28 Sep A Baby!!
Wow what terrific news!! You are expecting a baby. That is absolutely fantastic!!! This little child is going to bring such joy into your life. You will discover a whole new side to your spouse, your parents, in-laws and family members. How great it is that a new life is growing inside you and soon will be born into this world. What a very special gift! Someone who will bring a joy to your life that no one else can. Congratulations!
You have embarked on the most marvelous adventure—family life. This child brings dreams, joys and excitement into your life and opens up whole new horizons. Yet pregnancy, childbirth and recovery are no easy matter. The joys of giving life are intermingled with many physical and emotional challenges. Here are just a few tips to help you on your way.
- inform yourself of the growth of the baby at each week. Sign up for a daily message about what is happening at every stage of your pregnancy. Watch this amazing video: Conception to birth — visualized . Your husband and you will more greatly appreciate the miracle of life by doing so. Also understand what pre-natal screening is all about and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by doctors to take action you will later regret, ie. an abortion. Inform yourself and take courage. God has brought this child into your life for a reason and will not abandon you. So many early possible difficulties disappear as the baby grows. Do not make any rash decisions. This child has a destiny and needs your courage.
- when smells bother you, use a fan in the kitchen to blow away the smell of foods
- keep crackers by your bedside for nausea in the morning
- pack some TUMS in your purse if you are prone to acid indigestion
- re-arrange your schedule when you feel tired so you get more sleep
- Check out the resources available in your community for labour and delivery: Doulas, mid-wives, Lamaze classes, LaLeche League, Community health programs, offer excellent support. Visit the hospital and get a tour of the delivery ward. Start looking at various mom’s groups (at churches, libraries, community centres etc.) you can link up with once you get your bearings after the delivery.
- Make a list of what you will need. Give interested relatives specific ideas for worthwhile gifts. Start collecting things – often yellow, green, orange are good colors for sleepers when you don’t know the sex of the child. Don’t worry about a full wardrobe of clothing, but do stock up on sleepers which are the most handy in the first months. Seek the advice of an experienced mom to know what’s really essential since the market creates many unnecessary needs.
- Exercise regularly, either on your own or in a pre-natal fitness class. It will allow you to handle the pregnancy better, make for an easier delivery and better recovery.
In the last few weeks before the baby is born:
- try to tie up any projects you need to have done before the baby is born. You will have neither energy nor time for quite a while after the delivery. So break down the jobs into bite size pieces and make progress every couple of days.
- wash up your baby clothes, pack your maternity bag
- if you have other children, buy extra socks and underwear to make your laundry needs less demanding when you come home from the hospital.
- If you can get yourself a small chest-size freezer, do so. It will help a lot during the first few months to have many frozen meals, bread,vegetables, soups etc. on hand.
- Start doubling your recipes and freezing main course meals. Believe me you won’t have the time or energy to cook properly once the baby is born and you will definitely need a highly nutritional meal to keep you both on track. When people ask what you would need, don’t hesitate to request a meal. My mother has often cooked, sliced and packaged a whole turkey, ham and roast for me before my deliveries. It was a tremendous help. Your spouse can easily cook up some noodles and cut up a salad, but he won’t have time to make a good main course meal.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables, bags of ravioli, frozen juices, even frozen soups you have made. You will need those vitamins and liquids to keep up a good milk supply.
- Think ahead if there is a change of season soon after the baby is born. Get in advance appropriate clothes, shoes, jackets, hats for older siblings.
- Start to connect with other young moms, either through your pre-natal class, a pre-natal fitness program, colleagues at work, moms in your neighborhood. This is important. You will face many changes and questions after this baby is born. It is worthwhile and so helpful to know some women who have been there or are going through similar experiences. It will help you to know you are normal and have a quick avenue of information about how moms cope.
- Arrange for help after the baby is born. Supportive relatives may be able to help in the first few weeks of recovery. This goes a long, long way. They help with cleaning, meals, and just holding the baby. If you have such help offered, consider taking it if you see your personalities working well together. Your husband is wonderful, but you will find he will also be shell-shocked from the whole thing and over-burdened by all the new responsibilities you have passed on to him at the birth of your first.
- Make a list of intentions you will offer your delivery for. No delivery is pleasant and we have a great way of imagining the worst even before it occurs. Write down specific people you will offer the pains of childbirth to God for. Ask your husband to bring it with you. Get him to remind you during your contractions who it will be offered for. This has helped me so much to have a sporting spirit to the birthing adventure. It will give you a sense of purpose, a higher meaning to your suffering and really allow you to make the world a better place.
Once the baby is born:
- Realize you are not super woman. You have just undergone a major physical event and you cannot jump back into your previous life for some time. The fact that your sleep will be disjointed for quite a while does not help, so lower your expectations considerably regarding personal energy and accomplishments.
- Put a star on your calendar at the three month mark and don’t expect any kind of regular schedule, sense of control or feeling like your old self before then. Each woman is different and recovery times vary. Don’t expect instant success. It takes time.
