer hurt at all. Nipple cream did not do much for me but these cooling gel packs (this and others in this post are affiliate links–I earn from qualified purchases) provided some relief.
Around four weeks I started pumping and we introduced the bottle, which she took to right away. We usually give her one bottle of pumped milk a day, or two if I’m very busy or working a long afternoon. She hasn’t had any issues with nipple confusion. She did try to refuse the bottle for a couple of days unless I was the one giving it to her, but luckily that phase was short lived.
Less than two weeks after Madeline was born, I was feeling fine until I went to the bathroom during dinner and suddenly knew I had a urinary tract infection. I’m not prone to UTIs and can’t remember the last time I had one before this, but it’s an unmistakable feeling! I called my midwife office’s answering service hoping they could call in a prescription for me. The nurse who called back had me take my temperature while I was on the phone with her, and I was shocked to find it was 100.7. She told me to go to the emergency room!
I was totally flabbergasted, but she insisted that they would need to rule out more serious kidney infections, so off to the hospital we went. I was terrified at the idea of bringing my tiny baby into an ER full of sick people, but I hadn’t started pumping and she’d never taken a bottle. I had Ben drive around with her in the car while I checked in. Thankfully, they sent me straight up to labor and delivery since I’d given birth so recently, and I got my own room in triage. Ben brought Madeline up and she nursed for a little while, then fell asleep and napped sweetly the whole rest of the time we were there!
I guess it was good we went in, because when my urine culture came back the nurse said I had quite a serious UTI, which is probably why it came on so suddenly. (The nurse asked if I’d had an epidural, because the catheters used for those are usually the cause of postpartum UTIs. I told her I hadn’t and she was really surprised!) They gave me a round of IV antibiotics and a bag of fluids, and sent me home with a prescription for oral antibiotics. Thankfully I started feeling better almost right away! I made sure to take a probiotic to avoid getting a yeast infection. So happy it worked and the UTI cleared up quickly!
The biggest struggle of our first month or so was sleep. Madeline likely had her days and nights mixed up because she would take long naps around noon and be up and fussy for hours on end in the middle of the night. One night she woke up at midnight and we could not get her back to sleep until 8 am! She continued to nurse frequently and was also pooping many times a day. Her poop had been yellow at first, which is normal, but then changed to a greenish color. She developed diaper rash. All the nursing and pooping made our nights so hard, and there were many times that Madeline and I both sobbed together in the early morning hours.
Two big things helped put us on the path to more restful nights, and the first was Evivo probiotics. When antibiotics are given during labor or shortly after birth (or when baby is delivered via C-section), the baby is often missing good gut bacteria that are key for healthy digestion (which is key for sound sleep). Here is a fascinating article from The New Yorker about the relationship between breast milk and beneficial gut bacteria. Evivo contains the bacteria b. infantis and has been tested in clinical trials. Once we started using it with Madeline, she went from many green poops a day to one or two yellow ones in less than a week. (Note: we mix Evivo into Madeline’s daily bottle since she almost always drinks the whole thing. If your baby doesn’t take a bottle or doesn’t finish them, you can buy the starter kit that includes a mixing bowl and syringe for feeding your baby the probiotic mixed with just a tiny bit of breast milk).
The second key thing that helped us sleep was this newborn sleep course. It tells you exactly what to do to set up a healthy sleep environment and help your baby develop great sleep habits early on (and it’s NOT a cry-it-out method!). This was a game changer for me in terms of calming Madeline down and improving her night sleep. She started sleeping for longer stretches and going back to sleep quickly after night feedings. We’re far from perfect about following the advice from this course and it’s still worked wonders! We use several props to help her sleep as recommended in the class, and they’re all linked below.
Madeline started rolling over front to back and back to front right at three months, which meant we had to stop swaddling her and threw quite a wrench into our sleep for a few days. I ended up going back to nursing her to sleep at night, which I’m still doing most nights. It’s not recommended, but it’s working for us right now! I nurse her to sleep in the bed and carry her to her crib. She usually sleeps for 6-9 hours after I put her down! For naps she usually falls asleep on her own.
Madeline got a clean bill of health at her one-month and two-month checkups. She’s gaining weight well and is a very tall baby. She was 24 inches long at two months, which is the 90th percentile! She loves to smile, hold my hand while she nurses, have long “conversations” with her pop, watch the ceiling fan, stick out her tongue, and of course drink lots of milk. We’re so thrilled to have such a happy and healthy baby, and can’t wait to see what she learns to do next.
Favorite newborn products for sleep:
Most of the links below are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission from qualified purchases.
- The Taking Cara Babies newborn course! This resource is invaluable. I had no idea what to do when Madeline was tiny and wouldn’t sleep for hours on end. Once I took this course, I felt so much more confident, and she started sleeping through the night more than half the time within just a matter of days. I felt like a new person! (Cara’s Instagram is also full of helpful tips.)
- Portable sound machine: We put this on whenever Madeline is going to sleep or sleeping. It’s portable, so we also bring it on car rides and stroller walks. It helps her stay calm and nap on the go. The womb is quite noisy with the rushing sound of blood passing through the placenta, so babies are used to white noise and find it soothing during their fourth trimester.
- Wubba Nub giraffe pacifier: I’ve found that this is easier for Madeline to keep in her mouth or put back in her mouth than other pacifiers. It’s also super cute!
- Sleepea swaddles: These swaddles come from the author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, which is a very helpful book for learning to calm a crying baby. The swaddles have an inner arm band with velcro and an outer zipper. It’s pretty easy to get baby swaddled, and you can unzip just from the bottom for diaper changes.
- Zen sleep sack: this weighted sack is designed to mimic the comforting touch of your hand on your baby’s chest. We use this or regular sleep sacks now that we’re no longer able to swaddle Madeline since she can roll over.
- Emily organic crib mattress: Some studies have indicated that toxic gases emitted by crib mattresses may be a cause of SIDS, so I did a lot of research to find a great non-toxic mattress for Madeline. This one has worked out great! Some reviews mentioned a smell but I have quite a sensitive nose and did not notice any scent.
- Snuggle Me organic lounger: Madeline slept in this in bed with me for the first few weeks so I could just reach over and grab her to nurse. I later did more research and to be extra careful we no longer let her sleep in this unless we’re watching her, but it’s still super handy. It’s also nice to have a soft, comfortable place for her to hang out while awake!
And that’s a wrap! Thanks for reading this long post about our fourth trimester and newborn sleep journey. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
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