On social media, I shared some really important tips about the early postpartum period and newborns. I've comprised the information here in one blog for easier access - hope you enjoy it!
P O S T P A R T U M . D E P R E S S I O N:
I’d like to start off by saying that Postpartum Depression (PPD) during COVID-19 is still PPD. we know that PPD is caused by a mix of neurobiological factors AND environmental factors. Some people are now experiencing additional environmental factors such as financial struggle, decreased access to professional support and lack of human touch; adding to the confusion happening on a scientific level. So regardless if you’re feelings of PPD started before COVID-19 or during, you should still seek support and treatment.
What I really wanted to focus on in this post is debunking 3 myths around PPD that can be so dangerous to new parents. Here are the 3 myths I’d like to clarify, have you heard them before?
MEN CAN’T GET PPD: sometimes called Paternal Depression, fathers CAN in fact experience PPD symptoms. This is a life altering change for your entire family and thus can effect more than one person in the household.
PPD MEANS FEELING SAD: did you know that most birthing people that experience PPD describe feelings of irritability, frustration and anger over sadness? That’s right, the short fuse, mental fog and inability to really listen are all signs of PPD.
PPD ONLY HAPPENS TO MOMS WITH NEWBORNS: also not true. In fact, a lot of women will start noticing a difference in their mood 3 and 4 months AFTER their baby is born.
Now more than ever, people are feeling alone. But equally true, businesses and professionals are showing up for you (just in a different capacity). Here in Norfolk County, we have counselling services offering free virtual support to people who need it. Other therapists have moved their sessions online to continue to help their clients. Looking for a good place to start? Make a call to your family doctor for information and referrals, and as always, I’m here to hold space and truly listen.
B R E A S T F E E D I N G:
If you’ve decided to breastfeed you’ve probably heard of a “good latch.” When you have a good latch, you won’t feel any pain while nursing and milk will be flowing easily to your baby. Sounds easy right? Accept, getting a proper latch is actually kind of tricky. As mothers, we sometimes forget that breastfeeding isn’t something that comes naturally, and babies aren’t born knowing exactly what to do either; which means you both have a bit fo learning curve. Here are 3 tips to help you find that perfect latch!
1. Head Back, Chin Forward: Imagine yourself drinking a bottle of water on a hot day. Why is this important? Try drinking that same bottle of water with your chin on your chest. Encouraging this position will make nursing easier and more effective.
2. Wide, Open Mouth: You can trigger this reflex by touching your babies chin or by rubbing your nipple on their lip. You will need to direct your breast into your baby’s mouth (slam dunk!)
3. The “Comfort Zone”: This is a real place where the hard palate meets the soft palate. Your nipple should be this far back in your baby’s mouth to allow for pain-free nursing and effective milk removal. A shallow latch may also result in sleepy baby that falls asleep before they are full.
I N F A N T . S L E E P:
I’d like to start off by acknowledging that what may be a sleep concern for you, may not be a sleep concern for another family, and that is OKAY. The first question to ask yourself is, “am I concerned about my baby’s sleep because it is causing a disruption in my own life, OR am I concerned about my baby’s sleep because “so and so” said I should be? If you’ve decided that YOU need to make changes for your own well being, then please keep reading! On that note, please excuse posts that suggest things like, “they are only little for so long,” or “one day your house will be empty and you’ll wish you had this time back.” For people that are struggling, these types of comments are both guilt inducing and potentially harmful. Here are my most helpful tips for encouraging sleep.
AVOID AN OVER TIRED BABY: The first step is learning how long your baby should be awake in between nap times. (Please reach out if you’d like a copy of my nap schedule based on age). For instance, a 6 month old baby should not be awake for more than 2-3 hours at the most. The first step is understanding your baby’s sleep cues. Look out for things like gazing off, rubbing eyes, yawning, fussiness and decreased activity. As soon as you see these sometimes subtle signs, start your nap time routine.
USE SLEEP SUPPORTS: The 2 I most recommend to encourage longer stretches of sleep, include a sleep sack or swaddle, (depending on age) and a sound machine. For newer babies, a swaddle will mimic that same closeness felt in utero and will help babies feel more calm. For older babies, the extra weight and warmth from a sleep sack will help your baby fall back to sleep as they start to wake from their (very short) sleep cycle. A sound machine will help block out any potential loud noises that may startle your baby awake, as well as create a sense of calm when putting them down for a nap (this is sometimes referred to as a sleep cue).
PUT YOUR BABY DOWN SLEEPY BUT NOT ASLEEP: Now, this is by far the most important piece and I encourage you to start implementing these sleep hygiene practices early (as early as 6 weeks).Imagine you fall asleep cuddling your partner in your bed, only to wake up on the kitchen floor alone. Confusing, right? Teaching your baby that they are safe in their sleep space with our without you there takes time, but will pay off as you they get older.
T E E T H I N G
Teething can start as early as 4 months (closer to 6 months for most babies). Some babies handle it really well while others seem to be hit SO hard. I’ve heard before that if adults had to go through teething, we’d be hospitalized. My biggest piece of advice for teething is to be flexible with routines. (Keep routines but be prepared to bend and flex them if necessary).
Here are some things you can do to help your little one with teething:
TOYS: teething toys you can place in the fridge will allow your baby to chew on them and get some relief. If you don’t have those handy, dampen a wash cloth and put it in the freezer for 20 mins. The cloth will be cold but still chewy.
5’s: pull out all the stops to help soothe and calm your baby. The 5 s’s include: SWADDLE, SOUND, SUCK (breast, bottle, soother), lying in SIDE/STOMACH and SWAY. I have a blog post on this, so visit the website to read more.
MEDICATION: using medical pain relief may also be something to you choose to offer your baby. CAMILA (BOIRON) is a really wonderful homeopathic option that I’ve had a lot of success with personally and professionally. I also recommend ORAJEL (for babies) and infant TYLENOL.
If you'd like support or more information about any of these topics listed above, please reach out via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org