Archive for the ‘New Mothers’ Category

Incorporating a New Baby into Your Daily Life

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Incorporating a New Baby into Your Daily LifeI sit here typing this blog at 39 weeks pregnant. I have a recently turned 4-year-old daughter and a newly 2-year-old son. I am either eating, cleaning, or worrying these days about my life with three little ones. So, how do you incorporate a new baby into your daily life? How do you still make sure you take care of everyone’s needs, including your own? Here are some ideas I have on how to make the transition easy for all involved.

Remember, you are supermom. I had a friend tell me that once, and it has never left my mind. Don’t let yourself get hung up on unrealistic expectations. There will be days when no one has real clothes on and you don’t shower. There may be days when your kids watch too much television so you can take care of a sick infant. All of this is okay. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. You can handle it all with grace and a smile. Celebrate small victories. If all you do today is feed your kids supper and snuggle, that’s a victory.

It’s okay to accept help. With a new baby comes new responsibility. Let your husband or friend help as needed. If you have children in school, allow someone to help you get them there. If you have a child that needs more attention, invite family or friends to come babysit. I am awful at accepting help, but I am learning as I age that I need it more often. If friends or family want to bring you meals after baby arrives, take them and show your gratitude. If you have older children, allow them to help in small ways. My daughter is a big help when I need to shower currently.

Start slowly and take small steps. It will be a transition for everyone in your household to have a new baby. Expect some chaos. When my son was born, my daughter wasn’t quite 2. She regressed with potty training, and I was convinced she hated me. Let siblings help with baby duties, such as getting diapers or wipes. If you are bottle feeding, allow your older children to help with feedings. My daughter already loves my nursing pillow, so I plan on having her get it for me when I need to feed the baby. Don’t expect the transition to go perfectly or quickly.

Remember a new baby is also a time of change for you, momma. Take care of your emotions and make sure to take time to eat, too. Don’t worry if things don’t go smoothly for a while. Find ways to make life easier. I know I plan on wearing this baby as much as possible so I can still function. Just remember it is just a stage, and don’t with the newborn days away. Before you know it, your kids and baby will all be in sync with the new routine.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of 2, almost three, in Arkansas. She is ready to have this third baby…any day now.

The Baby Advice That Didn’t Work Out

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

dscn2555Through my three kids, I have gotten baby advice from everyone. When I was a new mom, I totally took it all. I had no confidence in my ability to discern what was best for my family, and having a colicky baby didn’t do anything to instill my confidence. Plus, the PPD I suffered with her just confirmed that I had it all wrong: I was a terrible mom, and that’s why she cried and I was miserable.

It’s funny to look back at what didn’t work–and why.

Babywise: This book is a strict scheduling solution that will have your baby sleeping through the night by 6 weeks! Or, so everyone who has every used it will claim. It great if you hate things like: holding baby, soothing baby, feeding baby, and ignoring your instincts in favor of a stranger’s. I was made to feel like I was cheating if I fed my 2-week-old before the required 3-hour cycle began, so my milk supply–and my sanity–suffered.

Feed that baby! She’s hungry! Great advice given to us on a plane by a total stranger, because she was screaming during take off and right after being nursed. I said she didn’t need it, and my husband said we should, because the leering eyeballs were getting to be a bit much for us to take as new parents. And so we got out some formula and fed her. And she threw up all over me. The Baby Whisperer didn’t have any more helpful suggestions for us after that.

She needs a pacifier! The pimply-faced teen ringing me up at Target had some strong opinions on why my second child was crying in the checkout line. I am sure he had lots of experience with babies, but as it turned out, my thumb sucker who would also refuse the bottle and every single brand of paci, ever,  hated the stroller with a passion. Being that she was a month old, we didn’t know this yet. Once I started using my sling, she was happy as a clam and rarely cried on shopping trips.

You need to bathe your baby soon. This gem was given to us in the recovery room after my second baby was born. I refused the hospital bath because I just didn’t want her taken from us any more than necessary. I was told that she would “feel gross” just like I do if I go a day without a bath. Well, that notion has since been disproven. In fact, sparing baby from that bath helps her absorb all that beneficial bacteria she got during the birth process, which boosts the immune system! And, today we know that bathing babies daily could also lead to skin problems such as dry spots. Today, the American Academy of Dermatology agrees that a bath once or twice a week is plenty for most kids unless they are extraordinarily dirty. I mean, sure that research wouldn’t come out for four more years after she was born, but score one for motherly intuition (and a fear of slippery newborns.)

