Before every parent holds their baby for the very first time, there are a million questions that run through their minds. Can I really do this? Am I the right person to raise this child? Will this baby even like me? What if I am terrible at this? Adoptive parents have even more questions in addition to the ones that biological parents do. It may feel like your adopted newborn can’t bond with you the same way that another newborn might bond with their biological parent. After all, how can you replace all of the connections Mother Nature creates between a mother and the life growing inside of her?
Remember, birth mothers put a lot of thought into choosing adoptive families for their child. Your birth mother chose you for a reason—because she had faith that you would be able to love, teach, and provide for her child. She believed in you and trusted you. You need to believe and trust in yourself, too!
The idea that an adoptive parent can’t bond with their newborn is simply not true. The love that you feel for your new baby is just as strong as your love would be if they came from you. Newborns come into this world needing to be fed, needing to sleep, and needing a connection. That connection is formed with time and patience, and even for biological parents that bond does not always happen immediately. Here are some strategies to use when bonding with your baby that all parents can benefit from.
Child care experts, doctors, and doulas agree that one of the best ways to bond with a newborn is through skin-to-skin contact. In practice, it is the act of holding your baby against your skin while they are wearing only a diaper. Many hospitals initiate skin-to-skin contact with the mother moments after birth to help regulate breathing and vital signs.
Newborns go from an environment of warmth, food and protection inside their mother’s body to suddenly being out in the open, where they would naturally feel more vulnerable. Skin-to-skin care (or “kangaroo care”) is helping them feel that same security outside of the womb and will naturally help you form that solid bond that will last a lifetime.
While this is one of the more direct, physical strategies for bonding with your baby, you can further strengthen the bond by creating routines for the day-to-day. This helps them feel secure and create strong, positive memories. Restricting visitors for a time will also help your baby connect with you and your immediate family, although a new baby can always mean lots of excited visitors. It is important to remember that the time your baby spends with you is the most important and formative.
The age of information and technology has brought about the ability for people to connect like never before. The world has become very small. Yet with all the connections, we have today, we are still grasping for information and answers – particularly when we are parenting our little ones.
For many new parents, their relatives are far away and there isn’t much of a support system in place as they navigate the murky waters of new parenthood. So they reach for resources and information online or through parenting books. Many of the advice that can be found on parenting today can be narrowed down to several “types” or “styles”.
Personal philosophies, parental upbringing, religious influences, and cultural expectations all play into the way a parent relates to, disciplines, and interacts with their children. Parents today may fall into any one – or two – or ten – parenting style(s). Most parents fall into one or more of the parenting styles listed below.
This philosophically based style focuses on recognizing that each child is unique. Helping children find their personal path is seen as the best way to go, as opposed to giving them a set mold to try and fit into. This philosophy believes that being true to the self will produce happy and secure individuals.
Attachment parenting has become popular in recent years. It is based on the idea that a child’s solid emotional attachment to their caregiver produces a healthier and more well-rounded child in the long run. There has been much research on attachment theory, and findings support a strong attachment to a caregiver as a child grows.
This style of parenting believes that traditional methods of discipline, rewards, and positive reinforcement teach a child that love is conditional. In this approach, parents show their children love and acceptance regardless of their behavior or actions. They try to limit enforcement of disciplinary measures to curb poor behavior, and they use rational discussion instead.
Spiritual does not mean “religious parenting” in the orderly sense. It is based more on an eastern style of spirituality that focuses on being fully present in the moment. It says that formal instruction is not as effective as simply being the role model of what you want your children to become, so they learn by example. In essence, become what you want them to be.
Many parents today may fall into this particular approach. It combines an expectation of obedience from the child with warmth and comfort from the parent. Children are expected to be respectful and responsible, while given the freedom of still being children within certain safety boundaries.
Conversely, authoritarian parents provide boundaries and expect obedience, but without the relationship and connection that children desperately need.
