The First Weeks
THE FIRST WEEKS
There is something very special and exciting about being alone for the first time with your new baby, but it can also be a worrying time.
This is when you begin to realise that things will never be the same again. You are now responsible for a new life, which may seem a daunting task at first, but you will be surprised how quickly it all seems to fall into place.
In the early weeks there is a great deal to learn about the needs of your new baby. This section gives some basic information to help you get going; and, although today it might seem scary, in a matter of months you will be looking back and wondering what you were worrying about.
Coping with the first few weeks
The first few weeks with a new baby can be hard, but it lasts for a relatively short time and it does get better. Here are a few tips to help you get through this stressful and emotional time.
Following the birth of a new baby, many women feel that they don't have time to feed themselves. However, a nutritious diet, especially if you are breastfeeding, is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby. Keeping a good supply of nutritious snacks, like fruit, milk and wholemeal bread, which you can eat without cooking is very useful.
Tiredness is one of the biggest problems when coping with a new born baby. Making a few changes in when, how much and what you eat can help to increase your energy level.
Eating small portions of food frequently throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar level up. Try not to wait until you are so hungry that you sit down and devour a huge meal. Eating a big meal will make you feel tired again as it takes longer and requires more energy to digest.
Fatty foods should be kept to a minimum as they also take longer to digest, so try to keep your meals and snacks relatively lean. Include a combination of carbohydrates and protein in each meal as they both have high energy effects.
A simple meditation is a powerful way to relax and unwind during the day. It is calming because it connects your conscious mind to the emotions you are cut off from during the daily activities. Some people who are experienced in meditation find it equal to having a few hours sleep.
Perhaps try this beginner’s meditation:
Make yourself comfortable either by sitting with your legs crossed on the floor, on a couch or lying down.
Close your eyes.
Notice your breathing and observe how it gradually begins to slow down.
When your breath has regulated, focus your attention on the airflow out of your nostrils. Don't think about the air in your lungs, or how your diaphragm moves, just remain concentrated on the sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils.
At various points through the meditation, you may find it hard to concentrate. This is the critical moment of meditation. When your thoughts begin to wander and you get frustrated because you can't concentrate, let go of the criticism and just go back to focusing on your breathing.
Keep concentrating on your breathing and bring yourself back to it when you think about it.
Eventually you will feel your whole being relaxed.
If you are constantly busy, you are probably exhausted too. Try to set a few minutes aside to organise your schedule each morning. Prioritise the day's activities and decide what can be moved to tomorrow. This should help you proceed through the day in a more relaxed state.
Try to delegate some housework to friends and family. During these early weeks any extra help will be badly needed. Ask for someone to bring round dinner or just come over to do some washing up. Sometimes people with their own small babies can be the most help because they understand what it can feel like.
Feeling the Blues
The Baby Blues, the birth of a new baby is an emotional roller-coaster. The days and weeks immediately following the labour can be so overwhelming that you may find it difficult to deal with the extremes of feelings. Many new mums feel a combination of euphoria, wonder and awe, but equally anxiety, hopelessness and panic are usual.
Experts estimate that between fifty and ninety percent of all new mothers experience some form of mild depression right after the birth of their babies. There is no scientific evidence that can tell us exactly why many women suffer baby blues however it is thought to be a combination of psychological anguish, hormones, physical discomfort and exhaustion.
Living with your new baby can be an extremely daunting experience. The day-to-day realities of caring for your infant may feel anticlimactic or overwhelming. You may also feel lonely and trapped by being in the house constantly. Your routine and social situation will most certainly have changed, making everything seem very unfamiliar.
After your baby is born, the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in your body drop dramatically causing a deficit, which can then lead to the blues. As your hormone levels return to their normal, pre-pregnancy levels, you may find that you will begin to feel more yourself again.
Recovering physically from childbirth can take quite a while. After you have overcome the initial exhaustion of labour you may still have to heal from an episiotomy or haemorrhoids and adjust to breast-feeding, which can also add to the emotional dismay.
As a new mum you may have had countless sleepless nights. Staying up late at night to care for your new-born can often lead to sleep deprivation and increase any negative feelings.
Beating the blues
Try to give yourself as much time off as possible from housework and usual chores such as food shopping. Those things can wait or be done by friends and family. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Make your own needs a priority as much as possible. Eat well, rest as much as you can, and gradually resume your usual activities, even if it's just a walk or a long hot bath.
