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The rollercoaster of life with a 3-6 week old!
Most of my calls for help come from parents with a 3 to 5 week old. Here are some things I've gathered over the years. Warning, it's a long one!
The first couple of weeks after having a baby are a bit of a whirlwind. You're surprisingly busy with check ups and weigh ins, cards and presents arriving, visitors galore (or at the moment, Skype and zoom calls galore!) figuring out nappy changes, working out how the heck to do up all the poppers on a baby gro at 3am...
You're still very much in the immediate recovery from birth phase and trying to take care of yourself. Partners are usually off work. People are offering lots of help, cooking and shopping and the like.
It seems that this first two weeks or so society 'allows' us to indulge in having a new baby.
Week 3 comes and things start to change.
Often, partners go back to work around this time. And the first few days are usually ok because we've been gearing up for it and not expecting too much of ourselves, but it gives our brain the message that 'we should be able to cope on our own by now' which frankly, couldn't be further from the truth.
We also try and take on more by ourselves at night so that they can sleep because they're working in the morning, so you're actually getting even more of the pressure. And if they do help at night you often feel (misplaced!) guilt about it.
So there we are with this message that 'we should be able to cope now' ticking along in our brains. Alongside this comes the massive crash of ...well I don't like to call it the novelty wearing off, but certainly the high that you run on after having them seems to take a big dump, and the reality of new life sets in. This is life now, indefinitely, how the heck am I actually meant to eat/sleep/use the loo/stay sane/get out the house/RAISE ANOTHER HUMAN and do it really well, pretty much all on my own? And I'm meant to be feeling happy! Everyone else is happy aren't they?
The midwives have discharged you by now, so even though there is still support out there, that feeling of easily accessible friendly faces has suddenly disappeared.
Your baby starts to change. They start to wake up to the world a little more. And whilst it's nice to see them spending more time alert, it does bring it's own issues. Am I meant to be playing with them? What am I supposed to do? Are his eyes meant to look in opposite directions?? Does he have wind? Am I not winding him properly?
This alertness brings with it some interesting changes.
Firstly, they do not like being put down. Not one bit. You can understand it from their perspective, they've spent all this time snuggled up inside you with constant warmth and movement, being put down is the opposite to that. Plus their survival instinct says 'don't put me down I'll get eaten by a bear'.
But what this means is, you have a feed, they pop off the boob, you put them down all milk drunk and within minutes they wake up again, and, because they're a new baby, they look for the boob for help.
It's normal! But it feels like something is wrong. You wonder if maybe they're not getting enough milk??
Look up the 4th trimester. Trust me.
Another issue these new alert spells bring with them is tiredness. When they're awake they're absolutely bombarded with sights, smells, noises, sensations, and inevitably an adult in their face wanting to interact with them because they're so flipping cute. Its hugely overwhelming for them and it makes them crankyyy. So what do they want? Boob again! They can shut down and relax there. But it leaves you wondering again, are they getting enough milk? Alongside a healthy dose of 'am I making a rod for my own back by feeding and cuddling them so much?' No, you're not. It's normal. Its healthy. It's just what they need. You're wonderful.
The good news is, smiles are now not too far away! And there is something about those first smiles that just keeps you going. It's like magic.
Cluster feeding starts to rear its head at this point. Your partner gets in from work and you think 'Yes! Finally I can hand him over' but the baby has other ideas and wants to spend the entire evening either on the boob or shouting at it. It's hard to figure out what's happening and people start talking about 'colic' and you wonder if you should buy some colic drops and accept your baby is a 'crier'. Your evenings are spent trying to comfort this distressed baby, which is heart wrenching, and if you do put them to the breast you feel like there isnt any milk there and your baby is not as relaxed during feeds.
You also have what feels like insane PMS at this time of the day too. Weepy and overwhelmed. The bed dread sets in. You wonder if you'll ever get time with your partner again.
Eventually, you discover from someone that babies want to spend the whole evening swapping from boob to boob, that it's normal. That soft breasts in an evening don't mean empty breasts, that it's ok to use the boob to comfort them. That actually, whilst they're still fractious, there is a lot less crying when you let them feed more. You wonder whether you ever needed the colic drops. (Studies suggest they don't work, interestingly)
The first real growth spurt arrives! And it's a biggy! All of a sudden your baby just will not be off the breast for even a minute. You have several days of what feels like constant feeding, you're exhausted beyond belief, you feel like it's all falling apart and breastfeeding isnt working for you and your baby. That you're someone who can't produce enough milk. Your breasts feel empty and your baby is miserable. You may resent the baby. You may resent breastfeeding. But if you manage to push through those awful days you discover that it calms back down again just as quickly.
