You wouldn’t think the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, would be the person to turn to for good postpartum parenting advice. But he is!
Along with all the other things he does well, Obama is pretty good at advising expectant parents.
I discovered this recently when listening to a podcast called The Tim Ferriss Show. In episode 176 Tim was talking to his guest, comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia. In the midst of their talk about the creative process Mike offers the following recounting of meeting the President.
Mike starts off with the advice, “Talk to people about a thing they didn’t think they were gonna talk about.” He illustrates the point by sharing the following:
“Our thing with Obama was, ‘let’s tell him.’ Because my wife is four months pregnant but we hadn’t told anybody yet. ‘Why don’t we tell that him you’re pregnant’. And so when we get to the party we go, “Mr. President, this is my wife Jen. She’s newly pregnant, but don’t tell anyone.'”
“And he couldn’t help – the President of the United States couldn’t help but say, ‘Uh, am I the first one to know?’ And my wife says, ‘Yes, and do you have any parenting advice?’ And he goes, ‘Umm, well, get some sleep.’ And we’re going ‘hahahaha’ ’cause he’s the President. You know, it wasn’t that funny comedically but he’s like your boss times a million.”
Turns out that the President had some good advice. Here it is.
Seriously, sleep when you can. Sleep when your baby is sleeping. They only sleep for a couple hours at a time so take advantage. And make other people do all the stuff you think you need to do. Hire a postpartum doula to help soothe the baby, diaper the baby, make a snack, pick up the towels and chuck a load of laundry in the washer and empty the dishwasher. And then sleep while your postpartum doula does all of that. Obama was right: get some sleep.
BABY POO DOESN’T SMELL BAD!
Yes, he really did say that! He pointed out that it doesn’t smell as bad as adult poo. And that’s true. So if you are a pregnant mom or the partner of one and you are scared of the diapers, don’t be. It looks truly horrible but it doesn’t smell nearly as bad as you think it will. All bets are off when the solid foods start, though. That’s when you’ll need to invest in a handy, fashionable little gas mask for diaper changes. Side note: make the doula do it!
BABIES CRAVE STRUCTURE!
This is definitely true for most babies. Making sure you are feeding baby enough times during each day will help to keep baby growing well and the rhythm of feedings will help to start off the earliest hints of a schedule. Daily routines will start to prepare baby for regular sleeping times as they grow out of their newborn phase and become ready for longer night sleeps. A postpartum doula is essential to helping establish good routines and can support families as they transition to a more structured sleep schedule.
BREASTFEEDING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK OUT RIGHT AWAY!
Obama said breastfeeding can be “a little wonky” at first. For many new parents chestfeeding comes with a learning curve – some steeper than others. The great news is that there is a lot of help available to parents. From the Public Health Lacatation Clinic in Hamilton, to private IBCLCs, your posptartum doula will be able to refer you to the perfect clinical help to diagnose and solve your breastfeeding challenges. Back at home your doula will be able to support the plan and give your great advice for simple things that will make big improvements. Over your baby’s first few weeks most breastfeeding problems resolve with good support.
SLEEPING DOESN’T ALWAYS WORK OUT RIGHT AWAY!
The President recommends that you don’t freak out. Babies are notorious for both sleeping all the time in the first couple weeks of life but also for sleeping at all the wrong times! And they are only capable of sleeping for a couple hours at a time. It’s important to recognize that this is normal and it will change. Tiny babies need to wake frequently but older babies will start to sleep in longer and longer sessions until one night you realise you put them down to sleep in the late evening and then have to wake them in the morning and you’ve gotten a full night’s rest yourself. Your postpartum doula will help you maximize your sleep in those first few months and then help baby sleep for longer periods when they are ready. Did you know that there is such a thing as an overnight doula?! There is! Her job is to help you get as close to 8 hours sleep as possible. Ask us how!
It turns out that not only is Barack Obama a great President of the most powerful nation in the world, he’s a bit of an expert of new parent advice!
I bet he’d make a great postpartum doula: he’s calm under pressure, flexible and he’s got baby care skills.