Eating healthy after baby

 

Eating healthy after childbirth is very important for you, as a new mother. More important than losing your baby weight is that you eat a healthy diet. Eating right can provide you with what your body needs, to replenish your vitamin, mineral, and iron stores that were lost with your birth. This is all easier said than done!

When you sit down to feed your newborn, take something to snack on for yourself. Keep a basket of healthy snacks next to your feeding chair. You can stash a banana, dried fruit, nuts, raisins, and other non-per­ishable snacks in your feeding area. You can also put a snack bowl or bag in the refrigerator that you can bring with you when you sit down to feed the baby. Keep some cut up carrots, peppers, celery, cucumbers, apple, other fruit, or slices of cheese on hand in the fridge. Yogurts that you don’t need two hands for, like ones you can squeeze or drink with a straw, are also good and easy to eat when your hands are full.

Keep it simple by choosing foods that are whole (foods that have not been processed or contain artificial ingredients) and healthy, but do not need too much preparation. Nutritious foods that are fast, easy, and simple include fresh fruit, raw vegetables, cheeses, yogurts, dried fruits (such as figs, dates, cranberries, and raisins), nuts, seeds (such as sunflower seeds), nut butters, cottage cheese, energy bars, or cereals. Try easy-to-prepare meals, such as sandwiches on whole-grain bread, finger foods (see the healthy snack list below), hummus, and whole grain crackers. For breakfast on the go, you can make a smoothie or protein shake. Use milk (skim, almond, soy, or coconut) or fruit juice, fruit, such as berries or frozen fruit, a banana, and some protein powder or a table­spoon of nut butter (such as peanut, almond, sunflower, or cashew), and you have a whole meal. A smoothie is perfect to sip on when you sit down to feed your newborn.

When friends and family ask what they can bring when they visit, don’t be shy about asking them to bring healthy foods. Tell them you will appreciate meals that are simple to heat up, such as soups, a roasted or rotisserie chicken, beef stew, or whole-wheat pasta with fresh marinara sauce.

Foods

Protein: high-quality, protein-rich foods, such as beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, lean meat, chicken, and fish

Carbohydrates: whole wheat, brown rice, millet, buckwheat, barley, oats, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta

Vitamins/Minerals: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, whole grains, supplements (prenatal vitamins, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, calcium)

Fats: Be aware of “good” versus “bad” fats. Nuts, seeds, avocado, fish, and healthy oils (such as olive and canola) are considered sources of good fat. Stay away from hydrogenated fats, as are found in margarine or shortening, fries, cookies, cakes, pastries, desserts, and chips, to name a few. Your body has to work harder to process these foods, making your body that is already depleted from preg­nancy and birth even more deficient. Butter is a better option than margarine. If you avoid these foods, your excess weight will come off easily, your mood and emotions will be more stable, and you will sleep better.

Fluids

Thirst is a late sign of dehydration. You need to drink a certain amount of ounces of fluid for every pound of your body weight, roughly half of your body weight in ounces. For example if you weigh 150 pounds, you will need to drink at least 75 ounces of water per day. Breastfeeding will make you thirsty as a reminder to drink. It does not have to be strictly water. It can be broth, herbal teas, and soups. Purchase a water bottle that holds up to 64 ounces, and carry it with you throughout the day. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice, orange juice, sliced lemon, lime, or oranges to your water to add flavor. Foods, such as coffee, tea, alcohol and sodas are diuretics, which deplete water from your body. Observe your urine: if it is dark, concentrated, and amber colored, you are not getting enough water; if it is clear and light colored, you should be well hydrated.

Quick Healthy Meals and Snacks

                  Hard-boiled eggs stored in a plastic container.

                  Cut up vegetables, such as carrots, celery, peppers, beets, or cucum­bers; eat plain, or dip in tahini or dressing.

                  Cooked vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, or chilled steamed vegetables (good plain, or dipped in low-fat dressing, or in a salad).

                  Canned tuna or salmon with cut up red onion and low-fat mayon­naise, salt, and pepper.

