Friday, December 26, 2014

14 things that affect baby sleep (and ruin your night):

Parent hood (and actually every day of my life) is more stressful when I haven't gotten my 10 hours of rest. However, as a parent, all that's left of those glory days of sleep are memories.

Baby sleep is as enigmatic but is also the key to feeling like you can make it through the day (along with those baby smiles, and giggles ofcourse). My goal from the beginning has been to get my baby to try and sleep continuously, and trust me on this one, it is not easy!

Fortunately or not, I am an obsessive data junkie, and have spent almost 11 months now graphing everything in my child's life. Yes, that actually means that when he wakes up I turn off my timer while running to his room to get him (and yes, I started in hospital on the day he was born). I have now reached a point where I can pretty much predict how my night is going to go, based on the kind of day my baby has had. Below is a list of some factors affecting baby sleep  (these are all universal - if I made a list of the things keeping Riaan up at night it would include art being changed in his room that he has to touch and explore at 4am).
Longest stretch of sleep by date (we got teeth last week as you can see)
(Note: For information on different ways to get your baby to sleep or on sleep training, click here.)

14 things that affect baby sleep, and have a detrimental effect on your night: 

1. Change of place: Apparently as a child, I slept easily and everywhere. I don't know if it's our new-age breed of hyper alert kids, or something I drank before I knew I was pregnant, but my son does NOT sleep everywhere. He barely sleeps anywhere!
Going on vacation, changing his room (even though we carry his travel crib that was once his normal bed), or even having him sleep in the same room as us, ensures that he will be up singing all night long. So if you are planning a vacation, try and take a bed your baby is used to, plan a longer stay (or an earlier night in bed), and nap when baby naps, so that you can also get some rest.
If only all my babies slept this easily...

2. Change of person: I notice this more now than I did when my baby was younger, but he sleeps better and longer if my husband puts him to sleep. There have been times (specially now that I am in India and it is and endless wedding season), that I will get my baby completely ready for bed, go through his routine, nurse him, etc..  and then instead of my husband (who usually puts him to sleep), his nanny will walk him to bed. He will go down easily with no fuss. However, he will wake up again and again and again, even after we come home and have walked him back to sleep ourselves.

3. Night routine: Having a consistent night routine for your baby is important as it signals to your little one that it is time for bed. Try to keep this as consistent as possible no matter where you are or what is happening. As a rule, I will not go anywhere until I have gone through this myself with my child not only because it's important to our relationship and bonding but also  because it is important to how well he will sleep at night! Our routine is - dinner, massage, bath, story time, nursing session (often with a lullaby), music (which stays on), burp and walk for a few minutes and then put down in bed to sleep.

4. Day sleep: The longer he sleeps in the day, and better he naps, the better he or she will sleep at night. This is universal because babies who are well rested are not overtired or overstimulated and can and will sleep better at night.

5. Baby Habits: If your baby is used to sleeping with you, putting your little in another room or even bed will change your sleep pattern. As will, putting him in your bed if he is not used to sleeping there (this may sound odd but is known to make your child want to nurse or wake up more just from the excitement of being around you). So set up habits that you can maintain, and while you cannot spoil a newborn, an older child (4 months and up) is much more sensitive to any changes in routines and habits.

6. Teething: My regular readers are sure to be familiar with my teething woes. I am now at a point where all else being stable, I will check for a tooth and find one, when my child won't sleep more than 2 hours at a stretch. We had weeks of sleepless nights when he started teething, however, they were not nearly as bad as when a tooth actually came. I probably lost weeks of sleep on the first tooth and now every new tooth costs me about 3-5 nights of sleep. We are 6 down, and have 14 to go! Yipeee (ugh)

7. Medications: Riaan and I have both been on a few medications in the last year - he recently had a course of antibiotics, he's also tried Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen) and homeopathy for teething. While painkillers do help him sleep during mild teething, when he was crying because there was a tooth coming out nothing helped. (Not even baby Benadryl (antihistamine), though if I'm interrogated about this one I will deny it!)
However, I recently took Percoset (oxycodone), which is baby safe - it was prescribed to me during delivery, and that made him sleep quickly and through the night. I am not advocating drugging your children, but just want you to be aware that the things we put in even in us, can affect our nursing younglings (so stay away from caffeine when you want your baby to sleep).

8. Congestion: It's heart wrenching to hear your little one wake up and struggle to breathe. If your baby has a cold or is perpetually congested (like mine, who inherited this gift from his father), make sure to clean your baby's nose before bedtime. You can use the nosefrida, an aspirator or just make it a habit to give baby a night bath and clean out your child's nostrils completely. (FYI, I never thought I would say that, let alone write it).

