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

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

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.

Baby’s arrival: Topics to discuss before baby arrives Part 2

Baby’s arrival is coming soon….Baby's arrival

Moms and dads transition to their roles as parents in different ways. Responsibilities, lifestyle adjustments, and financial difficulties can ALL add to the challenges that new parents face.

There are many important topics to discuss before baby’s arrival, so take the time and make these conversations happen now. I find the topics listed below to be super helpful for partners to start their parenting discussions.

Be there for each other (teamwork)

Babies do NOT come with instruction manuals, so working together to find solutions to problems that arise is important. Yes, if mom is breastfeeding, dad can help burping, changing diapers and calming. Dad can also do one of the night feedings with expressed breast milk so mom can get some extra shuteye. Life is always better when you have someone else to depend on. Do not be afraid to ask each other for help and be willing to “be ok” if the other partner does something a tad differently than you!

Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success-Unknown.

Create a general plan for who will handle what responsibilities.

Talk about this NOW and often as hurt feelings arise very easily over this. Do both parents work?  Is one staying home? If one parent is home, are they responsible for doing all the housework, cooking and taking care of the baby? Who does the grocery shopping and running errands? If both parents are working, who picks up and drops off at daycare or the sitters? Who gets alone time for self-care first and how often? Again, refer to TEAMWORK, talk and work together to make it work. It is NOT always easy, but soon you will figure out what works best for your family.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships-Henry Winkler.

Discuss finances

This is always a touchy topic – having kids can be expensive. The average cost to raise a child is $233k and families can expect to spend between $12,350 and nearly $14,000 a year, on average, to raise a child. It might be a good time to set a budget or at least talk about what finances will be like. Make a list of things that you can back on. Are you going to need childcare? In home with a nanny or daycare? What happens if one partner cuts back to part time?

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship-Benjamin Franklin

Discuss jobs and career

Does your current job offer maternity and/or paternity leave? How long does each partner get and what portion of your income is paid? What will finances look like if one parent does not go back to work? Is that even an option? It is hard for a parent to say, “Yes, I am going back to work after my leave” before the baby is even here. Things change. Careful and creative planning comes into play if one parent decides not to go back to because they love being home with the baby. Can you come up with a compromise?

Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future-Steve Jobs.

Discuss how this will impact your family

It took two of you to make the baby, so that means you will have a minimum of two sets of grandparents who are equally excited about the new grandchild.  Everyone has advice to give, some helpful and some not. Talk to your family BEFORE the baby is here, set some ground rules and make sure they respect your parenting style(s) even if they do not agree.  Ask yourselves, how do you split time between families? Whose house do you spend holidays at? Remember to stand up for your partner if a family member is being hurtful! This is YOUR baby not theirs.

Family is like music, some high notes, some low notes, but always a beautiful song-Unknown

Discuss your parenting philosophies

This is when you go back and think about your individual upbringings. What did you like? Dislike? Is there something fun that you remember about a friend’s family that you wished your family did? What have you seen watching other families? Children? Are you opposed to certain philosophies? Co-sleeping? Attachment parenting? Cry it out? Do you have the same faith? Do you celebrate certain holidays? Traditions?

The Golden Rule of Parenting; do unto your children as you wish your parents had done unto you-Louise Hart

Discuss the impact on your sex life

It is advised to abstain from sex for six weeks or until your doctor or midwife has cleared you. Hormones and libido change after childbirth, sleep deprivation always puts a damper on things and mom may be “touched out” from holding, nursing, soothing or being slept on all day. If the birth was traumatic, mom may be hesitant. Talk about ways to connect without being intimate (snuggle on the couch, hold hands, watch movies, shower together and make time to talk and check in every day). Be patient! Do not forget about birth control, there are plenty of options to try.

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain-Dolly Parton

Plan strategies for self-care

Discuss what you like to do individually and together and then make time for it to happen. When one partner is taking their time, let them have it undisturbed if possible. It is easy to lose your sense of self once the baby arrives and you will feel better when you take the time to care for yourself. It could be: taking a bath, exercising, getting your hair, nails or feet done, hitting golf balls, shooting baskets, crocheting, doing crossword puzzles, draw, paint, journal, take photos, going for a walk around the block, reading a book, playing a video game, unplugging from social media or just going into another room for a few minutes to clear your head.  A short break allows for your mind and body to rejuvenate.

The relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have-Jane Travis

BEFORE your baby arrives, schedule a time to talk with me. I will help start the conversations about these important topics and help you set realistic expectations. Baby’s arrival brings about so many changes, get a jump start on these topics today and keep your relationship on the same page.

Disclaimer-I am not taking on the role of a counselor or therapist, I am just suggesting topics to talk about before the baby arrives.

How to talk about potential parenting issues before baby arrives? Part 1

Pregnancy Tips for Parenting Discussions

How to start talking about parenting with your partner before the baby arrives

Part 1

Parenting
Postpartum RN-After Baby Consultant-Breastfeeding-Parenting-Home Safety-Consulting in Tucson

With all the excitement that surrounds your pregnancy; doctors’ appointments, picking out names, creating a registry, setting up the nursery, taking childbirth classes or reading books it is no wonder that parents forget to talk about HOW their lives will be affected after their baby arrives. Parenting starts before the baby arrives.

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Twas the night the baby came home…

One of my favorite family Christmas traditions is either reading or listening to Twas the Night Before Christmas Poem.  I know all too well what the first night home can be like for parents, so I thought I’d try my hand at creating my own comical version.

You’ve dreamed about what the first night home will be like with your new baby since you found out you were pregnant or got the official notice on your adoption and now it is finally here. Let’s face it, parenting can be overwhelming, baby’s don’t come with an instruction handbook and they can’t tell you what they want. Parenting takes strength and determination! Enjoy the adventure.

Twas the night the baby came home and all is a fog

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Saving the day, one diaper at a time.

Diaper Bag or Diaper Backpack?

What are the essentials to keep inside?

Diaper BagAt the end of a long day with your checklist in one hand and your water bottle in the other hand, you place your swollen, achy feet up on the couch and decide what item(s) you can check off your “things to get done before baby arrives” list. As you sink into the comfort of your couch, you grab your laptop and type in diaper bags. HOLY COW, there are thousands to choose from. Where do you begin? How do you choose one? What do you look for in a diaper bag?  Should you ask your friend about her bag to see if she likes it? Do you really care what it looks like or are you all about functionality? Once you narrow it down, you can buy it online or go to your local baby store to check it out.

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I am 1 in 4

In the October sea of PINK don’t forget the BLUE.  Most people know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but it is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15th is our day of remembrance. Did you know that 1 in 4 women will suffer a miscarriage or infant loss?

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
Jensen Carter Laszakovits

“A mother NEVER gets over losing her child.  It doesn’t matter how long it has been, how old her child was when they died, or the reason they were taken away. GRIEF does not ever expire! Never tell a mother whose child died to move on, get over it, just “be happy” that their child is in HEAVEN now or you are sick of hearing about it? She has to live with it every SINGLE day.”  Read more

Introducing…Tucson Bump2Baby…Welcome to your VILLAGE

Tucson Bump2Baby

Are you pregnant?

Want to be living a healthier lifestyle?

Curious about labor and delivery and want to be better informed?

Interested in having some additional support during labor and delivery?

Concerned you don’t know enough about taking care of a newborn?

Recently had a baby?

Struggling with breastfeeding?

Want more sleep?

Worried about postpartum depression or anxiety?

Have to go back to work?

Nervous that your home isn’t baby-proofed?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, we can help! You are not alone. Pregnancy and parenting bring on a WHOLE LIST of new questions and concerns, joy and happiness, as well as fears and anxieties about doing everything right. Whether this is your first, second, fifth, or your SURPRISE baby, we have you covered. Read more

Tips for dads:bonding with your newborn

Postpartum and Breastfeeding support-dad's and bonding
Bonding
Some new dad’s find it hard to bond completely with their little one especially if they are nursing.  Baby’s eat frequently and mom is the only one who can provide that nourishment in the beginning but soon, she can pump and share this responsibility with you.  There are many other ways for dad’s to connect with their little one’s right from the start. Dive right in and start connecting!
Studies show that “fathers who are at their baby’s birth, and hold their little one shortly afterwards, have very similar feelings of attachment to those experienced by mothers for the first few weeks” (Greenberg and Morris 1974; Peterson, Mehl and Liederman 1979; Parke and Sawin 1976).

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