                  Frozen, boneless chicken breasts in individual portions for quick grilling or baking with seasoning and olive oil

                  Nuts and seeds

                  Applesauce or yogurt, adding berries or granola to either

                  Smoothies: use milk (skim, coconut, soy, or almond), or fruit juice, 1-tablespoon nut butter, flax, or chia seeds, and a banana. You can add a protein shake with spirulina powder, whey, or egg powder for protein. Put all ingredients in a blender.

                  A slice of whole-grain bread with nut butter, or slices of turkey

                  Grilled salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper, and brown rice

                  Soups: Buy a package or dry soup mix that contains most of the spices and ingredients you need for a good hearty soup. Just add onion, carrots, and broth, or, you can make your own and freeze.

                  Use a slow cooker, or crock-pot. There are many recipes available in books or on the Internet. Throw in all the ingredients and it cooks itself. Use potatoes, vegetables, and a protein (meat cut up, or chicken), add some broth, and you have a whole meal a few hours later, with little effort.

 

If you are a vegan and eat no animal products, you will need extra Vitamin B12. Check this with your health care provider. Make sure you consume enough protein. Legumes, nuts, tofu, whole grains, and rice, are all good foods for vegetarians. If you are vegan, and don’t eat fish or eggs, you will also need iron supplements, as you need to be careful to avoid becoming anemic.

Healthy Snacks

                  Raisins

                  100-Calorie packs

                  Bananas

                  Trail mix

                  Peanuts

                  Spirutein shakes

                  Apples

                  Protein bars

                  Walnuts

                  Rice cakes

                  Pudding cups

                  Applesauce

                  Yogurt

                  String cheese

                  Grapes

                  Cashews

                  Lunch meat

                  Granola bars

                  Whole wheat breads

                  Cheese cubes

                  Peanut butter and crackers

                  Cheerios

                  Orange juice

                  Baby carrots

                  Apple juice

                  Milk

                  Hard-boiled eggs

 

Resources

Baby Center

http://www.babycenter.com/postpar­tum-health

USDA: Health and Nutrition Information for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ pregnancy-breastfeeding/breastfeed­ing-nurtitional-needs.html

Foodpyramid.com

http://www.foodpyramid.com/ myplate/for-moms/

NHS Choices: Your health, your choices

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ pregnancy-and-baby/pages/keeping-fit-and-healthy.aspx#close

WomensHealth.Gov: Office on women’s health, U.S. department of health and human services

http://www.womenshealth.gov/ pregnancy/childbirth-beyond/recover­ing-from-birth.html 135

The Postpartum Stay at Home Dad (SAHD)

 

As a new father, you may find that becoming a parent for the first time can be overwhelming. You may find yourself wondering what exactly your role is. Nowadays, fathers are much more involved than they used to be. Dads spend more time with their children, and they are involved with their children’s sports and other activities. Caring for your newborn will help you feel closer to your child. The relationship you formulate now will set the stage for when your child is older. There is, however, a learning curve, and bonding with your child does take time. Reading up on newborn care, and talking to other new fathers, including your own can make you feel more prepared.

Adjusting to a newborn can be challenging. You need to adjust to many new responsibilities, and may feel overwhelmed. Not only will you be caring for your newborn, but you may also be caring for your partner, especially if she has had a cesarean birth. Your routine, sleep, and daily activities will all be disrupted. A typical day with a newborn includes:

▶ Feeding 8 to 12 times a day

▶ Burping in between and and after feedings

▶ Changing diapers 8 to 12 times per day

▶ A bath or sponge bath at least once per day

▶ Soothing when fussy

▶ Preparing and sterilizing bottles of formula if your partner is bottle-feeding

▶ Helping your partner pump and store milk for future use, if breastfeeding

Your newborn will create his/her own schedule.

More and more fathers are becoming primary caregivers for a variety of reasons It’s not a bad choice for you—a relaxed dress code, flexible work schedule, and spending time outdoors. You may be working from home and caring for your baby at the same time, or you may be in between jobs, allowing your partner the opportunity to develop her career without worrying about childcare. Being a SAHD is a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby while giving yourself time to do something different. Connecting with other SAHDs, or even stay-at-home mothers, will offer you and your baby some socialization, and help make you feel less isolated. Try to break up the day by going on outings, joining a class as your baby gets older, and planning for activities. Most of all, cherish this time with your baby and feel lucky that you have this wonderful opportunity to take part in her day-to-day care and watch her grow.

