How Friendships Change When You Become a Parent and What to do about it

For my entire life, I have valued relationships deeply. I’ve had life-long childhood friends I’ve kept in contact with, college friends who I did most of my personal growth with, graduate school friends I’ve commiserated with, work friends, friends to drink beer with, and above-all else—new mom friends that understand the struggles I experience in a way that I perhaps thought my former friends could not.

None of these friends receive(d) equal time from me. Instead, I found myself wandering between friendships because each one gave me something I needed in a moment of time.

Something shifted recently and that has all changed. A friend I cherish the most reached out and said he felt like I had cut him out of my life.

Did I?

Through the process of becoming a mother, balancing being a supportive wife, and hard working employee, I had unintentionally cut him out of my life.

Which is to say my precious time was spent for me instead of by me.

Instead of meaningfully choosing what I did with my time, I spent it going grocery shopping, putting Ivy to bed, showing up at work early for a training, putting toys into a bin just to be pulled out again, doing laundry when I didn’t need to, complaining about it, staring at my phone mindlessly until minutes passed without me realizing. This

He sent me a podcast that encouraged me to think differently about my time and relationships, and I want to share it below because it changed me.

With the ever-increasing online persona we manager and decreasing in-person contact, it is harder than ever to be in control of how we spend our time and energy and with whom. It’s exponentially harder when you have a newborn and people don't realize in what ways your priorities have shifted.

So I have a few tips below I have summarized from the podcast.

  1. Decide how much time you have

    How much time do you have between feeding baby and putting baby down? How much time do you have to yourself after work (whatever it is you do besides being a mother) and putting the baby to sleep? Do you have three hours at night or in the morning or one?

  2. Who are the most important people to you and what are the most important activities?

    This can be family and friends or maybe just friends, if you have cut toxic family members out of your life. Who are the top ten people in your life? Why are they there? Do a little introspection and ask yourself, “how much time am I giving the ones I love and it is enough?” As an example, I decided on three people I most love and have been neglecting, and I decided how I wanted to communicate with them going forward.

  3. Set boundaries

    Great, I know who I want to spend time with. Now what? STOP overextending yourself by doing a lot of extra activities you don’t want to. Feel obligated to go to every single birthday party, happy hour, work event? Stop. Reclaim your time. Plan that trip with your sister. Ask your college friend over for dinner. The rest can go on hold.

  4. Communicate those boundaries

    Y’all. I’m not going to lie—this part is hard as hell. Most of us hate conflict and don’t know what to do when it happens. Hello, hi, this is me. Share those boundaries with the people you are prioritizing and those you are not. This could be as simple as, “Hi, Sara. I'm sorry I’ve not communicated better. Parenting a newborn has been hard in a way I wasn’t anticipating. Can we get together and talk about what our friendship looks like now that I’m a mom?” OR "Kennedy, we haven’t talked in a while, and I think that’s going to continue. I am prioritizing what’s important to me right now, and I want to spend the few moments I have with my family more. Can we talk about this?” These conversations are best in person, as the podcast suggests.

friends

Postpartum Doula or Night Nanny or Baby Nurse?

In the wee hours of Postpartum exhaustion, you might have Googled, “Help me at night with my newborn!!!!” to see results for Night Nannies and Baby Nurses and Doulas. So what are they and how exactly do they differ from Postpartum Doulas?

To put it simply, a Night Nanny can be anyone who is paid to come over at night to help with a newborn. This person may have many years of experience and be quite adept at offering tips and tricks. They might even know how to gasp sleep train! However, Night Nannies do not need to carry any certification, which means if there is an emergency situation, they might not be trained to help. Because of this, not every Night Nanny might be qualified to put a mind at ease.

A Baby Nurse is a bit more evasive. In big cities like Boston and LA, you can find someone to come into your home as a Newborn Care Specialist. Perhaps they worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at some point. With the title nurse, they should be medically able to monitor baby and mom, which can set many new families at ease. With that being said, not everyone titled “Baby Nurse” is an actual nurse! Some agencies call their contractors Baby Nurses when they are really just Night Nannies. If you see on an Agency website that a Baby Nurse can stay with a family for an extended period of time, night and day, they might actually be a nanny.

