Are you confused about your support options after your baby is born? Many of my clients come to me exhausted, overwhelmed and utterly confused about how to get their needs met with their newborn baby. So, I am super excited to share a new blog series with you from Kari at From the Start! Kari is an experienced postpartum doula and Army Vet who is changing mamas lives with her personalized care. To start, here is a short excerpt and brief description of what postpartum doulas may help with:
No Cry? Controlled Crying? CIO?
There are SO many popular sleep-coaching methods to choose from. And, if you seek advice on your Facebook moms group, from your local friends or from sleep coaching books and blogs, you are likely to get very different – and very strongly held – points of view about which one is best. But, when you’re sleep deprived and foggy brained, it can all feel way too overwhelming…making it hard to choose an option or to even get started.
But, there is hope! Depending on your baby’s temperament and adaptability, you may not even need to sleep coach in order to improve their sleep habits. Before you decide to sleep coach your baby or consider which one method is right for your family (note: it’s likely a mixture of several methods!), taking these 5 easy steps will help to set your whole family up for success and put you on the path to better sleep:
An effort to conserve energy during World War I is what led the US to adopt Daylight Savings. Now, 100 years later, we continue to (unnecessarily, in my opinion!) wreak havoc on our circadian rhythms twice a year. Although there have been movements and occasional uproars asking to eliminate this ritual, Daylight Savings remains a biannual obstacle for everyone - at least for now.
As adults, it creates a feeling of jet-lag. The loss of sleep resulting from the time change has been proven to be bad for our health (both physically and mentally) and has been linked to more frequent car accidents in the week following. But typically, we’re all exhausted and thrown off for a few days and adapt shortly after.
For a baby, the loss of that one hour can have a much more dramatic – and long lasting effect. If they’re already struggling with sleeping well, it can make the nights that much worse. If they wake early, it can make them wake even earlier (though, thankfully “springing forward” can actually help alleviate this one, if done correctly). When babies become overtired, they are much more prone to waking frequently at night, having trouble settling to sleep, napping well and waking earlier in the morning. In essence, what creates temporary grogginess in adults can completely throw a baby’s sleep into a downward spiral. Clearly, whoever was in charge of the creation of this ritual was not a parent!
So, what do you do?
Being a new parent is definitely rewarding – but it is also can be really hard. It’s a big transition and one that many new parents struggle with. Even if they’re very excited. Even if they’re in love with their new baby.
Even if it’s what they always wanted.
We now know that 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, or other perinatal mood disorder. But studies show that, following the birth of their child, 1 in 10 men also experience postpartum depression. Researchers and doctors are unclear about whether this is truly postpartum depression, or whether it is a depression that happens to occur in the postpartum period for men. However, the result - a depressed Dad - is the same - and can have lasting effects on his partner and children.
In order to separate the two disorders, some researchers (and myself) call it Paternal Postpartum Depression, or PPPD. But just like with Moms, Dads can show symptoms as early as the first trimester of pregnancy and through one full year postpartum. Unfortunately, our society follows the belief systems (myths!) that men aren’t entitled to these feelings and that they should be stoic and in control of their emotions. In essence, that they don't get depressed. But PPPD is very real. And it can have lasting effects on a family, so it deserves attention too.
Here are 5 things to consider when it comes to a new Dad’s mental health:
When it comes to motherhood, there are many things that I hold onto tightly. Some of my favorites are - baby snuggles after a long day, the calm and connection of middle of the night feedings, and the way your kiddo looks at you like you are their person. But, motherhood has been full of challenges as well. In our household, we’ve dealt with postpartum depression and anxiety, premature babies and the NICU, sleep apnea diagnosed after a “blue” episode (so scary!), colic, reflux, developmental delays and more. It’s been a roller coaster - and I know that no matter what your journey has been like, you can relate to that.
But today, I want to talk about colic. Both of my children were quite grumpy babies, but my daughter was the one who screamed ALL day. I was a brand new mom and had no idea what to do. Literally, none. And I had to walk away - a lot. I was desperate. But, I learned a lot from her (and continue to do so). In fact, her birth and babyhood is what led me down this path of helping new moms - and what inspired me to create Mommy-SOS. Now, I want to share it with you!
