In Part Two of this blog, I will discuss some of the topics that solicit advice and help you let the advice giver know that you value their thoughts and want to work together and educate each other for the safest outcomes. You may want to take a more gentle approach with someone who seems truly well-meaning, but a more firm approach with someone who seems to be coming from a place of criticism.
As a parent-to-be or new parent, hearing all the advice can make you feel overwhelmed, confused and often times stressed out. How do you know what to believe or what advice you should follow? Research is ongoing and constantly changing, so it is hard to stay on top of everything. Times have changed and so have many guidelines/suggestions. Some well intention advice comes from something that worked real well 20 years ago or even 50+ years ago but is no longer recommended today. Google is at your fingertips and easy to research anything but be careful about the validity of the sites you visit. Let’s work together to increase awareness about the postpartum period and how to best support your loved ones.
Below you will find the top 14 biggest pregnancy and postpartum related complaints I hear from my families about the advice they have been “given.” In no particular order!
I have cut and pasted brief excerpts taken directly verbatim from the websites provided for you to whip out of your back pocket and “share” with family and friends about what is current. Feel free to go and read ALL the information provided. Talk to your health care providers if you are feeling unsure or have further questions. There is a lot of information available on all these topics and since babies do not come with instruction manuals, I hope this helps you a little.
“Almost 7 years had passed between my second child and our surprise addition and having Colleen’s un- biased up to date knowledge on all things baby related saved my husband and I a ton of time on research and allowed us to spend more time with our children.” – Anne
Have you been in these scenarios or heard these statements?
Pregnant women states, the weather is so nice, can we sit outside on the patio? My partner only smokes outside, once he washes his hands, how long does he have to wait to hold the baby? My baby’s grandparents smoke, what do I do? – “If you are exposed to second hand smoke during pregnancy, both you and your baby are put at risk. Some of the health conditions associated with being exposed to second hand smoke are miscarriage, low birth weight, early birth, learning or behavioral deficiencies in your child, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Babies and children exposed to secondhand smoke may also develop asthma, allergies, more frequent lung and ear infections.” Children whose parents smoke only outside are still exposed to the chemicals in secondhand smoke. The harmful chemicals in smoke seep into hair, skin, and clothes. This means that your baby can breathe in those toxins when, say, he is cuddled, or even when he’s simply been where smoke has been. To minimize the risks, tell your family/friends to wash their hands as soon as they come into the house after smoking — in a perfect world, they’d shower and change, too. Though scientists aren’t sure how damaging these traces of toxic chemicals can be, even these small amounts seem to have the same effect as a low dose of secondhand smoke. The American Academy Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted research on the effects of third hand smoke and found that it is also harmful. Third hand smoke is the smoke left behind—the harmful toxins that remain in places where people have smoked previously. Third hand smoke can be found in the walls of a bar, upholstery on the seats of a car, or even a child’s hair after a caregiver smokes near the child.” http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/second-hand-smoke-and-pregnancy/
We were not able to get a cute picture of the baby during our sonogram, so I want to get more images. My parents are coming into town and would love to see what the baby looks like growing inside of me. My co-workers bought me a package at our local sonogram place. -“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has endorsed the following statement from the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) discouraging the use of obstetric ultrasonography for non-medical purposes. The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) advocates the responsible use of diagnostic ultrasound. The AIUM strongly discourages the non-medical use of ultrasound for psychosocial or entertainment purposes. The use of either two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) ultrasound to only view the fetus, obtain a picture of the fetus or determine the fetal gender without a medical indication is inappropriate and contrary to responsible medical practice. Although there are no confirmed biological effects on patients caused by exposures from present diagnostic ultrasound instruments, the possibility exists that such biological effects may be identified in the future. Thus ultrasound should be used in a prudent manner to provide medical benefit to the patient.” http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Ethics/Nonmedical-use-of-Obstetric-Ultrasonography
I have heard that I have to be careful about certain meats, cheeses, seafood and salads, how do I know what I can and cannot eat?– “There are essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your developing baby needs. Most foods are safe; however, there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy.” “Because pregnancy affects your immune system, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause foodborne illness. Even if you don’t feel sick, some “bugs” like Listeria and Toxoplasma can infect your baby and cause serious health problems. Your baby is also sensitive to toxins from the food that you eat, such as mercury in certain kinds of fish.” These are great websites to help determine how to prepare certain foods.” https://www.foodsafety.gov/risk/pregnant/chklist_pregnancy.html and http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
