Expert Tips for New Parents from Ann Douglas

Parenting expert and author Ann Douglas shares her advice on the top issues affecting new parents

Photography from iStockphoto

Photography from iStockphoto


 
 
Bringing home your new baby is both exhilarating and terrifying, but author Ann Douglas knows how to calm those fears so you can relax and enjoy your wee one. Canadian Family caught up with Ann to talk about her newly updated celebrated book, The Mother of All Baby Books: An All-Canadian Guide to Your Baby’s First Year, 2nd Edition, plus her answers to new parents’ burning questions.

Canadian Family: What has been the biggest change in baby care since the first edition (2001) of your book?

Ann Douglas: The Internet has become a huge force in our lives, both as a source of information and support, and more recently social contact in real time. This is affecting every aspect of our lives, including how we parent and how we connect with other parents. Social media makes it easy to find and connect with parents who share your basic parenting philosophies and who are eager to swap resources and advice on whatever parenting issues are most important to you, given your child’s age and stage. And the wealth of information available on any parenting topic makes it possible for parents to conduct in-depth research on issues that are of concern to them. They can even consult academic journals, if they wish. The only downside to being connected to all this information about parenting is that it can feel overwhelming at times and it can undercut parents’ confidence in their own parenting abilities. That’s why connecting with other parents is so critical. It gives you an opportunity to discuss what you’re observing and experiencing in your own family. As you talk this through, you become clearer about what you are learning about parenting on a day-to-day basis and you won’t feel as threatened or undermined by whatever parenting studies happen to make headline news on any given day.

CF: What’s the number one question you’re asked about breastfeeding, and how do you answer it?

AD: “How can I tell if breastfeeding is working?” My answer: Pay attention to your breasts and your baby. You can feel confident that breastfeeding is working if your breasts feel fuller before a feeding and emptier afterwards; your baby is nursing regularly (at least eight to 12 times per day during the newborn stage); your baby is gaining weight (other than the initial newborn weight loss, which should turn around quickly once breastfeeding is established); your nipples are not sore; your baby is drinking at the breast (you watch her suck rapidly and then switch to a pattern of slower sucking alternated with pauses when her mouth is wide open); your baby seems sleepier and more satisfied toward the end of a feeding; your baby’s diapers are wet and she is passing stools on a regular basis; your baby is alert and responsive.

CF: Do you have any tips for coping with a colicky baby?

AD: Talk to your baby’s doctor to rule out any underlying physical causes that could be contributing to your baby’s discomfort. Offer your baby the breast. Most babies find breastfeeding soothing, and you’ll be soothed by the release of the breastfeeding hormones oxytocin, prolactin and cholecystokinin. Try the following techniques, which tend to provide some relief to colicky babies at least some of the time: skin-to-skin contact, carrying baby against your chest, carrying baby over your shoulder, carrying baby in a colic hold (tummy down across your forearm), swaying, talking to your baby in a soothing voice or singing to your baby. Consider the possibility that your baby could be over-stimulated. In this case, retreat to a quiet, dark place and soothe or nurse your baby. Pay attention to how your baby’s crying is affecting you. Don’t blame yourself because your baby is colicky. Colic happens. Remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever. Colic tends to reach its peak at around age six weeks and eases up by around age three to four months. Accept and ask for help from your parenting village in the meantime.

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