- Limit visiting time and phone calls. It’s great to see people, but not at the expense of your rest and energy level. At the beginning of the visit say, “I can only spend 15 minutes with you because I will need to go lie down.” They will understand and you will benefit.
- Get as much sleep as you can. Sleep deprivation sucks everything out of you. You won’t get a full night’s rest for some time. Most times when the baby goes for a nap, you should lie down. It is important to select neglect. The only important things are clean underwear and healthy food. When you are awake with the baby, take care of those two things, but when the baby lies down, try to do so yourself. You are good for no one when you are run down; your milk supply will suffer as well. You must get lots of rest.
- Get out of the house every day so you don’t feel cooped up. Either put the baby in a carriage or baby carrier, or sneak out on one of the naps when your husband is home. Just to get a breath of fresh air, walk around the block, see life beyond your four walls, gives a real re-charge to the battery. Exercise is important. Start slow, but do start. Dress the baby appropriately for the weather and head out the door. The fresh air and movement will be good for both of you.
- Eat well and drink lots of fluids. Easy to say, hard to do when you are on your own. Stock up on different kinds of juices, herbal teas. Get a water jug, keep it filled with water in the fridge and try to drink the whole thing once or twice a day. Take advantage of jello and soups as well for liquid supplement.
- Don’t let yourself feel guilty that you are not accomplishing much, ie. Meals, housecleaning, work, tasks etc. You are doing the most important job in your life—taking care of your baby and yourself. You both have lots to learn from each other and it initially takes a major investment of your time. Your baby will eventually learn to nurse faster, more efficiently and less often, but it takes time to get to that point. Each baby is different. Don’t compare. Just take it one day at a time.
- Focus on the positive. If you managed to get a shower, yippee! Your husband might think it’s nothing, but a mom knows it’s a lot to leave the baby and do something so simple for yourself. Each little thing you achieve (making a sandwich, doing a load of laundry, reading the mail, calling a friend) is a big thing. Pat yourself on the back. Each week will get easier and slowly over time you will get back to having a lot on the go at once. For now, focus on the positive.
- Realize too that post-natal depression happens to the best of moms. If you feel this might be your situation, make an appointment to see your doctor. It’s a common occurrence for many moms and don’t feel bad if it happens to you. I’ve experienced it and it’s not the end of the world but getting help makes a big difference.
- When friends ask if you need anything, say Yes. Ask them to come over for a short half hour visit. You need to keep your spirits high and girl-talk always helps. You also need someone else to hold your baby for a while and free you up. If they ask if there is anything they can do or get you, grab the opportunity. Suggest a meal. Ask them to take your other children for a bit so you can have a nap. Maybe they’d be open to picking up some groceries for you. Don’t feel you are imposing. You are giving them the opportunity to show their friendship for you. Allow them to be generous. People today are too concerned about being independent and looking self-sufficient. We need each other. We feel better when we are supported. We don’t fall apart as quickly when we have someone to turn to.
- When nursing the baby in the first few months, consider listening to your favorite radio station, a book on tape or some excellent talks on CD. Put a book in a recipe holder and read two pages each time you are nursing. How about going into the living room and watching your favorite movie or a self-help video on child care, gardening, cooking etc.? Turn this large amount of time into something that lifts your spirit or equips you for the future. You will find that the time will pass more quickly, feel more positive and be better spent.
- Find ways to spend time with your husband, praising all the little things he is doing for you and the baby, snuggling on the couch beside him, appreciating him, loving him. You are both caught up in a whirlwind of adjustment. Eventhough you are a bit of a basket case in the beginning, lovingly acknowledge what a wonderful husband and father he is. Teach him how to diaper, wash and hold the baby. So often men feel out of place with newborns. Be gentle and patient. Teach him, love him, enjoy him. Make time for him in little tiny chunks so that he knows he is needed, loved and important.
- Realize you are a big hormone and your body is undergoing a lot of adjustments. You will cry easily, feel totally wiped out, soar one minute and be down another. It takes time for your body to even out. Be patient. Take it minute by minute. Don’t compare yourself to your old life prior to the baby. Help your husband know it’s not him, just you, slowly getting your bearings. Nursing, good food, exercise and sleep help a lot. Keep your emotions up—get out of the house, call friends, make new ones. Join a mom’s group or playgroup at your earliest convenience. This time of adjustment and major transition will pass. Just take it one day at a time and you will do much better.
- Don’t feel bad if you are not immediately in love with motherhood. I felt that way when my first was born. I thought the nursery could do a much better job and just wanted to hand that baby off. I had never changed a diaper or babysat and the whole thing of mothering did not come naturally to me. However with daily perseverance and more sleep, things turned around for me. The joy of mothering takes time. Give it time—maybe several months, to adjust to your new role, to learn how to enjoy the baby and the special bond you have. A child is not an add on to your old life. Becoming a mother is a new life, a new way of being, of living, of loving. There is so much to adjust to when a baby comes into your life. Don’t allow feelings of incompetency, discouragement or sadness overtake you. God has given you a new job. It’s all new territory, requiring new skills, new expertise, new experiences. He has confidence you can do it because he made you and gave you this child. Give it time and it will all come together. Your tiny little baby has so many beautiful things to teach you. Have patience with yourself. You are a good mother and will get better!
