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First Time Parent

Book notes for “First Time Parent”, by Lucy Atkins

Quick review:

Good, practical, UK specific information. Presume the author has read the Attatchment Parenting “Baby Book” based on some of their ideas.

Questions raised:

Many, this was a good overview, but need to look much deeper into feeding, sleep, education, etc.

Insights, lessons learnt:

Some good information in the highlights below. No overriding principles espoused, just pragmatic, practical advice. Worth re-reading a month before birth.

Highlights:

THE MINIMUM YOU’LL NEED TO GET YOUR BABY THROUGH THE FIRST MONTH OR SO IS: Six cotton vests (long or short sleeved depending on season) Six to ten cotton Babygros Six pairs of socks (stretchy towelling ones tend to stay on better–booties are generally pointless as they fall off teeny feet) Two to three cardigans (easier than jumpers) A couple of cotton hats A warm, all-in-one, padded suit for outings if you have a winter baby Loc: 64

For many of us, the first ‘hello’ is not as we’d expected. There is no lightening-strike recognition, no heavenly choir, no soft-focus twinning of souls. Most of us, after giving birth for the first time, are exhausted, shocked and mind-blown by the whole experience. And most new fathers are reeling too. That it can take a while for ‘baby love’ to kick in (and it will, eventually) says nothing about your capacity to be the world’s greatest parent. Loc: 178

if possible you want to keep her there, skin to skin, for at least the first thirty minutes of her life. Studies show this really helps mother-baby bonding, reduces crying and helps breastfeeding. It’s really worth putting this in your birth plan as it may not automatically happen. Loc: 188

You may be discharged as little as six hours after an uncomplicated birth, but most of us leave hospital about twenty-four hours after giving birth vaginally and three to five days after a Caesarean. If there are any complications, you may have to stay longer. Loc: 244

Investigate the possibility of a single room: it costs anything from £30-£500 depending on your hospital, but having one means you get peace and quiet–and your partner can stay too. Loc: 248

And, most importantly, tell her–repeatedly and grovellingly–how proud you are of what she’s just done. Whatever happened in that labour room–a planned Caesarean, drugs, tongs, suction devices, ten hours of her yelling abuse and battering you–at this point she needs to know you think she’s amazing and that you love her more than ever before. Make this your fallback position for the coming months. Loc: 263

One in ten babies need special care at birth, and the vast majority are fine (forty per cent of twins and over ninety-seven per cent of triplets spend some time in special care). Loc: 270

She can see your face clearly if it’s 20-25 cm (8-10 in) from hers, will respond with a raised heart rate when she does, and will probably make eye contact. She may even mirror your facial movements–try sticking out your tongue at her. She can recognise her parents’ voices. She can probably recognise her mother’s smell. She has an inbuilt set of reflexes. She’ll: ? grasp anything put into her fist ? suck and swallow ? take a ‘step’ if you hold her up with toes touching a surface ? ‘startle’ (the ‘Moro reflex’). If she hears a loud noise, she will throw her arms up suddenly, as if stopping herself from falling. ? root for the nipple. If you stroke her cheek with your finger or breast, she’ll turn her head, looking for the nipple. Loc: 308

Another new-parent surprise is that newborn boys and girls often have swollen genitals and breasts. A tiny amount of milky discharge may come out of the nipples, and girl babies may even have a bit of bloody discharge from their vaginas. This is all caused by the mother’s hormones circulating through the baby at birth; it is totally healthy and stops after a day or so. Loc: 339

In the first twenty-four to forty-eight hours, sticky secretions that your baby has swallowed during the birth can get stuck in her throat, making her choke and sometimes turn blue. If this happens, put her over your knee, face down, and give her a firm slap between the shoulders to clear the airways. Loc: 342

You will still look at least six months pregnant once the baby is born. It takes six weeks for your womb to shrink back to its normal size and texture. Loc: 408

One good rule is always to say ‘goodbye’ before you leave him with someone. Even if you are just popping to the loo, say, ‘Bye-bye, Mummy’s coming back in a minute.’ It may make him cry more in the instant, but if he knows you’ll always tell him when you’re leaving, he won’t be constantly anxious that you’re going to sneak off when his back is turned. Loc: 1279

Breastfed babies tend to gain weight, perfectly healthily, at a different rate from formula-fed ones—usually quicker in the first couple of months, then slowing up around two to three months. When this happens, many health visitors suggest ‘supplementing’ feeds with formula: this is the quickest way to scupper your breastfeeding. If your health visitor suggests supplementing feeds: Ask if she is using the Child Growth Foundation’s Breast from Birth chart—if not, ask her to get hold of one. Loc: 1372

‘BABY-LED WEANING’ This weaning ‘method’ is the increasingly popular brainchild of Gill Rapley, a health visitor for twenty years. Many parents swear by it as the route to hassle-free, non-fussy eating. The basic idea is incredibly simple. At six months a baby is developmentally ready to pick up, chew and swallow real food. Therefore, all you need to do to wean your baby at this stage is to sit her in a high chair, lay out appropriate foods, and let her get on with it. Loc: 1561

The key to weaning (and indeed feeding your small child generally) is the exact opposite of everything you’ve learned elsewhere in this book. It’s simple: never show you care. A small baby will pick up on your anxiety about her eating. Bigger babies (and children) will even learn that—at last!—they have power. Pretend to be completely blasé about what your baby eats even if you have to go into a padded room and scream for ten minutes after each attempted mealtime. Do not fret, get cross or cajole: just breezily remove the dinner if, after ten or fifteen minutes, you are getting nowhere. Get down from the table. Try again later. Loc: 1644

If you’re puréeing your nearly one-year-old’s meals—unless there’s a good medical reason to do so—stop. You’re aiming to have a happy, non-fussy, self-feeding baby who eats like a regular human being. This is not the way to do it. Loc: 1667