Sleep is crucial to your emotional and physical health, so try to get as much as you can. Don't worry about sleeping at the usual time; just try to nap whenever your baby naps.
Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after child birth. In some cases the baby blues simply do not go away or the depression can appear up to six months or even a year after the birth of the baby. If you are suffering from postnatal depression you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent and you may find that looking after yourself or the baby becomes too much. Some other signs of postnatal depression are anxiety, panic attacks, aches and pains, memory loss or inability to concentrate, prolonged crying, feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in the baby.
If you think that you are suffering from postnatal depression don’t struggle on alone. It is not a sign that you are a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness just as any other illness. Talk to someone you can trust such as your partner or a friend or ask your health visitor to call. It is also important to see your GP, if you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do this for you, or arrange for the GP to call. You may also find it helpful to contact the Association for Postnatal Illness, Meet-a-Mum Association (MAMA) or the National Childbirth Trust.
Only one or two mothers in 1000 will also develop Puerperal Psychosis after the birth of their baby, which requires hospital treatment. Usually a complete recovery is made, although this may take anything from a few weeks to a few months.
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You will need: At least six bottles and teats there are different kinds of bottles and teats. Ask your midwife, health visitor, or other mothers if you want advice on what to buy. You may be offered second-hand bottles. Make sure they're not scratched if they are, you won’t be able to sterilise them properly. Always buy new teats.
A supply of baby milk there are lots of different brands of baby milk (also called infant formula) marketed in different ways. Some claim to provide special advantages, or they are labelled first milk or second milk.
Most milks are powdered, but some are ready to feed, so you may well be confused about which milk to use. However, all baby milks marketed in the UK have to comply with rigorous legislation. They all have to contain certain levels of protein, carbohydrate, fats, vitamins and minerals, although different types of fats and carbohydrates may be used. Ideally, discuss the different brands with your midwife or health visitor and then make your own choice, based on this information. (Mothers who do not want to give their babies any animal products, may choose to give their baby soya-based infant formula. It contains soya instead of milk protein and plant sugars instead of lactose.)
Sometimes a hospital may also recommend a certain brand of milk if your baby was premature and you can’t manage to breastfeed.
If there is a strong history of allergies in your family, such as eczema, asthma or food allergies (known as atopic disease), and you think you won’t manage to breastfeed, seek advice as early as possible from your GP or health visitor. You may be referred to a paediatrician or a doctor who has a special interest in allergies. Infant formula based on cows milk is the better option but, if your baby has an allergic reaction to milk formula, it may be necessary to use non-dairy (soya-based) milk.
If your baby is unable to tolerate cows milk and has an allergic reaction to soya milk, another type of infant formula may be prescribed. Don't change to non-dairy baby milks without talking to your doctor or health visitor first. Unmodified goats milk or sheep's milk are not nutritionally suitable for babies under one year of age.
Milk is usually sold cheaply in clinics but can be cheaper still in large supermarkets, so it’s worth comparing prices.
Washing and sterilising
Your bottles and teats must be washed and sterilised until your baby is at least six months old to protect against infection.
Wash your baby's bottles and teats thoroughly using washing-up liquid. Usually, salt is no longer recommended for cleaning teats but, if you are advised to use salt, use as little as possible and make sure you rinse it off thoroughly. Make sure you get rid of every trace of milk, squirting water through the teats and using a bottle brush for the bottles. Always rinse in thoroughly in clean water.
There are a number of different ways of sterilising.
You can buy a complete sterilising unit in the shops or use a plastic bucket with a lid.
To make up the solution, follow the instructions that come with the sterilising tablets or liquid.
Immerse your baby's washed bottles, lids and teats in sterilising solution. Leave them in the solution for the time given in the instructions. If you're using a bucket, keep everything under the water by putting a plate on top. Make sure there aren't any air bubbles inside the bottles and don't add any other unsterilised things to the container later or you will have to start all over again.
When you take the bottles and teats out to make up your baby's feeds, wash your own hands first. Don't rinse the bottles and teats with tap water because you'll make them unsterile again. If you want to rinse off the sterilising solution, use boiled, cooled water.
Sterilising by boiling
Put washed equipment into a large pan with a lid. Make sure no air is trapped in the bottles.
Boil for at least ten minutes (teats need just three). Leave everything in the covered pan until needed.
Keep the pan out of the reach of older children.
Keep your pan only for sterilising this equipment.