Permissive / Indulgent Parenting
Parents who are labeled “permissive” are sometimes criticized because of their lack of boundaries and discipline. Conversely, they tend to give their kids extra attention and comfort.
Uninvolved / Neglectful Parenting
These are parents who, true to the title, neglect their children. They provide no boundaries or structure and no emotional support for them and as a result, the children suffer.
The name is just as it sounds. These are parents that hover and smother. They tend to place their children in a bubble to keep them from harm. Helicopter parents have a reputation for doing everything for their children rather than expecting them to independently take care of their own age appropriate responsibilities. As a result, these children grow up rather spoiled and unprepared for the real world.
Do any of these seem relatable? Does anything seem to fit? Do you see yourself in one or several of these? Do any of them make you feel uncomfortable?
Finally, how were you raised? Examine your feelings about your own parents’ styles when you were raised. As parents-to-be, define a parenting style that aligns with your values, personality, and your child. Consider areas such as discipline, food, sleep care, age appropriate responsibilities as children grow, etc.
Call it what you want – give it a label if you wish. At the end of the day, let’s just call it the adventure of parenting.
After months and months of swelling, aches, and pains in pregnancy, finally holding your baby in your arms is a god sent. However, during this first period of parenthood, sleep longer than a wink is nearly impossible. So how do parents get out of this terrible sleep cycle, or at least improve the quality of the little sleep they do have? New parents can try out these five tips and they’ll be counting sheep before they know it!
Diet and Exercise
“Diet and exercise” seems to be the cure-all recommended by doctors no matter the ache or pain, but these two health components can have a big impact on the quality and quantity of new parent’s sleep routines. New parents should ensure they’re getting enough nutrients and macro-nutrients like protein and carbohydrates. Parents should also get these nutrients from healthy food like lean meats and vegetables, not all greasy fast food and sugary soft drinks. Keep an eye out for caffeine late in the afternoon, as drinking things like teas, sodas, and coffee will wreak havoc on sleep schedules.
Try exercises that help you de-stress, such as yoga, swimming, or running. Not only do these activities help destress and release pent up energy, exercise has a distinct correlation with sleep. So even if you’d never be caught dead at the gym, thirty minutes of exercise in exchange for a restful night of sleep is a great trade off.
Take Parental Leave
It can be hard to swing a full sleep schedule when one parent has to go back to work right away. Consider asking your workplace about parental leave so the baby work can be more evenly divided among parents. As Spiggle Law puts it, partners often feel uneasy asking for paternal leave because they worry that their employer might wonder why they need to take time off since they’re not the one who gave birth. Stand firm and ask anyway — getting parental leave means more sleep for both partners, and the new mama will be happier, too.
Sleep is essential to healing and operating at your full capacity. It’s no surprise that newborn babies wake frequently during the night. For some new parents, alternating parent duties for a few nights can help provide the deep sleep necessary to sustain a full day. As a doula, I’ve helped parents devise sleep plans for parents, newborn and even new siblings. There are so many options including but not limited to the guest room for a night, co-sleeping, co-bedding, a “daddy doodies” and “mommy boobies” team and more!
Try Different Techniques to Calm Your Baby
There’s no one miracle fix all for quieting crying babies that will apply to everyone. It’s necessary to try out as any different techniques as you can to find which one works the best for your child. According to Sleep Baby Love, what works on your child one week may change the next week due to “mental leaps” — also known as “wonder weeks.” A calm, quiet baby means restful sleep for parents, so this one is naturally top priority. There are several key items that support calm babies. Expert Dr. Harvey Karp who wrote the helpful book, “The Happiest Baby on the Block” describes 5 S’s – a comfortable combo to mimic the womb! He’s even invented the NOO Smart Sleeper for a good night’s rest.
