Finding Your New Normal
As you move into month two with your baby, you may start to be feeling more like yourself. You’ve probably even adjusted to your new normal, which includes some pretty cool skills, like being able to eat a meal one-handed, take a shower in 0.7 seconds flat, and survive on 1-hour increments of sleep. (Can you believe you ever thought you were tired before?!)
But as much as you may be enjoying a little more normalcy in your life, there are still plenty of new experiences you will have as a parent this month.
Here’s what to be on the lookout for:
Mastitis and Clogged Ducts
If you’re breastfeeding, be aware of the symptoms of mastitis—an infection that happens in a clogged milk duct—which can strike this month. Mastitis tends to happen especially if you overdo it, and some moms may be tricked into thinking that they are totally back to normal at 2 months old, so they go full-force, only to be knocked right back down by mastitis. (*raises hand guiltily*) Take it from someone who knows mastitis very, very well—it sucks, so avoid it at all costs.
The symptoms of mastitis include:
- Feeling so tired, like you have been hit by a train and can’t even keep your eyes open
- Body aches
- Burning pain in your breast
- Reddened, sore area on your breast
In some cases, you may be able to clear the clogged duct by resting, applying heat and massage to the affected area, and drinking more water than you ever thought possible. If you experience a fever, however, or worsening symptoms, call your doc ASAP. And although it’s incredibly painful and generally terrible, you have to continue nursing your baby or pumping through mastitis to help clear the duct.
Postpartum depression (PPD) can hit anytime through your baby’s first year of life, but it’s especially important to be watchful for it during the second month. For some women, that second month can be a difficult time, as feeding challenges set in, you or your partner have to return to work, and the effects of long-term sleep deprivation really hit.
Keep communicating with your partner about your emotions, have a plan in place for how you will get help if you or your partner suspect you have PPD, and be on the lookout for any symptoms of PPD, which can include:
- Not feeling connected or bonded to your baby
- Having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Intrusive thoughts or visions
- Crying a lot
- Eating too much or not enough
- Trouble sleeping
- Physical aches and pains
- Having trouble focusing or with your memory
- Losing interest and motivation in things that you used to love
Resuming Your Sex Life
Sure, sure, everyone says the 6-week postpartum check-up is “the one” where you get the green light to resume sexual activities, but here’s the truth—the only green light is the one you give. Six weeks simply marks the average amount of time it takes for the cervix to close back up after giving birth, so other than that, it means nothing.
After you’ve been given the physical clearance to have sex again, there is no right or wrong time to actually take that leap. Some couples may be ready before others, some may need more time, and as long as you and your partner are both comfortable with that, then that’s completely fine. For some people who are breastfeeding, it may also be helpful to know that the hormone responsible for making milk, prolactin, can also suppress libido, so if you’re experiencing a lower-than-normal sex drive while nursing, there could be a very real reason why.
Overall, the most important things to keep in mind about having sex after baby is to communicate with your partner about how you are feeling, take it slow, and if you experience any discomfort, to talk to your doctor. Sex should not be painful after having a baby and if it’s hurting, there may be things your doctor can recommend that can help you.
And keep in mind, when you are ready to have sex again, if you’re a heterosexual couple and don’t want to get pregnant, be sure to talk with your doctor about birth control measures that are right for you. Even if you haven’t had your period back yet, and even if you’re breastfeeding full-time, it’s still possible that you could ovulate and get pregnant.
Getting Back to Exercising
Along with the all-clear to get back to sex, your doctor will most likely give you the green light on exercising again this month. And if you were someone who was active before pregnancy, this will probably be very exciting news.
But a word of caution to you: no matter how fit you were before and during your pregnancy, it’s incredibly important to resume your exercise routine slowly and focus on rebuilding your core. Even Olympic athletes need serious abdominal rehab after having a baby, so I promise you that taking it slow does not mean you are weak. Most women will experience some form of diastasis recti (when your ab muscles separate) lingering after birth, and if you do too much too fast postpartum—or if you perform exercises you were used to before birth without rebuilding your core—you can cause serious injury.
If you have it available, talk to your doctor about physical therapy that can help safely rebuild your core and pelvic floor (they’re connected, don’t forget!) to get back to doing the activities you love.
2-Month-Old Baby Milestones
This month marks some exciting milestones for your baby, from that first hint of a smile to adorable baby talk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the 2-month-old milestones that your baby should be reaching as:
- Tries to look at you, or other caregivers
- Is very interested in faces, and will study your face
- Can follow items with their eyes, such as if you move a toy slowly in front of their face
- Will begin to recognize you (like that moment they realize you are about to pick them up? The cutest!)