When you have other children:
- Let your older children enjoy the positive points of your pregnancy—keeping track of the Growth of Baby your tummy getting bigger, feeling of a large family is a rich, engaging and dynamic interplay of individuals deeply imprinting each other. Truly, it is an adventure of a lifetime! the baby hiccup and kick. Start talking about the joys the baby will give them for their life.
- The children love to visit the baby in the hospital. This is such a beautiful event. Have your husband get the kids to make birthday cards for the baby to bring with them. You should also try to have something packed in your maternity bag as gifts to your children from the baby (stickers, chocolate bars, puzzles—something small and simple). This will be a real treat for the children. I remember when my children made a crown for the baby out of paper. We put it on and took many pictures of King Peter. Let them touch the baby, hold him and enjoy him.
- Have your husband get the kids to decorate the kitchen with a welcome home sign for when the baby comes home. Let it be a real cause for celebration. Maybe pick up some ice cream or a cake on the drive home for an added touch. They will all want to hold the baby and let them.
- If you do not have help at home, consider having your children spend some time away with relatives so that you can maximize your recovery. Either send them individually, or as a group. There is no harm in this. They will be pampered, a bit spoiled, but enjoy the experience. It will give them a sense of the broader family, build special memories and free you up for the baby. Accept that there will be a transition time when they get back, but focus on the the benefits you gained from the break.
- If you are a light sleeper and have the baby in the room with you, consider having a humidifier or fan on for background noise so that you don’t hear every little sound. We always put a big floor fan in the hallway so that the older children don’t hear who gets up at night and everyone sleeps more soundly.
- Use nursing time with the baby as a moment to be with the older children. You can sing to them, read them stories (the child holds the book and turns the pages when you say “beep”), play I spy, put music on for them to dance with you. You can also plant yourself by the kitchen table while you nurse and watch them color, do play dough, draw a picture. Use those moments to highly interact with the older children. It will also allow you to find some “me” time or do things that need to be done.
- Get your older kids to help you out. Even toddlers love to bring a diaper, unsnap baby’s pajamas, get a receiving blanket from the drawer. Tell them how much they love the baby by showing such care and help. Allow your kids to hold the baby. Get them up on the couch, firmly seated, put a pillow under their arm to support the baby and let them hold the baby. It won’t last long, but they enjoy it so so much. Help your older children to feel the baby is just as much theirs as yours. This helps so much in lowering possible sibling rivalry.
- Don’t hesitate to get your kids doing things to help you out. ie. Bringing the laundry downstairs, setting the table, taking food out of the fridge for you. Whatever they can do, let them. My children constantly surprise me with the degree of work they can do quite competently. I can feed a baby in the kitchen while older kids do a lot of meal preparation based on my directions. They are so proud of what they can accomplish when you allow them to be generous, other-centred and contributing.
- Don’t feel guilty about resorting to DVD’s/Videos in order to get some sleep. Oftentimes we don’t have help and are so sleep deprived. If you use them only for the baby’s nap time, your kids will sit still while you lie on the couch with ear plugs and nap. Eventually as you regain your strength, cutback on such entertainment. Even ask other moms to borrow some of their videos. Your kids will enjoy it and you will get your much needed rest.
- Moms often feel very guilty that they cannot exercise the rules fully when a baby comes. We get so caught up with nursing, resting, trying to survive that discipline slackens off quite a bit. This is normal. Don’t feel guilty about it. You are basically moving from a micro-managing mode to a macro-managing mode. You physically and emotionally cannot keep tabs on everything when a newborn arrives. You can only handle the big fires, not the small ones. Don’t worry about it. You have made the more important decision of welcoming this child into your life. This child will provide the others with numerous opportunities over the years of how to get along. This child will be someone who will love the others a lifetime worth. Don’t get bogged down by the idea that you are neglectful of the formation of the others. Focus on the big picture and accept that you will tighten the reins as time passes. Families who have many children go through this process of loosening and tightening the discipline after each child is born. Although moms feel unsettled by their lack of control over everything, eventually it all comes together again and the family is so enriched by the addition of another child.
- Realize this child is a great gift to your family—the best gift. All the older children will revolve around this baby for some time. This baby will bring out the best in others (compassion, gentleness, generosity, playfulness, awe etc.). Don’t feel you are shortchanging the others by being less available for them. Now you have given them one more person to love them their whole life through—a future playmate, best friend, sibling. You have done them a great service by providing a sibling. You may not be able to give them so much one-on-one time like before, but that is not a bad thing. They will discover more about sharing, caring, self-giving, initiative, independence etc. Children are a blessing. See it as such. You have greatly enriched your family’s wealth of love by adding one more.
These are just some ideas that have helped me along the way. I’m sure there are many many more.
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