Why are you craving chocolate so very, very much! Shouldn't I be eating healthily for my milk? You know what? Yeah, we should all be eating healthily! But realistically do we? Not all the time no. Your milk will still be incredible even if you're ramming down slabs of cadbury. No, you won't make chocolate milk.
But your friend had to cut out dairy because their baby was so unsettled, maybe it's your chocolate consumption upsetting your baby!
Nah, dairy is fine for the very vast majority of babies unless they have an actual allergy which isn't as common as you think. Chomp away.
Your baby is suddenly NOISY. Grunting, groaning, straining, wriggly... even when they're asleep at night you can't sleep because you're watching them and thinking...are you awake? Do you need a feed? Surely you must be in pain with all that noise. It looks so uncomfortable! But they seem to be sleeping through it... especially around 4am onward when it's at its worst.
Someone mentions reflux and silent reflux. They suggest you raise the cot at one end. Holding them upright for 20 minutes after a feed. It doesn't seem to help. Spoiler alert, it's because this behaviour is normal. It's a pain in the bum, but it's normal. Their digestion is really immature at this point, it does get better.
You still haven't got the hang of latching and you're wondering if you're meant to be feeding in different positions. You've seen women in cafes feeding making it look as easy as breathing, and here you are still needing 18 hands, 7 pillows, 3 pints of water and toe curling pain. You speak to the gp because you've heard pain isn't normal. They prescribe you thrush treatment. A word of warning. It almost always turns out not to be thrush. It's extremely common to still be figuring out how to latch at this point and the pain is usually coming from that. Please reach out for experienced support with latching before considering medications.
You've never eaten so much in your life, aren't we meant to be getting back in our jeans?? (No. )
Around this age, we feel like we should at least be beginning to have our 'sh1t' together. We should be understanding our baby's different cries, we should know how to soothe them. We shouldn't be feeding all the time. We shouldn't be in pain. They should be sleeping in the moses basket or cot, not in our arms or on our breast. That we should start to be in some sort of a routine by now. But none of this is happening.
You. Are. Normal.
Up and down the country parents with 3 to 5 week olds feel like they're drowning. They can't figure out what's going on or how to sort it. Whether they're doing the right or wrong thing.
The answer, for your baby at least, is snuggle up and put them on the boob. And if they're not on the boob they want cuddling or rocking and that's ok! Get snacks. Watch Netflix. Trust your bodies that they know what they're doing. And if feeding hurts, get help. Even if doesn't, reach out.
Cut yourself some slack. You ARE doing brilliantly.
3-6 weeks sucks. Big time. But it gets so, so much better. I promise. Reach out x
Help! Someone swapped my four month old for a different baby!
If you’re reading this, you may well have a 15-19 week old and be feeling a little...frazzled shall we say? It’s a rough spot for a lot of people, that’s for sure. Not everyone of course, babies are quite individual by this age!
I thought I’d share some thoughts on what can happen with a 4 month old, because it’s a time that a lot of people reach out for my help.
You got to the 12/13 ish week mark and, just as people had said, things were actually a little brighter for a lot of you. The intense newborn period calms down, you start to feel a little more confident that you may sort of know what you’re doing after all. You’re into the swing of things shall we say. That’s not to say it’s easy, oh no no no, it’s still extremely full on, but often in a more manageable way. You’re able to leave the house a little bit more easily, the baby is generally happy and smiley and a bit more predictable, and feeding is usually, on the whole, a relaxed experience that you now actually look forward to (so you can sit down and watch netflix/scroll through your phone). Best of all, you may even be getting some sleep! Your baby may be more likely to sleep in spells in whatever sleeping place you have for them, and feed frequency *may* have calmed down a little. You might be feeling a lot more refreshed than you were, perhaps considering having 7 more babies because yours is so fantastic.
You potter along like this for a few weeks and the BOOM! It seems like someone swaps your baby for a different one.
Let’s look at some of the...interesting behaviours that show up around this time.
It often feels at this age like you can’t do much to please them, or if you can, it’s not for very long. It's like they’re bordering on the edge of grumpy fairly continuously.