Do you ever put your baby down? Your baby is never going to learn to self-soothe if you are always holding them. You are going to spoil her if you never put her down. You don’t have to rush at every whimper. Crying is good for the baby’s lungs. “It is impossible to spoil a newborn; a newborn’s brain is not wired in the same way as an adult’s and in particular, the section of the brain responsible for habit formation is not fully connected until approximately six months of age. Research shows that keeping our newborns in close proximity to us as much as possible actually aids the brain to develop as well as regulating breathing and temperature and improving weight gain,” says Sarah. So hold your baby all you want, guilt free, in the knowledge that what you are actually doing is helping their development rather than hindering it. When a child younger than six months old cries, it’s always for a legitimate reason. Your little one could be telling you he’s hungry, tired, needs to be changed or even just wants to cuddle in the only way he knows how. Babies this young haven’t yet learned the cause and effect of their actions, so it’s impossible to spoil them. The quicker you respond to your little love’s cries, the more comforted he will feel.” http://www.webmd.boots.com/children/baby/features/spoil-newborn-baby http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2016/12/08/peds.2016-2063
I am NOT sleeping with my baby in my bed! I plan to share my bed with my baby. I just want to sleep, so I will do whatever allows me sleep. “The safety of bed sharing is controversial. Arguments in its favor are that it is the sleeping arrangement for most babies in the world and has been the sleeping arrangement for most of human history. For many parents, sharing a bed with their baby at night seems like the most natural thing to do, and provides an environment where a parent can respond promptly to their young infants’ needs. The evidence is not perfect, in part, because they are complicated by the high rates of cigarette smoking (a known risk factor for SIDS) in some of the studies. Also, it is sometimes hard to distinguish suffocation deaths from true SIDS deaths, and many suffocations occur when infants are sleeping on unsafe surfaces and in unsafe environments shared with adults.” “Co-sleeping essentially means sleeping in close proximity to your child. Bed sharing means sleeping in bed with your child. The baby should sleep in the same room as the parents, but not in the same bed (room sharing without bed-sharing). The AAP recommends room sharing for the first 6 months, ideally for the first year, because it can decrease the risk of SIDS by as much as 50% and is much safer than bed sharing. In addition, room sharing will make it easier for you to feed, comfort, and watch your baby. Safe infant sleep ultimately begins with a healthy gestation. Post-natally safe infant sleep begins with the presence of an informed, breastfeeding, committed mother, or an informed and committed father.”
My baby weighs 20 lbs at 4 months, can I switch him to face forward? My 5 year old complains that he is no longer a baby and shouldn’t have to sit in a booster seat. “All states require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria, but requirements vary by state and are based on age, weight and height. Often, this happens in three stages: infants use rear-facing infant seats; toddlers use forward-facing child safety seats; and older children use booster seats.” http://www.ghsa.org/html/stateinfo/laws/childsafety_laws.html
“The AAP recommends that all infants ride rear facing starting with their first ride home from the hospital. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 2 years of age or, preferably, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car seat manufacturer.” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx
Arizona specific- “On August 2, 2012 the existing Arizona car seat law covering children up to five years old changed, additionally requiring that children ages 5 through 7 (younger than 8) and 4’9″ or shorter must ride in a vehicle in a booster seat. Confused about what you are hearing and reading about the requirements of the new law? You’re not alone.” Here is a more detailed explanation with examples. http://phoenix.about.com/od/parenting/a/childseat.htm
Specific State Laws-http://drivinglaws.aaa.com/tag/child-passenger-safety/
I am afraid my baby will choke if she sleeps on her back? My babysitter always puts my baby to sleep on her side. Does back sleeping cause flat heads? “The Safe to Sleep campaign, formerly known as the Back to Sleep campaign, is an initiative backed by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the US National Institutes of Health to encourage parents to have their infants sleep on their backs (supine position) to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. Since “Safe to Sleep” was launched in 1994, the incidence of SIDS has declined by more than 50%.” “Several reassuring studies as well as the test of time have demonstrated that healthy babies put to sleep on their backs are not only able to turn their heads and/or protect their airways if and when they spit up, but are no more likely to have breathing or digestive-related problems than their belly-sleeping counterparts of years past. Part of the reason for the confusion is that when the government first came out with its ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign, it said side or back, but just a couple years later, it modified this recommendation because sometimes babies roll from their side onto their belly. The safest sleep position for babies is on their back. The fact of the matter is that it’s really not that much of a problem for most back-sleeping babies. In large part, that’s because you have a good deal of control over the situation. All you need to do is alternate the direction your baby faces each time she lies on her back— both while she is asleep and also when awake. By offering your newborn plenty of tummy time and time spent in positions other than flat on her back while she is awake, you can also help decrease the likelihood of a flat or misshapen head.