Ask an Expert
If you’ve cut out caffeine, hit the gym, and are soothing your baby constantly, and you still can’t get a good night of sleep, consider the help of a Postpartum Doula or night nurse. A doula will handle the nightly task of caring for your baby so you can get the deep rest you desperately need. Ask your doctor about it as there might be something else at play other than just tired new parents and a wonky sleep schedule, such as anxiety or postpartum depression.
As you prepare to welcome a newborn into your life, we can help make the transition easier. Sign up for one of our classes today!
This is a little out of the scope of my normal blog articles but is a topic often asked. What can I do to help us all sleep at night? Parents of young children get little enough sleep as it is, and a bump in the night won’t help. If you’re anything like me, you’re watching Criminal Minds once your babies are put to bed. And then left to worry.
Parents often feel an obligation to take measures to keep their family safe, but not all solutions are created equal. Some alarm systems are overly sensitive and will wake a sleeping infant at the slightest disturbance. Shuffling down the hall with a baseball bat can have the same effect. Here are a few ideas that won’t keep you – or your tiny lookalike – up at night.
Why Traditional Alarms Aren’t Always the Best Choice
Traditional home security systems are loud because they are designed to scare away intruders, but they are most effective when dealing with less experienced intruders. An intruder with more experience knows that they still have time to steal items or harm your family if that’s what they came to do. The answer to these issues may be to consider installing a silent security alarm.
The Advantages of Silent Alarms
You’re already aware that a traditional alarm alerts not only you but the intruders as well. This means that they have time to flee with your valuables before the police arrive to catch them in the act. When this happens, there is a very low chance that your valuables will be recovered. Having a silent alarm alerts you when there is an intruder in your home without alerting the intruder. The best part about this is that modern alarm systems can be armed with a key fob or a smartphone app, giving you an added level of security.
Key fobs and smartphone apps typically come equipped with a silent panic alarm as well. If you are trapped in your home with an intruder and unable to trigger your home’s alarm system, this is a handy feature to have. Another advantage is that a silent alarm is much harder for an intruder to disable. Many intruders know how a traditional security alarm works, so they are able to disable the system before an alert is sent out to the police.
Live-Stream Camera Systems
Stiff competition in the home security industry has drastically brought prices down on camera systems. Modern systems are not only motion-activated but can provide a live feed to your smartphone or tablet. This way, you can inspect noises in your home without leaving the comfort of your bed. Added benefit – checking in on your sneaky midnight snackers! In my household, this tends to be my husband.
Nothing can compare to quality sleep education so that can help you can help support your children into healthy sleep habits. Understand what is normal for newborn sleep and how you can best support their development of circadian rhythms.
You’re sure to appreciate the peace and security a silent security system brings to your life. You’ll love the silence of the alarm itself as well. This type of alert means that you’ll no longer have to deal with loud false alarms waking your sleeping baby, and that’s a bonus you’re sure to enjoy. If you enjoyed this or you would like to continue educating yourself about young parenthood, consider one of our pregnancy and parenting courses such as Understanding Your Newborn.
The Supermom Secret: Babywearing Part 1
Babies love to be carried. It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? Why do we even study something so fundamental? We all know that babies need their mothers.
All. The. Time.
Both research and mother’s intuitions will confirm that babies are safer, they develop faster, and they are happier in someone’s arms. Babies benefit tremendously from being worn. In our society, we usually demand that science furnish proof for everything prior to our making a decision. Fortunately for moms and babies everywhere, the science points to the benefits of keeping baby close.
As much as you may want to sit around all day just snuggling with your little one, at some point after your baby’s birth, you’re really going to miss having two arms. Many babies turn their noses up at play mats, tummy time, swings and bouncers. Sometimes these devices may buy you a few minutes on your own, but inevitably your baby will recognize your absence and protest their loneliness.
The solution? Baby wearing. Placing your baby in a sling or carrier of some kind keeps baby close while giving you the ability to move around and be productive for a time.
It seems to just makes sense, right? But what’s so great about babywearing? What does science tell us about the benefits of wearing your baby?
