by Don Bower
All babies are unique, of course, so check with your family doctor if your baby seems to be developing in ways significantly different from those described below.
The first month of your baby's life is full of many changes. But the baby isn't the only one to experience change. Here is a word to you parents, whose lives will take on new meanings very quickly.
Fathers often feel they have very little part in their new baby's life, but they can and should! Dad, if you wait too long to begin holding and caring for your child, he may react to you as though you were a stranger. So get acquainted with him now! He isn't nearly as fragile as you think! The baby's mother will really appreciate your help. Carrying a baby for nine months and then delivering the child is hard on a woman's body. These first few weeks will be very tiring for her, and your help and support are important. Remember, this bundle of joy is just as much your responsibility as hers!
Mom, are you slightly depressed? Do you cry easily? Don't despair! Your reaction is common and is called "baby blues." Not all mothers suffer from this, but many do. It is temporary, and you will likely recover quickly! If not, talk with your doctor. Some women take longer than others to adjust to the new life-physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually.
As you start to feel less tired and sore, you can begin exercising. Most women need some abdominal exercises to tighten stretched stomach muscles. If you gained excess weight during pregnancy, now is the time to start losing those pounds before they multiply. If you are breastfeeding, don't lose more than about one pound per month.
During childbirth education classes, you may have learned exercises to help keep you in shape. Continue to do these now. Sit-ups (with bent knees), leg raises and crunches all help the hard-to-exercise stomach muscles. Go easy if you have back problems.
After nine months of pregnancy your body needs gentle, but continual, exercise. Try to set aside a time every day to run through your routine. This might also be a good time to relax and be by yourself for a few minutes. Joining a class of new mothers may help you develop a schedule and choose the best exercise for you.
Don't expect immediate results. It may take several months to get your figure back. Stick with it-the results will show soon!
The first month of life is called the neonatal period. During this time your baby will probably have reddish, wrinkled skin and tightly curled hands. He may have an elongated or bumpy head, due to coming through the birth canal during delivery (unless you had a C-section).
Expect Your Baby to:
Baby's hearing is well developed at this point; he will already recognize Mom's voice!
His sight is not as well developed. He can distinguish light from dark, and he may be able to focus on an object about 7 inches away. For the first two weeks or so, your baby will see only in black and white. Then he will begin seeing bright colors like red and yellow.
Babies especially enjoy looking at other faces, so talk and sing face-to-face. Your baby can use only one eye at a time right now, so don't be surprised if his eyes cross. This is normal and will likely correct itself in time.
His reflexes are developing also. Try the following: Touch your fingertip lightly to your baby's cheek. He will turn his head in that direction and will probably try to get your finger into his mouth and then suck on it. This is called the sucking reflex.
Now, put your finger in his palm. Did his fingers close tightly around it? Your baby will also react to loud noises or to a prick on the bottom of his feet.