Resources

Focus on the Family National Fatherhood www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting

National Center for Fathering www.fathers.com

National Father Initiative www.fatherhood.org

PostpartumDads: Helping Families Overcome Post- partum Depression (PPD) www.postpartumdads.org/

 

Here Comes the Sun........

“Here Comes the Sun”

Are the short dark days getting you down? Do you find that you have less energy than usual? Are you feeling depressed?  Are you craving carbohydrates and junk food? Are you sleeping more and having a hard time getting up in the morning?

It could be winter blues, postpartum depression, or, just a new mom having a bad day!

The “winter blues” are not just a myth.  It is also known as “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD), and it is an actual medical condition. The definition is:  A history of depression that is seasonal in nature, affecting mostly women during the winter months, who live in colder and darker climates. The symptoms typically begin in the fall, peak in midwinter, and subside in the spring. The exact cause is unknown, however, there are some contributing factors, such as a seasonal change of light, which can affect your internal circadian rhythm, and the secretion of the hormone melatonin. Genetics, a poor diet and a lack of exercise can also be contributing factors. The intensity, exact timing, and resolution of winter blues can vary, and may depend on where you live.

Life is hard enough with a new baby. Fluctuating hormones, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation can be difficult to deal with. When you add in winter, it can become that much harder. Getting to the store, doing errands, getting out of the house during the day, especially when the days are so short, can be an almost impossible task, and cabin fever can set in very quickly.

Tips for new moms to beat the winter blues:

-Keep your circadian rhythm in check by trying to get outside during daylight, and be exposed to as much sunlight as possible.  At least 20 minutes outside can stimulate the production of vitamin D, and increase serotonin, which is your feel good hormone in your brain. If it’s too cold to take the baby out, then you can sit by a well lit window, or wait until you have someone to babysit so that you can get out a little bit while it is still light. Take walks outside, and keep your home well lit with lamps and bright lights. 

-Take your baby to the mall and walk around, or sit in a café or Starbucks and strike up a conversation with another new mom. You would be surprised how much other new moms are also craving company, and how much you have in common!

-Take vitamin D-3, and Omega-3 supplements, both will boost your mood when you are not getting enough sunlight.

-Exercise-if you can get the gym or take a class once or twice a week that would be ideal. If you can’t get out to the gym, you can try a class online.  There are many YouTube videos where you can view a full exercise or yoga class for free.  Purchase an exercise DVD, or if you have exercise equipment in your home, use it.

-Healthy diet-make sure you eat lots of protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and healthy whole grain carbohydrates. 

-Stay hydrated- you can replace cold water with warm drinks such as herbal teas with honey, or warm water with lemon juice. Make sure you drink as much as you did during the warmer months.

-Stay connected with friends, and family. Try and make plans for days when you are alone with your baby.

-Bright light therapy- a light box will help regulate your circadian rhythm and lift depressive symptoms. It can boost your mood and energy by mimicking the effects of the sun.  You need to sit by the light for 30 minutes or longer. Light boxes are available online, on amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

-Seek out the help of a therapist or a support group.

-If symptoms are severe enough you might need some medication to help get you through the winter.

-Most important-be good to yourself, lower your expectations and please don’t beat yourself up for feeling down. You are not alone and there are many others out there who are going through the same thing.

Whether you have the winter blues, postpartum depression, or both, take care of yourself, and reach out for the help that you need.

 

Scary Thoughts

Postpartum Anxiety and Scary Thoughts

What are scary thoughts?

Many people have “scary” or strange thoughts once in a while.  However, if you have anxiety, these thoughts can become extremely frightening, and sometimes debilitating.  These thoughts can be frightening, alarming, and make you feel as though you are losing your mind. 

