Monday, January 14, 2008

tales from labor & birth class - part 2 and let INQUIRY WEEK commence!

First off, I have to tell you that Cindy, our Labor & Birth instructor, totally has it in for us. No, really. The lady HATES US. There were a few instances in last Thursday's class where it was none too subtle that she'd like to throw various birth balls and posters at me and Chip. My favorite was when she came all the way across the room to use ME as the prop for what NOT to do when your partner is doing this touch relaxation exercise. Sure, I guess she needed a dummy. Maybe I looked particularly dummy-like, I don't know. The key is that she walked across the room and man-handled me in such a way that as soon as she was out of ear-shot I looked at Chip and uttered these rarely heard words (from me, at least): I. Hate. Her. At the break, Chip watched in silence as I pulled off our nametags and told him, "From here on out, we're doing things OUR way. We paid for the class. We're here to learn what we need to learn to get the Bean into this world in a healthy way. If Cindy tells us to lay on the floor and roll around, and I don't find that particular brand of "exercise" (torture) to be helpful for my back, I'm going to find the posture that WILL be helpful. If Cindy has a problem with it, she can take a walk. Ha ha ha ha ha!" Chip smiled this huge smile, then he told me I rocked. The rest of class was much more enjoyable. Some days I have these really great moments when I realize that it really IS just me and Chip, and we're in it together - whether it's a birth & labor class, or stumbling through this parenting gig, whatever - it's such an amazing thing to be doing this with my best friend.

I have officially declared this to be INQUIRY WEEK. My reasons are twofold: first, I have some questions for y'all; second, I'm sapped of all creative energy (at least today) and I cannot think of a witty way to tell you that I'm so tired I want to cry - but also still so incredibly INSANE with all the To Do madness that I can't decide which way is up or down.

Hence, INQUIRY WEEK. Every day I'm going to ask a question (can you see how COMPLICATED this here INQUIRY WEEK is going to be?). You get to answer. I'll post my thoughts as well - that is, if I actually HAVE any thoughts. Not all questions will be baby-centric, I PROMISE.

Let us begin with Monday's question:

This is about feeding and soothing baby. There are a million books out there with varying advice about what's best for baby. Instead of arguing about it, I want to hear what one book you enjoyed the most on this subject. So far, I've read Dr. Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block and it seems pretty straightforward and simple. He gives a helpful hand on how to deal with settling baby. He does not, however, really cover the whole feeding baby topic, other than it's important to feed on demand for the first few months. No feeding "schedule". So now it's your turn. What is one book you'd recommend that covers the feeding/soothing baby issue? If you never read a book about this, but received some particularly sage advice, share that instead. For you out there who don't have kids, please chime in as well if you have a strong feeling about any of this, even if it's to tell me that I'm a wonderful human being and you just can't get enough of my writing.

Breastfeeding: Yes or no? For how long?
Rice cereal: Yes or no? When?
Cry it out: Yes or no? When?
Baby soothing: Cuddle on demand, or let baby learn to soothe him or herself?
... Just a random sampling of some of the thoughts in my head.

I don't think I have many strong feelings about this topic, as of yet. I am going to breastfeed. I don't know for how long. We hope to be able to include Chip on the feeding Bean experience, so at some point (no idea when) we will also be feeding her from a bottle (I'll be pumping, obviously). This is pretty much all we have right now. Here's your opportunity to totally bend me to your will.



Heidi said...

LOL! I love your willingness to solicit advice--I just hope to have at least something that is useful...

My main advice would be to trust your instincts and when you feel helpless and can't figure out what she needs--ask Heavenly Father.


Other than that...

I personally liked "Babywise" for feeding baby. The most helpful parts for me were the goals it sets out for the first few weeks and the overall schedule of: sleep, eat, stay awake. That's worked really well for Bubbers.

For soothing, we liked pacifiers, rocking and bouncy stroller rides. :)

Breastfeeding is a tough question. I'd heard from many friends who didn't like to breastfeed and weaned really early. So, I went into it thinking I'd be lucky to last a year. I was not prepared for how incredibly much I LOVE it and BUBBERS LOVES it. So, I'm going to play it by ear and see when we both stop needing it. (Which is what I'm guessing will happen with you and cute baby Bean).

I'm a bit of a purist, so Bubbers didn't get rice cereal until the day he turned 6 months old and needed the iron. That worked for him because he didn't show any interest in solid food before that. Again, I say trust your instincts--you'll know when she's ready.

Oooh, sleep questions... I heartily recommend Dr. Ferber's "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems." He teaches you how to understand sleep and why your baby sleeps like they do. It was an answer to many prayers for me. I do realize it won't fit everyone's philosophies, but if it fits yours, you'll love it.

Oh, and sorry about your instructor--that's too bad!

Okay, I know this is a novel, but I thought of one more recommendation: swaddling. It rocks! Just make sure to get extra big swaddle blankets. The ones they sell in stores only last a week or two and then they're too small. (Our birth instructor made them).

