Dear new parents,
Having a new baby is one of the biggest events in your life. There will be days when you feel like your heart will burst with the love you have for this new little person. There will be other days when you might question why you thought it was a good idea to become a parent in the first place. You will get bombarded with contradictory parenting advice and become overwhelmed. This is all normal. When you are in the throes of caring for a new baby, please remember these few things:
There is no such thing as “perfect.” You can never be a perfect parent, nor will you be able to read a book or website and learn all that you need to know. Such a book or website does not and will never exist. You will make mistakes and learn as you go. You will make changes and adjust as you grow as a parent. You will do the best that you can. Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
Have patience. This stage, phase, or situation that you are in is just for a short time. Your baby will grow and change a little bit each day and you will too. Feedings in the wee hours of morning, colic, teething irritability, and tantrums are just phases that will pass. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to help make these phases a little easier, but just remember that a little time helps too.
Trust your instincts. Don’t second guess your instincts when it comes to what is best for you and your baby. When you get conflicting advice, don’t assume someone else is right and you are wrong. No one else knows your baby and his/her needs like you do. Trust yourself and do what you think is best for yourself and your child.
Someday you will look back on this time with fond memories and a happy heart. You’ll wish you could do it all over again and you wouldn’t change a thing. Your child will tell you that you were the best mom in the world and you’ll agree.
Moms who’ve been there
Copyright 2014 © All Rights Reserved
Plumtree Baby, LLC
When a friend or family member has a new baby, everyone is excited to express their congratulations, see the new baby, and give gifts. Often, friends and family want to help the new family in some way, but offers to feed and hold baby may not be the most helpful, especially for a breastfeeding mother/baby. Rather than politely declining help, parents can suggest these alternatives to their friends and family:
1. Can you bring food? Receiving a hot, homemade meal right at dinnertime can be a lifesaver for new parents and even more so if there are older siblings in the home. If you receive an offer of help, reply with a few available days that would be helpful to receive a meal. Be sure to discuss the time of day that would be best and note your food preferences and allergies (after all, people want you to enjoy what they bring). Friends and family can easily double a recipe and serve their own family and yours at the same time, and it makes them feel good to help. If you want to organize a number of meals and get others on board, check out www.mealtrain.com, a free and very convenient way to stay organized and avoid having the same dish three days in a row, or three meals delivered at once.
2. I would love a visit, but I can’t be a host. Especially if you have visitors in the first week or two, you will be tired, sore and trying to figure things out with baby care and breastfeeding. Be clear that you only have time for a brief visit, or for close friends and family, ask if they could help you while they visit. Maybe they could look after baby while you go take a long, uninterrupted shower or take a nap. If you are breastfeeding, they could make you a snack or bring you a drink, rather than the other way around. If you have older children, perhaps your visitors could take them to the park for a few minutes or entertain them while you care for baby.
3. Would you mind helping me when you visit? A few minutes spent running the vacuum, folding a load of laundry or walking the dog can help so much. Or before your visitors come over, ask if they can stop at the store and pick up a few things that you need. Saving you a trip to the store for a few things can alleviate a lot of stress.
4. Can you check in with me every day? Some days can be rough and emotional, and just a text or phone call to check in can help you remember that you're not alone and people care. On the easier days, you can catch up and stay connected with those closest to you.
5. I have a gift registry for a service that will be very helpful. Rather than receiving an overload of blankets or outfits at your shower, guests can choose to donate to a gift certificate for housekeeping services, diaper services or the services of a postpartum doula. Convey that these gifts will be something you will need and appreciate.
Friends and family genuinely want to do whatever they can to lend you support, but giving them specific ideas can help ensure they do so in a way that will best serve your needs and may alleviate tension for everyone. For more ideas to eliminate stress after baby arrives, see our Following the Birth booklet.
Copyright 2014 © All Rights Reserved
Plumtree Baby, LLC
Many new parents put a lot of focus, time and energy into learning about pregnancy and preparing for birth, but when the baby finally arrives, find themselves feeling lonely, bewildered and unprepared. We explore five simple steps parents can take ahead of time to prepare and make their lives easier following the birth of their child.
Many have said it, but we’ll say it again... your sole responsibility as a new mom is to rest, heal and nurture yourself and your newborn. It may be difficult to adjust your expectations of yourself, but taking time in the first weeks to focus strictly on yourself and your baby will help you temporarily step back from household duties and non-essential tasks and routines. Too many new moms tire themselves out sending birth announcements and thank-you cards, sorting through maternity clothes, or trying too soon after birth to tackle other projects that can wait.
Write yourself a reminder note somewhere where you will see it each day: “Sleep when the baby is sleeping!” If you can’t sleep, then do something restful and low stress such as cuddling with your partner, sitting in the sunshine, reading a book, journaling, or taking photographs of baby. Your body and mind need this downtime. Remember that this time is temporary and take advantage of the opportunity to go easy on yourself.
2. Get help from professionals.
There are several types of professionals that new parents may rely on after birth. Some choose to hire professionals if they do not have family living nearby, while others feel comforted by the advice and assistance from trained and knowledgeable professionals, as opposed to the wide range of advice they may receive from well-intentioned family or friends. Some find that they need a little help, while others need full-time assistance. If possible, plan in advance for your needs by evaluating your situation (strong family support vs. little to no help), interview and hire the professional(s) you feel most comfortable with and then be flexible after the birth if you find you need more or less help. Here are a few of the most common postpartum services:
- A Postpartum Doula assists families in the days or weeks following the birth. She offers education, support, encouragement, and reassurance to parents as they learn how to care for their newborn and heal from birth. Her primary goal is to “work herself out of a job,” by educating and empowering parents during this transition in their lives. The specific job description can vary for each couple the doula serves, but may include mother care (making sure the mother has nutritious foods to eat, time to rest, or bathe), emotional support (a listening ear, reassurance and encouragement), newborn care (changing clothes or diapers or comforting and calming techniques), sibling support (educating siblings about newborn needs and care), household tasks (tidying, laundry, or shopping) or breastfeeding support (educating family on breastfeeding basics, helping baby latch, and/or teaching mom how to pump).