9. Temperature: Of your child and the room. An unwell baby is clingy and wants to be held by mommy, and a room too hot or cold will keep baby up at night. The rule of thumb is: baby should be in one more layer than you would be in a room of the same temperature. (Baby's blanket, if any, should be thin and breathable and tucked in tightly).  

10. Hunger: From day 1, we have learned that a hungry baby is a very cranky one.   This does not go on forever, my 11 month old does not need a feed between 8pm and 6am. However, when he is up, he's screaming for mommy. Once you wean your baby off the middle of the night feeds and (this is key) they get used to this, you will get more sleep. However, if they don't eat well in the day for any reason, they will be up at night.

11. Separation anxiety: When your child misses you, they will make you make up the time away! All through the night, momma. Be prepared,

12. Stranger danger: The much dreaded (or anticipated if you, like me, don't like people taking your child from your arms because you use baby duty as a way to build up your biceps), stranger anxiety starts around 9 months, and how bad or mild it is just varies from baby to baby. However, if your child is alert and has been exposed to too many new people in a day, they will find a way to tell you all about it through the night.

13. Milestones: When kids learn new things, they want to practice it, over and over, in the middle of the night! They do get over this though, how long it takes just depends on how much you can wear them out in the day.

14. Sleep regressions: These do exist. Specially at 4 months when the baby's sleep rhythms change to become more adult like and they go into light sleep before deep sleep (unlike before). This unfortunately will take some readjusting and time. This is often also a good time to look at sleep training for the parents who are willing to do so.

This list is not exhaustive but it does cover the top reasons babies wake up at night and will hopefully help you realize why your baby is up the next time that happens.
Goodluck trying to catch some shuteye.
More to come!

all content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Friday, December 12, 2014

10 Sane sounding pieces of advice that new parents should ignore:

As new moms, we are sounding boards for all the things people think they did right, wish they had done different, or heard through the grapevine. It almost appears as all these well-meaning folks think they can do this better than we can! Regardless of the answer to this one, some of the advice you receive may sound really good, but can actually be harmful to your child.

Below are some common things I've heard, and why I (and you) should stay away from them.

(If you do get sick of me sounding like the safety police in this one, here is a list of the most annoying things we hear, that should keep you better entertained).

10 sane sounding pieces of advice that new moms should not take:

1. "Your baby will sleep better on their tummy."
Yes, my baby probably does sleep better now that he rolls over on his tummy. But he rolls over himself and is old enough to roll back, to know when he is suffocating, and....he is now old enough to sleep through the night! That comes with age, not with the position of the baby. Children placed on their tummy to sleep before they can roll over on their own can suffocate, as much as I wanted to sleep through the night, the risk was never worthwhile to me (as I am sure it isn't to you).

Note: even after baby can put themselves in that position, you should continue to put your baby to sleep on their backs, and let them choose which position gives them the most comfort.

2. "Use a thick blanket to keep your baby warm."
No, no, no, please no....... the number of children that suffocate is scary. You can tuck in a blanket around your baby, but a thin breathable one, preferably muslin. Even safer than that, are sleepsacks. Yes, babies feel colder than we do, but they need one additional layer only, so buy a thick fleece sleepsack, a warm swaddle and add a thin blanket that can be securely tucked in, and your baby will sleep just fine (For a baby, that is).
Tucking them in a thin blanket is the safer alternative..

3. "Rub honey on your little one's gums to help with teething."
There is a lot of stuff out there to help with teething, from rings to natural and even medicated gels. Even cold carrot sticks can give your child relief from those itchy and often painful gums. What does not give your baby relief and can actually make your baby really sick is honey. Yes, there are people who swear this helps, and I'm sure it does by giving your little one a sugar rush and distracting them with sweetness. However, honey can cause botulism in babies so keep it away until your child is old enough to ask for it (or atleast two, if you have a baby prodigy).

4. "Throwing your youngling in a pool, will teach them how to swim."
Many of us have heard about that one baby that got thrown into the pool and could swim, however, there are even more kids who are thrown in and have become terrified of the water. More seriously, drowning is one of the leading causes of ïnfant and toddler death and should not be experimented with.
Always in arms reach, or in your arms...