Scary thoughts are repetitive, intrusive, and unwanted thoughts that pop into your head at any given moment. Usually these thoughts will surface at the most inopportune time. These thoughts can be excessive worry, obsessing or ruminating over small things, or even having frightening images that come out of nowhere. The thoughts will not go away no matter how hard you try to get rid of them. You may have images or thoughts about accidently hurting yourself or your baby, and these images can turn into thoughts about “losing it,” or “snapping.” “What if I accidently drown the baby in the bathtub?” “What if I accidently drop the baby down the stairs?” Then you may start thinking “What if I snap or go crazy and purposely drown the baby in the bathtub?” “What if I am losing my mind and I will purposely throw the baby down the stairs?” or “What if I smother the baby by accident, or on purpose?” “If I think it, how do I know I won’t do it?”

These thoughts will go on and on, and may make you question your sanity. You may fear that if you told anyone about these thoughts or images, they will think you are crazy and admit you to a hospital or take your baby away from you. You are not crazy. This is not postpartum psychosis. This is anxiety. You are probably experiencing a type of anxiety known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Anxiety can do some very scary things to your mind. When someone is anxious, they can have terrible thoughts about the ones that they love. Anxiety requires an outlet that expresses itself in the form of these frightening, bothersome thoughts and images.

What is the difference between women with scary thoughts who do not hurt anyone, and those that do?

If you are upset, or even horrified by the thoughts you are having, you are most likely experiencing what is known as “ego-dystonic” thoughts, which are thoughts and images that go against your personality and what you believe is right. You are aware of your thoughts, and can articulate that you are having some scary thoughts and are upset by them. To actually harm your baby goes against your innate beliefs. You have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. These thoughts are not stimulated by psychosis, but by anxiety. It is highly unlikely that you will hurt anyone.

Women who harm their babies are out of touch with reality.  “Ego-syntonic”-your thoughts and feelings are consistent with what you believe. These women are hearing voices and seeing things that are not real. These are called visual and auditory hallucinations. These women may be having serious thoughts about ending their lives and will most likely have a plan in place to do so. These women are experiencing a psychotic break, also known as postpartum psychosis (PPP), and need immediate psychiatric attention and will most likely be admitted to a facility for psychiatric treatment.

How do I know that I won’t act on my scary thoughts?

Many new mothers may fear that they might “snap” and act on their scary thoughts.  If this were the case, then the prisons would be filled with people who have anxiety and OCD.  The thoughts that pop into your mind will cause you much anxiety and stress, again, because they are ego-dystonic.  They are not pleasurable to you or gratifying at all, and you become very upset by them.  Those individuals who act on their thoughts are people who derive pleasure from them, ego-syntonic. The thoughts are consistent with their own self-image.

 

What do I do about these thoughts? How do I stop them?

-Getting help and treatment for your anxiety is key to stopping these thoughts. Seek out a professional for therapy and possibly medication.

-Don’t try to stop them-thoughts and emotions get stronger the more attention you give them.

-Don’t get upset or afraid of them-when you get upset, your mind recognizes them as important, and will keep sending the thoughts out.  If you refuse to feed them with your own fear, they will eventually fade.

-Don’t cling to the thoughts or obsess over them, and don’t do things to avoid having them (compulsions), don’t change any part of yourself to accommodate the thoughts-think of the thoughts going through your mind as clouds passing through the sky, the sky does not change at all to accommodate the clouds.

-Remember, your thoughts are not you; they are simply sound bites.

Cheryl Zauderer has been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues.
Cheryl has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.
 Cheryl has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.

 

 

"Babywearing"

Babywearing

What does it mean to “wear” your baby?

Babywearing has been practiced for centuries all over the world, and is still practiced today regularly, in many countries.

The term babywearing means to actually “wear” your baby by carrying him/her in a sling or another babywearing tool, instead of placing your baby in a crib, swing or other contraption.  Babywearing keeps your baby close and connected to you.  Babies who are worn tend to feel a lot safer and tend to cry less.  As a new mother or father, Babywearing can free up your hands, enabling you to partake in many of your daily activities that were challenging while holding your baby.