Put some socks on that baby! Oh, we tried, lady. Have you seen how long and skinny this child’s feet are? I only have the right foot of every pair of socks my first baby owned. Today, my 3-year-old loves to sleep fully covered–with her feet sticking out of the bottom. And no one died of hypothermia. So strange.

She won’t ever learn to walk! My third child practically lived in the Ergo. As a stay at home mom who needed both hands everywhere I went to keep my two other children alive, the stroller just wasn’t a reliable option since the older kids could, and often did wiggle out. I could also nurse in the carrier, and my baby could nap on my chest or back easily. Strangely, she did learn to walk right on time, at about 11 months. Crazy!

Baby Advice that Did Help: 

I noticed one common thread among all the baby advice I did get that helped: It was never someone telling me a specific way of doing things. The baby advice that did help was something that fit in my toolbox. Like the 5 S’s. Or how to swaddle with any blanket. Or learning about wonder weeks. Or cluster feeding. The baby advice that worked wasn’t really baby advice at all: it was other moms passing on actual knowledge that helped me how to figure out the rest on my own. Having three kids taught me that every baby is so different that no one is ever going to be able to write some book and unlock all the secrets. I did things differently from child to child in my own family–babies who were genetically similar and raised in the same home with the same parenting style! So it’s just madness to think any book is going to contain all the answers.

If you are looking for answers on your parenting journey, seek wisdom and not simply advice. Listen for things you can put in your toolbox, and then one day you’ll be able to share those tools with other new moms who are finding their way, too.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

Do We Need a Daily Routine?

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

During my baby’s first year, one of the most common topics of conversation was about how she was sleeping.  Friends/family/moms in mom groups/strangers in the grocery line all seemed really interested in how she was sleeping.  Once we had established a daily routine, my response was much more positive to the dreaded sleep question. Routines are needed because they let your baby what to expect next, according to Babycenter.  When babies can anticipate what happens next, it provides comfort to them and helps them sleep better. Experts say that routines can be established as early as 2 months or as old as 6 months old, depending on your (and your baby’s) personality.

My first daughter was a snacker. She liked to nurse for short amounts of time every hour or two all day, every day up until she was about six months old. At about 6 months, we started to establish a routine with her, encouraging her to eat more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night. My younger daughter was content to nurse for long amounts of time, less frequently. We worked out our routine around 4 months. Establishing a routine earlier with my second daughter also benefited my first because we returned to many of our activities that we did before the baby was born.

There is a wide range of philosophies about establishing routines, ranging from the parents setting the routines to basing the daily routine on the baby’s natural schedule and everything in between. For me, and my children, building a routine around their natural schedules worked best.  However, I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have flexibility with our days.

I found that using time intervals–instead of basing the routine off the clock–created a routine that was flexible but still offered my babies the comfort about what was coming up next.  Juniper was the most happy with about 3-3.5 hoursbetween waking and going back to sleep.  When she was about 6 months old, Juniper’s routine would begin with her waking up for the day.  I would feed her breakfast, play with her and do tummy time while her big sister was eating breakfast, get the three of us dressed, then about 2.5 hours after she initially woke up, I would nurse her for about a half an hour to forty-five minutes until she fell asleep for nap.  During her naptime, Lily and I would do one of her classes or another activity (like going for a walk or to the playground).  I would let Juniper sleep as long as she wanted, and then we would start the routine over (meal of solids, play/activity, nurse, nap) again, this would fit into about 3/3.5 hours.  At this point, Juniper was taking two naps a day and going to bed around 6/6:30 at night.  Because we were not tied to the clock, if Juniper wanted to nurse an extra time or take an extra nap, our entire day was not thrown off.

Setting a routine doesn’t have to be a struggle to have your baby follow a schedule based on the clock.  Setting a routine based on a pattern during a rough time interval offers your baby predictability and meets her needs based on her natural schedule with the flexibility that she needs day to day.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

The Best Infographics for Understanding Infants

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Being a mom is hard when your kids are fully verbal and can tell you exactly what they need, so when you meet a friend or someone in your family has just had their first, you have a whole new appreciation for how hard that stage is. Even harder than the stage is all the crappy advice you get from other people on sleeping, feeding and generally caring for an infant.

What no one ever tells you is how much you’ll realize that personality has to do with their behavior, but you won’t even realize the huge role it plays until your child is a toddler. Then you smack yourself in the forehead and go, “THAT’S why they refused to nap!” or “THAT’S why they hated the (insert world-renowned baby-soothing device that never worked on your child here)!”

