Posts Tagged ‘newborns’

Newborn Coping Strategies

Friday, August 26th, 2016

IMG_1141The newborn days pass by in a blur. Often, parents of a newborn are so tired they could cry, frazzled from learning their new baby’s cues and trying to get into a routine, possibly stressed or sore from breastfeeding, plus working through the postpartum hormonal roller coaster. It’s hard to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, smell that new baby scent).

One thing that helped our family get through the early days was having made up meals and packing them in the freezer before hand. If you’re lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a meal train, even better! You’ll need nutritious and hearty food to keep up and help your body heal from birth, and sometimes (most of the time), you’ll be too tired to want to mess with much.

If you can, getting help with older children from other adults is a real blessing. Just picking up your older kids and taking them to the park or a movie can give you a chance to catch a nap or even possibly have a couple moments of silence. Likewise, don’t be afraid to accept offers of help cleaning up or with the laundry. If you don’t have help, letting the laundry sit a couple days won’t hurt (though if you’re cloth diapering, this probably isn’t an option).

Try and get out and get some fresh air and stretch your legs. When my first son was born deep into the Alaskan winter, it was difficult because of snow and ice to walk outdoors, so I would walk on the track at the gym. This isn’t a fitness or weight loss activity, but a mental health activity. My younger son was born in the summer, so I could walk outdoors with him right away.

Lean on your partner (and your partner likewise) to get a little self-care time in. Shoot for every day. Before you have a newborn, you will never fully appreciate having ten minutes to shower, brush your teeth, and put on some lotion. This may not happen everyday, but it makes a huge difference in your outlook when you are able to get those few moments to yourself.

Finally, keep close watch on yourself. Baby blues are normal. If you continue to feel depressed or anxious, please reach out to your partner, family or friends, and to your doctor. It’s important to you and your baby to watch out for your mental health.

And remember to take time to enjoy that new-baby smell, it will be gone before you know it.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

Preventing Hot-Car Deaths

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Summer Car SafetyI stayed at home for nearly three years with my boys, now ages 1 and 3. I returned to work for a year-long commitment that sometimes includes staying overnight at the hospital on-call.

The morning after my first on-call, my husband woke to the sounds of someone knocking on our door. Our neighbor found our son outside at 6 AM calling out, looking for mommy. The doors were locked and my son knew I wasn’t home, but in the wee morning hours he forgot. Our story ended easily and innocently enough. Accidents happen.

When we first started accruing baby gear en mass, my husband and I began the light-hearted joke of pointing out all the warning signs. It seemed every piece of baby gear, from blanket to clothing to bed to stroller, all warned of ways our baby could die. The unfortunate underpinning to those warnings is, sadly, a baby was needlessly harmed before that label existed (and maybe even after).

I think most of us, if we’re really honest, have those stories we don’t share with many or any people. They fall under the category of “I was in a hurry” or “I usually NEVER forget to…” We’re busy mamas, dads, grandparents, and friends. When children are in our care there is a lot more at stake. It can turn into a fatal distraction. The linked article is worth your time. In 2013, there were 43 fatal stories of child deaths in cars with 43 awful stories and 43 heart-wrenching outcomes. And they weren’t bad parents. They were parents who just thought it could never happen to them.

I’m a hospital chaplain. I am called when people are interested in prayer or just need someone to talk to. I am called for joyous moments and life-changing diagnoses. I am also called when awful, heart-numbing things happen. Believe me, they happen. We often think we’re above that. We often cope with the awful stories by doling out judgements at those “other” people who are negligent. Of course, this type of incident is rare. Therein lies the danger—in the common place thinking that “I would never…” Please consider the following to ensure accidents are less likely to happen in your midst:

  • Don’t think “I would never.” We are busy, busy, busy these days! According to molecular physiologist and expert on memory David Diamond, “Our conscious mind prioritizes things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you’re capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child.” Accidents do not know any socio-economic background, race, gender, or parenting style.
  • Set up reminders. Some people take off a shoe. Others leave their purse, wallet, or phone in the backseat, though these are also easy to forget. Some place an object, like a stuffed animal in the car seat when empty. When they place the child in the car seat, they place the stuffed animal in the front seat with their belongings.
  • Think fast. As in, recognize that heatstroke in a vehicle can take mere minutes. Never leave your child in a vehicle for any amount of time unattended, especially in warm weather.
  • Don’t underestimate “warm.” It needn’t be 90 degrees outside for heatstroke to happen. In the story of Lyn Balfour’s child, the temperature outside was in the 60s.
  • Look. Always check the backseat of your vehicle when you leave your automobile. Making this habit, whether kids are with you or not, is a great way to ensure the habit when your mind is distracted.
  • Be nosy. If you see a child in someone else’s car, call 911 and follow their guidance. But don’t call the news station.
  • Lock. Always lock your doors when you leave your vehicle—even at home–so kiddos can’t get back in without you. Hang your keys high up at home. Don’t leave them on countertops or within reach of children.
  • Have backups in place. Set an alarm on your phone for when you typically arrive at work or home. If you always drop your child off at childcare have them give you a call to check-in if your child does not arrive.

Children don’t die in hot cars because their parents don’t love them. Saying it won’t ever happen to you doesn’t safeguard your children. Know your limits. If you are emotionally stressed, distracted, had a change in routine, or you are taking a different vehicle than normal, be aware that these situations are when hot car deaths happen. Try to slow down and focus on one thing at a time until you get everyone to their destination safely.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Tags:  car safety, parenting, newborns, infants, toddlers

Bonding with Daddy

Friday, June 19th, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen pregnant, I felt very close to our babies. I knew their kick routines, when they liked to hang high and bounce down low. I spoke with them when out shopping “by myself” and never really felt disconnected from them.

My husband says it took time for him to bond with his kiddos. Did he love them always? Of course. The sense of closeness grew over time though. Even in those first months, I breastfed and took on the stay-at-home responsibilities that just offered me more time with our wee little ones. This situation is not out of the ordinary. Still, dads are able to bond from before birth by talking to the fetus and supporting mommy (and other kiddos at home). Once the baby comes, consider these options, most of which can happen from the get-go:

  • Feedings: Holding baby close during bottle feedings gives babe both a chance to drink dad in and feel his closeness, familiarize with his scent. As we exclusively breast fed for the first 6 months, pumping a bottle when I could “do it myself” was not my most favorite thing. My husband appreciated my effort so that he could feel included in baby’s early days, a time when many dads can feel a disconnect as mom often provides for so many of the initial needs. If that’s a no-go for whatever reason, maybe dad can have the task of burping instead!
  • Diaper changing: Aside from giving mom a break, these offered us a time for dad to make jokes, sing to baby, entertain, and make a game of diaper changes.
  • Reading: There are numerous benefits to reading to babe, and bonding is a part of them! Take advantage of this by keeping reading a part of the daily routine if possible.
  • Stay home sick: Whether mommy works or not, dad staying home when baby is sick not only offers reprieve if mom is at home; it also offers dad and baby the chance to stick it out together. Dad gets the chance to offer his presence as a primary source of comfort in a great time of need.
  • One-on-one outings: Going on adventures together gives the little one a chance to rely only on daddy for support and care while in a possibly unfamiliar setting. As babe gets older, this time can become a special time that everyone in the family looks forward to!
  • Babywear: In all of these things, baby wearing offers unparalleled access to daddy’s closeness, comfort, voice, smell, and perspective. Wraps and carriers aren’t just made for mamas!
  • Play time: Whether it’s rolling over, learning to walk, singing songs, or playing with a toy, dads have a way of putting a fun spin on the ordinary daily activities. Going for a walk is a favorite pastime of my husband’s and sharing walks with his children as they grow is an important way my husband connects and shares his life with our sons.
  • Cleaning house: As kiddos grow, cleaning the house with dad offers the opportunity to see a man participating in essential tasks that are often proscribed to moms, giving kiddos a more equitable understanding of chores. It also offers the message that mom and dad are on the same team when it comes to clean up time.
  • Bath time:  About 5% of our week involves the bath time routine. It is a big deal in a household of little ones, so dad’s involvement offers the opportunity to be involved in the ordinary ins and outs of daily life.
  • Night soothing: If you have a bottle on hand, or if babe is old enough to do without food in the night, covering the night shift is one way to get to know babe in a whole new light… in the dark! There is something soothing and deeply noteworthy about calming and rocking a baby in the quiet of the dark night. It is an experience daddy deserves to take part in too!