5. "Keep your baby up late and it will sleep better at night."
This actually is logical, I personally sleep better when I'm exhausted. However, our little ones defy all known logic here because an overtired baby - sleeps less! A lot less, and keeps waking up and crying. I have months of my own data (for those who didn't know that I'm a data junkie, and want to know more about this, click here,) that shows this; but we also have well documented research that shows this to be true and universal based on your baby's brain development. So, to get some (relatively) uninterrupted zzz's at night, put your baby to nap regularly in the day, and get them to bed at a reasonable hour. (More on sleep training, can be found here).

6. "Your breastfed baby can dehydrate in the heat, so make sure to give him/her plenty of water."
Breast fed babies do not actually need any water. They get plenty of it from you, and more than that can actually be harmful! After 6 months, a little (one or two ounces/ thirty to sixty ml) of water can be given to baby in a sippy cup. However, this is really for sippy cup training and not because they need water. (Don't bother wasting your milk by putting it in the cup).
Sippy cup training at 6 months
7. "Make sure your newborn doesn't go hungry, so supplement till your milk comes in."
If you plan to breastfeed, don't do it! Yes, there are a couple frustrating nights ahead waiting for your milk, and you are ofcourse wiped out from the delivery and desperate to feel like you are recovering. However, the more you latch your hungry baby, the quicker your milk will come in. Try not to interfere in this process. Your little one's belly is marble sized at birth, whatever you can provide for them is enough.

8. "Adding cereal to the bottle can keep your baby fuller."
Cereal, whenever introduced, should be done with a spoon. It can clog the milk bottle nipple, come out in a little bunch and actually hurt your darling. Also, introduced too young, it can be impossible for your baby to digest. 4 months of age is the earliest that any solid food should be introduced.

9. "Putting baby in a walker will help him/her walk faster"
Maybe, but it can also push my baby to walk before he (or she, ofcourse) is ready (and while his legs are still bow shaped), and actually stunt some of his muscular development. Also, walkers can move fast, are difficult to control and dangerous. (When baby is ready, you are safer picking a walking toy they can hold onto and push, than one they have to sit in. Plus, Jumperoo's are a blast until then!)
Push toys...
10. "Exposing your baby to germs will build their immunity."
It sure will! But is this a risk you want to take? I don't wipe down everything my child touches but if someone is sick, or if something falls on the ground, I'm sure as hell going to keep my child away until it (or they) are sanitized.

At the end of the day, you are the parent and need to make decisions that make you comfortable. Don't get bullied by anyone, into doing anything that does not make you uncomfortable. However, if you are under pressure, feel free to quote me to anyone who comes nagging, I'm always happy to help.
More to come!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

12 Hopes and Fears about Weaning:

Motherhood (thus far) has been a ride filled with joy, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, baby giggles, pride and delight, but most of all - GUILT!! Balance is a universal female goal that remains evasive, as even when we are trying to balance, we are hardwired to leave a part of our heads (or at least  hearts) with our little ones.

Breastfeeding on the other hand, for mothers who are able to make it through the tumultuous beginning is a source of joy and bonding (and ofcourse, pain, prohibition and frustration as well). However, it cannot go on for ever (thank heavens), and everyone does eventually reach a point where they want to move on. Not that we don't all know someone who is or has nursed a baby for much longer than is medically necessary, but this is a decision for the mother to make when she (and her baby) are ready.

Below are some common fears and hopes about weaning your little one (and getting your life back!), and some myth busters that will hopefully help you feel a little more reassured.

(For tips and tricks on introducing solids, click here.)

12 common hopes and fears about weaning:

Common weaning fears:

1. Will I ever be this close to my baby again?
Physically that (hopefully) is true, but emotionally you and your child will just keep getting closer. They already recognize you and while you may not be the source of their nutrition, you will still be the center of their universe for a while more.

2. How will I comfort my baby without nursing them?
While physically shutting them up with our breasts worked well for a while, you will reach a point where your child is comforted just with your presence or a hug. I am still nursing but no longer have to do so for comfort when my baby is upset. He crawls to me and rests his head on my chest and cuddles on his own accord.

3.  Does my baby still need the milk?
Until the age of 1, yes, the antibodies you pass on are helpful to your child. However, once they are eating solids, and have gone past 2 solid meals a day, you are (sorry) no longer their primary source of nutrition. So even if you haven't made it to your goal, and your baby is now on formula, or cows milk, you can cut back your feeds more and weigh the pros and cons of your decision at this point. But don't fret, you've done the best you can and your baby can still grow up to be strong and healthy even if you stop.

4. Have I done enough to alleviate my cancer risk?
Just by breastfeeding you have. Beyond that, it's all genetics and nutrition.

