Recently several of our friends have become pregnant for the first time, which has motivated us to send them lots of unsolicited advice. While our suggestions may be worth exactly what they’re paying for them, I’m posting them here in case others might find them helpful. In no particular order, here are our first few:
1. We have really enjoyed the Longest Shortest Time podcast. Each episode is someone’s story about prenatal, post partum, or parenting wonkiness. Some of the stories are sad, some are joyful, some are traumatic, some are inspiring. Some resonate with our own experiences, some don’t. We found them all to help normalize the entire process of becoming parents for us – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
2. I won’t claim that men are even on the same playing field as women when it comes to body changes during pregnancy but male partners DO also experience some physiological changes, including increased estrogen production. I found myself putting on weight and decreasing performance in athletic competitions around this time last year. This phenomenon, possibly combined with the psychological impact of less sunlight, led me to feel a little down until I recognized that it could have physiological roots. Something for men to keep that in mind in case they experience something similar.
3. If you are planning to try breastfeeding, go ahead and – long before you are due – schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant for a few days after your delivery date. You can always reschedule if you deliver late (Or early!) or if your baby is already breastfeeding like a champ. However, if breastfeeding isn’t coming along as well as you might hope, you will already have the appointment scheduled. Most hospitals include some lactation support in the maternity ward but our lactation consultant at The Women’s Birth & Wellness Center was orders of magnitude more helpful. Because she dedicated 90 minutes just to us, she was able to observe a full feed of our baby nursing, try a few different approaches with us, and measure the impact of each. Highly recommended.
4. Classes: NC Women’s, where we delivered, offers many of them and we took them all. Here’s a brief roundup of some that we took – and, if you aren’t in Chapel Hill, there may be similar classes near you.
Childcare Options – this is really about the NC rating system for childcare centers. I was hoping for a bigger picture evaluation of pros/cons of different types of childcare – e.g. in home vs. childcare centers – but it was definitely helpful in navigating the rating system for centers.
Bootcamp for New Dads – As someone who knows nothing about babies, I was hoping for a more hands-on-practice class (This is how you hold a baby, this is how you change a baby, etc.) but this class was a little higher-level. What is the dad’s role in pregnancy, delivery, postpartum, etc. Still very helpful, though. A cool feature was that they bring back dads from previous classes and their now 2-4-month-old babies for show/tell and a view from the front lines.
Accupressure for Labor – This was really cool! They demonstrated several different specific accupressure targets/techniques that ostensibly will help with labor. This was a very hands-on class so we got to try things out there on the spot and get help from the instructors. One of the attendees delivered a few hours later so it must have worked!
Sign Language for babies – also really cool! Because babies develop visual and motor skills before developing verbal skills, there is a significant window during which they can’t communicate with you verbally but they can via sign language. The class covered the basic theory of baby sign language and then we practiced lots of relevant signs – milk, eat, diaper, change, etc.
4th Trimester – this was great! Each couple had a baby doll with which to practice diaper changing, swaddling, and putting in different types of wrappable carriers. It was a little “OMG watch out for this and don’t do that” for my taste but overall was a really helpful three hours.
Infant CPR – this was good. They had mannequins to practice on so it was pretty hands-on. It was a bit longer than it needed to be and it was front-loaded with adult CPR so we were actually kind of rushed at the end for the infant CPR portion.
Breastfeeding – it also was longer than it needed to be as it spent a lot of time selling us on breastfeeding (We’re already pretty sold -hence signing up for the class!). Once it got past the selling, though, it was great, providing lots of information on what a good latch should look/feel/sound like, showing videos of the inside of the infant’s mouth during breastfeeding, and showing off all the different colors of infant poop as they progress from newborn to infant.