My best friend and co-worker say my baby will sleep through the night if I just put a little bit of cereal in his bottle. Is it ok if I put cereal in my baby’s night time bottle, I am just so tired. “Babies are born with a wonderful mechanism for knowing how much food they need. During the early months, they take their cues from the volume of what they drink. Adding cereal derails this mechanism. It forces them to take in deceptively large amounts of calories. It teaches them to overeat.” “Sleeping though the night is not just a matter of filling up. Little stomachs can only hold so much. Adding cereal to formula makes each feeding less nutritious in terms of calcium, other minerals, fats, and protein. She will sleep through the night when she is ready. (About half the bottle-fed infants are sleeping through the night at 8 weeks; half are not. Breast-fed infants normally wake for middle-of-the-night feedings for quite a while longer.) After the 4-month check-up (or as recommended by your child’s pediatrician) introduce small amounts of cereal and other baby foods on a spoon, not in the bottle.” http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/baby-bottles-cereal/
I have 3 kids under 3 and don’t have time to hold my newborn at every feed, I just roll up a blanket to keep the bottle propped. I see babies in their car seats all the time with their bottles propped. “While it might be convenient to prop your baby’s bottle in his crib so he can eat unassisted, it can also be dangerous. A propped bottle can pose life-threatening risks to your little one. When you prop your baby’s bottle in his crib, he has little control over how quickly he eats. A constant stream of breast milk or formula can cause choking if the liquid flows out of the bottle more quickly than your baby can drink it. When your baby is flat on his back, the liquid might also run into the wrong tube and cause him to choke or breathe the liquid into his lungs. If you prop your baby’s bottle on a blanket or pillow, he might shift in the crib, which can cause the soft bedding to move around and cover his face. This can lead to restricted breathing and suffocation. Propping a bottle in your baby’s crib can lead to tooth decay because his teeth have prolonged contact with the sugars from his food. When your baby is upright and awake while feeding, his saliva washes away the sugars, but when your baby is flat on his back, the liquid pools and causes the sugars to remain in contact with his teeth for a longer period of time. when your baby is flat on his back while drinking from a bottle, the liquid pools in the back of his mouth. This can cause an ear infection if the liquid backs up in his ears. As the liquid pools, it can lead to bacteria getting into your baby’s Eustachian tubes, which can cause an infection.”
If I give my baby some water, it will be ok, right? My neighbor told me to feed a little bit of water to my baby to get her to go longer stretches. “infants get all the water they need from breast milk or formula. Exclusively breastfed babies do not need additional water – breastmilk is 88% water and supplies all the fluids that your baby needs. Formula fed babies also do not routinely need extra water. Too much water can interfere with feeding because it fills baby up so that he nurses less. Babies need the nutrition and calories in breastmilk to grow – water has none of these. Giving water to a baby in large amounts can even lead to oral water intoxication in which the electrolytes (such as sodium) in a baby’s bloodstream become diluted, inhibiting normal bodily functions and leading to dangerous problems. Losing sodium can affect brain activity, so early symptoms of water intoxication can include irritability, drowsiness and other mental changes. Other symptoms include low body temperature (generally 97 degrees or less), puffiness or swelling in the face, and seizures.”