5. Will I be shamed by other moms?
Possibly, there are definitely moms who think they are superior and brag about how far they have made it, even if you have made it to your goal. However, that's not on you! Know that you instinctively will and have done what is best for your child, and ignore the noise.

6. Don't want to give formula when you have made it to as far as you have
Formula in the USA is often offered as the only option under the age of 1. However, talk to your pediatrician, as it is not the only option. If your child has displayed no signs of allergies and has other milk products, they can be moved to cow's milk directly. 

Common reasons to wean (and hopes to move on to):

7. You are running out of milk and tired of this entire supply and demand game
It was bound to happen at some point wasn't it? This is actually the most common reason to stop, and one that it not as much in your control once your baby is having solids.

8. You're ready for your (night) life (i.e.,sleep) and body back
You may already have it all back, lucky you! But while you are burning calories while you nurse, you are also a lot hungrier and likely eating a lot more than you did (pre-pregnancy). This appetite diminishes with time.

9. You are tired of waking up to nurse
And then falling asleep in awkward positions which hurt your back, or can hurt your baby. Of losing sleep in the middle of the night, and of being the only one who can do this amazing and yet exhausting act.

10. You are also tired of having the shit (or rather milk) bitten out of you
This is my number 1 reason at this point, almost 10 months, 4 teeth, knows the word "no" and yet thinks biting  (while smiling and watching his mama) and waiting for me to wail, is a really fun game.

11. You are also exhausted of staying awake pumping
Specially now that literally air goes in and out of the bottle, sometimes an odd drop will fly in, but most of the time it's just air. And yet, do we stop and risk dropping our supply more?

12. You just need a drink, like a real one..
Or twelve, in a row. Without counting how many hours it will be before you have to feed, or keeping your milk alcohol test strips out and ready before you leave the house or go to bed after that solitary drink. Not that I'm condoning irresponsible parenting, but I'm also acknowledging that as parents we deserve a night (actually a few hours) to let loose.

At some point, we need to let go of the guilt and fear and make the decision that is right for us, not just as moms but as individuals, executives and as wives too. I'm almost there, and continue to remind myself that I have done all I can so far to nourish my child, but soon enough it will be time to let go and move on. That doesn't mean you're any further from your baby, it just means you are ready to embrace the next phase.

I will also come back with tips on how to wean once I have gone through it completely myself.

More to come!

P.S. Sorry about the delayed post, have had my hands full "balancing" it all, but I will keep it coming as often as I can.

Friday, November 7, 2014

17 Ways you Know your Baby is a (still adorable) Brat:

It has to be fun to raise a really naughty kid, who's able to keep you perpetually entertained. Of course, I say that without only 9 months of first hand experience but with the knowledge that I was naughty as hell as a kid (I can't vouch that I grew out of it.) However, my mother must have really wished this on me as it's payback time. My baby is one of those that is just born naughty and so far, it's been one giggle of a ride... (Though I can only anticipate how terrible the terrible twos, and probably ones and threes will be!) Here are some ways I know I'm in big trouble, and that could help give you a headsup too.

17 Ways You know Your Baby is Naughty as Anything When:

1. Your baby gets a giggle out of blowing raspberries, endlessly. Note: He is the one blowing them on me!

2. You find yourself covered in suspicious hickeys, that your spouse didn't give you.

3. Your little one giggles at his own farts, cause ofcourse he knows it's bad ! (note, I say His cause of course we girls don't have any bad gas to release!)

4. Your baby spits (not spit up, I mean projectile spit) when it's done eating .. on your face! 

Requirement: Constant entertainment

5. Your little one makes sure that you (and the bathroom) are as wet as they are when you are giving them a bath (and sitting/ standing outside the tub, mind you.)

6. Chases after your pets just so he can pull their tails, tongues, ears or even skin. (For a while this was the only thing motivating Riaan to crawl, but don't worry there's no cruelty going on under my roof- Coco has been taught to run away if I'm not able to intercept when that bratty gleam appears in my baby's eyes.)
Run Coco, Run!

7. Your baby's favorite nursing position (which ofcourse they insist on) is not football, cradle or anything you have ever heard of before, It's rocking back and forth on their belly and taking "sips" at their will. Seriously, I feel like I'm wresting an alligator. 

8. They crawl away or sit up every time you try to nurse them to sleep.

9. Your nose is the preferred teether of choice. (Feels weird without teeth, but is Chinese torture once those little ones finally come in).

