Being a grandparent in 2017

Grandparents:how times have changed

Last Sunday was National Grandparents Day and I read a statistic that was shocking to me: “Grandparents lead 37% of all U.S. households in this country — that’s 44 million households nationwide.”  Grandparents play a vital role in families and should have a day to be celebrated by those who love them.  Grandparents

A little history about Grandparents Day.  A woman named Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade of West Virginia started pursuing her goal to honor the importance of Grandparents in 1970 but it did not become a holiday until President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day in 1979. Her three main purposes for creating National Grandparents Day were to:

  1. Honor grandparents.
  2. Give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.
  3. Help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

Parenting Practices

Parenting practices have changed tremendously over the past 20 to 50 years as guidelines and recommendations have further developed.  As a result, these changes have contributed to many communication issues between parents and grandparents. Sometimes, feelings get hurt and misinformation is handed out leading to frustrated and overwhelmed parents. What can we do to help smooth this out for all generations? Educate Educate Educate.

I love including grandparents in family and newborn care. By learning how grandparents parented their own children and dispelling myths with evidence based research, it is easier to help them see how times have changed and how they can best support their grandchildren. My goal is to bring families closer together and allow everyone to peacefully celebrate the newest family member.  The three biggest topics I discuss with grandparents are: sleeping, breastfeeding and spoiling, however I am knowledgeable about plenty of other topics.

Sleeping

Prior to 1992 when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) introduced placing babies on their sides or backs to sleep, most babies slept on their tummies.  In 1994, the Back to Sleep education campaign was introduced to share research stating that it is best for babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). 1996 brought the AAP revision of their recommendations again to add that babies be placed to sleep on their backs on a firm surface with no soft bedding. In 2000, the Back to Sleep campaign revised its message again to include that bed sharing may be “considered hazardous under certain situations.”  Yes, there have been several revisions since 2000 but the current recommendation is still BACK TO SLEEP and sleeping in their parent’s room, not same bed, for at least the first 4-6 months!

Breastfeeding

Did you know that the infants grandmother has the most influential impact on whether the mom exclusively breastfeeds? Yes, this is true! Grandma’s, it is ok if you did not nurse, you can still support your daughter or daughter in law.  Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to boost the new mother’s breastfeeding confidence. Moms with newborns want and need your support! Do not let lack of breastfeeding knowledge and/or experience influence how you provide support.

Ways to help breastfeeding moms: offer to go to a breastfeeding class with them. Read about the numerous benefits of breastfeeding. Bring pillows for support, food for nourishment and water for hydration. Research evidence based websites together if they are struggling (kellymom.com).  Keep moms company when they sit down to nurse. Offer to burp baby in between breasts. Snuggle babies between feeds so mom gets a little break, but encourage her to feed on demand, not on a schedule.  Reassure her that she has enough milk for her baby and she does not need to supplement (unless the lactation consultant/pediatrician is concerned).  Build up moms confidence and help her trust her instincts, ask for help when needed and together you can get through the initial challenges of breastfeeding.

Spoiling

Last but certainly not least is that holding your baby all the time will spoil them.  This is not the case! Study after study show how crucial touch is for your baby’s growing development. Babies are completely incapable of being manipulative, therefore unable to “be spoiled” by being held all the time. Meeting your babies’ needs by quickly responding, snuggling, singing and talking to them immediately builds trust, safety and security for your infant.

Research shows that holding your babies results in less crying and more contented babies. Who doesn’t want that?  Therefore grandparents, encourage your family to hand the baby over to you for cuddle time. Share with the newest member how their parents were as babies.  If you are comfortable, ask to wear the baby. Keep the baby close. Holding and responding to your grand baby’s cry’s is meeting their basic needs.  You will have plenty of time to SPOIL them later in life.

Some things haven’t changed much

Disposable diapers are pretty much the same but definitely more absorbent. Most have newborn cutouts for the umbilical cord and lines that change color when baby is wet.  Cloth diapers are making a comeback and are much easier to use these days with buttons instead of diaper pins.  Swaddling blankets are made bigger and therefore easier to swaddle.  Sleep sacks are pretty common and have made swaddling a breeze for parents and grandparents alike.

It is hard to keep up with the constant changes in the world of moms, babies and families. As a grandparent-to-be or a veteran grandparent, ASK first how you can help and then support the parent’s decisions.   One of my many roles as a professional RN/Doula/Lactation Educator is to inform and educate.  I discuss the current recommendations and guidelines as to the WHY. Then it becomes the parents job to think about and apply what they believe will be the best decision for their family.