Babywearing facilitates bonding. Keeping your baby in a sling or a carrier means that they are in a familiar place: next to you. They know your heart beat, smell, voice and your mannerisms. Keeping baby right next to you makes you sensitive to their every need. Babywearing is a fantastic way for babies to bond with dad too, as wearing them makes them extra attentive to baby’s needs. Baby learns early on that their needs are important to their caregivers which build trust. Many babywearing parents report that the babies they have worn tend to be more laid back and easier to handle.
Babywearing means that baby is learning. The famous Dr. Sears has noted that babies who are being worn are in a state of what he calls “quiet observation.” Your baby is learning about everything about their environment as they watch what you are doing. Quiet means peaceful productivity for mom and dad!
Babywearing helps with baby’s development This is a little known (HUGE) perk of wearing your baby. When they are being worn, your baby is having to adjust to movement in three planes: up and down, side to side and diagonally. Imagine how much baby has to adjust simply when you bend over to pick up your toddler’s toy off the ground. Baby is moving in all three planes by that one act, forcing their balance and their core strength to adapt.
Babywearing is an excellent practice for high needs or reflux babies, who tend to do better in an upright position. Navigating your days with a baby who needs a little extra TLC can be made much easier with a snug upright carrier.
Babywearing helps with breastfeeding. Lactation professionals will tell you that keeping your baby close helps keep your milk supply up. Mother’s bodies are responsive to their babies. When a baby is held close, mothers can smell their baby, since baby’s feeding cues, and respond quickly, thereby nurturing the breastfeeding relationship.
Babies can be worn by either mom or dad to benefit from the practice. And let’s face it: they just look adorable with their little head peeking out of a carrier!
Stay tuned for part two: safety rules for babywearing and types of carriers on the market today.
Breast is Best. Yes yes. We have all heard the witty catch phrase. But what does it actually mean? Why is breastfeeding so important? Breast is Best for what?
In this post, we are going to discuss the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby, as well as discuss the advantages that the Golden Hour immediately after birth can offer. Finally, we will discuss the importance of having adequate support for the breastfeeding relationship.
Breast is best for baby
The importance of breastfeeding for the baby can not be understated. Breastfeeding is so much more than simply a method of delivery for physical sustenance. Breast milk is, quite literally, a miracle food that is impossible to be duplicated in any artificial setting. Each mother’s milk is completely unique and is specially formulated for her baby.
First, breast milk contains antibodies from the mother’s body. When a mother touches her baby, kisses her baby, or nurses her baby, her body is exposed to the same bacteria and viruses that her baby has been exposed to. Her body, in turn, produces antibodies to those potential threats to the baby and delivers them to him through her milk. Antibodies are living cells that cannot be duplicated.
Breast milk is ever changing. At the beginning of the feeding, the milk (called fore milk) is more water to quench the baby’s thirst. As the feeding progresses, the milk thickens and satisfies a baby’s hunger. By the end of the feeding, the milk (called hind milk) is thick, sweet, and creamy.
Furthermore, as a baby grows, the composition of the breast milk changes for the baby’s growing needs. Milk made for a newborn is not the same as milk made for a 6-month-old. A mother’s body knows exactly what her baby needs and responds accordingly, minute to minute and month to month.
Many mothers say that one of the greatest advantages to breastfeeding is having a convenient and built in ability to calm their baby. Breastfeeding is a great way to immediately calm a baby who is overwhelmed by the world as they transition into it.
In addition, breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, less incidence of pneumonia, less risk of asthma, lower risk of SIDS, stronger bones, and lower risk of cancer.
Breast is best for Mothers
Babies aren’t the only ones that benefit from breastfeeding. Mothers benefit tremendously as well.
Immediately postpartum, and in the days and weeks to come, breastfeeding helps reduce maternal bleeding. Oxytocin, the hormone that causes contractions in labor, is released when the baby breastfeeds. Oxytocin is what causes the uterus to involute, or shrink, back to it’s pre pregnancy size. As it involutes and contracts, the mother’s postpartum bleeding is reduced.