You don’t have to stay cooped up inside, just take her out. Bring her to church, just don’t put her in the nursery. “There are no hard and fast medical rules about how long to wait before taking a newborn out into the world. In public places (like malls, movie theaters, church and airplanes), be careful to avoid exposing your newborn to infections that others can carry. A newborn’s immune system is still developing and may not be able to fight off infections. Some doctors prefer for parents to wait until their baby is a few months old before going to crowded public places but fresh air and walks in the park are great. Your doctor may advise you to take extra precautions if your child was premature or has a condition that affects the immune system.” If you go out with your baby, it’s wise to take these precautions:
-Make sure your baby’s vaccines are up to date.
-Avoid exposing your child to people who are sick and have symptoms like diarrhea or runny noses.
-Ask anyone who holds, touches, or feeds your newborn to wash his or her hands first.
-Make sure that your baby is appropriately dressed when you go outdoors.” http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/newborn-out.html?WT.ac=ctg
When you go out to eat and your friend hands your 3mo a French fry to suck on. My baby goes to an in home day care where she gets “fed” by some of the other kids on accident. “Health experts and breastfeeding experts agree that it’s best to wait until your baby is around six months old before offering any food other than breast milk. The early introduction of solids in infancy is associated with increased body fat and weight in adolescents and adults. Human milk provides all the nutrients (including iron) that babies need for about the first six months of life. But once the iron stored during pregnancy is used up (at about 6 months of age), iron-rich foods such as meats or iron-fortified cereals need to be added to the baby’s diet. Plus, most babies are not developmentally ready for solid foods until around 6 months of age.”
The baby is cold, put on more clothes. My grandma is always putting hats and extra blankets on the baby. “Until your baby is about six months old, he or she will not have the ability to regulate his or her body temperature well. This means that infants can easily become too hot or too cold. It is your responsibility to keep your newborn warm and comfortable. Be careful not to overdress your newborn. Overheating can increase your baby’s risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As a general rule, babies should be dressed just one layer warmer than what is comfortable for their parents. A good way to check their temperature is to feel the back of their necks, not their hands or feet, which tend to be cooler. If a baby’s neck is hot and sweaty, she said, remove a layer of clothing. Even though we describe temperature awareness with babies as the Goldilocks Guide – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – when it comes to babies, temperature awareness is important and serious business. Your body temperature helps to regulate your baby’s body temperature, which is why skin-to-skin contact is so important in the hours following the birth. During skin-to-skin contact, if your baby feels too hot, your body will cool down, and if your baby feels too cold, your body will heat up.”
I’ve heard that it is no longer safe to swaddle babies? Arms up? Arms down? “A blanket wrapped snuggly around your baby’s body can resemble the mother’s womb and help soothe your newborn baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that when done correctly, swaddling can be an effective technique to help calm infants and promote sleep. Babies who are swaddled too tightly may develop a problem with their hips. Studies have found that straightening and tightly wrapping a baby’s legs can lead to hip dislocation or hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip joint where the top of the thigh bone is not held firmly in the socket of the hip. Most recommendations are to stop swaddling by age 2 months, before the baby intentionally starts to try to roll.” https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Swaddling-Is-it-Safe.aspx
My goal is to include all family members and friends in the education process so that everyone is on the same page and can be the best support for the new family. For new parents, it is especially important that they feel heard, not bullied, respected and confident in their parenting philosophies. If a new parent asks you for some piece of advice feel free to say, well we did this or we tried this and…….(give results) or say nothing at all. You can always turn it around and ask the parent-to-be or new parents, well what do you think will work best for you? Encourage them to research and figure out what feels best for them. There are many different solutions to a challenge and sometimes parents just need the freedom to search and try what feels right for their family. If you have a piece of advice that you are dying to share, ask PERMISSION first! If they say no thanks…move on and keep it to yourself.
In the end it is YOUR decision! Not your mothers, fathers, grandmothers, sisters, best friends, co-workers or neighbors. You know your baby the BEST. Follow your gut. You got this!
The information and opinions provided in this blog are not a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a qualified medical professional; nothing contained in this blog shall be presumed or shared as medical advice at any time.