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Mamas: Stop Talking About Your Babies

It’s only natural; you’ve just had a baby. What else is there to talk about? Poopy diapers, how he sleeps, nursing, and just how ADORABLE he is when he smiles!

But mamas, you really need to stop talking about your babies. Here’s why:

Your babies are people whose privacy should be respected.

What? Not what you were expecting, right?? You thought I was going to tell you that you’re boring everyone, and no one wants to hear you talk about your baby, right? Well, perhaps. But there’s more to it.

Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE talking about my baby. I will talk about my baby with anyone who shows even a remote interest. My Bug (who really is no longer much of a bug) is, to me, the most amazing little person in the world, and given half the chance, I will talk your ear off about how awesome he is.

But the thing is, aside from that being kind of obnoxious for my listeners, it’s also kind of obnoxious for my child.

Here’s an example. A few months back, I kept commenting to acquaintances that my little guy wouldn’t nap during the day. It became my main kvetch: I couldn’t get anything done because he wouldn’t nap.

A few weeks later, when all that had changed completely (because, let’s face it, everything in babyland is a phase and is over quickly), I was out with a group of ladies (sans babies) and someone made a comment that struck me.

She said, following on a conversation about someone else’s baby, “Well, at least your kid sleeps during the day, unlike Jane’s baby, who is always awake and crying.”

My first instinct was to protest the falsehood of this statement, and defend my child. But then I realized that the only person who had given this woman that impression of my child, was me.

It was an unfair representation of my Bug (who is perfect in every way, obviously), and I had no one but myself to blame.

A Reformed Big Mouth

So what is the point? The point is that our babies are our family, and our family deserve our complete loyalty. And I would argue that loyalty includes discretion; not talking about our family members willy-nilly, or spilling all their secrets.

Remember, that even though your baby is currently a little blob of a person, unable to express him or herself articulately, he or she is still a person. Just like we know we shouldn’t bad-mouth our spouses to others, we shouldn’t discuss our babies’ every concern with all and sundry.

Your Discretion Will Earn Their Trust

Now I’m not saying you can’t share anecdotes or concerns, or perhaps swap advice or strategies with other parents. I’m just saying that after that experience, and a couple others like it, I’m going to try to be more discrete about what I say about my kiddo. I now ask myself, “Would I want someone sharing this information about me?” If the answer is no, then I zip up.

So mamas, remember: there is such a thing as over-sharing, but the concern isn’t so much boring your audience, but mortifying the person you’re sharing about. Some things should be kept private, and if we get into the habit now of guarding our family’s secrets and being discrete, our kids will grow up knowing that they can trust us to listen and not spill our beans to everyone.

And isn’t our kids’ trust worth everything?

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More Helpful Lessons from Parenthood

Earlier, I wrote about surviving the first weeks of motherhood. As I get the hang of this whole motherhood thing, I want to share with you a few more helpful lessons from parenthood.

Note: these are some things that have really worked for me. Of course, every family and baby is different. Let me know in the comments if you had other tricks/recommendations that really worked for you.

1. Choose your visitors carefully.

Even if you’re the most put-together, organized person, having good help when you have a baby is essential.

All visitors are not created equal, however. Try to surround yourself with helpful, useful people whose goal is to make your life as a new parent easier. If you can, ask them to pick up groceries, or help you with cooking or a load of laundry.

Limit visits from people who will expect to be entertained. If friends or family come over expecting a warm meal from you, they are sub-optimal postpartum guests. If you feel you must see these people, suggest a meeting outside of the home in a café or restaurant, and then do not invite them home for a coffee.

2. Rethink your priorities.

Are you picky about the bed being made or the house being super tidy? Well, get over that.

Parenthood does not necessarily mean that your life will become a disaster (I’m thinking of this comic from the Oatmeal–caution, strong language), but if you’re a neat freak, you may have to tone it down a bit.

At the beginning, you’re going to want to sleep when your baby sleeps. If that’s in the middle of the day, so be it. It’s tempting to take advantage of a nap to throw on a load of laundry or do some dishes. But if you are sleep-deprived, forget it. Ask someone to do it for you (see point 1).

Eventually, as things get more regular, and your baby sleeps better at night, you’ll be able to do more.

3. Get out of the house.

This one can be tough for some and essential for others. It was essential for me.

Our Bug needed to visit the hospital two days after he was born for a follow-up check, so in early January in Quebec, we bundled him into the ErgoBaby carrier and trekked over to the hospital.

I was super stressed out about whether he was breathing okay, if he was warm enough, etc. But once that first outing was over and it went so well, Chico and I made a point of going out on an almost daily basis.

Getting out of the house will help you in so many ways: it’s exercise, it’s a change of scenery, and it will likely knock your kid out for a nap. Sweet.

4. Make a bedtime routine.

I have no idea if Chico and I just lucked out, or if it’s because we started a bedtime routine from early on, but our Bug is a champion sleeper (knocking on wood like crazy here).

Starting at just a few weeks old, we got used to giving the Bug a nightly bath, and now it’s like a pavlovian response: his trigger is the bath, and his response is sleep. It’s amazing.

Bath time is also a great opportunity for Chico to bond with the Bug. Chico is the Bath Master, and he and the Bug have a blast splashing around in the tub, and then giving and getting a massage.

Little by little we are working on a daytime routine as well, in order to help Bug master the daytime naps. I’ll let you know how that goes.

