Recently I have eluded to the fact that I am now a father. However I have never posted specifically about it. Like other topics I have written about, I typically try to keep things based on "how to's" and gear reviews. I have wanted to discuss some of the finer points of parent hood. Not necessarily how it feels like to be a parent, or even how to be a parent, but more the gear involved in raising your little human. As a newer parent, I have categorized most things involving babies to fall into 5 subjects: Sleeping, eating, pooping, transportation, and entertainment. Hey aren't you missing some things? Why yes I am. But I either do not know enough about those subject or do not care to talk about them in my blog!
Giving birth to your child in a hospital is a great thing. They take care of everything. You can walk into a hospital in labor without any prior preparation, and the chances are good that you will walk out with a healthy child. Granted this isn't how you should do it. But the fact is that modern hospital provide the best facilities and experience needed to bring a child into this world. It is when you leave the hospital that you are one your own. This is when things get a little scary. I once had someone tell me, "you need a license to drive a car, but you don't need anything to raise a child." Unlike walking into the hospital were an under prepared you will be taken care of, the walking out of the hospital you better have "your shit dialed" before hand. The five subjects mentioned earlier are some of the basic things that will need to be addressed before leaving the hospital. Consider the next series of post to be a quick start guide to babies. This should be the minimal amount of info required to bring that baby home. More details of cool baby gear will come.
Eating-From the start this should be the easiest. Us mammals have this newborn feeding system built in right from the start. To not use it is foolish, and irresponsible. Baring some short fall, not breast feeding a newborn child is rob it of not only of the perfect baby nutrient, a special concoction of disease prevention, and establishment of a soothing mother to baby bond nothing can substitute. It is odd how many women think breast feeding is weird or even gross. HELLO what do you think those things are for anyways. Not for some drunk guy to motorboat at the bar.
Very little gear is involved with breast feeding. A burp cloth to catch the babies spit up. Nursing pads to catch any leaked milk. And a breast pump to store extra milk for when the mother is not there to feed the little one.
For the first couple of days of your child's life no milk might be produced by the mother. Instead a yellowish oily liquid will express from the breasts. This is called colostrum. Don't worry, it is not defective milk. Instead it is a super concentrated fatty substance designed just for a new borns needs. Feed it to them, they'll love it.
Of course this nursing thing can be difficult at the start. Most hospitals have a lactation consultant. Use them. Get them to coach you, or even over look what you are doing. Don't just assume that you and the baby are doing it right. For a first time mother, you are a rookie and so is the little one. Pointers from a specialist can make all the difference in the world. Think about joining a local lactation group. Even if you think you know everything about breast feeding, I am sure you will still gain some info. If not directly about breast feeding then about other baby related things that might be happening in your community. This can even act as a friend finder or support group. La Lecha Leagueis an international group who's mission is to help mothers breast feed. Through their site you can often find local lactation groups.
Some new parents believe that their babies should be feed on a schedule. A strict one of every 2 or 3 hours. With no variation. We have found this to unrealistic. The baby should eat within those time periods as a guideline. Surely you would not want a baby to go more than 3 or 4 hours without a feeding. However, if it has only been 1 and a half hours and the baby is crying for food. FEED IT! This isn't summer camp cafeteria, where the doors open at noon and close at 1. If your baby is hungry and you don't feed it, it will lose the desire to eat. Then when the scheduled time comes it will not have the same apatite and eat as much as it would have done otherwise. Now forcing the baby to eat when it is not hungry can then be frustrating. With out scientific study to back this up, we have found that babies who are feed on a schedule are typically more irritable and smaller than those who are not. In the first several months of development a child needs to know that you will be there for him. That his needs are meet. This establishes trust and a bond between the parent and child. Feeding a baby when they are hungry is a key part of this processes.
Before leaving the hospital, the basics of feeding the baby should be worked out. In some rare cases breast feeding just does not work due to developmental issues, which I have no experience with. These cases are best left to medical professionals to address. But for most babies, their feeding needs for the next 6 months are entirely taken care of by breast milk. They do not even need water. They need no other source of nutrition, expect vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced when skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Babies should not be getting that much sun.
And the best part breast feeding it is that it is FREE.