- Develops different cries, like a bored or fussy cry
- Begins to self-soothe, like sucking on her hand or fingers
- Starts to coo and make gurgling sounds
- Turns head towards sounds
- Can hold their head up
- May push their head up while doing tummy time
- Has smoother arm/leg movements (less of those jerky newborn reflexive movements)
These guidelines are put into place to help guide parents, and doctors recognize any potential issues for early intervention, but every baby develops at their own pace. If your baby hasn’t hit one or more of these milestones by the end of the two-month mark, be sure to talk to a doctor.
2-Month-Old Baby Development
From 1 to 3 months of age, babies put on about 1.5-2 pounds, grow 1 inch in height, and increase their head circumference by about ½ inch every single month—to put it into perspective just how much growth that really is, just consider how amazed you would be if you suddenly grew an inch in two weeks. It’s a lot of growth, which means you’ll probably notice a lot of changes happening this month this too.
How Much Should a 2-Month-Old Eat?
Packing on those extra pounds and inches means that your baby’s eating ramps up quite a bit this month. If you’re bottle feeding, you can increase your baby’s feedings to 4 or 5 ounces of breast milk or formula every 3 to 4 hours.
Breastfeeding moms will continue to nurse their baby on-demand, but might notice that feedings will space out a little longer, from every 3 to 4 hours instead of every 2-3. Any time your baby goes through a significant growth spurt, like right before the 2-month-mark, and around 6 weeks old, you might also notice that your baby wants to nurse a bunch of times very close together (especially at night #teamnosleep)—this is called cluster feeding and is common with growth spurts, as your little one is just loading up on all the extra calories they need to keep growing.
How Much Should a 2-Month-Old Weigh?
By the end of 2 months, your baby will probably have gained an additional two pounds since birth, although every baby will be different.
Some may gain more and some may weigh less—what’s most important is that your baby is gaining weight based on their own individual growth chart, which your doctor will monitor, so be sure to keep those well-child check-ups.
How Much Should a 2-Month-Old Sleep?
Can we be honest with you here? Set your expectations low for sleep this month, because any newborn sleep habits your baby was rocking could be totally derailed by growth spurts this month. The normal circadian rhythms that regulate sleep still have not been completely established by your baby during the second month, so irregular sleep patterns are still very normal.
Even if you may not be able to get a 2-month-old sleep schedule going just yet, it’s still a great time to start establishing some healthy sleep habits and bedtime cues to help your little one learn how to go to sleep. You can try strategies such as:
- Laying your baby down drowsy
- Trying a “dream feed”—when you feed your baby before they have fully awakened
- Keeping bedtime routines consistent, such as lights off, a story, white noise on, to cue your baby to sleep
- Remember that sleep begets sleep, so don’t try to keep your baby awake in hopes they will sleep better at night—it’s not the way babies work, promise!
- And of course, always practice safe sleep habits of putting your baby down on their back in a crib with only a fitted sheet and no blankets of any kind—use a sleep sack, and no crib bumpers
A lot of growth happens in the second month of life, so you may be in for a few rocky nights of sleep through the upcoming weeks. Try to keep in mind that there is a reason for that broken sleep (your baby is growing and that’s a good thing!), stay consistent with those sleep cues, and eventually, your baby will learn to sleep in longer spurts. Hopefully. Maybe?
Introducing Tummy Time!
As your baby develops more head control and gains more strength to be able hold their head up, you can start tummy time this month. Tummy time can be done anytime you lay your baby on their stomach on a flat, unobstructed surface to allow them to strengthen their head, neck, and upper body muscles. Tummy time should only be done when you’re supervising and right next to your baby—never leave them unaccompanied on their stomach.
There is really no limit on how much tummy time your baby can have and it’s recommended by baby health experts to promote development, so try to aim for a few sessions every day. Your baby might not like the sensation of being on their tummy at first, so you may have to work up gradually to it.
And don’t forget, if your baby absolutely hates being on their stomachs without you, tummy time can be done while you’re holding them upright or in a baby carrier too—anytime you are allowing your baby’s neck and torso muscles to strengthen, and giving them a break off their backs to avoid flat spots developing, definitely counts.
Remember Not to Overdo It
Although you may be feeling more like yourself every day, keep in mind that it’s incredibly important to not overdo it this month. Your body is still healing and will not even return to its pre-pregnancy state for 6 months postpartum, so really—give yourself time.
Continue to take care of your body to promote its physical healing, from staying hydrated, getting as much sleep as you can, taking your vitamins (especially if you’re nursing), and monitoring your mental health. As tempting as it may be to jump right back into the swing of things, two months is still practically fresh from the delivery room, so take it slow, mama.
You have plenty of time to take on the world in the future, but right now? Try to take it easy and soak in that baby of yours.