Guidelines to newborn sleepRead More
Partners that don't do the feeding can feel useless, silly, and like they're missing out on valuable bonding time. Moments of clusterfeeds feel never ending, but you can be a part of the process. In fact you are important.
Below are some tips, for romantic or non-romantic partners, on how to support your busy partner (breastfeeding is hard work) and get some bonding time of your own.
Partners, you are a vital part of the nursing process. Your support can affect positive nursing outcomes!!
You know those Big Gulp cups from the gas station? Fill one of those up with water. Put it within reach. She will thank you. Seriously, SO PARCHING to breastfeed. (Is that a word?)
Snacks, snacks, snacks
Dehydrated string beans, Peanut M&Ms, apple slices, pizza, bagels, meatballs, the list could go on. Cravings do not subside for nursing moms. Some even claim the cravings are more intense! So break out the bag of Cheetos and pair it with some pepper slices.
Burp & change baby
This is your moment to be the burp expert and the speedy diaper changer. Your newborn might even still be alert and thus, you'll get some beautiful face time.
Skin to skin isn't just for breastfeeding
All baby needs is to be in a diaper. Non-breastfeeding partner, you can take off your shirt or open your shirt and place baby on your chest. Make sure to cover baby in a blanket so he or she is warm. Soak in all those baby smells and noises. And they will do the same for you! Skin to skin helps regulate babies warmth, calm them, and get them used to being on the outside of the womb.
If it is the middle of the night and mom needs to feed the baby (which is often and for a long time usually), get the baby, change the baby after feeding, and lay the baby back down. You can very much be a part of this process! Leaving your partner to do all the night wakings is lonely business.
Honor her space
Nursing is hard work. Anyone who is working hard might want accompaniment or to be left alone. Find out what your partner wants and then honor that. This is usually best discovered by talking and not trying to read minds!
Depending on how old baby is, partners can begin to feed baby from a bottle occasionally (the recommendation is around 6 weeks and to pace bottle feed). Until then, send this blog to an expecting partner and get the conversation started!
Anxiety for me personally began as a whisper after Ivy was born. While she slept, I wondered “Is she breathing?” and “If she is on her back and spits up, will she choke? Will I wake up to hear her?”
I spent feverish hours online scouring message boards and WebMD. I texted friends and took videos in case I needed to show the doctor.
Then one night turned into two, three, a week, a month, many months of worries accumulating. Worries about sleeping, nutrition, cognitive development. I read books, but all of the books said things that didn't match. In fact, it seemed that expert advice varied so much that people could just find any doctor to rationalize their own choices.
It occured to me that this was a mood disorder. I had anxiety.
As a postpartum doula, I know the importance of identifying these mood disorders early and often, but not everyone hires a doula, so I want to empower you to know the signs.
Three different postpartum mood disorders
Excessive crying, overwhelming fatigue but inability to sleep, severe mood swings, hopelessness, recurring thoughts of death, intense feelings of inadequacy, and withdrawn behavior. You don't have to display all of these to be depressed.
Inability to relax or sleep, nausea and dizziness, feelings of dress that something bad will happen to the baby. Again, you don't have to display all of these to have anxiety.
Intrusive and repetitive thoughts or images of something happening to the baby--it’s almost like anxiety but on repeat. That is the important difference between anxiety and OCD, because the two can seem similar, the feelings of horror becoming obsessive.
Many woman (and men too!!) have experienced mood disorders, but fewer report them, so giving you a statistic wouldn't be accurate or helpful. Even fewer dads report mood disorders.
So let me specify that this is different than Baby Blues that happen pretty soon after birth. Hormones take a little while to level out and while that happens, moms experience bouts of crying for no reason, joy, sorrow-- all of the feels rapidly changing. When these feelings take root is when they become a disorder.
Overall, it is harder becoming a mother than anyone is able to tell you and sometimes the anxiety doesn't go away.
