Introducing the idea of a new sibling to a child is a delicate task. Often times parents worry about when to do this and what to say. Here are a few things to consider when thinking through how to prepare your child for this transition.
1. Consider your child's age
The older the child is, the more information they can handle and the more time they may need to process the information. The opposite is also true.
Younger children need more simple language, less details and less time waiting in anticipation. If you’ve ever been on a road trip with young children, you’ve probably heard “Are we there yet?!”
Think of pregnancy in a similar way.
2. Give your child a concrete way to help them understand waiting
Something like, “Your little brother or sister will be here when we start seeing pumpkins at the grocery store” or “When we start wearing our warm clothes.”
Making something like a paper chain that they can remove a link on may also be a good option. The trick is that sometimes we can’t anticipate when the baby will make their arrival so adding in the caveat that the baby gets to surprise us is essential.
3. Books and shows are great resources
If you have a young child, there are several books that talk about pregnancy and the changes they can expect to experience with a newborn in the house.
Daniel Tiger Season 2 Episodes 1-4 address his little sister’s impact on his life and how that makes him feel. This provides a great conversation starter for young children (think toddlers up to around age 4 or so).
There are several books that debunk pregnancy, birth and having a new sibling in child-specific language.
My personal favorite book suggestions are: “I’m a Big Sister” or “I’m a big brother” by Joanna Cole, and “My New Baby” or “Waiting for Baby” by Rachel Fuller.
4. Provide an open invitation for conversation
Children often process information in waves. You may think that they comprehend something and then they surprise you in the grocery store with all their burning questions.
Try to engage in conversation and answer their questions as they come up as simply as possible. Think of it as sort of grazing rather than one big long lecture conversation.
Allowing them to take the lead and initiate conversation can be helpful for their processing.
5. Get out the baby gear well before the baby arrives
This may trigger more questions from your child and most likely prompt them to process further the changes that are going to take place.
If you’re going to use a crib, have your child “help” in an age appropriate way. For a very young child, you could have them bring you a measuring tape or box (regardless of if that actually gets anything relevant done).
For an older child, they may be able to turn a screw for you or hold a piece while you secure it. Not only is this time aiding the child in processing, it is also providing you both with quality time together.
6. Prep special activities to use when the baby requires all of you
Small bins that are only for pre-determined times can make a normally challenging time something to look forward to.
Some examples of activities to use for these times are legos, a special art project, I-Spy books, Polly Pocket toys or basically anything you wouldn’t want a baby to get into.
Make sure these activities are something the child can do without much help. Times when this may come in handy are during feedings, while you’re calming a crying baby or putting the baby down for a nap.
7. Plan for special 1 on 1 time with your older child
It is normal for your older child to feel jealous. Their world likely has been turned upside down from the arrival of a new baby. They now have one more person to split their parent(s) attention with and that is a tough reality.
Carve out time specifically for your older child. You may be surprised at how much that will do for both you and your child.
8. Prepare a small (or not so small) gift for your older child.
I am not sure I have ever met a child who does not like a gift.
When your older child meets your baby, you can tell them that the baby wanted them to have this gift. That distraction can be a welcomed ice breaker when the moment comes as it can be a shock for your older child.
We hope these tips are helpful!
Let us know how you prepared your older child to meet their new sibling! We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Have you ever wondered if you're the only one experiencing a certain pregnancy symptom?
In this video, Kristina and Savannah go back and forth to see who can recall the most pregnancy symptoms. If you think of any that we missed, let us know in the comments!
Pregnancy is hard!
If you're looking for a doula in Bellingham or the surrounding areas, we are here to help! We serve all of our birth doula clients with strategies to combat these symptoms and more.
You don't have to do this alone!
“Mom guilt. Consolation prize. Not a natural birth. Easy way out.”
These are all phrases I have heard women say when “C-section” is brought up.
What the actual heck?!?!
Do we, as a society not realize exactly all that goes into a surgical birth? Because I truly believe that if we step back and look at all that goes into a c-section (and all that comes out too) we would have more respect for the process and the women who give birth this way.
Allow me to shed some light on the often unforeseen realities of this surgery.