Teats that are boiled regularly get sticky and need replacing regularly.
There are steam sterilisers specially designed for bottles, which are both quick and efficient.
Microwave steam units
These steam units are designed specifically for sterilising bottles in a microwave oven. If you intend to sterilise bottles in a microwave oven you must use one of these units, otherwise cold spots may occur and could leave part of the bottle unsterilised.
You can warm your baby's bottle before a feed by standing it in some hot water. Test the temperature of the milk by squirting some on to your wrist. Most babies prefer warm milk, others don't mind it cold.
Don't give a baby milk that has been kept warm for more than an hour before a feed germs breed in the warmth. It’s dangerous to use a microwave oven to warm a bottle of milk. The milk continues to heat for a time after you take it out of the microwave, although the outside of the bottle may feel cold.
Get yourself comfortable so that you can cuddle your baby close as you feed. Give your baby time and let him or her take as much milk as he or she wants. Some babies take some milk and drop off to sleep, then wake up for more. Be patient. At the end of a feed throw away any leftover milk.
As you feed, keep the bottle tilted so that the teat is always full of milk, otherwise your baby will be taking in air.
If the teat flattens while you're feeding, pull gently on the bottle to release the vacuum. If the teat blocks, start again with another sterile teat.
Teats come in all sorts of shapes and with different hole sizes and with variable flows. You may need to experiment to find the right teat and hole size for your baby. If the hole is too small, your baby will suck and suck without getting enough milk. If it is too big, your baby will get too much too quickly and probably spit or bring the feed back up. A small teat hole can be made larger with a red-hot needle if the teat is made of latex. If it is made of silicone you should not try to enlarge the hole it is more likely to tear, and bits could break off into your baby's mouth.
Never prop up a bottle and leave your baby to feed alone he or she may choke.
Do not add solids to bottle feeds. Your baby can not digest them and may choke.
If your baby swallows a lot of air while feeding and is then put down to sleep, the trapped wind may cause discomfort and your baby may cry. After a feed, it may help to hold your baby upright against your shoulder or propped forward on your lap. Then gently rub your baby’s back so that any trapped air can find its way up and out quite easily. Some babies are never troubled by wind; others seem to suffer discomfort after every feed.
Some babies sick up more milk than others during or just after a feed. (This is called posseting, regurgitation or gastric reflux.)
It’s not unusual for a baby to sick up quite a lot, but many mothers get upset or worried about this. If your baby is gaining weight there is usually nothing to worry about.
But if this happens often or if your baby is frequently or violently sick, appears to be in pain, or you’re worried for any other reason, see your health visitor or GP.
Cover your baby with a thick bib when feeding and have a cloth or paper towels handy to mop up any mess. (If you sprinkle a damp cloth with bicarbonate of soda this will remove the worst of the smell.) Check too that the hole in your baby’s teat is not too big. Sitting your baby upright in a baby chair after a feed can help, and the problem usually stops by the age of six months when your baby is taking more solids and drinking less milk. If your baby brings back a lot of milk, remember he or she is likely to be hungry again quite quickly. If the reflux is severe, your GP or health visitor may recommend a powder to thicken the milk.
Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep in long patches, some in short. Some soon sleep right through the night; some don’t for a long time. Your baby will have his or her own pattern of waking and sleeping, and it’s unlikely to be the same as other babies you know. Also, the pattern will change over time.
One thing is certain. In the early weeks your baby’s sleeping pattern is very unlikely to fit in with your need for sleep. Try to follow your baby’s needs. You’ll gradually get to know when sleep is needed. Don’t catch up on housework while your baby sleeps. Snatch sleep and rest whenever you can.
A baby who wants to sleep isn’t likely to be disturbed by household noise. So there’s no need to keep the house silent while your baby sleeps. In fact, it will help you if your child gets used to sleeping through a certain amount of noise.
Most parents want their children to learn to sleep for the longest period at night when they are sleeping and it helps if you encourage night-time sleeping right from the start by teaching your baby that the night-time is different from the daytime.
During night feeds:
Keep the lights down low.
Keep your voice low and don’t talk much.
Put your baby down as soon as you have fed and changed him or her.
Don’t change your baby if a change is not needed.
If your baby always falls asleep in your arms, at your breast, in your partner’s arms, or with someone by the cot, he or she might not easily take to settling alone. This might not matter to you and may be unavoidable in the early weeks, particularly with a breastfed baby. But, if you want your baby to get used to going off to sleep alone, it’s wise to start right from the beginning, by putting the baby down before he or she falls asleep whenever this is possible. However, you may need to wait until the baby is alert for longer or more frequent periods. Remember though, the longer you leave it, the more difficult it will become.
