There is one complaint I hear from almost all my patients that makes their entire birth experience and newborn period much more stressful than it needs to be. It is that every health care provider they come across tells them something different. The L&D RN tells them to breastfeed one way, then the postpartum RN suggests something else. A day later, right before discharge, the lactation consultant tells them to change what they are doing, and sends them out the door. Then they see the pediatrician the next day, who tells them something new, and insists they see me. I see them 24 hours later, and change the plan again. They look at me exasperated, and tell me I have contradicted everything they’ve been told so far! And I feel terrible for them...
What I wish all new parents knew is that every health care provider they have spoken to was probably right, and had the best intentions for their new family. At the heart of the issue is that baby’s change, and they change rapidly, especially in the first month. Each of these providers is looking for different developmental milestones, and making recommendations based on what they are seeing at that moment in time. So on day one, its lots of skin to skin, we are happy to get a few good feedings in, and not stressed about lack of pooping. That’s not so good on day seven. Initially, we love long feedings and lots of time at the breast. But as your milk comes in, those feedings get more efficient and many baby’s might want to skip skin to skin when they are really hungry. The cross cradle hold with the My Brest Friend Pillow works great in the beginning. But do you still want to be nursing that way 3 months in and carry that pillow with you wherever you go?
While it is frustrating in the beginning, it’s also a blessing. Because just when you think you can’t take another feeding frenzy or bad night of sleep, things change. And they almost always change for the better! Feedings get more efficient, sleep gets longer and deeper, and you start to feel like you can do it. When things don’t get better, it is usually because your baby is ready for something different, but you are still doing what worked last week. Dr. T. Berry Brazelton calls these moments “touchpoints”- a period of family upheaval that occurs right before a developmental milestone is achieved. His book, Touchpoints-Birth to Three, is one that I recommend to all our families. It lets you know what all these milestones are, and what your baby is trying to tell you, and how to get through it.
So rather than get frustrated with all of us in healthcare, please try to trust that we all have your best interests at heart. Ask for an explanation when you get contradictory advice. Make an appointment with us or someone else your trust to help you work through what is going on, rather than suffer through it. One of my favorite quotes is that the only constant in life is change. Nothing is truer with children! Just when you think you have them figured out, they change it up.
Roll with it. I promise that phase won’t last forever!