It actually IS a major surgery. MAJOR. They literally take your uterus out of your body. But then it’s life changing! You get a baby at the end!
I dont know of any other major surgery where they basically give you a prize.
The recovery is no-joke. Things that many take for granted such as carrying my older child, driving and walking up stairs are out of the question for the immediate recovery period. It makes for a good excuse to take it easy!
And if you forget to slow down, your body will tell you but heads up! You probably won't like it.
Your arms will be stretched out to the sides and possibly strapped down for the surgery. Laying down on the operating table totally exposed with your arms stretched out. It is a weird feeling.
You may get extremely nauseous or vomit. This is completely normal and completely awful.
For the record, puking while having to lay on your back sucks. The anesthesiologist typically is right next to your head through the whole procedure and usually pretty on top of helping you through that with suction and a vomit bag.
They are your new best friend.
You will notice pressure and tugging as they are performing the surgery. The anestheia doesn’t numb you from feeling pressure and during this surgery, there is a whole lot of it!!! It can be extremely uncomfortable.
Let me rephrase that… It can actually HURT!
Some area hospitals have the option for a clear drape so you can watch the procedure. If this is your thing and you can handle that at least.
If you have a support person in the OR with you and pick the clear drape, make sure they’re able to handle that as well. They will see much more than you will and I promise that your medical team doesn't want your support person suddenly becoming a patient right alongside you.
An alternative to this is to ask your medical team to drop the drape when the baby is delivered. This may be a good “happy medium” for everyone.
Your baby will be born relatively quickly (5-10 min) but the repair takes much longer (30-45 min). They seem shocked that the baby is out so quickly and then wonder what is taking so long when they are still in surgery for the repair.
In an urgent or emergent cesarean, they deliver the baby VERY quickly and general anesthesia may be used.
The OR is often very COLD. It’s a sterile environment and everyone but you is covered in sterile gowns and hair nets and gloves and basically a ton of layers.
Everyone but you.
So, as the patient on the operating table, naked, you may feel cold. You may even shake. Hang in there! If you took a birth class and practiced any coping tools for contractions, this is a great time to put those to the test!
Think long, slow breaths, visualizations, scents (if your local hospital allows this) or music.
Coughing, vomiting, laughing sneezing etc. can feel like your insides are trying to come out after the procedure. Things like holding a pillow over the incision can help mitigate this. It will get better!!!
Bowel movements are something that you may have taken for granted prior to surgery. Many women experience constipation post surgery as their bowels had to be heavily manipulated in order to get the baby out.
Most likely, your provider will prescribe something to help with this. My advice? Listen to your provider! The last thing you want is to be constipated.
You will still have postpartum bleeding just like you do after a vaginal birth. I wish the surgery could totally spare women from this but it unfortunately doesn’t. You still deal with the dreaded month long (sometimes more, sometimes less) postpartum period.
So, to everyone who thinks a C-section is the easy way out, think again!
These women who have gone through a C-section are warriors! This means of giving birth is still tough and intense and a big deal!
Let’s stop mom-shaming around the means in which we all give birth already!
You with me?!
If only babies came with a manual. Am I right?!
For real though. Couldn’t we get a little more help with this whole newborn parenting gig? It can be overwhelming leaving the confines of that birth center with all those knowledgeable medical professionals and head into the great unknown on our own home!
Should I wake her up? Is she breathing? How do I know how long to let her sleep?
Is she crying because she’s hungry again or is she tired? Should I swaddle her or take her on a car ride?
Why is she STILL crying?!
The early days are trying. Sleep deprivation while getting to know an entirely new human that is 100% reliant on you for EVERYTHING can be so brutal! So, we’ve come up with a list of 10 things that may help you navigate this time.
Newborns cry. A lot. It can be stressful but it’s important to remember that crying is their only form of communication until they are able to smile and coo around the 4-6 week mark. Keep it all in perspective. This time is fleeting and the last thing that new parents need is for their adult relationships to suffer.
Remind your partner (if applicable) that they are still you’re first priority. It’s so easy to get caught up in the constant needs of your new baby and forget about your other relationships. Reminding each other how you feel can make all the difference.