Once you’ve established a pattern you may want to try and shift things around a bit. For example, you may wake your baby for a feed just before you go to bed in the hope that you’ll get a good long stretch of sleep before he or she wakes again.
Reducing the risk of cot death
Sadly, we don’t know why some babies die suddenly and for no apparent reason from what is called cot death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). We do know that placing a baby to sleep on his or her back reduces the risk, and that exposing a baby to cigarette smoke or overheating a baby increases the risk.
All the advice that we now have for reducing the risk of cot death and other dangers such as suffocation is listed below.
Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
Cut out smoking in pregnancy fathers too!
Don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby.
Don’t let your baby get too hot and don’t overheat the room (see the right temperature, below).
Keep your baby’s head uncovered in bed place your baby in the feet to foot position.
If your baby is unwell, seek advice promptly.
A safe place to sleep
Your baby should always be put to sleep on his or her back unless there’s clear medical advice to do something different. Babies sleeping on their backs aren’t more likely to choke, and the risk of cot death is increased for babies sleeping on their fronts.
It is advisable to keep your baby in a cot beside you for the first six months.
Avoid plastic sheets or bumpers, ribbons and bits of string from mobiles. If they’re anywhere near your baby, he or she could get tangled in them.
Make sure there’s no gap between the cot mattress and the sides of the cot through which your baby’s body could slip. This is particularly important if you replace the mattress with a new or second hand one. If you do use a second hand mattress, make sure that it is firm, clean and dry, well aired and generally in good condition.
Remove any loose plastic covering from the mattress that could come off and smother your baby.
Don’t give a baby under the age of one a pillow.
Don’t let anyone fall asleep nursing a baby.
Don’t let your baby fall asleep propped up on a cushion on a sofa or armchair.
The right temperature
Small babies aren’t very good at controlling their own temperature.
It’s just as important to avoid them getting too hot, as it is to avoid getting chilled.
Overheating is known to be a factor in cot death.
If the room is warm enough for you to be comfortable wearing light clothing (16/20C), then it’s the right temperature for your baby.
Give your baby one light layer of clothing (or bedding) more than you’re wearing. If the room is hot for you, keep your baby’s clothes or bed covering light.
Don’t use duvets (quilts) until your baby is one year old. They get too hot.
Although it is fine to take your baby into your bed for comfort, a baby falling asleep under your duvet may get too hot.
Keep your baby’s head uncovered indoors (unless it’s very cold) because a baby needs to lose heat from his or her head and face.
Never use a hot water bottle or electric blanket. Babies have a delicate skin, which can scald or burn easily.
Ill or feverish babies don’t need any extra bedding. In fact they usually need less.
If you smoke, sharing a bed with your baby may increase the risk of cot death.
Remove hats and extra clothing as soon as you come indoors or enter a warm car, bus or train, even if it means waking your baby.
Babies shouldn’t be exposed to tobacco smoke, either before birth or afterwards. If you, or anyone else who looks after your baby, smokes then don’t smoke anywhere near the baby. It would be even better if everyone could make an effort to give up completely. Smoke is present in the air that is breathed out for a considerable time after smoking has taken place. Babies and young children who breathe in cigarette smoke are more likely to get coughs, asthma attacks, and chest and ear infections.
Current research has found that there is absolutely no risk of cot death from toxic gases from fire-retardant materials found in some cot mattresses.
Following the advice given above will help reduce the risk of cot death.
Vitamin K is needed in our blood to make it clot properly and prevent continuous bleeding. Some new-born babies however have too little, a condition called haemorrhagic disease of the new-born', which although rare, can cause them to bleed dangerously. To reduce the risk, you should be offered vitamin K, which will be given to your baby, either by mouth or by injection. Your doctor or midwife will be able to explain these options and help you choose the method you prefer.
Many people believe if a baby cries, there must be a reason and you, the parent, should be able to do something about it. However all babies cry, and some cry a lot. Sometimes you’ll know the reason. Often you’ll try everything to stop it change nappies, feed, rock, play and yet nothing seems to work. Here are some things you can try:
Let your baby suckle at your breast.
Hold your baby close, rocking, swaying, talking, and singing. Put your baby in a sling, held close against you. Move gently about, sway, and dance.