“I do not hold grandparents to be glorified babysitters but rather as parents’ surrogates who bring love, a continuance of generational values, and a sense of the child’s worth to the integrity of the family…”                  Marian McQuade

National Preparedness Month: Family Plan

What is a Family Plan?

Family Plan

I am so used to creating and planning with the families I support. Whether it be creating birth plans, a plan for your postpartum period, meal plans, returning to work or daycare plans or a plan for company to visit once you are home. Sometimes the importance of planning for the “OTHER” things fall to the bottom of the pile. Have you created your family plan?

In light of September being National Preparedness Month, is your family prepared in case of an emergency? Fire? Falls? Poisoning? Drowning? Abduction? Having children means, you can never be too careful.

With the recent devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma and all the wildfires, it got me thinking about the importance of planning and preparing for the little things too.  In-home disasters (water line breaks) or emergencies (fire) could happen at any time.  This blog will discuss BASIC things for family safety in your home, not dealing with natural disasters! Read more

How to know when to switch your baby from the bassinet to the crib?

BassinetThere are a variety of sleeping arrangements these days for babies from parents’ bed, rock n plays and bassinets to pack-n-plays/play yards and cribs.  How do you know when your baby has outgrown their current sleeping accommodations?  Today we will focus on WHEN to make the transition from bassinet to crib.

Baby’s tiny bodies love the close quarters of a bassinet. It is more womb-like than the crib.  Bassinets are mobile, smaller and fit nicely next to the bed so many parents choose to place their baby in one from the first night home while others start with the crib. The decision is yours; there is no hard fast rule.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “sharing a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent” https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-safe-sleep-recommendations-to-protect-against-sids.aspx

As always, make sure your baby sleeps on their back and that their sleeping surface is firm and uncluttered.  No bedding, padding or stuffed animals.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR BABY IS READY FOR THE TRANSITION:

First, what are the manufacturers weight limits for the bassinet?  Most bassinet weight limits are 15-20 pounds but may vary.  A smaller or premature baby may get longer use out of it than a larger baby.  This can mean that the transition may occur anywhere between 3 and 6 months. Make sure you start the transition prior to baby exceeding the limit.

Second, once the baby is rolling over or trying to sit up, the shallowness of the bassinet becomes a danger.  Babies could fall out or tip the bassinet over.

Third, does your baby look uncomfortable?  Is their head hitting the top or their feet up at the end? Your baby could be long and lanky and only 12 pounds but they may look squished in their bassinet.

Lastly, has your baby reduced or dropped their middle of the night feed? Babies tend to start entering deep sleep quicker and stay in deep sleep longer between 3-6 months.

Sleeping: bassinet to cribIf you are nervous about this move, try putting the baby down in the crib for nap times.  Play with your baby in the crib, do tummy time or lay them in the crib if you are putting laundry away or cleaning up their room.  If their crib is in another room, hook up a monitor so you can still see them.

Keep an eye on their weight, mobility and length to know when to begin the transition from bassinet to crib.  This will be one of MANY transitions as they grow.

             If you are looking for more helpful parenting tips, call me today.

 

Pregnant? Who provides your prenatal care?

2 lines or a + sign, now what?

prenatal-care
Pregnant

Whom do you tell first? How do you share the news? When do you tell?

Wait a couple weeks or shout it from the rooftops? Sorry, there is no right answer.

Once the initial shock or excitement has worn off and the reality has set in, how do you decide who to go to for your prenatal care? When do you start getting prenatal care?  Do you see an OB/GYN? Or a Midwife? Read more

Knowing What Expectations to Ignore

Unrealistic expectations can be harmful because they set us up for failure. Do not let that happen to you!

Part Two

Wonder Woman, shattering expectationsSetting realistic expectations about life with a newborn.

I love helping parents plan and prepare for their postpartum period.  Couples make birth plans to help them feel prepared and empowered during their labor and delivery. Planning for your postpartum period can help answer questions and allow parents to feel less anxious for this life change.  Taking the time to talk through what you think is going to happen versus the reality of what is likely to happen is important for this transition. Plan ahead for support or call in support before you feel like you are going to “lose it.” You may not experience all the expectations in the prior blog, or you may experience all of them and more. Setting realistic expectations can help with your postpartum emotions and your overall adjustment to parenting.  It doesn’t have to be BAD or TERRIBLE! Read more

Quick and Easy Father’s Day Gifts for the First Time Dad or Dad-to-be

Father's Day Gifts
Father’s Day Gifts

Looking for a fast and easy Father’s Day gift for the NEW dad or dad-to-be?