Okay, sorry, two more product recommendations:
--BundleMe Lite and Original BundleMe
--Snap N Go Stroller

Okay, that's all for now--I swear!! :):)


Seriously, Whimsy, you're going to do awesome! You and Chip are wonderful and together you're going to be the best parents this little girl could ever dream of!

Heidi said...

Holy cow, I just saw my comment after I posted it--that is insanely long. Maybe I should have emailed it... Sorry!!

Tessie said...

Man, I can't even remember if I read a book that I liked on these topics. I think I read "The Baby Whisperer" and that one had some good stuff, some crap, like they pretty much all do. If you are willing to put in the time, it seems like the best way to do it is to read a bunch of stuff and either discard it all as bullshit or just take bits and pieces that make sense to you from each.

I breastfed for a few months, ended up exclusively pumping which I didn't like much but on the plus side it does help with the sharing of duties.

This is one of the most unhelpful comments in the history of commenting, but there it is. Good for you for being open-minded about all this stuff. Strong Opinions don't do you much good in the whole parenting thing, if you ask me, WHICH YOU DIDN'T.

The Wife said...

I would like to preface the following remarks with: I am an AMATEUR. I do not have children YET, but I have bee watching watching watching and listening to as many moms as I can and here is what I have come up with (as a plan for me and The child...we'll see how it works)

Baby Wise has also been highly recommended by, oh, everyone I know. My sister sent me a copy from Utah for Christmas and this is the sister that NEVER talks to me, so I'm taking it as a sign that his book is pretty fabulous.

I'm planning to breastfeed (until the child BITES me--no biting allowed) but Baby gets a bottle from the first, I'm planning to pump so that The Husband can take evening feedings and I can have a few hours without Baby on top of me. Maybe that's selfish, but I figure if I have a few hours every day where my body is just mine then I'll be able to breastfeed for a longer period of time. My sisters' kids all got a mixture of breast and bottle and NONE of them had nipple confusion or any such nonsense. The Child will live.

Soothing: I also agree with pacifiers and bouncy seats--all of my nephews lived in their seats for months...they LOVED them. The Husband recommends reggae, the theory is that if you rock the child in rhythm to reggae it simulates the rocking of the walking mother with the child was in the womb. I also found a really cool bear that straps on to the bars of the crib and plays womb sounds...I'm a big fan of white noise myself so I plan to give it to the child.

Cereal at 6 months...yes. But I'm still conflicted about the whole food issues though.

Whimsy said...

So far, so good - thanks for the helpful tips. When solicited, I'm all ABOUT hearing the helpful tips. When not solicited, I can be a bit more cagey.

Heidi - your comment was perfect. No worries about the length.

Tessie - but I DID ask for your advice, so you're perfectly within realm! I love how diverse everyone's perspective is - which is specifically why I felt safe to ask you guys for the advice to begin with. I knew I'd get a really good spectrum.

The Wife - You guys should read Karp's Happiest Baby on the Block book, it's basically what you're already describing: recreating the womb for baby with white noise, swaddling, vigorous swinging/bouncing (to simulate mom's movement - and he even suggests Hard Day's Night by the Beatles as a guage), and sucking (via breastfeeding and pacifiers).

Lauren said...

Ha! I just blogged about this. My only advice? And i feel strongly about this. STAY AWAY FROM BABYWISE. (babywise author:if you are reading this sorryiloveyousorry) its so strict and bossy.
I am headed to happy baby healthy sleep habits or whatever its called..i hear it's the best. My 3 month old Pea is waging "must sleep in your bed and be fed every thirty minutes" war on us and we're all going a lil' bonkers. So i'll be keeping up with your comments today:).

Lauren said...

oh NO!!

I just read the comments before mine (note to self: must read other comments beFORE commenting). What I should have said was that Babywise was not for me...but may work for you. I got it initially because it WAS highly recommended.

Whimsy said...

No worries! Hopefully we'll keep the comments going and come up with some good book suggestions / real world experience that will help you out. EVERY 30 MINUTES? Yikes.

Magpie said...

I've heard really scary things about Babywise.

I liked Karp.

Breastfeeding: Yes. Try to get to a year.
Rice cereal: Yes. At six months
Cry it out: Depends on the child.
Baby soothing: Cuddle on demand.
Family Bed: Yes.
Sling: Yes.

I sound like such a hippie, and I'm not, really. I just did what was easiest and involved the least amount of crying.

Kristin & Brad said...

Sorry I'm a little late, I just found your blog via Swistle. Babywise has lots of opinions about it,love and hate. I took a little from it and canned the rest. Both my kids were pretty much every 3 hours eaters, which was nice because I could plan a little time out of the house and not have them unexpectedly screaming for food.

I breastfed for 15 months with #1, 12 months with #2. Prior to my first, I was totally stressed about whether I'd have problems with breastfeeding. I actually cried in my class. But it was a good thing for us and worked out really well.

Sometimes we let them cry it out, sometimes not. We do it much more often with our second.

Family bed: No, my husband was too worried about squashing the baby. That too worked out well for us since we never had to get them out of our bed once they were used to it.

ailene said...