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.


Infant Massage

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Infant MassageBeing a baby is tough stuff. Between the shock of life and large quantity of unknowns, I can imagine the toll simply living can put on a baby body. For this reason, the joys of a nice massage are not just for worn-out mamas. Infant massage can help you and baby reduce stress, rest, and bond.

Whether you have just a few minutes to rub baby’s tummy or can fit in a full-body massage, both baby and you can benefit from meaningful time together, one-on-one, to rub away the day’s stressors. If your babe has any health issues, always consult with your doctor before offering your wee one an infant massage.

Online videos can offer you insights in how to best massage your babe in detail, but here are a few tips:

  • Ask permission from your baby before massage. A toddler you can actually ask; an infant may roll away, have stiff arms and legs, or fuss if not interested. You know your baby. Also consider your babe’s temperament before offering massage. If babe is too grumpy, tired, or stimulated, a massage may cause further irritation and stimulation. Wait until your babe is content overall. Ideally, wait until about an hour after eating or avoid the belly and back when you offer your babe a massage.
  • Remove your jewelry, grab oil or other child-safe form of moisture if you’d like, and find a comfortable area. Make eye contact and speak softly with your baby if you’d like. Consider the difference in this massage versus one you might receive as an adult by a professional. As an adult you spend much of your time inaccessible with eyes closed and without much conversation; with your child feel free to make eye contact, gently speak, and respond to your child’s movements.
  • After washing your hands, use a soft but firm touch to offer massage in long strokes, gentle twists, taps, and little circular motions. Gently stretch joints of the toes, fingers, and wrists. When you approach the belly, an inverted L and “I love you” movement across the abdomen can help aid digestion. To help ensure your baby retains warmth, keep baby covered. Afterward, offer milk or cuddles before transitioning to rest or slowly returning to more activity.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Sleepless Through the Night

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Tired MamaHave you heard the riddle about the mom who does nothing and everything all at once? Neither have I, but I’m certain that mother is a mother to a newborn. I know because I’ve been there twice now. There I was, on the couch, for the umpteenth hour in a row it seemed—not awake but so clearly not asleep.

Many nights with my feet propped up, we sat down for the nightly adventure. I encouraged my husband to sleep because I’d still have to wake and pump if he fed the baby a bottle. So our nights became routine: dinner, bath, “night dipe,” and a kiss goodnight. Reruns became my new best friend because anything else required too much of me. My first son was born around the holidays. Deep, deep in my heart forevermore is the intertwined relationship of Christmas lights, sleepless nights, and nursing. My eyelids as heavy as his, we lounged through the night and then lounged through the day. It was a beautiful time in my life but also quite hard.

I needn’t explain it to mothers out there. We all know these nights. The ones that leave us needing a truck full of caffeine with a loan request for patience pending. There were the nights we didn’t sleep at all. Then came the nights when we woke only three or four times… then two. At exactly eight weeks for both of my boys (though not long lived) we were given a surprise.

I remember waking to the sun shining through the mini-blinds. I remember the folklore of this moment, passed down to me from many a mother: the moment where you run to the crib because surely if the baby didn’t wake something must be wrong. I didn’t run; I didn’t exactly walk either. I rolled my chest full of milk out of bed and gently pattered down the hall. Afraid to wake him but more afraid he couldn’t be woken, I slowly—ever so slowly—turned the doorknob and peered through a tiny slit into the room. I cursed myself for putting the crib on the opposite wall requiring me to open the door fully to know my babe’s fate. Fast asleep.

More sleepless nights came. They still do. Our 18-month old sleeps better than our three year old often times. When we had our second child I came to know old advice I was given was actually a riddle. It goes like this: When the baby sleeps, who sleeps? The only possible answer is a mommy with one child. Naps with one child are an uncommon luxury; naps with two or more children may never happen again. So take heart my fellow mothers, whether one or twenty kids! The night is ours. It is boundless and it is our bounty.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.