A Postpartum Doula is trained and certified to come into your home after the baby is born to help establish care routines like bath time, bedtime, and feeding. We can help mom and dads get sleep by watching the baby in the wee-hours of the night. We can identify feeding issues, mood disorders, and get parents to the right medically trained care professionals. A Postpartum Doula does not stay with families for an extended period of time like a nanny, though they do prefer to be booked in multi-hour increments. Postpartum doulas typically have a different focus than Nannies. We prefer to cultivate an environment where parents can bond with babies, as opposed to coming into the home and taking over the newborn care, which means we prioritize parents well being as much as baby's. It is these qualities that makes Postpartum doulas in high demand these days!

No matter who you are looking for to help, you want to ask your potential care professional the right questions. Below is a really good start!

What is their experience?

Are they doula certified through an agency that is reputable?

Are they CPR certified?

Do they ask questions to learn your expectations and needs?

Gut Check- Do you feel relieved and safe?

ProDoula has an excellent and more specific explanation of what Postpartum Doulas do on their blog. You can read it here!

We’re looking out for you, mamas and papas!

...and the winning bottle goes to...

Well it isn’t that simple, unfortunately. If one bottle was unanimously better than the others, that’s all we would have to buy at Target and on Amazon. Fortunately there are a lot of good bottles for different babies and their very real preferences. Below I’ve have explored some options so you don’t have to. I’ve written just a brief summary about each bottle. Enjoy!

First and foremost—WHEN to introduce a bottle is half of the secret. Waiting too long to introduce one and baby won’t be as willing (they’ll prefer the breast). There is a sweet spot around the 6th week of life. Around that time, mom and baby have established a breastfeeding bond. A bottle then won’t impede the that relationship, 9 times out of 10. This is what I recommend mamas do before going back to work, to those who just want to get away for an hour or two, and for dads who want to feed baby too. This also allows for enough time for parents to figure out which bottles work and which won’t.

The next issue is HOW to feed. Many bottles, no matter what brand, do not have a slow flow. It’s the nipple that controls flow. A bottle that flows too quickly gets baby the milk faster than mom (and this is one reasons baby may prefer a bottle over mama—faster milk!). A way to slow down the feeding without worrying about bottles or nipples is to Pace Bottle Feed. You can watch a video on how to do that here.

Ok, now onto the bottles. Thank you for your patience. There are so many bottles, but only a few worth talking about. Let’s break them down.

A few bottle with valves, odd shapes, and other gimmicks-

Munchkin Latch- Design kills the performance in this one. This bottle has an anti-colic blue valve at the bottom to regulate flow. Not only does this bottle have a tendency to leak if you put it in the warmer, the nipple is so soft it collapses easily on a vigorous eater.

Tommee Tippee- This bottle is compact, easy to clean because of its wide mouth (the gimmicky shape is an advantage here!), and doesn’t have extra parts that aren’t difficult to clean or assemble.

Dr. Browns- Although this bottle touts minimizing air entering the baby’s mouth, there are just too many small, hard-to-clean moveable parts to make that feature worth while. This bottle takes a while to assemble and is not fun to take on the go. With that being said, it has been my go-to. As a new mom, I bought into anything that would minimize those colicky, gassy screams post-meal. In hindsight, it didn’t help my daughter swallowing air!

Avent- Voted top bottle by Babylist, Today’s Parents, and many other magazines. It is easy to assemble, easy to find, and reasonably priced.

Bottles that come with your pump-

Medela and Spectra- Very simple bottles, cheap and they come with your pump! The spectra lids do not fit very well on the bottle and loosen on their own causing spills. The Medela model leaks from the nipple, and it collapses mid-feeding as well, which I obviously don’t need to say is frustrating for all parties involved.

Bottles with bags-

Kiinde and other bottles, where the bag is inserted are not actually easier and less time-consuming feeding methods. If anything Kiinde and other bottles like it are harder. These bottles only work with one kind of bag and those bags are expensive. They work only in the kiinde bottle warmer. The bag leaves some milk behind that’s difficult to suck out for baby. If all of those excite you, this is the right bottle!

Verdict- For parents who don’t know where to begin, don’t want to spend too much, or solve a puzzle when standing over their sink, the answer is Tommy Tippee or Avent. The rest seems to be more work than they’re worth!

Bottles not mentioned are Comotomo, Mam, among many others.

Today’s Parent wrote a similar article, explored more bottles, and came to some different conclusions. Read more here!

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Photocredit to Today’s Parent

Source: https://www.todaysparent.com/product-revie...