Father’s Day is just a few days away!  Do you need ideas that are quick and easy to give to the new dad in your home? One word: PERSONALIZATION

The most precious gifts I treasure from my girls are their homemade gifts.  It does not have to be perfect or expensive because when I look at it, it makes me smile. I have kept tons of colored pictures and drawings and my husband still has drawings in his office from years past. Read more

How to Overcome Unrealistic Expectations in the First Few Weeks of Parenting?

Get to know what your parenting expectations are so when the unrealistic expectations creep in, you can kick them to the curb!

Part One

Unrealistic Expectations

Have you heard that “your expectations determine your reality?” It is so true especially when it comes to having a new baby at home. Your body, daily routines, sleeping, eating, showering and all your activities are going to change.  It will be a time of transitions and adjustment, not just for you but for everybody in your household.  Embrace it! Talk about it and most importantly, believe that you can do it!

When you don’t know, what you don’t know, how do you know what to prepare for?

Setting unrealistic expectations only makes your job as an exhausted parent harder than it has to be. In all my years supporting families I have yet to meet a mom that is not exhausted, does not want to cry or parts of her body are sore at some point in the first week.  It is normal to have ALL these feelings. If you go into parenting with realistic expectations, the early days of parenting don’t seem so bad.

Parents should expect that

Babies:

  • Cry, sometimes a lot
  • Typically do not sleep at night but love to sleep during the day
  • Nurse a lot, possibly 15-20 times in a 24-hour period
  • Prefer to sleep on a person, not by themselves
  • WILL likely pee on by you at some point
  • Go through diapers and clothes like crazy

Moms:

  • May feel like a Mack truck has hit you on day 3 or 4
  • May bleed through your clothes
  • Breast milk may leak through your clothes and all over your bed sheets
  • Happy one minute, sad the next
  • Wish someone else could feed the baby
  • Long for alone time and a HOT shower
  • Dislike night time because you know you are not going to get enough sleep

Dads:

  • Wonder what happened to your partner(emotionally)
  • Utter exhaustion
  • Miss your partner, crave time together
  • Frustrated because you can’t “fix” everything
  • Not sure how to BEST help your partner
  • Feel helpless because you can’t nurse the baby (there are many other things you can do)
  • Are ready to go back to work

Parenting is HARD! Parenting a newborn is overwhelming.

As a postpartum registered nurse, working in a hospital, community health settings and in families homes made me feel like I had a good handle on what “life” would actually be like when I had our first. Ha Ha, I was wrong!  I had years of knowledge and experience plus my husband and I felt as prepared and ready as we could be.  However, knowing she was all our responsibility, made things a tad more overwhelming and scary. Having my own was very different from helping other families adjust and transition.  As an After Baby Consultant, my job is to stay current on all things mom, baby and family related and support parents in their parenting philosophies. I help them feel prepared for the unknowns, shorten their learning curve and give them the support to feel educated, informed and confident.  As a new parent, I learned that all my experiences and knowledge would only take me so far.  I had to rely on my instincts and trust my gut. Thankful for all the wisdom I gained while helping others as it made my transition easier and my expectations more realistic. You can be the best babysitter, nursery worker, auntie or friend, but when it is 2 a.m. and your baby is screaming while the world is sleeping, you realize parenting is HARD!

Appliances and cars come with instructions manuals, so why don’t babies?

You can read and research everything on newborns, but nothing can prepare you for the first night, week and month of life with your baby. The staff (instruction manuals) are with you at the hospital or birth center for the length of time you are there but once you leave, they do not come home with you. You are on your own. That first night home can be exciting, overwhelming, scary and downright exhausting.  Being in your own bed is heavenly but there is NO call light to push when you have questions or need help. You probably will not sleep much and if you do sleep, it will be with one eye open. Learning your baby’s noises and adjusting to their sleeping and feeding takes time, but you WILL get there. You try a lot of trial and error before you find out what works for your baby, then they change it up again. Not all things work with every baby and that is NORMAL too. Keep trying, talk to other parents and trust your gut.

Unrealistic Expectations

Call me today to talk about your postpartum expectations and we will make a plan together.

Check out part 2 on knowing what unrealistic expectations to ignore.