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Advice for new parents can be a deluge! Yet, hearing the experiences of other new parents does help. Here are 6 super useful things to know.
My baby has just crossed the three month milestone and my husband and I wanted to jot down some notes that helped us get through the initial months in one piece. Some of the points listed here are things we diligently followed, some come under the ‘I-wish-we-had-done’ category.
In all, this is not meant to be taken as yet another piece of advice to add to the already bulging array that you are likely to get as a new mother, but more like friendly banter that you can build on and turn to in times of need.
I don’t want this to be the eleventh million article on the internet extolling the virtues of breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life and breastfeeding (supplemented with other foods) until two years of age.
Breast milk is critical and can boost your baby’s health. There are even umpteen benefits for the mother. Not one for cliches, but it’s one of the best gifts you can give your baby, enabling him/her to have a headstart in life. All too often and because of lack of professional help and familial support, new mothers give up on feeding and cave into buying other commercially available milk. Unless you have an extreme medical condition, you’re likely to be able to nurse your baby. Don’t let anybody convince you otherwise.
While there may be challenges at first (for me personally, breastfeeding in the initial couple of days was physically and emotionally more challenging than pregnancy and childbirth put together), it will soon begin to feel easy and natural.
Within the first couple of days of your baby’s birth, meet a certified lactation consultant. It doesn’t hurt to sit down with her and learn to breastfeed properly. She will also be able to address your challenges and concerns and boost your confidence. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions around post natal diets and this is an area where a lactation consultant will be able to give you authentic information.
It might be a good emotional investment to maintain a breastfeeding diary, notes on time taken for feeds, if the baby exhibited crankiness at a particular breast or simply to note down frequency of feeds, will be useful for pediatrician visits as well as help you at challenging junctures. More than anything else, it could work as a log to note how your baby’s feeding habbits have evolved.
Before the baby makes it appearance, it is understandable that labour and birth are topmost on your mind. But, it certainly helps to think slightly ahead and also have a chat with your obs-gyn on what the hospital/ birthing centre’s post birth philosophies are.
If you are hoping for skin-to-skin contact with the baby and breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, onboard your doctor in your plans of action. The hospital I had my baby in, began to give him top feed in the couple of days we stayed there, their reasoning being that it takes a couple of days at least for the milk to come. however giving the baby doses of formula milk at this point means that they will not absorb the full benefits of colostrum, which is extremely crucial for the baby in the first days of its life. Thankfully, my son has never reverted to formula since the two days in the hospital, but it would have helped to have addressed this beforehand.
The above items should be on every baby shower gift registry. In the first few months of my baby’s life, I doubt I have found anything else as useful as these products. Quick dry sheets have been a boon to place my baby on, whether I put him on a mat on the floor, or his crib or the big bed. It is soft and comfortable enough for him to lie directly on, unlike the rubber sheets of the yesteryear and does a great job in absorbing baby urine.
Nappy liners have been another great addition in the new mother armour. To be inserted in langots and cloth nappies, they save considerable laundry time, especially in the first six weeks, when the baby’s bowe movements are still unregulated.
Hand-and-mouth wipes, to supplement the regular baby wipes have been very useful for post-feed clean-up. I got a basic audio-only baby monitor and it has been extremely useful when my son is sleeping and I need to be in another room.
Use the days in the hospital immediately following the baby’s birth to learn to hold and swaddle him. While you may be tired after delivery, it makes sense for your husband and other care givers to get a crash course from the hospital nurses and staff on swaddling, bathing, burping and even soothing and carrying.
While natural instincts catch up with you and you will soon be handling your baby like a pro even if you haven’t as much as held a baby before, it is a good idea to get a professional to demonstrate the basics. You and your family will eventually evolve your own style of handling the baby, whether it is giving him a bath or swaddling him, but some guidance in the initial days will not hurt at all.
The days following the birth of your child are an emotional roller coaster. It is normal to feel helpless, inadequate and even wonder if you have bitten off more than you can chew. Enlist a fellow first timer or atleast a recent new mother to be your confidant and your personal cheerleader. She is likely going through similar emotional and physical challenges as you, or has gone through them recently. Use each other as sounding boards. Nothing like a fellow new mother to empathise with your feelings.
Baby pic courtesy Shutterstock
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
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