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Parenthood: Life After Baby

"How exactly does life change after a baby?"
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Typical Day continued...

It looks like Freed has a couple hours between each feeding, but in reality, Luke nurses for 20-30 minutes, leaving her with only an hour and a half between feedings. That time is quickly filled with preparing and eating her own meals, doing dishes and other chores, and changing diapers -- five or six wet diapers and a couple of soiled diapers every day.

Freed says she's glad she decided to breastfeed, but it takes up far more time than she had imagined. "It's hard to get things done with a baby who eats for 20 minutes every couple of hours," she tells WebMD. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, Freed's experience is typical for a nursing mother -- breastfed newborns usually nurse 8-12 times per day. However feed your newborn as often as she wants to be fed, they write.

Sleep Schedules Vary

A typical newborn sleeps 16-20 hours in a 24-hour period. It sounds like a lot, but it doesn't feel like much when that sleep is broken into bits and pieces throughout the day -- 20 minutes here, 40 minutes there, maybe three hours at a stretch if you're lucky. And a newborn's schedule may change from day to day, making it difficult to make plans or schedule appointments.

Don't expect to get much done during baby's nap time. During the first few weeks, you may find you need that time to nap yourself. "I always recommend that when the baby sleeps, the mom should rest, not do lots of chores," Stein tells WebMD. "Mom's main priority should be survival and getting sufficient rest. And trying to relax and enjoy her newborn -- they change so quickly."

As your baby matures, he will not need to be fed as often and will start to sleep for longer stretches at a time. There's no way to predict when your baby will sleep through the night, because there is tremendous variation in when babies reach this milestone. But the American Academy of Family Physicians says a typical schedule for a 4- to 7-month-old might include seven hours of uninterrupted sleep at night and at least two naps during the day.

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