Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Survival List for Attachment Parenting

I remember when I found out I was expecting my first child.  I can't even describe the rush of emotions that filled my brain.  It felt so very surreal.  I was happy, excited, scared, nervous, etc. etc.  Soon my belly began to swell...and it wasn't long after that that I made my first trip into a Babies r' Us.  

I can't even tell you how overwhelmed that place made me feel.  It was like baby-gear-overload times 10!  They had an entire wall of pacifiers.  Yes, just pacifiers.  In every brand, color, shape, and size. Each one claiming to be the best.  

And it wasn't long after I waddled in there that they handed me the registry check list.  The registry list is probably the most ingenious sales strategy every created to take advantage of first time mothers.  Here we are pregnant and overloaded with hormones.  And these hormones are causing our brain to tell us, "NEST! NEST! NEST!  Get ready for that baby!  Buy EVERYTHING!"   When most mothers are handed that registry check list, they automatically assume that they will need EVERYTHING on that list.  But, the good news is, one of the great things with attachment parenting is that you don't really need a whole lot of things to be a great parent.

So, what do you need?  Well, if you are going to nest, here are my recommendations:  

Survival List for Attachment Parenting-
1)  A King Sized Mattress:  (Or at the very least a queen.)  Take all of the money you are going to spend on the crib, nursery decor, new bedding, crib mattresses, crib quilts, and sheeting and upgrade your existing mattress.  Buy the largest and best quality mattress that you can fit in your bedroom.  Because trust me, it will make co-sleeping so much nicer....not to mention safer!  

When I was pregnant, I had all of these grand illusions of placing my still awake baby into his beautifully decorated crib, dimming the lights, and walking away as he fell asleep.  My mother, gently tried to warn me, "Cathy, if you are nursing, you are going to bring the baby into bed with you at nights."  I held strong and said, "No I won't mom!  The baby is going to sleep in the crib!"  Well, I think I made it three weeks attempting to place Marcus into his crib at nights after he awoke to eat.  Finally, I decided to swallow my pride and stop being stubborn.  I brought my baby into bed with me...and for the first time in weeks, the whole family finally got some sleep.  I was in awe of how wonderful and natural co-sleeping was.  Baba would wake up to eat.  I would nurse him while laying on my side, and we would both just fall back asleep.   

Some words of wisdom though:  make sure to read and follow all of the co-sleeping safety guidelines!

2)  A Good Baby Carrier:  When you become a new mother you quickly learn to do everything one handed.  
Poor water one handed...check.  
Clean up spit up one handed...check.  
Open the mail one handed...check.  
Make yourself lunch one handed AND eat it....er... crap!  
Well, now imagine having two hands again.  Babywearing makes that possible.  Imagine being able to keep your baby close and happy while still being able to do the things you need to do.  Not to mention, there are innumerable benefits to baby wearing.  So, do yourself a favor and buy a good baby carrier and learn how to use it.  Bypass those carriers sold by Babies r' us. They are over priced and there are much better options available.  Some carriers I recommend for newborn babies are the moby wrap or the maya lightly padded ring sling.   To learn how to use your carrier, I would recommend finding and networking with other experienced baby-wearers.  You can find them online here.  Another good option is to hang around the LLL meetings.  They typically have lots of baby-wearing mama's hanging around.  (And for those social-phobes out there, know this:  in general, baby-wearing mamas are probably one of the  friendliest, most eager to help group of women I have ever come into contact with. )

3)  Lanolin Cream:  If you have taken any classes on breast-feeding, one of the first things they tell you is that "If it hurts, you have the baby latched on incorrectly."  Well...let me tell you:  That is a blatant lie!  Unless you have been sitting around with a hoover stuck to your boob, your nipples are going to be sore those first few days...EVEN if you are doing everything correctly.  (Hey, I am just being honest!  I think it is better to be truthful so you can really know what to expect.)  The good news?  The soreness will subside in a few days and a little lanolin cream goes a long way to helping ease any discomfort you are having.  And the other good news?  You are doing the best thing you can for your baby by breast-feeding right now.  Good job mama!  

...SO, that is my list of  essentials for an attached mama.  Tell me, what is on your list?  I would love to hear what items you can't live without.  
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