5. Baby wearing is a lifesaver.

Some people swear by it, and others say it’s dangerous to get a baby used to it, but our Bug loves to be slung in the Moby wrap. Sometimes he falls asleep, sometimes he doesn’t, but he always loves it.

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Sorry about the poor photo quality, but here’s me wearing the Bug.

 

I read in “What to Expect the First Year” that baby wearing for a few hours a day can actually lead to a less fussy baby, and promotes bonding.

Eh, whatever. All I know is that our Bug loves it, and he has even nursed in the Moby wrap like a champ. When he’s fussing and I have things to get done, I sling that baby like a badass and carry him around while I fold laundry, do dishes and get dinner ready (just don’t go putting anything in the oven while you’re wearing your baby, okay?).

***

What lessons have you learned that made your life as a parent easier? Do tell in the comments!

 

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Learning How to Breastfeed

In my last post about surviving the first few weeks of motherhood, I wrote that breastfeeding is hard.

I stand by that statement. Breastfeeding IS hard. It’s hard for you, and for your baby. Successful breastfeeding, though facilitated by your baby’s sucking instinct, is a matter of practice and patience. And in the end, it is totally worth it.

Here’s my story about learning how to breastfeed, which will hopefully prove helpful to other first-time moms getting started.

They Make It Look So Easy

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Real-life breastfeeding looks a lot more disheveled than this…

If you went to a prenatal class, you probably saw a bunch of videos about breastfeeding.

These videos show relaxed, happy mothers, with calm, happy babies, latching on like champs and sucking away with no problem. You see what a good latch looks like, and how to position your baby. It all looks so easy.

Well, it’s not.

Sometimes (especially at the beginning), your baby gets hungry and gets MAD. An angry baby makes for a rough time getting him on the breast. If he’s screaming and squirming, good luck getting that ideal latch.

Also, babies’ mouths are pretty tiny when they’re born. Sometimes (like in our little Bug’s case), they can’t open their mouths wide enough to get much of the breast and areola.

Positioning Is Key

Every baby-and-mother combo is unique. Depending on your (*ahem*) size, your baby’s size and preferences, you may find that one position is ideal, while another is a disaster. The key is to keep trying different things.

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Biological nurturing position

The traditional positions you hear about are cradle, cross-cradle, football and side-lying. But a couple others to look up that might work for you are the biological nurturing position, and saddle hold.

It’s worth it to give each a try, and more than once. Try each for a day at a time and see how your baby does. If you find that one seems to work better than any other, stick with it. But remember that variety is the spice of life, and changing things up every so often is good.

Our Bug was coughing and spluttering at the breast (hello powerful letdown! Oh, is that TMI?) and a breastfeeding consultant recommended the “biological nurturing” position (yeah, I had never heard of it either). This position helped avoid his getting an uncontrollable mouthful of milk, and ensured that he was, in fact, sucking correctly in order to get it.

Also, as your baby grows and matures, his preferences may change, and you may find yourself having to practice a new position.

If It’s Painful, Seek Help

Some people will tell you that pain during breastfeeding is par for the course. Well, yes, this may be true, especially in the beginning. But it is certainly not normal, and it is not necessary.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to stick with breastfeeding. Our Bug’s latch was so bad to begin with that he rubbed my nipples like crazy. Every time I went to feed him, it hurt, and I had horrible scabs on my nipples. Eventually they developed callouses, so they weren’t so raw, but breastfeeding was painful for several weeks.

What made it worse was that I seem to have an overly abundant supply, and as I mentioned before, my powerful letdown was making my poor Bug splutter and cough at the breast.

Had it not been for a helpful friend from my Stitch n’ Bitch group, or for the lactation consultant at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal, I might have ended up giving up.

There are tons of resources available, both online and in person, that can help you stick with it. If your heart is set on breastfeeding (like mine was), there are ways to make it work.

Look up a local lactation consultant. Use online resources like KellyMom.com or BabyCenter.com. Call a friend who has had a couple of kids.

You may find that they have helpful ideas. Or, like me, you may find that it’s just a matter of your baby’s mouth growing, and getting the hang of it.

Breastfeeding Gets Better

I’m happy to say that our little bug is feeding well and slowly morphing from frog stage to buddha-baby stage. But every single day I ask myself if things are going well, and if he’s doing okay.

It sounds ridiculous, especially because he’s gaining weight every day and growing before our very eyes. But with breastfeeding, you can’t know exactly how much he’s getting each time, and that can be hard for some.

And even once things are on track and going better, something can come along to throw things out of whack again. One day last week, my Bug didn’t want to eat on the left side. Then, a couple of days later, he wouldn’t take from the right.

Today, he’s been sucking away, only to suddenly turn his head and break himself off the breast. Then, he starts crying because he’s still hungry! Go figure.

You’re Doing Great

There are ups and downs, even when you think you’ve mastered breastfeeding. And that is because your baby is changing and growing every single day. Every day is different, as my mother has told me a million times.

The key is to have patience with yourself, and your baby, and to give yourself a break when you need to. Ask Dad to give the kid a bottle every so often (they say it’s a good idea) and relax a bit.

If your baby is peeing, pooping, growing and thriving, you’re doing just fine.

Pat yourself on the back. Have a glass of wine (after the kid is in bed). You deserve it.

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Cheers!

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