Many mums ask me “Why does my newborn baby sleep so well on me, but when we put her down in the bassinet (that we so lovingly prepared for her during our pregnancy), she wakes and screams?”
The answer is it’s not your fault.
It’s completely normal for a baby to be born with a set of just a few very finely tuned instincts. They are all there for survival.
Of course there is the ability to find their way to the breast….always amazing to see. Then there is the suck reflex…they sure know how to do that!
All new babies will wake more frequently and do more feeding in their mother’s sleeping hours because, amazingly, they know you are guaranteed to be home at this point to go to bed.
Finally, newborns feel you absence acutely and will “call out” to you if they are left alone. To be left alone at this point in their lives, born so prematurely, halfway through their gestational period (look up “nine months in and nine months out”); they know that this means real danger. Danger from the cold, danger from hunger, but mainly acute and immediate danger from a passing predator…think saber-toothed tiger!
My message to all new mums and dads is to throw away those books, listen to YOUR instincts, go to your “calling” baby, pick her up, cuddle her, feed her, and soothe her back to sleep. To do this is to rid her body of all the stress hormones which flood in when she wakes suddenly and finds herself alone. The stress hormones are good hormones in small doses as they keep her alive and alert for danger, but to ignore her calls is to allow the stress hormones to dominate in her blood stream and lead to further distress.
If you are having any problems with breastfeeding your newborn and beyond, or maybe you’d like to learn more about this fascinating subject as you have one of your own on the way, why don’t you come and see me in my Breastfeeding Clinic on Unley Road, Unley, or talk to me about a home visit.
Marianne Dugmore, Lactation Consultant