10. They know how to scrunch up their faces so that we think they are about to cry. This fools me no more! But melts my heart every time.

11. Your little one knows which ear piercing scream will make you come running every single time, and uses it to their advantage.

12. They shake their head from side to side or dig their faces into their car seat, your shoulder, or the closest available surface.. all to avoid their noses from being cleaned.
Don't you dare take away my moustache!
13. Your little one makes fake poop sounds, so that you stop feeding him, and put him down to change his diaper.

14. Once mobile, they can pull things off the wall (like embedded nightlights!) no matter how firmly they are grounded in.

15. They know what no means, and may even pause when you say it, but then grin and continue to do whatever they were doing !

16. Your keyboard keys are regularly pulled off! (within seconds while you are trying to put the thing away!) 

17.  Your little brat won't sit still for a second! Even story time is now an on the go activity.

Sit, Why?

Did I mention this is my almost 9 month old? Not even a toddler yet. If you are in as much trouble as me, you have my deepest sympathies, but also delight as this is going to be one heck of a joyful ride ahead.

Try to keep in mind that your child may not be as fun if they were quiet and diligent and enjoy every moment of this, no matter what shape it takes.

I'm going to be grateful for small mercies though, like the fact that he still sleeps in his bed (and not mine), even though I have to be so insistent when he wakes up at night, to keep this up. And that I'm burning calories while chasing and even crawling after him.

More to come!

P.S. The beginning of my teething horrors are behind me, our first two pearlies have made their appearance in the last month (he woke up on the hour for weeks while they wiggled out). Only 18 more to go!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be replicated or reproduced without permission.

Friday, October 31, 2014

29 Things About your Newborn baby that New and Expecting Moms Should Know:

Congratulations Mom! Or almost mom. You have alot to look forward to, and your life is about to change, permanently. But ofcourse, you knew that. Here are some things you may not have known and should be aware of, about your new born baby.

For more about your pregnancy, or labor and delivery, click here.

29 Thing to Know About Your Baby, at Birth: 

1. Yes, your baby is the cutest in the world! But rest assured (incase you get a little freaked out),  he or she is just going to keep getting cuter... And you may eventually look back and admit that newborns do look a little alien-ish. 

2. They have dry peeling skin (and even lips), which gets worse in the first few weeks. It's from suddenly having to deal with air after being in a pool for 9 months.

3. They have lanugo, which often falls off by 3-4 months. Note, some kids are just hairy, my son's moustache turned out to be genetic and not lanugo! But ofcourse it's still adorable! 

Cone head!

4. Have you heard of the cone-shaped head? No jokes! During a natural birth the head takes the shape of your pelvis.

5. Baby acne, newborn rash, Mongolian butt (that's a kind of birth mark on baby's bottom that takes years to go - I would post a picture but I don't want my baby to hold it against me someday!) These are all terms that you will likely become familiar with. 

6. Strawberry hemangioma, not as common, but still seen in 10% of babies, but can occur at birth or even after, on your baby's face or body. Basically, it's a blood vessel that got left behind (and is not in use) during fetal development. Unless it is in the way of your baby's vision (in which case show it to a doctor), leave it be. It will eventually fade away.

7. Your baby's skin is paper-thin. So be careful with the products you use, and with anything sharp that can hurt your little one. Do not use adult products on baby skin and while I would once have told you not to bother with all natural products and you should know too that skin has a very high permeability particularly baby skin, and so do try and choose products that are natural and also have natural preservatives (and a short shelf life), and actually have not just hypoallergenic labels but that have organic labels. They are worth the extra cost as they are free from harmful byproducts, sulphates, scary acrylates, synthetic  fragrances and and carcinogenic ingredients . If your baby has eczema or a skin sensitivity, then switch to all natural, but don't worry about the tried and tested baby stuff hurting your baby.

8. Baby nails - can scratch you and the baby. They also grow at a superhuman speed! Pack some little nail files in your hospital bag, or mittens, as your little one is likely to be born with claws.  This is just for fingernails though, the toes grow at a super slow rate (Yipee for small mercies). Mittens and socks will also keep those cold (and sometimes blue) hands and feet warm. 
Socks and mittens mandatory!

9. Are you one of those lucky ones whose baby was born with a full head of hair? (And like me, was gasping and burping with heartburn for almost the full 9 months). Try not to brag too much, these newborn locks often shed and fall, thanks ofcourse to your hormones (and friction from all that time baby spends on its back.) 