As a new parent, you are probably faced with decisions about which “baby gear” are “must haves.”

There are many apparatuses on the market today for babies, and as a new parent, the decision about which “baby gear” to purchase can be overwhelming. You may be inundated with all of the choices available: baby swings, bouncy seats, rockers, activity gyms and play mats, jumpers, rock and play, pack and play, tummy time mats, piano gyms, rocking swings, and many others. You are probably wondering which, if any, of these items are absolutely necessary for you to have, now that you have a newborn baby.

Studies have shown that these contraptions tend to push your newborn away from you, as opposed to keeping your baby close. Your newborn has been with you for nine months. He/she knows your every move, your heartbeat, your breathing, and your voice. Your baby wants to be with you, not away from you in an unfamiliar object, no matter how bright and colorful it is. Your newborn wants to feel your warmth and have familiar mom close by. Babywearing is a way to hold your newborn close to you while freeing you up a bit as well.

There are many devices on the market today that can help you practice “baby wearing” and most are rela­tively inexpensive.  Mothers used to wrap their infants in shawls, or any type of sling, so that they could complete their household chores and care for other children. This practice enables you to hold your newborn close while getting things done around the house or while outdoors. Infants love feeling the rocking and movement of your everyday life.

You can also create your own device, as long as you are sure it is safe, it doesn’t obstruct breathing, and the baby can’t fall out. Some slings are quite decorative and have a variety of styles, colors, and patterns. There are front carriers, back carriers, wrap carriers, and sling carriers. Brands include Baby Bjorn, Momwrap, Mobywrap, Ergobaby, the Peanut shell, Balboa baby, Karma baby—the list goes on.

Benefits of Babywearing:

  1. -Babies tend to be happier close to you, feeling your warmth, scent, and beating heart.
  2. -Helps to soothe a colicky baby who needs to be snuggled more.
  3. -The love hormone “oxytocin” is released by holding baby close, which helps you and your newborn to bond.
  4. -Babies like feeling motion; your movement as you go about your activities is soothing for your baby.
  5. -Enables you to be hands free so you can perform household duties.
  6. -Baby stays upright, which can prevent reflux, as well as preventing Plagiocephaly
  7.  (flat head syndrome).
  8. -Can be easier to walk through store isles as opposed to navigating through with a stroller.

Some precautions to consider while wearing your baby:

  1.  Make sure your apparatus is not too tight or too loose.
  2. You should be able to see baby.
  3. Make sure baby doesn’t get too hot, keep out of direct sun.
  4. Stay hydrated; both you and baby.
  5. Make sure baby’s back is supported.
  6. Make sure mouth and nose are free and not blocked
  7. Walk carefully, and be aware of your environment so you don’t trip or fall

Remember; you cant “spoil” your baby by holding him/her or carrying him/her. Babies want to be close to their mothers.  By keeping your newborn close you will both will be happy, comfortable, and secure.

Cheryl Zauderer has been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues.
Cheryl has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.
 Cheryl has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.
 

 

"Momnesia"

Momnesia: The beginning of new motherhood

 “I feel as if I am in a mental fog!”

“Momnesia,” “Mommy Brain,” or “Brain Fog” are terms used to describe a new mother who does not feel as “sharp” as she did prior to her pregnancy. You may have occasional memory lapses and moments of forgetfulness. You may be having a difficult time making even the smallest decisions. Don’t despair! There is actually a scientific cause for this! It is a type of amnesia that you, as a new mother, may experience after birth. Believe it or not, this is exactly where your brain needs to be at this time, in order for you to bond and attach to your newborn.

Some of the causes for “Momnesia” are:

The Love Hormone

Did you know that there is such a thing as a Love Hormone? There are many terms used to describe the hormone that has changed your life as a new mother. It is the bonding hormone, the “falling in love” hormone, the cuddle chemical, the trust hormone, and the healing hormone. This hormone is known as oxytocin, and is produced by the hypothalamus (part of the brain that creates hormones), and released from the posterior pitu­itary (part of the brain that stores and releases these hormones into the circulation).

