Tagged With newborns

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As I prepare for life with a new baby, I’ve been hearing a lot of advice on how to help my five-year-old daughter Maggie transition into her role of a big sister, a title she isn’t entirely thrilled about.

“Read her some big sibling books,” people say. (Done.) “Let her help out.” (Definitely.) “Get her a gift ‘from the baby’.” (OK, though I’m pretty sure she understands that a fetus has not had time to rake in currency in the womb.)

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New parenthood is an isolating experience. You aren’t simply adding a new piece to the puzzle of your life — instead, it feels as though this tiny person has shaken up all the existing pieces that you had spent decades fitting together, and now you must start again from scratch. You’re tired, lost, and smell a little funky. It’s hard to remember that others have been there, too.

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Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag ... And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha. Her flagship column, “Ask a Clean Person”, debuted in 2011. Here on Lifehacker, we’ve launched a new iteration of it, focusing on parenting and all the messes it brings. 

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When Amanda Sloane went home from the hospital two days after delivery, she left her newborn daughter, Emerie, in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). As Sloane was wheeled out the front doors empty handed, she passed wheelchair after wheelchair of women leaving with their newborn babies. And every time she returned to visit, she passed a new line-up of mums.

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Author Catherynne Valente discovered a passage in New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding — a book written in 2002, not 1952, mind you — that reads: “Fathers, if your wife is having trouble or pain, step in and adjust her technique, reminding her that successful breastfeeding is a priority for the development of the child and the formation of your new family!” Her reaction? No. 

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Almost all parents worry about the health and safety of their newborn children. In fact, we're evolutionarily programmed to scan our environments for any potential threat to the little life we are now charged with preserving. You might worry that your child will stop breathing in the night. That a car might leap onto the footpath and mow down you and your stroller. Or, even, that you could do something to harm your new baby, like drown her during those awkward newborn sponge baths.

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In movies, immediately after a mother gives birth, a nurse places a pristine newborn in her arms. In real life, however, babies usually look more Alien 3 than Huggies ad as they enter the world - their heads are misshapen, their faces resemble grumpy old men, and they're covered in a white film. The traditional protocol has been to get them a sponge bath, stat.

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Video: One thing that shocked me about new parenthood is how much time you spend begging for gas to come out of another human being. Burping was not one of my daughter's strong suits - I'd often spend a half hour in the middle of the night patting her back after a feeding, waiting for that belch of glory that never came. My paediatrician finally told me the sweet, sweet words: "If she doesn't seem uncomfortable, don't worry about it!" And that was that.

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It's understandable that pregnant women focus their planning on the impending delivery: Whether it's going to be a C-section or vaginal birth, at home or in a hospital, smooth jazz or screaming. You might even have made up a detailed "birth plan", complete with instructions for pain meds; lighting preferences; and a plan for video, photos and cutting the cord.

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After noticing that their newborn daughter was so lethargic that she couldn't eat, her parents, Nicole and Shane Sifrit, rushed her to the hospital. There, less than two weeks later, baby Mariana died. Her funeral took place on Monday.

Doctors told the Sifrits that Mariana had contracted herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which led to the complication of meningitis. It is believed she acquired the illness from a kiss from someone who had the cold sore virus, and may or may not have known it.

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Interesting news out of the Netherlands: A team of researchers tracked nearly 85,000 women through their pregnancies and beyond, and found that self-esteem in pregnant women and new mothers fluctuates: It dips during the 30th week of pregnancy, rises until the child is six months old, and then declines for at least the next two and a half years. The good news is that maternal self-esteem eventually did recover: When the researchers followed the women for subsequent pregnancies, they found that the women had returned to their previous level of self-esteem.