Are you ready before your chicken is hatched?
The internet is full of articles about what a new mom can do to help the baby settle in the world. I myself read most of those articles before my baby was born and some after. But I realized that most of the articles which I read after my baby was already in the world, should have been read before.
The articles available as a ready reckoner talk about how to get the nursery ready, what to pack in your hospital bag, what for your newborn but none talks about what you need to prepare for yourself. This to me is very very important. No matter how well prepared you might be to welcome your child unless you know what to expect, you will find yourself as overwhelmed as I did.
These are 7 things which a would-be-mother should be prepared for before her bundle of joy is on this planet.
A) Analyse the scene after birth – You can be in two kinds of situation- i) where you may not have much or any support from your family, friends, relatives ii) your family, friends, relatives may fill up with so much space and so many advice that you may be exhausted living up to them. In both cases, it is better for yourself to know about some of the things that could happen once the child is born. In some families in India, it is forbidden to buy things for the little one before they are born. Do you belong to such a family? Weigh the option of how much of a trouble it would be for you and your husband to arrange for necessary items with the little one at hand.
B) Decide about diapering option- Don’t wait till after your baby is born to try ten tricks about what might be best for your baby. There are numerous options available. Do your research beforehand, even if you order or buy later. There will be many people with different schools of thought. Some feel “no diaper”, some say, “cloth diapers”, some say “disposable diapers”, some say, “cloth nappy”. Trust me, everything works but you must know how to use what and what care each option might require. I have throughout used disposable diapers from the time my baby is born. But I knew about the necessity to give diaper-free time, cleaning up the baby at each diaper change, applying coconut oil before putting a new diaper (for me coconut oil worked best). Similarly, if you plan to keep your baby in cloth nappy, you must be prepared with a number of them because a newborn baby poops and pees multiple times. By the way, did you know that when you are cleaning a baby girl, you must wipe her from front to back and not vice versa? This will ensure that bacteria from her poop does not enter her vagina.
C) Babies are sweet without honey and sugar – Do you know that the age-old tradition of making a baby lick honey is outdated? Doctors suggest no sugar until one year of age at least. Honey may contain live spores which can cause botulism for your baby. So if your family in a well-meaning way asks you to give honey to your baby after birth, tell them that your baby is already very sweet and does not require any further sweeteners.
D) Breast Pump – So you already know that once your baby is born, she will suckle. That’s how it is supposed to be. But at least 4 out of 10 babies can’t latch post-birth. The reasons could be many. One of them being, the nipple being shorter. Obviously no one pays a visit to a lactation consultant during pregnancy. That would be too much preparation. But till the time the baby latches, what should you do? Let the baby cry in hunger? Let your colostrum be wasted? No way!!!! Buy a good quality breast pump beforehand. It is a good investment because you will need a breast pump even later when you go out and your baby is with a baby sitter. Go for a manual breast pump initially, see how it goes and you can then shift to an automatic one later if required. Do your research, read reviews and then decide which brand to buy.
E) Cup and spoon- Do you know that in case it takes several days for your baby to latch or your milk supply to build sufficiently, there may be a need to feed infant formula. Let no one judge you for feeding your baby formula because you are feeding your baby and not keeping her hungry. But ensure that you feed with a cup and spoon and not through a bottle. Even with a peristaltic nipple (which tries to replicate milk flow from the breast) , the flow of milk is different from a bottle than from the breast. So if your baby gets accustomed to feeding on the bottle which is easier, she may reject the breast later.
F) Witching hour – The only witching hour I knew about until it began for my baby, was an hour of supernatural activity in folklore. But trust me, with babies it is exactly that. It is a period of fussiness in babies without any of the defined reasons (hunger, diaper change, feeling hot, feeling cold, sleepy). Please be prepared with the fact that for many babies the witching hour begins by the second week from birth and lasts till about the third month. Babies cry for no apparent sign of discomfort and this period is also known as Purple Crying. You feel helpless and tired from not being able to help your child. There is a lot of literature available for you to know and be prepared mentally to deal with this phase. It can be hard on your nervous system but there are a number of things you can do to lessen this. Plan for a relaxing massage or a warm bath for your baby at this time. Buy a baby carrier, it is good for your back and for your baby to be with you.
G) Postpartum depression – A little over 40% of women experience postpartum depression which occurs due to the sudden change in levels of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen post-delivery. What this means is that if you are suffering. from depression post your delivery, you are not a freak of nature. Seek help from psychotherapists which can involve counseling or medicine or both. What you can do before your delivery is talked to family members that such things as “postpartum depression” exists. This will help them to be prepared instead of them adding on to your anxiety.
These 7 things can help you set your expectations right about the process of bringing your child into the world who is completely dependent on you. It is good to get a nursery designed, a wall painted, a photoshoot and hospital booking done. They are all part of the process. But there are some of these practical aspects which can catch you completely off-guard when faced with the situation. Stop being overwhelmed. Don’t stop your reading at week 40 of pregnancy, read ahead and learn about week 1 of baby and continue further.