Over many years of supporting families I’ve picked up a few ideas for what helps life go more smoothly when bringing a new child into the family. I’d like to share a few of my favorite ones, beginning with some advice about advice:
- Expect to receive conflicting advice. Weigh your options and find what feels right for you and your family. Don't waste your energy worrying about what others will think of your decisions.
- Arrange for breaks from the constant responsibility of caring for a child. You will come back refreshed and more engaged in your parenting. Work this in to your daily life. Taking time to care for yourself is a part of caring for your newborn.
- Take a breastfeeding class and have connections for lactation support. Breastfeeding is the best way to feed a newborn, but it isn't always easy. So set yourself up for success by knowing what to do if it gets difficult. Many breastfeeding challenges are easily remedied with good support. A Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) will be able to provide you with knowledgeable support.
- Get a good baby carrier (such as an Ergo, Moby Wrap or Catbird Baby Pikkolo — my current favorite, despite the unusual name). You'll get your hands back and your baby will love being close to you. Consider borrowing from a friend for a bit to see what works best for you and your baby.
- A surprising 10 to 20 percent of new parents experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. If you are feeling overwhelmed with depression, anxiety or other moods of parenthood seek help from a support group, a therapist or your doctor. Consult ppmdsupport.com for information about postpartum adjustment and connections to local resources. The non-birthing parent can also become depressed in the postpartum time. It is not normal to feel entrenched in misery. You are not alone, you are not to blame and you will get better, especially if you seek out help.
Lastly, take time to enjoy your new baby! The old cliché that they grow up fast is all too true, and these early days cannot be recaptured.
— Melinda Ferguson CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), PDT(DONA) has been a birth and postpartum doula since 2004. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Vocations at Bastyr University. Learn more about Melinda at CalmConfidentDoula.com.