Every baby is different, so different things work for different babies... I'll answer these questions... I'm pregnant with my third right now:

Breastfeeding: Yes or no? For how long?
Breastmilk is definitely a yes. Me personally, it hurts me too much to actually put the baby to the breast, so once my milk comes in, I exclusively pump. I recommend breastmilk for the baby for the entire first year of life, after which you can change over to cow's milk.

Rice cereal: Yes or no? When?
Sure, as long as it doesn't make the baby gassy. About 6 or 7 months old is good for rice cereal, whenever your baby is ready for it.

Cry it out: Yes or no? When?
Trust your judgement on this one. Me personally, I will only let them cry it out if everything else is okay, and I've just determined that they are tired. If they are fed, clean, burped, comfortable (not too hot, not too cold, not teething, etc...), and they just need to go to sleep, I will let them cry it out. How long you do it for depends. If you've eliminated all possible reasons for their distress other than their need to fall asleep, then you should feel pretty comfortable letting them cry it out. For really young babies like newborns, I'd check on them if they don't calm down after 5 minutes. As they get older, you can increase the time... as they get older, I usually check on them after 20 minutes... making sure that the only reason they are upset is because they are tired!

Baby soothing: Cuddle on demand, or let baby learn to soothe him or herself?
I say a healthy mixture of both is good. Sometimes a baby is distressed and just wants some loving from mommy or daddy, or sometimes they are in pain (cause of teething). Sometimes they are just tired and need to fall asleep. For us, it was really helpful for our children to learn to soothe themselves to sleep, instead of relying on us to rock or cuddle them.

Did I miss anything?

ailene said...

Oh... and as far as labor and delivery goes... you can take all the "most comfortable position" suggestions from the instructor as... suggestions! When it comes time to deliver the baby... don't worry about the "right" or "wrong" way to do it. Just do what feels comfortable! And with Chip there as your support, be clear in your communications with him about what is comfortable for you and what is not.

tearese said...

seriously, people will get mad about this stuff...its like talking about politics and religion.
We had Elora in bed with us for 5 months because she wouldn't sleep in her bassinet, but she transitioned to the crib very easily.
Joshua sleeps in a bassinet in our room, and I would have tried moving him already but I dont want the two kids waking each other up. Besides, I can nurse him back to sleep without having to get up if we wakes in our room.
Books: The Baby Whisperer had some good balance of advice in it, I'm not much of a Ferber girl myself. For nursing, I'd highly recomend William and Martha Sear's "The Breastfeeding Book", it'll tell you everything you need to know.
Incidentally, I heard it is unusual in that some women are able to pump for a year without actually nursing, many women would dry up doing that!
Rice Cereal at around six months, nursing at least a year,sooth baby the first few months then teach them to do it themselves.

Pann said...

Oh wow, the opportunity to advise a pregnant woman! Oh that is irresistable!

I am a mom of two girls. I breastfed for a total of about six years between the two of them. So you can see, I'm definitely going to go on and on about how great breastfeeding is.

Books, first. I *hated* What To Expect. I *loved* "So that's what they're for!" and thought that most of what Dr. Sears writes makes sense and is pretty good advice.

Rice cereal? I used it. It's kind of gooey and fun. Wait to 6 months old to feed in general. Can do other foods instead, like mashed banana. Why feed a highly processed product like rice cereal when you can feed something more wholesome?

Pumping? Well some moms find it fine, others find it tedious, boring and barely tolerable. Some people don't get a good "take" from the pump. I'd recommend exclusively feeding baby at breast until you have to go back to work, or until the baby is about 3 months old, whichever comes first. That will ensure that your milk supply is fully established, and will help you avoid breastfeeding trouble.

Cry-it-out? As a last resort, maybe, but I never could stand it. Babies will adapt to a lot of different treatments - it really depends on how you feel about abandoning your baby in a room all alone to cry and cry and cry and not get any love and attention from you in order to fall asleep out of exhuastion. Can you tell I don't like Cry It Out? :)

Family Bed : this works for some and not for others. I found it worked well for us.

Soothing baby: breastfeeding is a GREAT way to soothe. Best thing ever is the baby sling, or bjorn, or other close carrier. Seemed to get baby settled and then you are free to do other stuff while carrying around a baby at the same time.

I am really enjoying your blog, and look forward to offering my "sage advice" as time goes by.


Pann said...

Oh hi again!

If you want any birthing advice, I am so happy to share that too!

By the way, I am a friend of Stacie's (in the known-her-from-college sense) -- she is the mama of the twins at -- plus I'm a regular visitor to Artemesia and swistle, and blacksheeped.

ailene said...

Tearese is right... sometimes it is difficult to maintain your milk supply while pumping. If you want to know more about how to keep your milk supply up while pumping, let me know. The truth is, you really have to be consistent with pumping... and if you try to decrease your milk supply AT ALL, then it will decrease really fast and it will be hard to get it back up again. If you find that your milk supply is too high when you are pumping, and you have more milk than you can possibly use (I had that problem with Cadence), then I recommend donating the excess milk that you won't be able to use to a milk bank. I am looking into milk banks to donate to, and I can keep you posted on the information that I receive.