All of these hormonal changes may have an effect on the way you think and feel, while developing an increased awareness into your newborns needs.

Mother Love

Loving your newborn can cause you to feel mentally disorganized and unfocused, but you will become entranced with cuddling your newborn and actually feel withdrawal when you are separated. Your brain has changed, along with your devotion and loyalty, and a new sense of protectiveness comes over you.

Baby Talk

A change in priorities can also cause you to become more forgetful and mentally foggy. New mothers develop a shift in memory priority; the types of things that you remember are different from before. You will find yourself remembering every­thing related to your newborn, including when he/she ate and was changed, how long he/she slept, and his/her daily habits.

However, there are some steps that you can take towards improving your memory to help you better manage your life with your newborn:

-Learn to accept help

Surrounding yourself with supportive loved ones, is not a luxury, it is a necessity!

-Sleep, sleep, sleep

As much as you can, whenever you can, wherever you can!

Sleep whenever your newborn sleeps, even if it is for a short time.

-Eat a well-balanced diet

This will not only help you improve your memory, but will increase your energy and make you feel stronger. Avoid or reduce sugar and caffeine, drink water, and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Keep easy snacks in your refrigerator that are high in protein and that you can grab with one hand. This will help increase your energy and brain health.

-Eat brain-friendly foods

Healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds (especially walnuts), flaxseed, and avocados are all good for promoting brain health. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, and walnuts are all good for your brain health. Lean proteins, such as fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, and can give you lots of energy and stamina.

-Balance

Try to reduce tasks and spend time on what matters most: taking care of yourself and your newborn. Don’t overload yourself or your brain, and don’t expect to do everything you did before you had your baby.

Expe­rience living in the moment, and enjoy every aspect of being a new mother. The more time you spend with your newborn, the faster and better the two of you will become in-sync. Slow down your pace, and you will slowly begin to feel like yourself again.

 

Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLChas been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.  Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.

The “Experts” Say No – are Co-Sleeping and Bed Sharing Actually OK?

Is it irresponsible of new parents to sleep in the same bed as their newborns? Mothers and babies have been sharing sleep for centuries, long before they were advised not to. 

What is co-sleeping and bed sharing?

Co-sleeping describes sleeping in close proximity to, or in the same room as your baby. Some families prefer bed sharing—a type of co-sleeping, where the baby sleeps in the same bed with his or her mother, or both parents. Bed sharing has become controversial. Some health care providers advise strongly against it, naming bed sharing as a possible cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) . However, these bed-sharing warnings may not be for everyone.

Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other experts that oppose bed sharing recommend “room sharing” as an alternative. They advise that babies should sleep in their parents' room, in a crib or bassinet close to the bed for easy monitoring during the night.    

It’s up to parents to make informed, independent decisions regarding sharing sleep with their infants.  All situations are different, and no circumstance is ever guaranteed. All parents look at risks and benefits differently. If you decide to bed-share, make sure you gather the right information, and use your wisdom to make the best decision for yourselves, your newborn and your family.

Co-sleeping advantages: 

  • Decreased disruption of feedings
  • Increased sleep and satisfied emotional needs
  • Easier and more frequent nursing, which builds milk supply
  • Comfort provided faster and easier to babies when they fuss, or need something during the night
  • Comfort and peace of mind for parents, knowing they have immediate access to their newborns
  • Mothers and babies formulate a sleep rhythm
  • Sleeping safely near your baby or in the same room as your baby can reduce the incidence of SIDS
  • Everyone gets more sleep!!

Bed-sharing

A lack of sleep is the number one stressor for a new parenting couple.  Your newborn must eat around the clock.  Babies need comfort, food, close contact, and love, all day, and all night, too!  Constant sleep disruption for mother and baby can increase fatigue, and may even lead to anxiety.  

If you create an environment for constant physical contact, nourishment, and sleep, you and your newborn will get the rest you both so desperately need. There are actually more risks to falling asleep in a rocking chair, recliner, or couch than there are to bed sharing. For some couples, it makes perfect sense to sleep share with their infants.  Sharing sleep doesn’t have to be an every-feeding or every-night occurrence, either.  

