What I Wish I'd Known: 5 Tips for New Parents

So you announce you're pregnant with your first baby and all of a sudden people are tell you stories about their pregnancies and the funny or traumatizing stories of their birth and child rearing. You get judgement and opinions from strangers about what you eat or don't eat, do or don't do, believe in or don't believe in, etc. What you may not always receive is the non-judgmental guidance and advice on the things that really matter, the things people won't always tell you, or what they may not explain in enough detail. This blog contains five questions from mothers who know all too well what it's like to experience the unknowns of motherhood along with answers from a trained doula (including resources).

  • How am I supposed to ask for and accept help?

There is always SOMEONE willing to help you

No matter what you need help with, if you just do a little bit of research, you can find the right person for you. There are family members, friends, doulas, lactation consultants, therapists, chiropractors, nannies, babysitters, house cleaners, yoga instructors, Facebook groups, community groups, church groups, sleep trainers, meal delivery services, and the list goes on. 

Give Up Control

When you finally ask for help, it's important to give up control of that thing you asked for help with. Remember, you do not need to do everything momma!

  • How do I soothe my colicky baby?

First, make sure all of your baby’s physical needs are met. They should be fed, changed, and warm. After that, your baby may just need to be close to you, so hold them close. If you are a busy person, wear your baby

If your baby is still upset, try The 5 S's:

  1. Swaddle

  2. Side or Stomach

  3. Shush

  4. Swing

  5. Suck

Watch this video to see it in action.

The 5 S’s engage your baby’s calming reflex: It’s like the off-switch for crying and the on-switch for sleep!

  • How do I get some rest with my newborn?

Babies need to know they are loved, that their needs are met, and that they are safe. What you can do to help your baby know those things is feed them when they are hungry, change their diapers when they are wet/dirty, hold them often, and talk to them. This includes during the night. 

What you can do to help baby realize that night time is sleep time is create a bedtime routine (The key here is a routine - doing the same thing over and over. We are not talking about sleeping training at this point!). Read a book to your baby, slowly rock your baby, make their environment as peaceful as possible. Don't let baby fall asleep in your arms every night, they may become dependent on you to fall asleep, and to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. When they become drowsy in your arms, place them in their bed and wait, close by, until they are fully asleep.

"Most babies don’t start sleeping through the night (6 to 8 hours) until at least 3 months of age. But this can vary a lot. Some babies don’t sleep through the night until closer to 1 year."

"The way babies are nurtured by parents can promote or undermine balanced development."

"parents might benefit from more education about the normal development of--and wide variability in--infants’ sleep-wake cycles instead of only focusing on methods and interventions, especially for those who feel stressed about methods such as delayed response to crying."

The main thing to be gained here is that you will sleep less once your baby arrives, that's just a fact. Baby's tummies are still very small and they need milk to provide enough energy to keep sleeping. Baby's brain has not fully developed, they are still making neural connections. What they need for neural connections to occur is to feel loved--which actually builds the foundation for them to have empathy later in life.

side lying.jpg

My suggestion is to get help! Have your partner get up in the middle of the night to feed if possible. Hire an overnight postpartum doula as often as you can so you can sleep.Your baby will lead the way, once their tummies grow and they know their needs will be met, they will start sleeping more often. The keys are knowledge and the ability to ask for the help.

Another thing you can do when you are just so tired and need to rest, but also need to nurse your baby, is to use the side-lying nursing position. You can check out more info on that Here! Which brings us to the next question…

  • What do I need to know about breastfeeding?

There is so much to breastfeeding that books have been written, classes are offered, and groups meet regularly to discuss it. So here’s my advice to you:

  • Take breastfeeding class.

  • Read a book

  • Watch a mother breastfeed to see what it’s really like: spend time with a friend who is successfully nursing, attend a Le Leche League Meeting near you, watch educational videos

  • What is postpartum depression? Who can I talk to?

"It is not talked about enough."

"I had no coping mechanism and it became very difficult to live a normal life." 

These are the comments I received from experienced moms who dealt with postpartum depression.

What you can do to learn about postpartum depression before your baby arrives is to visit Postpartum Support International, read these books, and ask the mothers in your life to be honest with you about how they felt days, weeks, and months after their births.

If you think you are experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD or other perinatal mood disorders, please call the PSI Helpline: 1-800-944-4773, text 503-894-9453, or sign up for an online support meeting Here.

None of us have all the answers to motherhood when we are first starting out! We need to have a support network, people to help us and tools to pull on when things get tough. You are not alone and there is a vast network of people and services right here in Kansas City to help you with those things!