Oxytocin is also the love hormone and it facilitates bonding. Since it is released every time a mother nurses her baby, it is nature’s way of promoting bonding.
Breastfeeding suppresses the hormones that regulate menstruation and ovulation. In turn, fertility is temporarily suspended. This also means that the mother gets a break from having her monthly period. It is important to note that the length of time between birth and the first postpartum cycle is different for each mother and it is not a 100% effective form of birth control. It is a nice perk, however, to know that during the postpartum phase, fertility is not always 100%.
Women who breastfeed their babies lose the baby weight faster and easier. Fat stores that are gained in pregnancy are now being used for the baby. It takes 500 calories a day to breastfeed a baby! That’s a nice little bonus!
Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer, and the exact cause for this is unknown. Furthermore, the longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer.
Breastfeeding is inexpensive. Formula costs are astronomical. Enough said.
For as many benefits as breastfeeding offers, it’s a wonder why more women do not breastfeed, or why they do not continue breastfeeding after only days or weeks. There are several things a woman can do to optimize her chances of breastfeeding being successful, and ultimately it comes down to respecting the Golden Hour after birth and having support.
Breastfeeding and the Golden Hour
More professionals today are becoming educated about what is being called The Golden Hour. This is the first hour after the baby is born and it is a very sensitive time for both mother and baby. Mother just birthed her baby (a Herculean feat), and the baby is experiencing life outside the womb for the first time.
During the Golden Hour, immediately after birth, the baby is placed skin to skin on mother’s chest. Skin to skin is the foundation of the Golden Hour. During labor and immediately after birth, a mother’s nipples produce a pheromone that smells, to the baby, like the uterine fluid they just came from. This smell is familiar and it makes the baby drawn to the nipple to nurse, even without additional positioning help from the mother or support persons. Even when a baby is not being moved around by others, they can, amazingly, find the nipple all on their own to nurse.
Skin to skin facilitates bonding for both mom and baby, and evidence shows that if a baby nurses within the first hour of life, breastfeeding is more likely to be successful.
Meanwhile, while resting on the mother’s chest, the baby is being warmed to the perfect temperature. There is no technology in the world that can match a woman’s body as a baby warmer. A woman’s body can cool for an over warm baby and it can warm up for a baby who is cold.
Finally, a woman who wants to breastfeed her baby needs support. Breastfeeding is natural but not initially easy. Both mother and baby need to learn how to breastfeed and the learning process can sometimes be a challenging one. Support for a breastfeeding mother can come from many places.
In the early postpartum phase, nurses and lactation counselors can help mothers get a good start with breastfeeding by making sure they respect the Golden Hour. Once the baby nurses, they can make sure that the baby has a good latch. They can encourage mothers to breastfeed as often as possible to ensure a good supply is being built and they can affirm a mother in her early breastfeeding journey. A birth doula is a tremendous help for early breastfeeding in the immediate postpartum period as well, as they can help with the initial latch as well.
A mother’s partner at home can be one of the best forms of support. The partner can make sure a breastfeeding mother has enough water, is well rested, is well nourished, and is not overwhelmed by the demands around her. They can encourage the mother to continue even if there are difficulties or challenges in breastfeeding. Emotional encouragement can go a long way for a breastfeeding mother and its importance should not be undervalued.
As breastfeeding mothers continue nursing in the weeks and months postpartum, most benefit tremendously from support groups like their local La Leche League group. Lactation consultants are usually on staff at the hospitals and they can be consulted anytime a breastfeeding mother needs professional assistance.
Many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups available. Any Attachment Parenting or Babywearing group is likely to provide breastfeeding mothers with peer support.
Breastfeeding is worth it. It is worth it for mothers and babies for reasons we continue to discover. Setting up a support system for breastfeeding goes a long way toward success.
Do you need some help with breastfeeding?