10. Be grateful for those locks though, they will cover the cradle cap (which is basically baby dandruff), that occurs also due to your hormones around 3 months of age. It can stay for what feels like forever. Don't be tempted to oil it, oil is what is causing it.You can use oil to help you scrape off scales but do not leave it on for long. Medela has a cradle cap cream that worked wonders for me. For more on what to shop and where to start, click here.

11. In three months, your baby will look completely different. That doesn't mean that if baby has daddy's nose their bone structure will change and they will suddenly have mommy's. However, the proportions change, the eyes open and the face structure becomes more defined. (Plus they chub up!) so enjoy the journey..that's when you can really start arguing about who your baby looks like. 

12. Meconium, or newborn poo, is hard, sticky and black. If it's touched your fingers (not on purpose ofcourse), you will learn that while it isn't smelly, it's a lot like tar. It's been building up in their bodies for months, and some babies do poo in utero. Your doctor will be able to tell if it's in your water (when it breaks) and decisions will have to be taken appropriately. (That sounds gross I know but at that point even your mucus covered baby is nothing but beautiful.)

13. Expect one poop and one pee in the first twenty four hours. Two of each in the next twenty four, three each in the 24 hours after that. At which point, once your milk kicks in, or formula if that's the case, you will have a more predictable pattern. Not all babies stick to the schedule but that's the minimum to expect - we had one pee and 6 poops in the first 24 hours (make your hubby change all these while u rest ofcourse). 

14. Your baby may be born wide awake, but may also, like most babies, sleep for the first 24 hours. Wake your baby to nurse, as the more often you nurse (even if it's for a few minutes at a time), the sooner your milk will come in.

15. Also, don't assume this calm sleepy nature is the norm.  Your little one is just tired from all that pushing and the sudden sensory overload. You won't be able to judge anything till you get home, and often not until after the first 3 weeks. 

16. While day 1 is for sleep, day 2 and 3 may be filled with tears and even hunger, while your milk comes in. Be strong and for breastfeeding moms, resist the temptation to supplement, please! If you keep latching your baby to you, your milk will come quicker (yes, there are exceptions, but do not give up easily or early), but the time spent on a bottle is that much less time your child is spending on stimulating your milk to come in.

17. While your milk comes in, your baby is getting colustrom, which is full of antibodies and very very healthy. And your baby's belly is the size of a little marble at birth, so even a little of that is enough to sustain them.

18. If you have a colicky newborn, do yourself a favor and find time to skim (if not read) Dr. Harvey Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block. I know you have enough going on and some of you are reading blogs to avoid reading full books (and for most of you, my blog should help you avoid having to read anything else), but for colicky babies, understand what the 5S's are - they will help you get some Z's in. 

19. If your baby has little boobs (even for boys), or some vaginal bleeding (just for girls, it's a baby period), or acne, don't panic. These are all little gifts we are giving them through our hormones. It's just part of the deal with all the antibodies and good stuff we are passing on as well. It will all go away before you know it.

20. You know that sensitive baby skin? It can also feel things a lot more intensely than our thicker skin can. So don't be afraid to cuddle your baby, massage him or her, and use your hands to show your affection. It will help you both bond, help release positive hormones, make your baby feel safe, and make your little one know they are loved.

21. Don't be afraid to hug, cuddle, pick up your baby (even the second it cries). There is no way to spoil a newborn! Infants, and toddlers on the other hand, are a whole other ballgame. Make the most of this while it lasts, you will miss it once your baby is throwing tantrums just to make you come running. 

22. Did you finally fall asleep, in the same room as your baby, just to be woken up by whistling, sneezing, snorting, whining, even crying? Wait a minute before rushing in and actually waking up your baby. Newborns are noisy sleepers! (more on baby sleep here, and here). 

23. Pacifiers and bottles are great (Seriously, I pumped and nursed so I almost never had to feed in public), but do not introduce them until 1 month if you are nursing, as your baby can get confused between the nipples and have trouble latching on to you. They can also affect your milk supply, if introduced early.

24. And yes, I did say pacifiers are great. My child never took to it, but for the few weeks that he did, it saved me from being a human pacifier (it didn't last long though). There are pros and cons here - the cons are that your child should be weaned off this young or it can affect their teeth and increase the chances of ear infections, it needs to be kept really clean, it is difficult to wean a child off this, and can actually reduce the sleep you get because babies keep waking up if this falls out of their mouth. On the flip side, it may buy you some quiet, and your baby will not sleep as deeply (which helps reduce the risk of SIDS).
25. Babies are born with an awareness of what their mothers may smell like, they know what we sound like, and within an hour of birth, they will be able to pick us out from anyone else due to our sound and the now confirmed smell.

