Childbirth is the most painful, life-altering event most women will ever experience. It is our unspoken bond, and it makes us all think that a) we are experts on children and b) we are now licensed to share unsolicited advice. All you can do is listen politely, smile and nod, take away what makes sense and put the rest in your mental diaper pail. The only exception to this is if the advice is coming from your mother-in-law. In this situation, it's OK to get up and leave the room (because after living with her son and learning all the supreme ways in which she dropped the ball, you really don't have the patience to take parenting advice from her).
You might think we're going to give you a few tips on how to handle your tiny new poop rocket, but we're going to focus on you. There is an undeniable truth about childbirth that no one will tell you, because if they did, we'd all stop having babies. After you have a baby, your bowels will go on hiatus — and when they finally give up their stubborn battle against you, it will make childbirth seem like a walk in the park. See "Wives' tales that work" below for a time-honored remedy.
As a new mother, you need to develop a well-thought-out strategy for how you want to spend your days and nights. If you nurse a baby every five minutes, she'll want to eat every five minutes. If you carry a baby around on your body like a kangaroo all day, he will not want to be separated from you. If you rock a baby to sleep every single night, she won't go to sleep without being rocked — and once you put her down, she will wake up.
You can still enjoy breastfeeding, wearing and rocking your baby, bearing a few things in mind. If you get your baby on a routine feeding schedule, preferably one that allows for three- to four-hour breaks between each feeding, you and your nipples will be a lot happier. If you want to wear your infant for an hour at a time, knock yourself out — but take breaks throughout the day. Carrying your baby around all day on your person turns your baby into a Stage 5 clinger, and it ruins your back. Lastly, feel free to rock your baby for five to 10 minutes at bedtime, but put that little guy in a crib after that unless you want to be chained to a rocking chair until he's in junior high.
We've all wondered why humans have the parent/child relationship for at least 18 years, right? It's so your mother, grandmothers and aunts can serve as knowledgeable experts when the next generation has a baby. Lean on mothers you respect within your family or your circle. They will be all too happy to assist. Steer clear of the moms whose kids turned out like freaks. You can turn your kids into freaks all on your own — you don't need help for that. If you don't have any of these women in your life, don't worry. That's what Ask-a-Nurse is for.
Like most mothers, I'm going to give you unsolicited advice on wives' tales that made sense to me, so I tried them and they worked.
• I nursed all day and fed my babies formula at night. They both slept through the night at six weeks. (Nipple confusion is bunk.)
• When your bowels freeze up on you after childbirth, mix equal parts of prune juice and 7Up (it's not bad — it kind of tastes like Dr Pepper). Drink once or twice a day. You're welcome.
• If your baby falls asleep with a pacifier, slip it out of her mouth about 10 minutes after she falls asleep, so she doesn't wake up when it falls out a half-hour into her nap. It also makes it easier to break the child of a pacifier later on.
• Don't force potty-training. It will become a contest of wills, and your toddler will win. Also, once you think, "Fine! I don't care if this kid goes to Kindergarten in diapers!" that's right about the time he will potty train.
• Sleep when your baby sleeps. The end. The filth and bills can wait. You'll be a much more effective mother if you don't hate your baby three weeks into being a mom because you're sleep-deprived.
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