When you feed them they don’t just snuggle down, glug some milk and fall asleep anymore - they latch on, latch off, latch on, latch off, look around for a while, cry because they want to latch back on, latch on, cry because the milk isn’t coming fast enough so start to pinch, squeeze and tug at the breast, the milk flows, they pop off to look at the dog, then cry because your milk squirted them in the face. They latch back on, take a bit, pop off and grin at you for a while. You figure they’re done so put your boob away, they cry, you get it back out, they take three sucks and look at the dog again. You feel like they’re taking much less milk than usual and start to wonder at what point you should worry. Surely they won’t starve themselves?
No, they won’t. As always, go with it. Offer frequently and they’ll take what they need. They've just got serious FOMO.
Naps, which were starting to become something that may actually be working, are now a no go area. Those babies that were happy to be put down asleep may start to want contact naps again. The usual techniques for getting them off to sleep may stop working. You thought you had their sleep cues/nap patterns figured out but now they seem like they’re tired but fight going to sleep… Are they tired or aren’t they? They’re suddenly sleeping a lot less and they’re grouchy so they must be tired surely? So you end up spending the day trying to cajole them into sleeping. If you do get them off, it doesn’t last long before ‘ping’ their eyes are open.
It’s ok. This is hard, but normal.
Night time sleep is no better. Frequent and very frequent night waking rears its ugly head. The first few days you kinda cope ok because it’s like another growth spurt, but when it carries on for longer you start to get really exhausted. You reach out to a friend/family member/ facebook group and get told.. ‘4 month sleep regression, it’s a killer’ and get regaled with people’s tales of sleep regressions that went on for months and months. Nothing quite so helpful as hearing ‘We still wake every 40 minutes and she’s 33.7 months now’
It can actually make you feel really quite low, and now that your baby isn’t a newborn, people don’t have the same sympathy about exhaustion.
‘Helpful’ family members may start telling you to sleep train (Don’t, it’s horrible for all involved and rarely sorts the issue. Feeding them back to sleep is the quickest, easiest way and doesn’t cause any long term habits or problems). Health professionals may tell you it’s time to start baby rice to help fill them up before bed, which you feel surprised about because you’d been told that you shouldn't start solids until 6 months. (Yes, you’re right. No solids until around 6 months, and research shows starting solid foods doesn’t make them sleep longer anyway) Your neighbour tells you that perhaps the quality of your milk isn’t good, and formula might help. (Nah, the quality of your milk is just fine, and research shows formula doesn’t make them sleep longer anyway)
You’re beyond exhausted now and not finding any solution you feel comfortable with. The woman in the queue at the post office tells you to ‘enjoy every moment, it goes so fast’ and while you know she’s right, you do want to swear at her a bit.
Look, it does pass, but yes it really does suck and I’m sorry. Try and call in any favours you’re owed, get in laws to cook for you, get a cleaner if you can. Do whatever you can to make life as easy as possible, and that includes at night. This is often the point people start to safely bedshare...
In an evening you may well have a battle with yourself how to use that 1 to 2 hours where the baby might actually settle...do you get some sleep too? Or do you spend some desperately needed me time?
Some of you might have been leaving the baby with your partner and a bottle up to this point, and you may find this new unpredictable baby doesn’t want a bottle anymore. This can feel extremely difficult and make you feel quite resentful at times. (I hear you. I was you)
They may also become fussy about which breast they want. For some it may simply be a preference, for others they may outright refuse one side leaving you feeling uncomfortably full and worried about blockages. Try feeding them from the less preferred side when they’re asleep.
It’s a really weird age and the days are very long. They are developing SO fast and it's almost too much for them to handle. They want a lot of entertainment and can’t really do any of it themselves yet, the frustration is palpable. It feels like they're constantly a bit hungry and a bit tired but won't do anything about it. You may start to wonder if they're teething because they spend a lot of time jamming their hands in their mouth.
It can feel like your boobs have lost their magic powers. Why don't they cure everything anymore? Why is the baby fighting and yelling at them? You might question your milk supply even. Strange feeding behaviours and rejecting the breast is common at this age.
Above all, it can really knock your confidence.
Please know you're not alone, and you are doing brilliantly. This stage is hard, wonderful but hard. You are still everything your baby needs even though it may not feel like it.
It's a time of rapid growth and development and it takes a lot out of you both, but it's actually a huge leap forward.