The best thing you can do as a first-time mom is just understand what you’re dealing with on a biological level. There are some things that are the same from baby to baby, always, no matter what the popular wisdom of the time is. For instance, tummy size:

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This is such a brilliant visual. As a mom new to nursing, especially if you are one whose family has no personal experience with breastfeeding, you totally freak out that you aren’t making enough milk. Because if you were, why would baby want to eat ALL THE TIME? This thought is bad enough, but then it’s echoed by all your family members, and you begin to think the problem really is you. Some moms don’t make enough milk, and that’s a for-real but pretty rare condition. For most, it just feels that way because baby wants to eat so frequently. And when you see this graphic, it makes sense. If I could only fit one side-salad at a time in my stomach, but I could have as many as I wanted, I would probably be eating every hour, too.

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I remember not knowing what an early feeding cue was until my second child. No wonder breastfeeding never went smoothly with my first! As heartbreaking as it is to pick up a baby who, the the untrained eye, appears to still be sleeping, it really works out so much better to grab them before they wake up and realize they are HANGRY. That extra five minutes you have until they wake up crying? Not worth it.

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I’ll confess: I’m a crunchy mom and I never read this book! Although it may have more wonderful information, this alone was a lifesaver. The 5’s worked and they were our go-to for those all-out freak-out crying spells. My first baby did use a paci, but my other two would never take one. The pad of your finger works well for non-paci babies. Why not nurse instead? Well, if your baby is freaking out enough to need these steps, they are also likely too worked up to nurse. Calm them using this method, then try to nurse.

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Another thing that will never, ever change, no matter how much we learn about babies: the latch. I know we struggled with getting a good latch until I knew what that was and felt like. My first baby wanted to curl her lips in and it left me with bloody nipples and a baby who was losing weight fast. After meeting with a lactation consultant (Who made housecalls!) I learned to flip that lip out, and I ended up having to do it repeatedly with all three of my kids until they got the hang of latching. Without flat lips, baby just can’t get the suction right, and it leads to slurpy sounding, ineffective nursing.

I hope these infographics help you as much as they did me! Biology, man, it never goes out of fashion.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three who lives and writes in Oklahoma City. 

When You Don’t Feel a Bond to Your Baby

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

When my first kid was born, the bond was immediate. The labor was induced, due to preeclampsia, and it went quickly: six hours after the Pitocin drip started, I was holding my tiny, squirming little bundle in my arms. I had dreamed of a natural labor and delivery, in a birthing center, and worried that the change to a hospital birth with medical intervention would impact the bonding process I had read so much about. Instead, my heart broke open and I never loved someone so intensely as I did the moment I saw my precious boy.

Eighteen months later, to the day, I was in labor with my second boy. I had taken all the precautions this time, doing all the things my midwife had advised to avoid preeclampsia, and was actually going to be able to have a home birth this time. We would be in our safe space, without medical intervention, and it was going to create the ultimate bonding opportunity between my child and me. What I couldn’t anticipate, though, was that eighteen hours of back labor, a much longer period of time pushing than the first delivery I experienced, and a baby that was 50 percent larger than my first resulted in me feeling exhausted, pained, and hollow. I looked at my second baby, perfect in every way, and though glad he was safe and healthy, I felt little more than appreciation that the entire process was over.

At the realization that I was not over the moon as I had been with my first, that appreciation was suddenly replaced with a crushing sense of Mommy-guilt. Why didn’t I feel the euphoria I felt before? Why didn’t I feel that bond the second I saw him, as I had before? I had checked all the boxes, done everything right—what was wrong with me?

Turns out, the immediate bond with your child isn’t something that everyone experiences. In fact, 20 percent of new parents don’t feel that intense attachment the second they lay eyes on their new baby. Those feelings are even harder to come by if your birth is traumatic in any way, as having a child doesn’t remove the part of you that is human. Experiencing pain, emotional and/or physical, requires healing, and your brain may require that to happen first before a bond can occur with your child. Worse yet, there is immense pressure to suddenly have an entire identity shift with the birth of a child, so in addition to dealing with the difficult transition to parenthood, a lack of bonding can be accompanied with a giant helping of shame. Those negative feelings, isolation, and other biological factors can spiral into developing postpartum depression, and it’s important to recognize when extra support is needed. In the meantime, removing the pedestal we place motherhood on with all of its attached expectations of perfection allows for more opportunity to talk about the times where we don’t meet expectations.

Four years later, that second boy of mine is full of more goodness than I could ever ask for, and I am fully over the moon for all the things that he is. It took some time to get there, but that doesn’t make me less-than—it makes me human.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.