If you are uncomfortable with having your baby in your bed but still want to be close by, you can also try a co-sleeper, which is a type of bassinet that attaches securely to the side of your bed. This allows co-sleeping with your newborn, without her sharing your bed with you. Your baby is right next to you, yet in her own bed. How can you balance your need for sleep and your newborn’s needs for closeness, frequent feeding, and cuddling, without creating an unsafe sleeping situation? There are ways to share sleep safely if you follow some safety guidelines.

Bed Sharing Safely

For safe sleep, take care to make the bed and environment safe:

  • Firm mattress; no waterbeds, couch, recliners, or chairs
  • No cords, loose strings, or wires
  • No fluffy pillows, loose blankets, or toys
  • The mattress should fit very securely in its frame to avoid entrapment
  • Use a safe side rail, or put bed firmly against a wall; fill gaps securely—there should be no space between the bed and the wall
  • Use a low bed, or if your bed is very high, place the mattress on the floor
  • No smoking, alcohol, drugs, prescription tranquilizers, or medications that cause sleepiness
  • Long hair should be tied back
  • Don’t swaddle the baby when sharing sleep 
  • Older siblings should not sleep in the same bed with you and your baby
  • Please do not bed share with your premature or low birth weight baby
  • Smokers, in general, should not co-sleep.

Make your own educated decision about what works best for you. Be smart and safe, be aware, and most of all, trust your own instincts.

Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLChas been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.  Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.

The Era of Lamaze: Can We Bring it Back?

Lamaze, also known as the psychoprophylaxis, or painless childbirth method, was created in the 1940s by French obstetrician, Dr. Fernand Lamaze.  Lamaze incorporated breathing and relaxation exercises for laboring women as a safer alternative to the drastic medical interventions used at that time—such as “twilight sleep”, which included scopolamine, a powerful amnesiac, and morphine, a powerful analgesic. The method gained in popularity in the US in 1959 after a well-known actress, Marjorie Karmel, sought an alternative method of childbirth for herself, and wrote the popular book, “Thank You, Dr. Lamaze.” Together with the influence of the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO Lamaze), Lamaze became a household name.  Fathers were just beginning to be allowed in the delivery and cesarean section rooms if they held a “certificate” from a Lamaze childbirth educator, confirming that they had attended classes.

But what has happened to Lamaze and Childbirth Education training?  As a Lamaze instructor myself for 20 years, I saw my practice dwindling with the advanced use of epidurals and other pain relief techniques.  I received phone calls from clients asking, “Do I need Lamaze classes if I plan on getting an epidural?”

Lamaze, the Bradley method, and other methods of childbirth classes were known as “Childbirth Education.”  Childbirth Education is not just about breathing techniques, or preparation for a natural birth. Childbirth Education is a holistic approach that educates the expectant mom and her partner about what is happening in her body and what to expect during labor and delivery.  It builds confidence, and trains women to work with their bodies, keeping labor and birth as simple and safe as possible. 

With the benefit of childbirth education, women arrive at birthing facilities with a strong understanding of what’s going on around them. Women are familiar with the medical terminology that the health care providers use when describing their progress.  And if unforeseen circumstances arise, such as the need to undergo a Cesarean section or other interventions, women are prepared, and understand what is happening.

Giving birth can be a frightening experience for those who have never been in need of major medical care. Many of us are unprepared for the complete lack of control that we can feel the first time we experience the throes of labor. Also, unforeseen circumstances sometimes occur. When this happens, medical staff will be focused on safely delivering your baby. With childbirth education, a woman and her partner can arrive at the laboring suite with an equal, high level of security and self-reliance. They have a solid comprehension of the routine, the procedures involved, and will be able to advocate for themselves and make informed decisions in any situation, with a clear head.

Reading articles on the Internet can be a wonderful way to complement classes, but it is a completely different experience than receiving live interaction from a professional Childbirth Educator, with other couples involved.