- A Baby Nurse or Newborn Care Specialist is similar to a Postpartum Doula, but generally focuses solely on newborn care, sleeping and feeding. Many are “sleep specialists” and help parents overnight.
- A Lactation Consultant (IBCLCs) is experienced in breastfeeding education, support and problem-solving. She works in a variety of settings and usually offers clinic appointments, facilitates group meetings, and/or provides in-home support. For mothers doing well, Lactation Consultants can offer reassurance and encouragement. Mothers who are struggling receive help identifying problems and making changes. Those with special circumstances, such as premature babies or twins, can receive valuable information and support that makes breastfeeding possible in the face of difficulty.
Research postpartum care services in your area and ask for referrals from your care provider, birth place, family or friends. Also note that some insurance plans offer in home visits by nurses, lactation consultants or midwives as part of routine postpartum care, while others may cover some or all of the costs should you utilize their services.
3. Enlist help from family and friends, and be specific.
Family members and friends are honored to help new parents after the birth. Family and friends can help tremendously by providing meals or delivering groceries on scheduled dates and organizing the meal delivery, so you don’t have to worry when you next meal will arrive. Sometimes parents need to ask for specific help or direct willing helpers to useful tasks, such as laundry, shopping or cleaning, rather than just visiting or holding the baby. Often, it helps to have a schedule or a list of tasks that need to be done or gentle reminders that your job as new parents is to care for the newborn and rest and that you will be up for visiting at a later date. If family or friends are not able to help in person, they may want to provide financial assistance, such as gift certificates to take-out restaurants, paying for all or part of the services of a Postpartum Doula or Lactation Consultant, or providing house cleaning services for a period of time. These gifts may be far more helpful than a newborn outfit or toy! Communicate your preferences and needs ahead of time to avoid difficulties after the birth.
4. Plan ahead.
While it is hard to know what to expect after having a baby, you can prepare by educating yourselves. There are many classes focused on newborn care, breastfeeding and postpartum transitions. Newborn care and breastfeeding books, websites and blogs are also good sources of information. In addition, ask other parents what is was like for them. They can tell you what was helpful and what they wish they would have known or offer encouragement that you will get through it!
As we have discussed, you may also plan ahead by setting aside non-essential tasks, enlisting the help of family or friends, hiring postpartum support providers (or having their contact information on hand should you need them following the birth), and setting up meal delivery or freezing prepared meals to be used following the birth.
5. Have faith and take one day at a time.
The postpartum time can feel like an emotional roller-coaster. In your sleep deprived state, you may feel like it will go on forever. Remember that for most parents, the first six weeks can be a challenge, but each day you and your baby are learning, growing, bonding and changing. You will be able to look back and appreciate that it has gotten better over time! Keep doing your best, get help when you need it and take one day at a time.
Copyright 2012 © All Rights Reserved
It goes without saying that we here at Plumtree Baby are committed to the idea of making thoughtful decisions throughout pregnancy and labor. We also believe that this process of making decisions extends into the newborn period and one of the first decisions expectant parents will be confronted with is when to clamp the umbilical cord of their newborn. Many expectant parents don't even realize that the actions taken with the cord can be greatly influenced and/or dictated by parental preferences.
Before we jump right into this topic, however, let us first say that there are some circumstances in which it is necessary to cut the cord immediately following birth. Midwives and doctors are there to make the call on this for when more serious conditions with the cord present themselves. Yet, for most normal, uncomplicated, vaginal births, the necessity of cutting the cord may be done more out of habit and protocol than out of need.
A large body of research is now suggesting that there are many significant benefits of delayed cord clamping, specifically to the infant. A 2009 opinion paper by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states that “Infants who have immediate cord clamping have lower iron stores for up to 6 months after birth. The potential implications of the reduced iron status in early childhood have not been adequately investigated. Iron deficiency in the first few months of life is associated with neurodevelopmental delay, which may be irreversible.”
This article by Kelly Winder, BellyBelly creator, gives great details on the process, benefits and concerns about delayed cord clamping. She also states, echoing back to our common idea of making thoughtful decisions that "[j]ust after you have given birth, the last thing you are paying attention to is the umbilical cord. So if...you have decided not to have the cord clamped immediately, make sure you make it well known with your caregiver and at the hospital that you want to delay clamping of the cord, so your baby can have it’s full store of blood. I’d highly recommend you consider a doula to help protect your birth preferences, amongst many other benefits which will make a difference to your birth experience. Also consider writing out your birth preferences and making sure the hospital, doctor and midwives have a copy – even leave one in your room to make sure they are clear."
This topic certainly deserves consideration by all expectant parents and the benefits and risks should be weighed.
It's Your Turn!
What are your thoughts on delayed cord clamping? Doulas, have you seen it in practice? Midwives and OB's, do you do delayed cord clamping if parents request it and there are no medical situations that would prevent doing so? What do you think the future is for routine cord clamping - will it move the way of the episiotomy and fall, largely, out of favor? If so, do you think there will be significantly seen benefits, long-term, to infants who have delayed cord clamping?
Copyright 2011 © All Rights Reserved
Plumtree Baby, LLC