You're going to get through this stage, just as you have the others. You got this.
Why does my toddler feed all the time?
Ever feel like your toddler feeds more than a newborn? Ever feel like they have more breastfeeds than food? Like you may as well be a giant boob with legs? Like you'll never sleep soundly again?
You're not the only one!
Breastfeeding a toddler is often not like you expect it to be, especially as our society is so confused about what's normal and what's not. We're led to believe that babies should be off the boob by a year, and often long before then.
So if they are still breastfeeding after their first birthday you can find yourself in a position where you might get conflicting information.
So what is right? And what is normal?
The World Health Organisation recommend breastfeeding for the first 2 years and beyond, so if you are breastfeeding a toddler Well. Done. You. You are awesome and you're doing a fantastic thing in a society that tries to tell you you're not. I see you, and I'm proud of you. Truly.
But, just because its right, doesn't mean it's easy. Having got so far down the line with breastfeeding we often think things will be easier than in the early days, and they are, but different challenges crop up.
For example, twiddling. The delightful habit where they feed on one side and like to fiddle with the other nipple. It's rare to find a parent that can tolerate this as it feels really annoying to a lot of us! Is it ok to try and stop it?
Sure. There are you two of you in this relationship. Twiddling is there for a reason, it's a great stimulation technique for getting more milk so if you can cope with it then do, but for a lot of us it's a deal breaker, so try and give them something for that other hand to fiddle with instead. (Knitted or novelty boobs sometimes work well!)
Another common theme among breastfeeding toddlers is that it can feel like they're obsessed with the boob. Every time you sit down they want to feed, tugging at your top, melting down if you say no.
I remember being at the park once and watching a toddler come back to her mum every few minutes for a 20 second breastfeed. Whilst this was no doubt an intense time of parenting for that mum, for the toddler it was just what she needed.
She was checking her mum was there, that they were still connected, that she was safe, and taking a moment to calm down. (Plus quench her thirst!) She hadn't figured out how to do these things without the aid of a breastfeed yet, and that's ok!! It will come!
Ever got to the end of the day and thought to yourself 'all she's eaten today is a quarter of a crust of toast off the floor, licked a raisin, snuck some dog food out of Bruno's bowl, and had 70000 breastfeeds? How is she surviving on this? Well, because they can! Toddlers aren't stupid, far from it, they're not going to starve themselves. Just keep offering healthy, balanced meals alongside the rest of the family and all will be fine in the end. Maybe not this week, or this month, but eventually. Some toddlers pick for a long time, others go through a brief fussy phase. Will stopping breastfeeding mean they eat more solids? No. Nope. Nuh uh. And it means you will have taken away the most nutritious part of their diet, so if you're happy to carry on breastfeeding please do!
The nights are often the hardest part for a lot of parents. Getting up for really frequent breastfeeds, or not being able to sleep without a nipple in their mouth can be soul destroying. It can feel like you're the only one, with all these other, much younger babies sleeping so much better. You can feel cheated that you're doing the best by your baby and not getting the reward you deserve. It's at this point that most of us question whether we should do some sort of sleep training or controlled crying. I hear you. I've felt that desperation myself. No one can truly understand it unless they've been there. But there are other ways that's don't involve crying so please explore those and talk to people who can help you. When an older baby or child is so demanding at night it can feel manipulative in a way that it doesn't when they're young, but I promise they're still not doing it maliciously, they need help and comfort at night and they havent figured it out by themselves yet. They will, and there are ways to help, but crying isn't one of them.
You may well be facing criticism from family, friends, or even health professionals about feeding an older child. Please remember they usually mean well, and it comes from a lack of education (yes, even in health professionals sadly) you ARE doing the right thing. If you and your child are both happy carrying on then carry on!
At this time of health crisis you really are doing a fantastic thing, your body creates antibodies to viruses around you, so now is not the time to stop breastfeeding if at all possible.
Even if being stuck at home means your toddler takes advantage of the open bar!! (Hands up if you're on breastfeed number 342 already today?)
Don't doubt yourself. I know its intense, and frustrating, and overwhelming, but I promise all is well. And no, your nipples won't end up as bungee cables no matter how many back flips your toddler does x
Why will my baby take a bottle after a breastfeed? Are they not getting enough from me?
This is a question that is asked a lot.
It's very common for babies to be fussy and unsettled at times, and even quite often in some cases.
