Q: How can I help during the labor?
A: By simply being there for your wife or partner and your baby to welcome him or her into the world. Research has proven that women require less medication if they have the presence of a constant birth companion, someone whom they feel comfortable with. That certainly sounds like you fit the job description.
A: There are many men who feel this way; they are anxious at the thought of attending the birth. This is normal, and it is a measure of your love that you care so much that you want to get it right. Read about the childbirth process. Remember that it is a gradual process; each stage has phases (not at all like on TV or in a movie).
A: From my experience, men find just the right skills instinctively on the exciting day of birth. BUT, knowledge of the natural childbirth process really does help. If possible, take a childbirth class or read a little. However, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. (See the end of this blog post for a select reading list.)
I am often asked by dads to observe them holding their baby. In reality, there is no absolute “right” or “wrong.” Again, your instinct will guide you. BUT if you would like a little guidance, place one hand under your baby’s head and one hand under your baby’s bottom. Keep your baby close to your own body.
A: This is one of the most frequent questions asked by new fathers. I am always impressed by the strong, nurturing, and protective bond between the many new parents whom I encounter in my work. It is true that you will have enjoyed being home with your baby and your wife or partner. Nothing can match the moments spent simply gazing into your baby’s eyes and marveling at this tiny miracle.
A: Getting breastfeeding established takes at least four weeks so that supply and demand are in harmony. Typically, by day 12, most parents try a little too hard to pick up their “old life.” I know; I was a new mom, too. Whenever I forgot to nurture myself, my milk supply went down a little.
A: Many people enjoy the services of a baby ayi, but they may not feel comfortable with another person helping with their baby. Hire a reliable baby ayi in advance of the birth, get to know her, explain that your wife is the primary caregiver, but that their help is also needed. Cultural difference need to be thought out in advance.
A: Explore all possible support networks; book them into your agenda for this first week when you return to work.
- Check out what friends did to get over this period.
- Enlist a breastfeeding buddy – another mom who breastfed her baby for several months.
- Make a coffee date for your wife or partner with a friend for the first days of your return to work. Many new moms miss the opportunity to have an adult conversation once their spouse has returned to work. The majority of new moms have been busy working or adapting to life in Beijing and miss being sociable. The early days of breastfeeding mean more time at home. An invitation to share a cup of coffee and simply be a good listener is at this point the best gift that new moms can receive in your absence.
- Remind your wife to reach out; the Yahoo group Beijing Mamas and the beijingkids Forum is a good source of baby-related information.
- Don’t sit at home alone feeling isolated. The early days of parenting are wonderful, but know that you are not alone in feeling a mixture of emotions at suddenly being the sole caregiver to your baby. It is OK; you have permission to be grateful for your newborn, but to admit it is a huge challenge to get through certain days. We have all felt like this at some point.
- La Leche League: An International breast feeding support group that meets every fourth Friday afternoon at Beijing United Family Hospital in The Yurt.
- Baby Cafe Local in Sanlitun: A free weekly breastfeeding support group founded by a UK midwife. Baby Cafe is a branch of the Baby Cafe Organization, a joint UK government initiative with the NHS and the National Childbirth Trust. It opens most weeks on Wednesday. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list; always check in advance for updated opening times.
- Breastfeeding masseuses: There are at least two professional Chinese breastfeeding masseuses in Beijing. They have an excellent knowledge of the physiology of lactation and can assist in promoting milk flow and dealing with emergency situations of blocked milk ducts. Contact Zhi Jie at 158 1119 8249 and Bin Ke at 180 0131 5993.
- The Pregnancy Bible by Joanne Stone and Keith Eddleman
- Guide to Childbirth by Ina May
- Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas
- Birth Skills by Juju Sundin
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
- The Food of Love by Kate Evans
Photo by ishane via Flickr