Trust me when I tell you, there is no magical product, parenting style or baby care trick that will make being a new parent easier for you. But I do have some advice that will be better than all of those.
1 – Ignore What Everyone Else Does
Did your sister-in-law put all her babies down at 7:30 in a crib by themselves, walk away and then not hear a peep from them until dawn? Isn’t that lovely for her! Your baby might do that. Or they might not.
Your baby is an individual. And so are you! And so is your parenting partner, if you have one. You have your own hopes and dreams and history and thoughts on parenting. And you all live in a unique home with unique environments. Do you get where I’m going with this?
What’s most important is that you find your own path. Just because someone else did it, or it sounds like every one of your friends did it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate or even possible for you. (Pro Tip: half of your family and friends are fibbing about what they and their babies did! Don’t tell them I said that, but it’s true!) Ask yourself why you want to do something. What’s your motivation? What will it bring to you? Are you willing to work consistently hard to make that thing happen? And how will you feel if it turns out your baby doesn’t want to do that thing?
2 – It’s OK To Do What Your Gut Says Makes You Happy
So you read about a parenting technique in a book. Your mother told you that if you hold the baby too much you’ll spoil them. A girlfriend declared about breastfeeding, “If they can ask for it they are too old!” But there you are snuggled up with your baby and you would totally hold them most of the day if you didn’t have other things to do, and you’re starting to feel heartbroken thinking about stopping nursing and that parenting book seems to be written by someone with an iron heart.
It’s ok to not do things other people tell you to do when your gut tells you your method makes you and your baby happier. Because if you and baby are happier doing your thing, that’s a pretty darned good indication that you are doing it right!
Back when I was pregnant for the first time I dutifully bought and assembled a baby crib. Because that’s where babies slept. But when my first son was born, I could not imagine him being away from me. I wanted to be touching him constantly and so he slept in our bed with us. We followed all the safety instructions for safe bed sharing. After a few months my husband complained one night, “when is this kid going to get out of our bed?!” “But I love sleeping with him!” I protested. When my son was almost a year old I wearily whined, “when is this kid going to get out of our bed?!” My husband pulled him close and cooed, “but I love sleeping with him!” Which goes to show that you need to follow your gut.
And, when your gut says it’s time to do something else, listen to it and go ahead and change your strategy. When you make a choice today you do not have to make the same choice tomorrow. Go ahead and change your mind!
3 – Only Climb The Hill That’s Right In Front Of You
Every problem as a parent is a hill you need to climb. Some hills are little and some are big. And there are always going to be hills. Just when you climb one and get to the bottom you find yourself at the foot of another hill. But you can’t climb the next hill until you climb the one right in front of you.
Some hills in the future: if I let my newborn fall asleep at the breast and snuggle them till they are good and deeply sleeping, will that mean they won’t be able to fall asleep independently later on?! If I let my baby sleep in my bed for the first few weeks or months of their life, will they ever be able to sleep on their own?! If I let my baby drink breastmilk at the breast will they ever be able to take a bottle?!
The answer to all of these questions is yes. Yes your baby will be able to do it all differently later on when you need them to change or adapt to new circumstances. I promise. Babies are good at adjusting.
Don’t be thinking of problems that might happen three months down the road when you have a problem to solve right now. Solve the problem you have in front of you. You may find you do not even have a problem three months down the road.
4 – Hire A Postpartum Doula
All of that advice up there? I could be telling you all that stuff in person. Imagine if I was at your home helping you figure out how to bathe your baby for the first time, helping you improve your breastfeeding latch to make breastfeeding more comfortable, bringing you some lunch while you snuggle with baby? Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Yes, it would! A postpartum doula’s job is to take care of you the way you want to take care of your baby. We bring in a tonne of compassion, information, perspective, real world knowledge, extra hands and lack of judgment. You will feel nurtured, better rested, more skilled as a parent and more satisfied in general. And we can come when you need it most, night or day!
Read more about Hamilton Doula Group’s postpartum services today!
Leanne Palmerston has been helping families in and around Hamilton, Ontario as a childbirth educator and a birth and postpartum doula for a decade. Leanne and her team are dedicated to helping parents feel more at ease, more competent and happier before, during and after their baby’s arrival.