There's no way to prepare a person for the emotional transition of motherhood. The most common unsolicited advice a pregnant mother will get, is to enjoy her sleep while she can. And while that's partially true-- there's more helpful advice we can circulate.
Some things that will absolutely help after baby is born is sleep, nutrition, and support. SNS!!!
But more importantly, that fear we have for our children doesn't go away just because we take a little Zoloft and/or exercise more.
As parents we may always live with the low functioning worry that potential harm could come to our kids. For some this stays until we grow old. Why? I'm no expert, but as soon as a baby is born, death is also born.
Coming to terms with this is a very difficult thing to do, but we are all experiencing this together.
In the meantime, here’s how to manage the low level anxiety of being a mom:
Don't go down the rabbit hole of internet searches.
This has never ever made anyone feel better. Ever.
Don't act on fear. Talk through it.
With a doctor, your spouse, your parents. Whoever.
Have a good support system.
Go join my Facebook Mom group! (Search What about Mom?!?) Or join any other Facebook group that welcomes you in with judgement free support.
Just know you're not alone, really.
Below is a jumping off point for families looking for baby monitors but not quite knowing where to begin!
The good—you can see your baby from anywhere, as long as you have a WiFi connection. There are so many additional features you can get with a WiFi monitor, like heat sensors, a microphone, and more.
The bad- Other people have been supposedly known to hack into networks. Does this actually happen? I don't know of anyone this has actually happened to, but it seems to be what the circulating chain email everyone got said.
This monitor is made by Kodak (remember those disposable cameras you brought to school dances, vacations, and Bar mitzvahs? I DO!). It was voted top monitor by Wired. It has all the bells and whistles!
Video Monitors, not connected to WiFi
The good- You can see baby when you need to and all the other great features, like monitoring room temp and a mic to talk to baby, are easy to come by. What’s even better?
The bad-If you are traveling on work, you cannot connect to the monitor via WiFi. (In some ways this is a blessing. You can trust your childcare to make sure your baby is safe, so you don’t have to.)
My spouse and I swear by this monitor. It gives us exactly what we need for peace of mind and the signal is strong enough to see our little girl from our back deck!
The good- Less is more here. These monitors are reasonably priced, and if you’re someone who lives an “out of sight, out of mind” mindset, this might be a good route. You can hear when baby is crying and if baby isn’t crying, he or she is ok.
The bad- For parents who need an extra piece of security to sleep at night, actually seeing baby can help relieve anxiety. It’s comforting to watch as your baby’s chest rises and falls. I get that.
This monitor is reasonably prices and still has some excellent features, like talk-back, a great range, and battery or plug-in choice.
But what about the Owlet?
Many times our fears dictate what we buy in the postpartum fog (ask any mom or dad that awakes to several Amazon packages but forgets why they bought what they did!). I always ask new parents, “why do you want the Owlet over other monitors?”
Typically what I uncover is that parents are worried that baby will stop breathing overnight. Is this irrational? Maybe a little. Have we all been there? YES. To be clear, an Owlet is not going to save a baby that stops breathing. It will simply alert you. Sometimes that alert does more harm than good because it’s set off by an overactive baby foot! (the Owlet is a monitor, if you didn’t know, that goes on the foot. It CAN be kicked loose). False alarms stoke the fear, and we don’t need that. For others, paying $299 gives us peace of mind when we need it. I was this person—only I was lucky to borrow my Owlet from a very kind cousin that understood my fear (thanks, Rachel!)
So overall, think about what you want from a monitor. The basics—to be able to hear your baby cry? A middle-of-the-road video monitor? A monitor that you can watch while you travel for work? Or the peace-of-mind knowing you can monitor baby’s heart rate and oxygen intake? If you’re still having trouble deciding, you are probably a libra. Just kidding. You’re a normal person. Schedule an hour consult with a postpartum doula you trust. We can help mitigate some of those fears and help you settle on a monitor you’ll be happy with.