But it may be unnerving for parents who become concerned that perhaps the baby isn't getting enough milk.
So a bottle is given to 'test' this theory and the baby wolfs it down and then crashes to sleep. Parents are left feeling utterly deflated that the they were letting their baby go hungry.
So why is it that those of us in the world of lactation say that drinking a bottle after a breastfeed isn't neccessarily sign that the baby was hungry?
To understand fully we need to look at two things, firstly normal behaviour at the breast, and secondly, normal response to a bottle.
Society would have us believe that babies latch onto the breast, feed and then settle. But that's not actually the case. There is usually quite a lot of fussing and bashing while they figure out where they're latching, then lots of quick sucks and tugging and hitting while they encourage your milk to let down. Then there is likely a period of calmer feeding while they have a good quantity of milk (look and listen for swallowing!) and then they may start to qet squirmy, tugging, gumming and hitting again as the flow slows down. This is all VERY normal behaviour.
Keep in mind in an evening, when most parents find their supply is running slower, and during growth spurts, babies will often be a lot more fussy at the breast, and that's ok too! Its stimulation behaviour to get the milk flowing. And the more milk that's removed, the more milk is replaced.
Babies have tiny tummies, digest breastmilk quickly, and use the breast for plenty of reasons other than food, so it's also very common for babies to decide that actually they would quite like to go back to the breast please, even though they had appeared to have finished not long before. Again, normal. (I didn't say easy, I said normal!)
Looking at all of the above, we can completely understand why parents may assume their baby is unhappy or not getting enough. Usually once they've had the information about it all they feel empowered to carry on the way they are.
But, if they don't have that information, they may carry on and give that bottle. So why would the baby take it?
Well, firstly, because babies love to suck. Its soothing and comforting and releases pain relieving hormones and means they are next to your body and in your arms. They're clever little creatures.
Plus, it's pretty easy to get a bottle teat into a baby's mouth, they barely need to open at all compared to latching at the breast.
But why once the teat is in do they drink? Well, sucking is a reflex that happens if something touches the back of the roof of the baby's mouth. So they can't actually help themselves.
When a baby feeds at the breast, sucking is only a part of it, the tongue compressing the breast against the roof of the mouth in a wave like motion moves the milk. But the feeding action with a bottle is very different. Even gentle sucks will cause milk to flow, and we've already seen that babies can't help but suck the teat, so end up with a mouth full of milk whether they want it or not. So they swallow, because once again it's a reflex in babies.
They end up sucking and swallowing until they're so exhausted that they stop.
By this point they're full and exhausted so their body shuts down to work on digesting the heavy meal.
So a baby will take a bottle because of their reflexes, not necessarily because they need it.
If they're doing plenty of wee and poo, and gaining weight as expected, there's no need to offer a bottle (unless you choose to). If you're concerned about your baby and feeding in any way get some skilled support to fully assess and reassure you that all is well. But try and trust your baby and trust your body, they know what they're doing x
I don't want sex
I frequently hear and see mums talking about not wanting to have sex, maybe that they feel uncomfortable at the thought, or sometimes even repulsed. That’s normal. So, so normal. Often your hormones are supressing ovulation, so the physical drive to have sex simply isn’t there. Then add on top the long term crippling exhaustion, mood swings, possible pain from the birth still, a baby being on your breast or in your arms all day, maybe difficulties with feeding, not even managing a pee alone… you don’t even get time to be ‘you’ at the moment, let alone be a sexual partner. You may well feel completely up in the air about who the new you even is, and it’s all massively overwhelming. Sex is at the bottom of a long, long list right now, and that is absolutely fine.
What upsets me, is that women actually feel guilt about this. They feel that they should, despite all that’s going on, want sex! They feel bad for their partner, who let’s remember is likely to be getting more sleep, isn’t recovering from pregnancy or birth, isn’t dealing with the difficulties that can come with lactating (night sweats anyone?), more time to be themselves, and aren’t dealing with rampaging emotions. Please, tell me, why on earth are we feel we owe anything to anyone?
Can you hear how absolutely worthless and second rate women feel, without even realising? That despite growing, birthing, and caring for a baby, one of the hardest and most important things you will ever go through in your life, that we still aren’t enough. That we should still be doing more, wanting more. That we somehow should come out the other side into this new life as the same person.
In my eyes, all humans are equal. But at certain times throughout life one partner, and that’s the key word right here, partner, may need prioritising for a while. And right now, that is the mother.
