After much researching and consideration, we decided a couple of months ago to skip the childbirth classes offered at our hospital and instead opted to spend our money toward a 7 hour newborn care class. My reasoning for this was because for one, I know I’ll want an epidural for delivery, and I’m planning to deliver at a hospital, the standard way with doctors and nurses and hopefully have a pretty standard birthing process. My birth plan is just to have this baby with as little pain for me and the baby as possible and a quick recovery. I don’t want to go natural, I don’t want a doula, I don’t want to do a water birth or home birth or anything else that might require additional planning. I just want a healthy baby to take home. So it wasn’t important to me to sit through an 8 hour class or multiple week sessions on what will hopefully be just one day of my life. I can pretty much read about anything I need to know, and in a lot less than 8 hours. I know it’s going to be painful, I know the signs of labor, and I know where to go when I get to the hospital. After that, I’m relying on doctors and nurses to help deliver this baby and keep me healthy. I’d rather spend my time and money on a class that’s going to help me once the baby is actually HERE and through the next 6 months, when we’re on our own.
The class was from 8am (so early!) until 3pm today. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and hoped it wouldn’t be a huge waste of time. Turns out, it was even more helpful than I expected!
Let me just start by saying that I read a TON on pregnancy and parenting. Hell, I spend a good chunk of my professional day working with mom bloggers. I feel like I know more than the average first-timer about this whole pregnancy and parenting thing. But after this class? It would seem I’ve been mistaken.
DISCLAIMER: I’ve outlined a bunch of things I learned below. I know there’s some controversy around some of these things but I’m just repeating what the nurse and the pediatrician advised in the class. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and parenting styles, but I happen to trust doctors and nurses more than blogs, friends, even my own mother. So I’m sharing these guidelines and don’t mind saying that these are the guidelines I’ll be following personally.
So with that said, here are some things I learned which may or may not be helpful to you:
- Doctors recommend that for accurate temperature taking, rectal thermometers are best for infants. Pacifier thermometers, ear thermometers and the like are fine for babies after 6 mos, but not good for infants.
- If temp is above 100.4, call the doc.
- Don’t ever give baby aspirin to a baby. Obviously the name is misleading, but it can cause seizures.
- If doc okays it, use Tylenol via a medicine dropper and apply in sides of mouth where they can lick/swallow it, not directly down baby’s throat because of their strong gag reflex.
- Babies will get about 8 colds their first year. And the only things you can really do to help are use a humidifier, one of those suction bulb things, and some saline rinse.
- Vaccinate on schedule. The number of people that don’t vaccinate their children is on the rise – presumably because they feel some of the vaccinations are unnecessary and some feel it’s linked to autism. Both the nurse and pediatrician said this is false and because there are all these pockets of people that don’t vaccinate, outbreaks of measles is on the rise, especially in California, and the UK recently had a polio outbreak. Also, the doctor that claimed vaccines were linked to autism (Dr. Wakefield) was eventually disproven by a number of other studies and in 2010 had his license revoked when it was found that he was paid to do his initial study by a law firm looking to sue makers of the MMR vaccine. So basically, people aren’t vaccinating and diseases we thought to be old and long dead are now on the rise again. Like I said, some of these are pretty controversial topics, but this is what was taught to us in class and personally, I feel the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the risks, so that’s what we’ll be doing.
We spent quite a bit of time on this and I’ve already done a lot of reading/researching on breast-feeding, but a few things I didn’t know:
- If the baby is getting under 30 oz of milk, you’ll need to add vitamin D.
- You can get good deals on breast pumps from Cotton Babies or Kangaroo Kids.
- Bottles and pacifiers shouldn’t be introduced until 3-4 weeks after milk/breastfeeding has been established, otherwise it can interfere with success rate.
- Babies need to practice latch/feeding around 1 hour after being born for best success rate.
- If formula feeding, use brand names like Similac or Enfamil. Powder is cheapest, but must be used within 1 month of opening.
- Bottles don’t need to be heated. Babies should be able to take breastmilk/formula from a bottle straight from the refrigerator. If for any reason they don’t like it or won’t take it at that temp, bottles can be warmed by running warm water over it and doing some shaking to even it out temp wise. (So basically, no need for a bottle warmer! Yay!)
- Best position for burping is sitting up on your lap, hand supporting neck from the front, other hand rubbing or gently patting baby’s back. When put over the shoulder, sometimes baby’s belly is pressed against you, making it harder to release the gas.
- Sippy cups should be introduced around 6 mos but DO NOT put juice or water in them. Water should not be given to babies before they’re 1 yr old, and juice is never needed and makes kids overweight b/c of all of the sugar. Only breastmilk or formula in sippy cups.
- If baby is crying and you know he’s both hungry AND needs to be changed, change him first, THEN feed him. Babies don’t like to be changed, so it’s better to get the part they don’t like over with first before feeding them. Hopefully after feeding, they fall back asleep. Whereas if you fed first, then changed, you’d risk waking baby up and making him/her fussy again.
- Until umbilical cord falls off, fold front of diaper over and inward, toward the baby, instead of folding the flap over outward, to avoid pee that’s being absorbed from coming up over the top and getting baby’s clothes all wet.
- Baby wipes can cause irritation, even the natural care ones. Paper towels and warm water are better. Nurse even gave us a formula to use for how to make your own wipes at home. Take a roll of good quality paper towels, cut roll in half, then mix a solution of 2 cups very warm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil or baby oil, and 2 tablespoons of a mild soap/baby soap and pour over paper towels then seal in plastic bag or container. Be sure to use within a few days though to avoid mold growth.
- We went over swaddling. We’re not very good at it and will likely buy those sleep sacks instead.
- Newborns should sleep in the same room with you for the first couple of months but never in the same bed. Co-sleeping strongly not advised. (In January alone, one of the hospitals had 7 co-sleeping related deaths with infants.) Same goes with breastfeeding in the bed while lying down. The danger is that mom and baby can both fall asleep, the nipple softens, and the result is suffocation of baby.
- Once baby is sleeping in the crib, no loose blankets (swaddle blanket is ok) or stuffed animals or crib bumpers – even the breathable kind – should be in crib with baby. And baby should always be put to sleep on its back. Pacifiers, once breastfeeding is established, are also good to use when putting baby down to sleep and may help reduce SIDS. Though you don’t need to run in and put pacifier back in baby’s mouth if he spits it out. It’s really only beneficial during those falling-to-sleep stages. Something to do with the baby’s sucking reflex when falling asleep. I don’t remember the why.
- Swings aren’t recommended for babies younger than 4 mos. Nurse also wasn’t a fan of the nap nanny and said a lot of them had been recalled in the past.
- Babies can overheat. Recommended room temp for sleeping baby is 68-72 degrees. A fan in the room can help.
- Use an emory board on baby’s nails instead of clippers, if you’re concerned about nipping baby’s finger.
- Sponge bath the first couple of weeks (due to umbilical cord).
- Don’t clean umbilical cord. Falls off faster when left alone and kept dry.
- Set your water heater to 120. (I probably won’t be doing this. I like really hot showers.)
- Do background checks on caregivers and don’t limit your checks to just your state, but run a federal check too.
- For big name daycares, you can call the municipality and inquire about their health inspection records to see if they’ve been cited recently for anything.
- Car seat needs to be rear-facing for first 2 years now.
We covered so much more in the class, most of it common knowledge, but these were the things I either didn’t know, hadn’t thought about, or just thought was particularly worth pointing out. I would definitely recommend a newborn care class to every new parent.