During this pregnancy, I've spent some time researching and reading about what to do and what happens after baby is here. While we know we can't predict how baby girl will be or what her personality will be like, we can do our research and get educated on methods we can try when those moments come up. I love researching and while I know an abundance of information can make some feel overwhelmed, I fall in the opposite category and feel more confident after doing research and educating myself. I'm kind of a nerd like that, just ask Mike. :)
It is unbelievable how many different books, methods and theories are out there about newborn care, sleep habits, breastfeeding and calming a baby...not to mention all the well-meaning, yet conflicting advice others give. I can't imagine trying to figure everything out in the moment when baby is here and while it can be a lot of work and intimidating looking through all this stuff, I believe it's going to be well worth it. Chances are we'll scrap half this stuff and develop our own habits, but going in blindly with no plan whatsoever stresses the heck out of me!
This past weekend, we borrowed and watched a DVD of the book Happiest Baby on the Block from our friends. We were in awe of Dr. Harvey Karp's methods for calming a fussy baby! He promotes the idea of the 4th trimester during baby's first three months which essentially means to treat the baby like she is still in the womb. This really made sense to us and with that in mind, it helped us realize which methods for sleep, feeding, schedule, etc, etc fit in with that. Some things were finally starting to connect together and make sense as to why you would do things that way. We are finding ourselves somewhere in the middle between attachment parenting and the Babywise method. So, I'm not sure what that would be called, but it is what we are starting to feel comfortable with at this point and what we hope to try in those first few weeks/months. The biggest part of this method is that you as the parents are not completely in control of what happens and you need to just give baby what she needs, exactly when she needs it. (Isn't that part of every method though??) I'm so used to being in control, so this is something I will have to come to terms with, accept and not let my anxiety get stimulated over.
Here's a few key things we are hoping to try out:
• The 5 S's: Swaddle, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging, sucking (as a last resort and no pacifier until breastfeeding is established). This is Karp's method that he goes through in the DVD/book and it is amazing...or he is just a baby whisperer. :)
• Sleep: I am going to order Karp's follow-up book about sleep, but some basics are that he recommends co-sleeping for the first three months. Co-sleeping in these terms means baby sleeps in the same room which is different from bed-sharing. A lot of times I will see that bed-sharing with the mom is recommended, but this scares me and is something we want to try to avoid for personal reasons.
• Feeding: We are going to exclusively breastfeed for at least the first six months, hopefully much longer than that. I know everyone says to keep an open mind about this because anything could happen, but this is one of the few things we are determined to stick with. We both have strong feelings about this one, so we are putting in extra effort to make it work. I am going to my first La Leche League meeting next week and have been doing all I can to educate myself on this while still pregnant. Of course, things happen that make it extremely difficult or even impossible to breastfeed so we want to be aware of those before they happen so we can make an educated decision on what to do.
• Schedule: I was so set on feeding and sleeping on a schedule and I still feel like that could work after the first three months (I've seen it done very successfully!), but for those first 12 weeks, we will try to feed on demand. Yikes, that could get intense! I am curious about the "EASY" method (more of a routine than timed schedule), so maybe we'll give that a whirl after a few weeks of madness. E = eat, A = active, S = sleep, Y = time to yourself.
• Baby wearing: I'd like to try this with a Moby wrap and see how baby girl likes it. We'll also use our stroller quite a bit, but I'm hoping this works out for us those first few months.
The big questions and, as the experts call them, "myths" of this method is that you will spoil your baby, you will never get on a regular schedule (if this girl is anything like me, we know that won't be the case) or you will never be able to wean baby from swaddling, white noise, sleeping in your room, etc, etc. Guess we'll find out!
After talking to quite a few moms, we've learned that everyone is different and what works for one, may not work for another. We're excited and anxious to see how things go and what ends up fitting us and baby girl. I'm sure people probably think I'm crazy and controlling and laugh at me for researching all this stuff, but I know myself and like I said, I'd be a stressed out mess if I knew none of this beforehand and that is probably the worst thing for myself and baby! Of course, above all we are just so excited to meet our daughter and love her like crazy. :)
Here's a few articles that explain these methods better than I can:
Happiest Baby on the Block (if you can, please ignore the comic sans, agh!)
Breastfeeding a Newborn
Anyone else out there use or are thinking about using these methods or something similar? I'd love to hear some positive feedback from others about this!