The new year has begun and with it comes fun new opportunities and perhaps some not so fun challenges...
"Will I ever sleep again?” is the question I’m often asked by new mums and expecting parents, and my half-joking answer is
Some background, as a lactation consultant in private practice and a newborn care educator, I facilitate educational workshops on breastfeeding for expectant families and this question is often asked at prenatal workshops and consultations.
Before becoming a lactation consultant, I was a baby nurse in New York City and spent countless hours up at night with mums and babies who were bottle or breastfed.
Even morehours were spent sitting on the floor of dimly lit rooms with nursing mums and their babies, once my focus on breastfeeding families narrowed.
I understand that sleep is a truly precious commodity, something longed for which at times may seem elusive. The old adage “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is easier to say than it is to consistently achieve.
So when I give my clients the answer that they don’t want to hear, it’s initially for effect, the deeper answer always follows.
Your relationship with sleep will change by necessity. In the last trimester of pregnancy, many mums experience a baby who becomes extremely active at night just when mum is finally able to become comfortable enough to get some rest. Newborn babies tend to carry on this behaviorasthey need no concept of day or night so they request to be fed, changed, and cuddled, with immediacy. Needing to be fed about every two to three hours in general, the care of a baby particularly in the newborn stage is extremely time-intensive and consuming. (aka bonding!) There is little chance for the six to eight hours in a row of sleep that we may be used to, and those days are honestly not coming back anytime soon for new parents.
What to do? First, go through the stages of grief for the sleep routine you once loved and have now lost; move from denial to acceptance as soon as you possibly can, that acceptance will come in many forms and is key to moving forward. Once you’re there, accept help from those on your team, the people you trust to be with your baby so that you can have the peace of mind needed to get some rest. Understand and accept that you may not always fall asleep when the opportunity arises, but at least you’ll rest.
When your baby is sleeping try to put your feet up and relax. The adrenaline and discomfort from birthing may still be with you and you may also have a personality that demands puttingthings in order around your home. Do your best to resist this feeling- really! This is where your team comes in. Partners, parents, close friends, postpartum doulas are the folks you may rely on to do chores or cuddle baby while you recover, rest, and maybe even actually nap.
Consider bed-sharing, the evidence shows that babies can safely sleep with parents so this may be an option that works for your family.
Thank goodness babies grow up and your old friend sleep will become a more regular companion. Sleeping 4-6 hours in a row at night is considered sleeping through the night for younger babies. There will be progressions and regressions in your child’s sleep patterns due to growth and developmental leaps like teething, but things will become far easier and even more fun, no worries you too will survive!
Then one day......they’ll get their drivers license!
Breastfeeding Support Circles -Jan 15 & 29 3:30-5:30 pm
How to Breastfeed Naturally (prenatal breastfeeding workshop) - Jan 15. 6:30pm-9:00 pm
Caring for a Newborn Baby - Jan 29, 6:30pm-9:00 pm
Click here to sign up and attend!
Stream the Baby in the Family Caring for a Newborn Baby workshop
Baby in the Family has you covered! Based on our popular workshop this streaming film features real newborn babies being bathed, dressed etc.
Contact us to gift it to your expectant friends- it's the Essential baby shower gift!
Collaboration with Bodily
A comfortable bra paired with healthy nipples is imperative while nursing.
Try The Insider Bra, it's buttery soft and loved by so many nursing (and non-nursing) mums! The nipple protection and recovery system is100% organic, plant basedand literally yummy!!
Halloween is in the rearview and there’s more than just a chill in the air here in NYC and the Northeast; it’s happening folks
A Season OF FIRSTS
So many of us really look forward to this time of year, reconnecting with family and friends through our holiday traditions. For families with new babies, this will be a season of many “firsts” with an extra sense of renewal. There is much to anticipate, preparations to make and with a new baby comes a few new considerations.
When traveling long distances with your new baby it’s important to remember to give yourself rest breaks for feedings and diaper checks. With newborns (babies under 30 days of age) it’s important to not exceed 90 minutes of driving without a break. You want to be well versed on the installation and proper use of your chosen infant car seat.
If you’re flying, be sure to familiarize yourself with TSA traveling with breast milk or formula. In fact, print out the rules and have them with you just in case. Remember that feeding during take-off and landing can help your baby ease the discomfort of air pressure changes.
Holiday parties are a major part of the season and the opportunity for families to introduce the new baby to the world. If your baby is a newborn, try to limit the amount of time they spend in small crowded spaces. Better to bring the baby out for a general introduction then back to a more private space where small groups of family and friends can have a bit more time with your newborn - after washing their hands thoroughly and swearing a solemn oath on pain of extreme bodily harm that they do not have a cold or flu. I’m sure the shudder-inducing image of your constantly sniffling cousin or uncle just popped into your mind!
DRINKING AND BREASTFEEDING
With all that out of the way, it’s time to get on with what we do most of at these events, eating and drinking.
In my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, and indeed much of the Caribbean we look forward to drinking Sorrel and Ponche de Creme. The former is a drink made from a flower in the hibiscus family with spices like clove and allspice depending on the family recipe and particular country. The latter is similar in look to egg nog and they both usually have a very generous amount of that very West Indian secret sauce (drum roll please) Rum! Whatever your libation of choice go ahead and enjoy it... in moderation.
If you’re breastfeeding, try to time your tipple for after a feeding. Only a small amount of the alcohol in your blood gets into your milk so there is no need to pump and dump, just HONESTLY assess your level of tipsy and wait until you are sober enough to drive to feed your baby or pump. If you find yourself on the kitchen counter slurring the words to Santa Baby, definitely skip the feeding and use the pumped milk that you smartly set aside before the party, then just wait until you are completely sober and probably hungover to resume breastfeeding.
Eating and Breastfeeding
At the dinner table, it’s time to enjoy all the specialities of the season some of which you had to avoid when you were pregnant at the last holiday gathering. Things are easier here as there are only three ingredients to scrupulously avoid if you are breastfeeding, parsley, sage and mint.
This is due to their effect on your milk supply. Avoid the mint candy canes and peppermint coffee drinks. Ask your host if the stuffing or the poultry is seasoned with parsley and sage and minimize how much of those herbs you actually eat or push it off to the side. If you can, ask your relatives to skip those ingredients if at all possible or if they are truly kind or really, really love you, (looking at you GrandMum/Auntie) make a bit of the whatever it is you have been craving, without the parsley or sage.
Breastfeeding in Comfort
With all the changes and adjustments in your typical routine with your baby, you may delay or skip a "feeding" by using pumped or expressed milk. Be sure to pump or hand express instead (or as soon as you can/ remember) this will help to avoid later discomfort, clogs and mastitis. In addition, avoid tight garments that may constrain your breasts.
There are comfortable bras that are supportive without the agony of an underwire. I have helped in the design process of the one HERE.
So there you have it, just a few adjustments for the season, and with your new baby here finally, it’s shaping up to be a memorable one! Enjoy yourself, your baby, and the wonderful (no politics!) time with friends and family. I wish you all the very best for the season and the coming New Year in 2020!