BABIES BORN IN THE CHRISTMAS SEASON–KEEP THEM HEALTHY

It’s a special thing to have a baby in North America at Christmas time. Photos of the new baby under the tree with the gifts, extra time off from work, a time of holiness joy and good cheer, . . . you would think it would be the ideal time to give birth. Unfortunately, many little newborns end up in hospital at this time due to the timing of their arrival.

No Finer Gift

No Finer Gift

Photo credit http://www.gracemogadamphotography.com/2015/05/08/newton-newborn-photography-william/

1. This is sugar time. The chocolate, cookies and candies are everywhere you look and sugar undermines the immune systems of the family members leading to colds and flu.
2. Staying up late. Parties given by neighbours, school, church, etc., tend to go late and the older kids in the family are affected and can get sick at this time by the late nights AND THE SUGAR.
3. The pregnant parent is either nesting in with the new baby or is hugely pregnant and doesn’t want to go to events, so the other parent takes the bigger kids and doesn’t pay close enough attention to the sugar or the late hours.
4. The children at school tend to be getting coughs, colds, flu and they spread it to the siblings of the new baby. Those older siblings sneezing or coughing on the new baby leads to trouble.
5. Christmas travel. A lot of pressure can be put on the family of a new baby to drive 100 miles (or more) for Christmas day family dinners. No matter how much the family thinks this is a good idea, IT IS NOT. The newborn should be kept warm and cozy at home because those long car trips are exhausting, no matter how much planning happens in advance. The nursing parent has to take care of her breasts/breast milk supply. All this is best done at home.
If the breast feeding gets thrown off at this season of the year, it can result in the newborn baby failing to thrive and/or the nursing parent getting mastitis, sore cracked nipples or a diminished production of milk.

What can you do to make sure that your new baby stays out of the hospital during this season?

1. Screen all visitors by asking them “Are you sure you are completely well? We don’t want any bugs around the new baby.”
2. Buy lots of grapefruit, kiwi fruit and oranges and make them the whole family’s dessert through this time. Keep a big bowl of this healthy Vitamin C-packed fruit out and visible. Keep stocking it up. Don’t bring sugar-y foods into the house.
3. If you have older kids in school, pay close attention to their diet and sleep. Keep them healthy. Both parents need to be responsible and communicate with each other about this.
4. Both parents need to watch their own health. Stay away from alcohol, take your vitamins, keep your schedule calm, have afternoon naps, avoid annoying people, etc.
4. Take a year off from the hype and pretend you’re in a stable with cattle lowing. In the big scheme of things, you’ll be glad you did. Have a really peaceful Christmas giving thanks for the miracle of your very own healthy newborn Christ child.Christmas warmth

After the Birth, what a family needs


“Let me know if I can help you in any way when the baby is born.” … “Just let me know if you need a hand.” … “Anything I can do, just give me a call.”

Most pregnant women get these statements from friends and family but shy away from making requests when they are up to their ears in dirty laundry, unmade beds, dust bunnies and countertops crowded with dirty dishes. The myth of “I’m fine, I’m doing great, new motherhood is wonderful, I can cope and my partner is the Rock of Gibraltar” is pervasive in postpartum land. If you’re too shy to ask for help and make straight requests of people, I suggest sending the following list out to your friends and family. These are the things I have found to be missing in every house with a new baby. It’s actually easy and fun for outsiders to remedy these problems for the new parents but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what’s wanted and needed…

1. Buy us toilet paper, milk and beautiful whole grain bread.

2. Buy us a new garbage can with a swing top lid and 6 pairs of black cotton underpants (women’s size____).

3. Make us a big supper salad with feta cheese, black Kalamata olives, toasted almonds, organic green crispy things and a nice homemade dressing on the side. Drop it off and leave right away. Or, buy us frozen lasagna, garlic bread, a bag of salad, a big jug of juice, and maybe some cookies to have for dessert. Drop it off and leave right away.
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Delicious Dinner Salad

4. Come over about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then fold all the piles of laundry that have been dumped on the couch, beds or in the room corners. If there’s no laundry to fold yet, do some.

5. Come over at l0 a.m., make me eggs, toast and a 1/2 grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw out everything you are in doubt about. Don’t ask me about anything; just use your best judgment.

6. Put a sign on my door saying “Dear Friends and Family, Mom and baby need extra rest right now. Please come back in 7 days but phone first. All donations of casserole dinners would be most welcome. Thank you for caring about this family.”

7. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum and dust my house and then leave quietly. It’s tiring for me to chat and have tea with visitors but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to clean, organized space.

8. Take my older kids for a really fun-filled afternoon to a park, zoo or Science World and feed them healthy food.

9. Come over and give my partner a two hour break to go out to a coffee shop, pub, hockey rink or some other r & r that will be a delight. Fold more laundry.

10. Make me a giant pot of vegetable soup and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house and reline with fresh bags.

These are the kindnesses that new families remember and appreciate forever. It’s easy to spend money on gifts but the things that really make a difference are the services for the body and soul described above. Most of your friends and family members don’t know what they can do that won’t be an intrusion. They also can’t devote 40 hours to supporting you but they would be thrilled to devote 4 hours. If you let 10 people help you out for 4 hours, you will have the 40 hours of rested, adult support you really need with a newborn in the house. There’s magic in the little prayer “I need help.”

    First posted online August 2001