A Pediatrician's Top Tip for Expecting Parents14 February 2023 | Before Your Baby is Born | By Lisa H. and Claude G.
What do you think is the most important thing to organize as you’re preparing for the arrival of your baby? Choosing a stroller, buying clothes and a crib, preparing postpartum meals…?
Here’s what Dr. Claude thinks. Dr. Claude Grenzbach is a pediatrician with a private practice in Berlin-Mitte. She provides personalized medical care with the focus on preventive medicine, pediatric pneumology and allergology. She offers her consultations in German, English and French.
My number one tip for expecting parents, especially those that live away from their support network (grandparents, childhood friends…) is:
Find a babysitter you can trust before your baby is born, so you'll have someone to call on once the baby arrives.
You may think that you won't need a babysitter until your child is a bit older but you may very well find your life turned upside down with the arrival of your baby.
An extra pair of helping hands, someone that can accompany you to early doctor appointments or can help with household chores will be invaluable, especially as one partner may be returning to work. Even if the babysitter comes only once a week, this will offer moral support and give the new parents a chance to rest and recuperate as well as spend some time on their own.
See the section “How to find a Babysitter/Nanny” in our article about childcare.
A doula may also offer valuable support during the postpartum period. Learn more about doulas.
There are of course a few factors playing into the decision of hiring help:
Besides the financial aspect of paying for a babysitter, there’s also the emotional side of entrusting someone else with the (temporary) care of your new baby. This can be very hard for new parents under the influence of oxytocin.
What is oxytocin? Oxytocin is a hormone that is released during childbirth as well as during skin-to-skin touch, thereby making it relevant to all close caregivers.
Oxytocin pulls the new parents in and helps them focus their attention on the new baby, making the baby the young family’s world. At the same time, there’s a pull when the parents remember the other parts of their identity (other relationships, hobbies, work, intellectual and spiritual pursuits as well as physical needs such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, etc.). Reproductive Psychologist Alexandra Sacks calls this push and pull an “emotional tug of war of,” which it affects many if not most new parents. This is completely normal, so be kind to yourselves.
Other Helps and Tips for the Early Postpartum Period
Whether in addition to a babysitter or instead, I would also recommend new parents accept offers of help from friends and family – as long as it’s truly helpful (e.g. by visitors dropping off meals or groceries, or cooking for the new family – including the cleanup!). It shouldn’t require the new parents to entertain or tidy up after the visitors.
I am personally a big fan of the Chinese postpartum tradition, where the new parents (especially the mother) get to rest, recover and bond for the first 40 days after childbirth. So I encourage new families to take all the time they need to arrive in this new family constellation and don’t feel obligated to host or attend any social activities during this special time.
Finally: Why do I care about this as a pediatrician? Even though most of the help will be for the parents, happy and healthy parents support happy and healthy children, so for me it is vital that the whole family feels supported.
PS: Here’s a fascinating 6-minute TED talk given by Alexandra Sacks on “A new way to think about the transition to motherhood,” which we referenced above. Go check it out if you're interested!
Are you looking for childcare options while waiting for a Kita spot? We’ve got you covered.
Are you curious about how doulas support families during pregnancy and the postpartum period? And how does this differ from the work of midwives? Read on to find out.