Having a new baby can be exciting and terrifying all at once. When I was pregnant with baby #1, I had no idea how many surprises I’d face. You’d think that when I was preparing for #2, I would have everything figured out, but each baby is so different and comes with his or her own adventures in motherhood.
See all of my Motherhood posts here.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone in trying to navigate this new season of life. My friend Susan was pregnant at the same time as me and our first babies are very close in age.
Susan is awesome. She tells you like it is, which is a great quality in a friend, especially one you can go to for talks about pregnancy and babies! Not to mention, I freakin’ love her honest and real sense of humor.
So, I asked her to share some of the things that surprised her about living with a newborn, in the hopes that it may help you feel more prepared for when you bring your bundle of joy home for the first time!
Before having my son I would have considered myself very “baby” knowledgeable. I’d grown up caring for babies, went to college studying babies, read tons of baby books…
…but when you have your own baby, you realize there is a lot to learn. Babies have all sorts of stuff going on with them in the first year.
Here are 10 things that might surprise you about your newborn.
1. Umbilical Cords
Umbilical cords are straight out gross! And they stink! Caden’s umbilical cords smelled so bad I took him to the doctor because I thought it was infected. It was disgusting. So, don’t be surprised if your babies cord smells. Not to mention towards the end it starts to dangle. Yuck!
- Suggestions: Try and keep it as dry as possible. The drier it is, the quicker it will fall off. It’s sometimes hard though when they keep peeing on it.
2. Baby Acne.
You bring baby home and can’t stop staring and touching your little one’s flawless skin and then out of the blue your newborn starts looking like a teenager with raging hormones. Their face gets covered in little zits and bumps. It can spread all over their face, neck, back of the neck, chest and even arms and legs. I’ll never forget my brother asking “what’s all over his face.” Awesome, right?
- Suggestions: Keep the areas dry from milk or saliva. Use sensitive soap such as this one with little or no fragrance. We used Ceptaphil and it helped a little bit but honestly they really just have to grow out of it. It’s from the hormones left in the baby from the mother. It’s not because they are dirty. So don’t try and scrub ‘em. 🙂
3. Baby Eczema.
Baby Eczema is pretty similar to baby acne and it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Baby Eczema is usually rough, dry skin and can appear on their face, neck and body. If you see rashes in their folds of their skin it’s most likely eczema.
- Suggestions: Aquaphor. It’s like a Vaseline type substance, some people says it helps; others say it didn’t do a thing. It can help the itching though that eczema might cause. If it’s a really bad case talk with your pediatrician because they might be able to prescribe something better.
4. Cradle Cap.
I like to call it Cradle Crap. It’s this yellowish flaky scalp that is all over the head and it can spread behind their ears, neck and even on their face. These poor kids can not catch a break their first couple months of life.
- Suggestions: Olive oil, put it on their scalp and let it soak in for about 15 minutes. Give them a bath and wash it out with baby shampoo. Then after the bath, take a soft brush and brush over the cradle crap. You may have to repeat a couple times but this worked best for us; way better then the store bought stuff that we tried.
5. Lumpy Nipple.
You guys, I thought my kid seriously had breast cancer at the age of 2 weeks! And he’s a boy! I picked him up one day and noticed he had a lump in one of his nipples. I of course googled it right away and found out it’s completely normal and is pretty common in newborns.
- Suggestions: Chalk it up to hormones, it’s normal and not a big deal and will go away on its own. But if you’re super concerned or if you notice it being other than just a bump go ahead and contact your pediatrician. But boys and girls both can get them.
6. Fingernail Growth.
Newborns’ fingernails grow so fast — I am assuming it’s because they are getting so many vitamins. Their little nails are like razor blades. They scratch themselves and everything around them, including mom! Cutting them the very first time is super nerve wrecking. The last thing you want to do is miss and cut a little itty bitty finger.
Suggestion: Cut their nails when the baby is sleeping or nursing and take your time.
7. Ear Wax.
I’m not sure why this surprised me since they are human but it seems that babies have a lot of ear wax. At least mine does.
- Suggestion: You can use a Q-tip but make sure you don’t go into the ear canal. A better bet is to use a warm washcloth to gently wash the ear and wait for the ear wax to fall out on its own.
8. Green Poop.
Yes, poop. You’ll find that after you have your baby, poop is all you’ll talk about. You’ll be ecstatic when your baby has their first “yellow” normal poop and probably tell your family and friends. I remember when Caden had his first poop I yelled down to my husband: “He pooped!” and we both started cheering. Yea, that really happened.
You can tell a lot about what is going on with your baby just in his or her diaper. Which brings me to the next surprise. Green, explosive poop!
All of a sudden your baby’s yellow seedy poop turns green, slimy and gross. The good news is it could be a couple things and none of them are too serious.
The first is probably your milk supply. I myself fudged up my supply by pumping as much as I could so I could have a night out stash. Well, it bit me in the butt because I then had an over-supply and he was getting way too much fore milk rather than the hind milk, which was causing the green poop.
It can also be caused by not allowing the baby to empty one breast before moving to the next.
Drool could also be the culprit or it could be something you ate or it just may be normal. But if it’s green and frothing looking … it’s most likely the baby is getting too much fore milk.
- Suggestions: Don’t go overboard on the pumping. If you do, like I did, you can fix the problem by block feeding (feeding one / same breast two feedings in a row and then switching) or offering one breast and making sure they finish the breast before moving to the next. A good way to see how much fore milk you have is to pump. If your milk is super clear, that is the fore milk. If it’s creamy and thick looking, that’s the hind milk. When you put it in the refrigerator, you can see it separating. The fore milk is on the bottom and the hind milk stays up at the top. The fore milk (low calorie) quenches the babies thirst while the hind milk (higher calorie) is what fills the baby up.
9. Growth Spurts.
Uh, the dreaded growth spurts. They always sneak up on you even when you know they are coming. Babies go through grow spurts at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months.
I’ve even heard a 4-month spurt is in there too. What I didn’t know and what may surprise you as well is these aren’t all physical. So even though your little one may not be gaining drastic weight they may be working on seeing patterns, rolling over or trying to sit up. So their little baby brains are going crazy which will affect their sleeping and eating habits.
- Suggestions: Power through them, camp out on the couch because you’ll be feeding a lot. and remember it’s not their fault and they aren’t trying to upset you, piss you off or make your life miserable. It won’t last forever even though it feels like an eternity sometimes. Try and find some help at these times if you’re frustrated because they can be extremely draining and overwhelming, especially if you’re not getting much sleep yourself.
You’ll feel a love that you never even knew you had. There aren’t any words to describe what you feel when your little one looks up at you and shows you that gummy grin or when they laugh for the first time. Nothing else seems to matter at that point and time. It’s the best feeling in the world.
- Suggestions: Soak up every minute and be thankful. It’s amazing, beautiful thing to have a child and every child is truly a blessing.