Please don’t misunderstand me, we want the closeness, the intimacy, the connection with our partner. We probably miss the relationship we had before too. But the quality of a relationship is not measured by sex. Love and intimacy can be expressed in many different ways. What we need at this point, when we can find a moment, is probably hand holding, a cup of tea together and some reassuring words about being beautiful and worthwhile. Some adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around nipples and colours of poo. We need to be valued, heard and loved.
You are enough. You are MORE than enough. Please don’t ever devalue yourself. See yourself for how truly incredible you are, that your feelings, or lack of, are valid.
Your sex life will come back, when the time is right for you BOTH xx
Oh, and PS, if you do want sex that's fine and normal too! X
What's going on in an evening
Late afternoon and evenings with a baby, especially a fairly new one, can be, well... challenging. To put it politely.
A large percentage of babies seem to change at this time. Change their feeding frequency, their feeding behaviours, and even their temperament.
They often want to feed almost non stop, and yet when they do they get frustrated and upset.
Pulling on and off, crying at the breast, tugging and hitting, even pushing away despite showing feeding cues. It feels like you can't please them or satisfy them, even though you're responding to their cues. They're fussy and cranky and even plain old upset and crying. It can feel like they're rejecting you, and it's horrible. They seem like they're tired but when they sleep it's for a few minutes before they're up again.
All this and you often feel like your boobs are deflated air socks flapping in the breeze.
Rest assured this is really common; hard, but common.
So what's going on? Well, it's partly to do with those pesky hormones I'm afraid.
We know that hormones fluctuate over the 24 hours, and its seems that late afternoon/early evening time is a difficult spot. This leads to milk supply running not lower, but seemingly much slower. Breasts often feel soft and empty, and this can be really unnerving for parents, especially when their baby is getting pretty peeved off at the breast, or wanting to be there relentlessly. It can add to that nagging feeling of ' I don't have enough milk'
But breasts are never empty, milk production continues 24/7. It's just this weird time of day when it all goes a bit mad.
The behaviours that babies exhibit at this time are stimulation behaviours. A little like kittens kneed at the breast to encourage milk flow, human babies pad and fist the breast, but also tug around, come on and off, squirm and fuss. (You'll notice these behaviours during growth spurts too. All messages of 'I need more milk to flow please!')
What doesn't help, is that this hormonal change not only seems to affect us physically, but emotionally too. Tearful, irritable, vulnerable, paranoid...a range of negative feelings seem to hit hard.
Whenever I talk about this with new parents I see an absolute lightbulb moment happen in their face, often followed by the words 'I'm so glad it's not just me' or 'that explains so much', even sometimes tears of relief.
Another phenomenon that ignites the same spark of recognition is the 'Night Dread'.
As the day heads towards the night, no matter how well you've been feeling during the day, fear about the night starts to set in. A feeling of 'I can't do it, please don't make me do it' seems to loom over. It's common to feel quite resentful at this point too.
During the early weeks a massive amount of changes happen, and babies brains are developing seriously fast. As they spend more time waking up to the world and alert, they're taking on board a huge amount of stimulation. Noises, sights, smells, feelings, there's a huge amount going on and it's a lot for them to process. By the time you get to the evening they're absolutely wired. If you've ever experienced multi sensory overload try and remember that feeling and can understand why babies are pretty cranky by the end of the day.
As with a lot of these things, they can't necessarily be solved, but having knowledge about them, that they're normal, and you're not alone can help enormously.
What can you do to help?
Try and head towards the late afternoon having eaten and drunk plenty. You definitely don't want to go into it 'Hangry' Try and have easily grabbable one handed snacks dotted around the place.
Make sure baby has had plenty of sleep during the day. This is often at the breast, but any other way that they sleep is fine too. If you can manage a sleep during the day that's fantastic too.
Skin to skin cuddles with baby can really help calm you both, and cobathing can be lovely and soothing too.
Get, and use, a sling. Not just in the evening but during the day too. That closeness and comfort will help support them to rest and relax which can lead to an easier evening.
Offer the breast frequently, and try not to worry if they are unsettled when they're there. But don't assume if they rejected it ten minutes ago that they don't want it now. They can be really fickle in an evening.
And reach out for support. Family, friends, a postnatal doula...anyone that can help you out with whatever you might need.
Were your evenings difficult? What helped you get through? What advice would you give to new families?