Rock your baby backwards and forwards in the pram, or go out for a walk or a drive. Quite a lot of babies sleep in cars and even if your baby wakes up again the minute you stop, you’ve at least had a break.
Find things to look at or listen to music on the radio or a tape, a rattle, a mobile above the cot.
If your baby is bottle fed you can give him or her a dummy, sterilised for small babies, never sweetened. Some babies find their thumb instead. Later, some will use a bit of cloth as a comforter; you can wash this as often as you need.
Stroke your baby firmly and rhythmically holding him or her against you or lying face downwards on your lap. Or undress your baby and massage with baby oil, gently and firmly. Talk soothingly as you do it. Make sure the room is warm enough. Some clinics run courses to teach mothers baby massage ask your midwife or health visitor about this.
Give your baby a warm bath. This calms some babies instantly, but makes others cry even more. Like everything else, it might be worth a try.
Quietly put your baby down after a feed and leave the room for a few minutes. Sometimes all the rocking and singing succeeds only in keeping your baby awake.
This difficult time won’t last forever. Your baby will gradually start to take more interest in the things around him or her and the miserable, frustrated crying will almost certainly stop.
Never shake your baby. Shaking makes a baby’s or infants head move violently. It causes bleeding and can damage the brain. Sometimes you will feel very tired and even desperate. You might feel that you are losing control and have an urge to shake your baby. But don’t, this is dangerous. Put your baby down safely in the cot or pram and calm yourself; don’t be angry with your baby.
Many babies have particular times in the day when they cry and cry and are difficult to comfort. Early evening is the usual bad patch. This is hard on you since it’s probably the time when you are most tired and least able to cope.
Crying like this can be due to colic. Everybody agrees that colic exists, but there’s disagreement about what causes it or even if there is always a cause. Some doctors say that it’s a kind of stomach cramp, and it does seem to cause the kind of crying that might go with waves of stomach pain very miserable and distressed, stopping for a moment or two, then starting up again.
The crying can go on for some hours and there may be little you can do except try to comfort your baby and wait for the crying to pass. However, the following tips may help.
Avoid over-stimulating your baby. Research has found that gentle soothing is more effective than holding or carrying.
If you bottle feed your baby talk to your doctor or health visitor about changing your usual milk formula to hypoallergenic formula milk for a week, to see if this helps.
If you’re breastfeeding, it may be that something in your diet is upsetting your baby. When your baby seems colicky and uncomfortable, it may be worth looking back over what you’ve eaten in the last 24 hours. Make a note and discuss it with your health visitor, who may advise cutting out some foods for a while. Sometimes colic can also be a sign of too much fore milk. If your baby wakes up and cries up to half an hour following a breastfeed, try putting him or her back on to the breast he or she last fed from.
Coping with a colicky baby is extremely stressful. It may be best to tell yourself that there’s nothing very much you can do. You just need to hang on as best you can until this part of your baby’s life is over, which will certainly be only a few weeks. Just knowing that you’re not causing the crying, and you can’t do much to prevent it, may make it easier for you to bear. Try to take some time out for yourself whenever you can maybe just handing over to someone else so that you can have a long, hot soak in the bath in the evening.
Make sure that you get a decent meal every day to keep up your energy. If a crying baby occupies all your evening, then make lunch your main meal.
If the strain gets too much:
There may well be times when you’re so tired you feel desperate, angry and can’t take any more. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
Try to share the crying times. Think about handing your baby over to someone else for an hour. Nobody can cope alone with a constantly crying baby. You need someone who’ll give you a break, at least occasionally, to calm down and get some rest.
Think about putting your baby down in the cot or pram and going away for a while. Make sure your baby is safe, close the door, go into another room, and do what you can to calm yourself down. Set a time limit say, ten minutes then go back.
Ask your health visitor if there is any local support for parents of crying babies. Some areas run a telephone helpline. An organisation called CRY-SIS has branches in many areas and offers support through mothers who have had crying babies themselves.
Some parents find giving their baby colic drops or gripe water helps. Others find these remedies are ineffective.
Try massaging your baby’s tummy in a clockwise direction with one drop of pure lavender oil to 10 mls of oil such as baby, soya or olive oil.
A drop of lavender oil placed on a cotton wool ball on a warm radiator or in a vaporiser may also soothe your baby.