When your newborn baby won’t stop crying, it can start to feel desperate. You may be worried that there is something wrong with your baby, that you aren’t a good enough mother, that you don’t have the instincts or that you won’t ever be able to connect. Yep, I understand. I’ve had all of those feelings. But the truth is that you can handle it. And you are a good mother! You just need to use a few simple tricks to soothe your baby's crying.
All babies cry. It’s how they communicate their needs – and desires – with you. But, depending on their personality and health, some babies cry way more than others. And some newborn babies have colic – my daughter did and we always referred to that as “next level crying”. Let’s look at some typical reasons why babies cry:
Acid reflux/Upset Tummy
But if you rule these out and your baby is still crying, there are definitely things you can do. As a Certified Happiest Baby Educator, I can assure you that you can actually STOP the crying. I’ve seen it done many times! Read below to learn how:
You find yourself awake in the middle of the night. Your mind racing. You’re unable to relax or take a break – even when the baby is sleeping. You can’t eat (or you eat mindlessly throughout the day). You’re afraid to leave the baby with anyone else (or be alone with the baby yourself). You worry constantly about something happening to your baby – or to you- or to your partner...
Does any of this sound familiar? You are NOT alone.
As many as 1 in 10 new moms experience anxiety - whether alone or combined with feelings of depression. With postpartum anxiety, a mom may have constant worries about her baby's health and her ability to be a good mom. She is likely to worry about something bad happening. She may wonder how she's going to balance her work and home life, her relationship, or even caring for multiple children. She may become restless and moody, have disturbances with eating and sleeping, or experience physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea, or insomnia.
If this sounds like you, I encourage you to reach out to your healthcare provider or schedule an appointment to see a counselor. Postpartum anxiety is very treatable and can be managed well with help. But, if left untreated, it can interfere with your ability to bond to your baby – and enjoy motherhood as a whole. In the meantime, here are 5 ways you can begin to improve your mindset and manage your anxiety better:
As a mother of two troubled sleepers, a maternal mental health specialist and licensed therapist working with new moms and a pediatric sleep expert who has had the honor of helping thousands of families improve their babies, there is one thing I have seen make THE biggest difference in a baby's sleep. And if you ask anyone who has worked with me, they’ll tell you exactly what that is - white noise!
I truly believe that white noise is the miracle worker of sleep. Now, of course you're going to need to put other things in motion, but using white noise takes very little effort on your part and can give you BIG gains in the sleep department. Everyone in my house – including the parents – still uses a white noise machine each and every night (despite my children now being 7 and 4). And we all sleep better because of it!
Having trouble getting your baby to sleep? Or to sleep well? Studies have shown that new moms lose a total of 44 days of sleep on average during the first year of their baby's life and are "dangerously exhausted". Because sleep deprivation has been linked to parental postpartum depression - both in mothers and fathers - it's important for families to try to create healthier sleep habits from the very beginning. When it comes to changing sleep habits and improving your baby's sleep cycles though, it can feel overwhelming knowing where to begin. But you don't have to make major changes to get a bit more sleep - or even to get your baby to sleep through the night. These are the top 4 most common infant sleep pitfalls and how to fix them:
Giving birth is a hugely transformational event in a woman’s life. While most pregnant women take time to prepare themselves for the event of childbirth – creating birth plans, researching hospitals or birth centers, interventions and taking birthing classes - most moms don’t really expect that the actual birth itself could leave long lasting psychological and physical scars. But studies show that between 25-34% of moms actually do have a traumatic birth experience - and that some of these new moms go on to develop PTSD from their experience. I was one of those women and I want to share that you CAN begin to heal. Here are 10 ways to start the process:
While exciting, there is no doubt that bringing a baby home can also bring a serious strain to your relationship. While it used to be just the two of you – sleeping, eating and playing whenever you wanted – now your time demands have increased exponentially. New parents are so busy nurturing their new bundle of joy - and trying to find their footing through the sleep deprived haze - that they forget to set time aside for themselves and their relationship. If you're in this phase on parenthood, don't lose hope! Here is how to improve your relationship satisfaction throughout those early baby years.
Jennifer Howard, CLC, CHBE
As a maternal mental health and pediatric sleep expert, I am passionate about helping tired mamas thrive throughout the many seasons of motherhood. I'm a Nationally Certified Professional Life Coach and Masters Level Therapist specializing in parental mental wellness, marriage/partnership strength and pediatric sleep and soothing.
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