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.

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.

Read more

Pregnancy and Parenting Advice: Part Two

Pregancy and Parenting Advice 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. Read more

Unwanted and Unsolicited Pregnancy and Parenting Advice

Unwanted advice

How to Handle Unwanted and Unsolicited Advice

Part One

As soon as you announce that your family is growing, be prepared for advice to start rolling in! From family members to random strangers, everyone has something to say! Some pieces of advice are helpful; some are annoying and others just down right odd.

I wish I could tell you WHY everyone feels the need to dish out advice, maybe it is human nature: people want to share their own experiences with you, they want to prevent you from making the same mistakes or go through what they went through. I think empathy plays a huge role, people feel compelled to help or solve a perceived issue for someone who is in need, especially if they have been in your position.

Hearing all the advice can make parents-to-be and new parents feel incredibly overwhelmed, confused and often times stressed out.  So how do you know what to believe or what advice you should follow? Read more

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

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

When your family expands through adoption.

Adoption

This is a little insight into my amazing sisters life and the twin boys who are now part of our forever family! Here is their story:

When a person has successfully made and delivered four kids, one would think….this is it. Well, our family was destined to be different.  We felt like we were supposed to “make four and get four”.  So, after “making” four kids in five years, it was time to start the process of “getting” four.  Sounds crazy, huh?  Well, it might be, but this is what our family has been called to do.  At the present time, we have made four and gotten two.  So there are two more out there, waiting patiently for us to claim them…..and that IS CRAZY. Crazy can be good. Read more

Postpartum Meaning: 1st, 2nd and 3rd time?

Postpartum Meaning

An undefined period of time after delivery for bonding, resting and adjusting while feeling loved and supported.

I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children, 2 daughters and 1 son. Parenting has been an incredible journey of ups and downs, mostly ups but one that has made me the person I am today. My first daughter was a big stubborn beautiful baby, my son was a robust handsome boy and my second daughter, my littlest princess, came out in a flash and hasn’t slowed down since. All three deliveries were very different, but I remember them all as if they were born yesterday. I am truly blessed! Read more