Washing and Bathing
Washing Wash your baby’s face, neck, hands and bottom carefully every day. This is often called topping and tailing. Choose a time when your baby is awake and contented and make sure the room is warm. Organise everything you need in advance a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes.
Hold your baby on your knee, or lie your baby on a changing mat, and take off all your baby’s clothes except for a vest and nappy. Then wrap your baby in the towel.
Dip the cotton wool in the water (not too much) and wipe gently around your baby’s eyes from the nose outward, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye.
Using a fresh piece of cotton wool, clean around your baby’s ears, but don’t clean inside them.
Wash the rest of your baby’s face, neck and hands in the same way and dry them gently with the towel.
Now change your baby’s nappy.
In the first ten days you should also clean around your baby’s navel each day. Your midwife will show you how.
Bathing two or three times a week is quite enough, but you can do it daily if your baby enjoys it.
Don’t bath your baby straight after a feed or when your baby is hungry or tired. Make sure the room is warm.
Have everything you need at hand a baby bath or washing-up bowl filled with warm water, two towels (in case of accidents!), baby bath liquid (but avoid this if your baby has particularly dry skin) or baby soap, a clean nappy, clean clothes and cotton wool.
Make sure the water is warm, not hot; check it with your wrist or elbow.
Hold your baby on your knee and follow the instructions given above for cleaning his or her face.
Wash your baby’s hair with baby soap or liquid, then rinse carefully, supporting your baby over the bowl. Dry gently.
Now remove your baby’s nappy, wiping away any mess. If you’re using baby soap, soap your baby all over (avoiding his or her face) while still on your knee, keeping a firm grip while you do so.
Lower your baby gently into the bowl using one hand to hold your baby’s upper arm and support his or her head and shoulders; keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Use the other hand to gently swish the water over your baby without splashing. Never leave your baby alone in the bath; not even for a second.
Lift your baby out and pat dry, paying special attention to the creases. You may want to use this time to massage oil into your baby’s skin. Many babies love this and it may help your baby relax and sleep. Lay your baby on a towel on the floor as both the baby and your hands might be a bit slippery.
If your baby seems frightened of bathing and cries, you could try bathing together, but make sure the water is not too hot. It’s easier if someone else holds your baby while you get in and out.
Taking your Baby Out
Walking it may be easiest to take a tiny baby in a sling, but if you use a buggy make sure your baby can lie down with his or her back flat. In cold weather make sure your baby is wrapped up warm in cold weather because babies chill very easily. Take the extra clothing off when you get into a warm place so that your baby doesn’t then overheat, even if he or she is asleep.
In hot weather
Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the sun, as their skin is thinner and they may not be able to produce enough pigment called melanin to protect them from sunburn. Children with fair or red hair, blue eyes and freckles are especially at risk, as the paler the skin, the less melanin is produced, and the more likely the child is to get burnt in the sun. Keep babies under six months out of the sun altogether. Older children should always be protected, either by covering them up or with a high protection sunscreen (sun protection factor 15+). Babies and children’s skin burns easily, even in sun which wouldn’t affect your own skin.
In a car
It’s illegal for anyone to hold a baby while sitting in the front seat of a car. The only safe way for your baby to travel in a car is in a properly secured, backward-facing, baby seat, or in a carrycot (not a Moses basket) with the cover on and secured with special straps.
If you have a car with air bags in the front your baby should not travel in the front seat (even facing backwards) because of the danger of suffocation if the bag inflates.
Some areas have special loan schemes to enable you to borrow a suitable baby seat when you and your baby first return from hospital. Ask your midwife or health visitor.
Twins or More
Parents with only one child often think that having two together is much the same sort of experience, but doubled. If you have twins, you’ll know differently. Caring for twins, or more, is very different from caring for two of different ages. There’s certainly a lot more work, and often you need to find different ways of doing things.
You need as much support as you can get. If you’ve more than two babies you may be able to get a home help from your local council or in Northern Ireland from your local Health and Social Services Trust. Find out what their policy is.
A few hours of help with housework a week could make a big difference. If your council doesn’t provide home help, ask your health visitor for any suggestions. The Multiple Births Foundation also offers professional support and a range of direct services to families of twins and other multiple births.
You may get a lot of help from family and friends, but it also helps to be in contact with other parents of twins. The Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) offers a lot of helpful information, including information about local Twins Clubs. Through these clubs you can meet other parents whose experiences are like yours, and get support and practical advice. Often you can get second-hand equipment too, such as twin prams and buggies.
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