26. They are also able to smell and taste the things we eat, in utero, so keep that in mind while you are fulfilling your cravings. (My little one may want to spend his life eating Taco Bell, and salted chips mixed in chocolate cake, I will keep you updated on this though!)

27. There will be times you will want to send your baby right back in, and will find no human way to do that. Ask your spouse, or mother (who is probably your greatest resource right now), to step in and help so you can sleep (that is, until the next feed).

28. Your baby's first graduation will be here before you know it, they will be  an infant instead of newborn after the first 3 months.

29. It's all worth it in the end, and often in the middle and beginning too. Believe it! 

For more on your new baby, your body, and dealing with it all, click here!

More to come!

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or copied without permission. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

27 Things About Labor and delivery That Every Expecting Mom Should Know:

While pregnant, I found myself caught up in arguments with my husband about my how he envisioned my labor process. He saw it as a short and quick process wherein you go to the hospital when your water breaks, women fuss and sweat while guests are waiting outside, and the baby is out so quick that there's even a risk of the delivery happening in the car. One of the times he was ranting about how he's scared I will deliver in the car, I had to sit him down and go through what was in his head and realized that all of his ideas came from the television! Quite contrary to what was going on in my head. 

Ever since I found out how babies were born, the thought of me being in that position scared the living daylights out of me. However, while I was pregnant, I tried not to think about it for the majority of my pregnancy and focused on what was going on with my baby in the present. By the time I was closer I just so ready to be done. I had over time though formed an idea of what I wanted my labor to be like, who I wanted in the room, whether I wanted drugs or not, whether I wanted my husband to cut the cord and so forth. These are all individual decisions and I'm not going to tell you what's right or wrong, as there is no right or wrong! However, I will give you some tips on things you should know - no matter what your decisions are, or will be.

(Note:  this will not be helpful to anyone who has an elective c-section coming up, but if you plan to try the normal labor route, please go ahead and continue reading.) 

27 Things About Labor and Delivery that Every Expecting Mom Should Know: 

1. Ignore everything you have seen on TV (unless you make a habit of watching birthing videos). Seriously. 

2. Yes, the first baby tends to be late, and girls (because they are, on average, smaller, do too) but there is actually no way to tell if your going to be early, or late. It's very circumstantial and depends on your pregnancy.  All you do know is that there is only a 9 percent chance that your baby will be born on its due date.

3. Even dilation and effacement doesn't give you much of an indication as you can be dilating a 'couple' centimeters for weeks before going into labor. 

4. Nor does your mucus plug. It's a discharge that happens before you go into labor (thought it can also happen during labor). It can happen weeks before or minutes before. 

5. Effacement is how short your cervix is (in percentage, at 100 percent, your cervix is completely shortened), while dilation is how open your cervix is (in centimeters). 

6. You push when you're at 10 centimeters dilated and contractions cause dilation. 

7. There are three stages of labor - Early labor, active labor (defined as contractions every 5 minutes or more, and dilation of 4 cms or more), and pushing (when you are dialated and contractions are 2 centimeters apart.)

8. Be your own advocate or appoint one (probably easier if you're screaming more than speaking).  Make sure they know your wishes and needs.

Some of the many decisions you will have to make in the hospital..

9. Make sure you know your own wishes and needs first! Would you like music, do you want to see yourself crowning in a mirror, would you like to be able to move around...., the list is endless! Download a simple birth plan (from any website) and go through the questions. You don't have to write it all down, just know what you will be comfortable with.

Some more..

10. Then, decide how much of that you can let go, as it will never be as ideal as it is in your head. 

11. Keep in mind that you have to be flexible, and let your advocate know what you would like to be flexible about. I was admitted to hospital because I felt that my son wasn't moving as much and it turned out that his heart rate was fluctuating (he stabilized but the docs decided to watch me and if needed, get him out.) However, my plan of moving around during labor and not being stuck to a bed and monitors went totally out of the window. 

12.  When admitted, tell your nurse what you would like. Don't give her an endless list or overwhelm her, just pick three things that are important to you, and let her know what they are. (Mine were - cord blood banking, an epidural and wanting both my husband and mom in the room.. Keep in mind that I was two weeks early and my mom was on a flight from India to the U.S and I went into labor while she was unreachable!!)

13. Trust your nurse. She is your best resource and has done this more times than you can imagine, and seen more than you (or atleast I) would want to know about. 

