Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SAHM Triumph: Baby Advice

I had a dear friend ask me for advice. (I can give advice!) She actually asked everyone in her address book for parenting advice. She has a newborn and is sleepy, poor thing. This is what I wrote:

Dear Friend,

It's hard, huh? I think holding a newborn is the closest connection to God. He gives you this perfect little girl, which is wonderful, and then you realize it is the ultimate responsibility, which is frightening. There are all these people and all these books and they all mean well, but it comes down to--what do you think?

You might not know yet, but you will soon. And actually, you probably know more than you think. Here is what I think about newborns.

I think they shouldn't have schedules. Their stomach is the size of their fists, which is nothing. So, I nurse my babies whenever they fuss. I did this with Ty and Za. All the warnings that the baby will be spoiled, well, I just don't buy it. It is their food and for your milk supply to be built up, you have to nurse.

Which leads to my second 'I think' which is that moms need to nurse on demand. You said it at your shower--nursing is a commitment. It is a huge one, but one that, when the sleep deprivation subsides, you will be happy that you have. To do this, just nurse and sleep as much as you can. Don't worry about house duties or thank you notes or anything. Your job is to get her fed and in doing so, you will have an established milk supply. I nursed Ty for 14 months!

I also think that babies miss the closeness to their moms. I don't hold or rock Za to sleep anymore. I put her down and pat her. In fact, she fussed a bit while I was writing this, and I let her for a bit. She stopped and stayed asleep. I did rock and hold my babies while they slept for those first tough weeks because I think that mommy is all they know. I never worried about holding them while we both slept, but I didn't use blankets. I just wore long pajamas because I didn't want to tangle blankets. Some people worry about suffocation and that is a legitimate concern. I slept a bit propped up on the couch or rocking chair. Sometimes I laid in bed, but again, no blankets.   

At this early time, I always "took what I could get." If that meant sleeping at 3 pm and being awake at 1 am, I did it. I did keep the lights down at night so they would have internal clues. They are both on a schedule now. So my point is that what happens right now doesn't mean you are setting in stone the rest of the first year.

I have read most of Babywise and as I've mentioned to you before, I don't like that book. Every mom who I know (three moms to be specific) who followed the book's advice had their milk dry up. La Leche League and AAP don't support it, it seems:

I also found this:

"Newborns should be nursed whenever they show signs of hunger, such as increased alertness or activity, mouthing, or rooting. Crying is a late indicator of hunger. Newborns should be nursed approximately eight to 12 times every 24 hours until satiety."
Although demand feeding is endorsed by the Academy, WHO, and La Leche League among others, "Babywise" claims that demand feeding may be harmful and outlines a feeding schedule in contrast to it." 

B is right, all parents have their own methods, backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas. It is up to you to decide what you want to do. Is Emma crying because she's hungry? Is nursing going ok? It may be hard, but you can do it. Remember, the more you nurse, the more milk you make. If you need tips on this, ask your pediatrician to recommend you to a lactation consultant. I went and it helped so much.

If it's not the nursing or a strict schedule, then you've just got to make it through and she will get better. I suggest putting her down and if she wakes again, holding her while you sleep. Try the swing, try the bouncy seat. Ty liked to sleep on a blanket on the floor. Yeah, we spent tons of money on cute baby stuff and then the kid liked a $3 blanket on the floor. He still sleeps with that blanket.

Finally, that "normal feeling of life" will come back. It isn't going to be this week or this month though. You will figure it out. Everyone feels this way with such a new, overwhelming life change. I'm your cheerleader, and you can do it!