Childbirth Education sessions include:

  • basic overview of labor and birth
  • coping skills
  • physiology of labor and birth
  • emotional expectations
  • nutrition and exercise
  • labor training, breathing, and relaxation practice
  • tips on how to try and avoid a cesarean section
  • postpartum, newborn care, and breastfeeding
  • training for your partner to be the best labor coach
  • options for pain management

If you do decide to use pain management, by having the education and the utilization of breathing and relaxation techniques, you can delay your need for medication until absolutely necessary.  The longer you delay the use of any interventions in labor, your labor will progress more efficiently, and it will be better for your baby and yourself.

Childbirth education can be an empowering experience for you and your partner. This will be the biggest event of your lives, and you want to be informed as much as possible. Whether it is with Lamaze, Bradley Hypnobirthing, or any other method, you will want the best birthing experience possible, and you will want to feel good about your choices.

A good birth experience will help you to adjust better to your postpartum state, and going home with your newborn will be a better experience overall.

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLChas been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.  Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.

The Changing Face of New Motherhood

Why are new mothers today so overextended? Why are they completely overwhelmed by new motherhood?

New mothers today are facing much higher demands and responsibilities than they did in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Most new mothers contribute to a dual income household, attempt to balance workplace responsibilities and childcare, and maintain the home, pets, and a social life. Let’s not forget, they have to eat, too! 

Our female predecessors worked very hard to establish equality and partnership.  They entered the workforce and divided up responsibilities in the home.  Women have made great strides in professional and economic advancement, only to have the stress of trying to do it all and be the perfect mother, wife, and employee.  New mothers are struggling to manage everything at once; in addition to keeping up with friends and family, and trying to make it all look good on Instagram.

Mothers deal with all sorts of political issues, as well. There are always new policies in place regarding workload responsibilities and time off. They have to ask for time off or set hours at work, and find a private place to pump, or breastfeed if day care is on-site.  New mothers deal with many more issues than they did back in the day; daycare, nannies, workplace prejudice, and trying to carve out vacation time to unplug. Many government and social programs have changed, and together with higher workplace demands and household and childcare responsibilities, new mothers are left completely stressed out.

How many women were passed over for promotions due to pregnancy or a new baby?  How many women are disappointed that they couldn’t handle their prior job responsibilities as well as they used to because they’re now sleep deprived and overwhelmed as a new mom?  How many new mothers either had to walk away from a promotion, or step down from a job role because they could not stay late at work anymore, because they wanted to go home and see their baby before he/she went to sleep for the night?

I see many of these women in my practice as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, struggling with trying to keep up with doing it “all”. More often than not, the pressure to keep up is something we put on ourselves. Here are some of the solutions many new mommies and I have worked out together:

  • Try and lighten the load at work if you can, and if your job allows it, get more flexible work hours, or see if you can work from home at least one day a week
  • Try and lighten the workload at home if you can afford some household help, or enlist in some family help
  • Spend time on the weekends preparing for the week, limit plans and running around so you can have time to relax and enjoy your new family
  • Take some time for yourself whenever and however you can
  • Don’t blame yourself when things are not perfect, no one is perfect and no matter how well you try, you'll make mistakes—but you will learn from them
  • Don’t be your worst critic, you are doing the very best that you can.

You may decide to put your career on hold if things get to be too much, if you can afford to. Don’t feel guilty about it. You can always go back to your career, but you won't get this time back with your baby.

And don’t let social media make you think you’re not doing as much as you should be, or that anyone else is doing it better than you are.  Shift priorities, and just give some tasks the boot. Get this weight off your shoulders! Celebrate life, and enjoy being a mom!

Cheryl Zauderer, PhD, CNM, NPP, IBCLChas been a registered nurse since 1985. She is a nurse-midwife, a lactation consultant and a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders and other women’s health issues. Dr. Zauderer has authored her first book entitled Maternity Leave: A New Mothers Guide to the First Six Weeks Postpartum, Praeclarus Press. It is a self-help book for new mothers focusing on the first six weeks postpartum. You can follow her with her blog and on her website at: postpartumcare1.com, on twitter, and on facebook.  Dr. Zauderer has also served as a board member for PSI (Postpartum Support International) and has been the Nassau/Suffolk coordinator for PSI since 2009.