14. Pain and stress slows down the labor process and increases the chance that you will need a c-section. Try and keep as calm as possible and take things with you that will help like music, maybe certain aromas/ fragrances. You can't use candles in a hospital (oxygen + flame = fire!!!), but you can take certain oils or scents. 

15. If you can, move around during labor. Lying on your back in a bed is not the most comfortable position. Holding onto a railing, bending over, squatting, even poop position or having your husband rub your back, may be more comfortable to you. 

16. Stay at home as long as possible. Given the time of day estimate how far you are from the hospital and try not to go in until you are closer to delivering. The rule of thumb is when your Contractions are 5  minutes apart, lasting for one full minute and have been in this state for an hour. 

17. Only in 10 percent of deliveries, does your water break before your contractions start. It's usually the other way around. If your water breaks, go to the hospital. They will not be able to do too many medical exams (internal) but will need to keep an eye on how quickly your labor is processing as your child is now susceptible to infections. 

18. You actually can have a glass of wine while Laboring at home. (As per medical professionals, not just me. This was all in my plan that went out the window.) 

19. I know there's all this buzz about natural labor, but don't feel forced, pressured or stressed to do anything you are not comfortable with. There's no shame in wanting an epidural, or even other drugs during induction or while your labor is starting. You have grown a baby, you are already a hero. (Again, the more you stress or are in pain, the longer your labor and more likely you are to need an induction or c section due to the effect of stress hormones on the labor process.) 

20. I don't believe in making your decisions for you but I can't resist adding this - Home delivery, to me, is for pizza, not for babies. Get to a hospital, your child's life is in question, as is your own, why would you not want to have licensed medical professionals around? 

The talented Namita Azad struggled to get one of these with Coco in them too.

21. Epidurals are given in the spine. I was more terrified about this than the entire process because I knew I was going to get one. But honestly, it's given when you need it, and at that point the prick in your spine is really not as painful as the contractions. (My epidural was given by a resident because I was desperate, it was given 6 times because and I didn't care much about the pain from the injection because I was so excited to finally be getting some relief about 18 hours of labor). No you will not be groggy it does not put you to sleep but it does help you get some rest while your body prepares for labor. And no, it will not make your baby sleepy, all newborns are sleepy at birth (more on this next week). 
This was the best we got!

22. Group B strep is a type of bacteria that lives in your birth canal. Most women do not have it but some do, just like yeast. You will be tested a few weeks before delivery, and if you are positive you will be given iv-penicillin (or another antibiotic if you are penicillin allergic) every 4 hours during labor, to protect your child. Take the meds for your baby but don't stress about a positive diagnosis, and don't google the crazy list of signs either. You will just get scared and you don't need that right now. 

23. Do you believe in insurance? Cord blood banking is just that, it's an insurance policy for your baby and actually, your entire family, against any potential issues your child or relative or sibling can have in the future. If you can afford it do it, all you have to do is send the umbilical cord and placenta (the nurses will do it for you entirely), which would otherwise be medical waste anyway. (Note, in some hospitals you can donate it if you are not banking it.) 

24. Delayed cord clamping is all the rage nowadays. But while it does increase the iron your baby has in their blood at birth it also increases your baby's odds of getting jaundice as all that iron is hard on the baby's liver. You can always do a minute clamp and not wait for the umbilical cord to be completely dead, as that is a healthy medium (and will leave your cord bankable.) 

25. Even if you do end up with a c-section, insist on skin to skin as soon as you are able. It calms down your baby immediately, it helps you bond, it helps you nurse, it's been shown to be better for your baby's health in the short and long term, and it helps them recognize you! 

26. I was terrified about the recovery and had a lot of stitches, I didn't have an episiotomy (when the doctor has to cut, as that is no longer common practice  in the US but is practiced in most places), but I did tear. I must say, the doctors and nurses gave me great tips and meds (baby safe), and it was not as bad as I expected.

27. Breathe, breathe, breathe... Or don't! I practiced breathing while holding cubes of ice for a minute at a time.. And yet, when the time comes it's the last thing you want to do (unless you have superhero concentration) or be told to do.
I don't think any mom looks good in this post delivery shot!
But until you get there... Breathe!!!! It will be there, and will be over before you know it. You will be left cuddling your bundle of happiness (and desperate to sleep). 

I haven't gone in depth on many subjects, but if you have questions or want to know more, feel free to reach out.

I will be back with more on what to expect from your newborn baby.

More to come! 

All content on this blog belongs to the author and cannot be reproduced or replicated without permission.