Feeding can be such a challenge, regardless of how you do it. What works for you and your baby is not going to be the right choice for everyone else. Try to keep in mind that you are this baby’s parent for a reason and take your needs into consideration and reach out for help! We have awesome lactation consultants in Whatcom County and Skagit County who are ready and willing to help you!
Whether you choose to exclusively breastfeed, bottle feed with breast milk, bottle feed with formula or another mode of feeding, find the support you need to help your feeding time be as relaxed as possible. Set up stations with snacks and water bottles around the house.
Often times, as soon as you sit down you will realize what you need. If there are stations already set up, chances are that it is within reaching distance.
The Endless "To-Do" List
Sleep when the baby sleeps. Do dishes when the baby does dishes. Am I right?! Sleep is so challenging for most new parents and simplifying it to saying “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is such a joke.
There are endless tasks that would stare me in the face as soon as my baby fell asleep and ignoring those things just simply wasn’t an option. What worked for my family won’t work for others but may help. We made a list of our top priorities.
One list included tasks that had to get done EACH DAY. Then a list of the things that had to get done ONCE A WEEK and so forth. This put it all in perspective for us and I was able to relax a bit more and actually recover from giving birth!
The Sleepless Nights
It is normal for your newborn to sleep (nearly) all day and party all night. Remember those parties your baby would throw during pregnancy right as you finally found that comfortable spot in bed? When you were pregnant, they were rocked to sleep as you went about your day and then woke as you settled down in the evening.
Newborns have to adjust to a new normal. Well, lots of new normals but this is a big one. This can be very frustrating for tired parents but it will shift eventually.
When changing a newborn’s diaper, bicycle kicks are your friend. If you’ve ever been around a newborn, you may have noticed that as soon as they got that fresh diaper on, they pooped immediately.
Rather than taking that dirty diaper off right away, expose the baby to some fresh air then cover them back up and do some leg pumps or gentle tummy rubs and wait a minute or two. This may save you a few diapers.
Set up changing stations around the house. Having some diapers and wipes easily accessible makes diaper changes a little less of a task. Remember, changing pads are not 100% necessary 100% of the time. An old hand towel or changing pad liner can become a great barrier between the baby and the surface you are changing them on.
“My baby hates the car and everyone talked about how they are supposed to fall asleep in the car.” I’ll just say it, if this is you, I am so sorry. I had two babies who HATED the car. They would cry so hard that they would be dripping with sweat once we got to our destination.
Some tricks I learned were rolling down the window (when weather allowed), dressing them in cool clothing so they didn’t get too warm, and driving on those road bumps. I am sure we got several people thinking we were crazy, but this helped!
The First Bath
Sponge baths will be just fine until the umbilical cord stump falls off (which is quite a smelly process by the way) as it is important not to get it wet. A wet washcloth with a small amount of baby-friendly soap will do the trick. Then follow up with a good lotion as newborn skin can be quite dry.
Don’t forget to get in all those sneaky folds as that is the prime location for breast milk or formula to get stuck and will get stinky real fast. Some of those locations include the groin folds, under the chin, the armpits and behind the ears.
When the time comes to do the first bath, make sure the water is warm but not too hot. Test the temperature on your inner wrist. If it is too warm for you, it is way too warm for your baby.
Try laying a warm, wet hand towel or washcloth over your baby’s exposed body. This will help them stay warm and enjoy their bath time.
Learn a good swaddle technique. Babies are super restricted for space during pregnancy. Swaddling them reminds them of this.
For those Houdini babies, try a swaddle technique that tucks their arms in a pocket before wrapping them up. There are many different ways to do it, and each baby is going to need something slightly different.
They may hate it as your are wrapping them up, but soon enough, they will give in and probably fall asleep. Good luck! P.s. We teach a great swaddle technique in our birth class!
At North Cascade Doulas, we love this stuff!
We exist to support local families as they navigate the unforeseen joys and challenges that come with bringing a baby home.
As birth doulas in Bellingham and the surrounding areas, we aim to see our clients supported through the ups and downs. If you have questions, we have answers! We will walk alongside you through your unique pregnancy, birth and postpartum story.
Contact us today to learn more about birth doula services in Skagit Valley and Whatcom County or local childbirth classes. We would be overjoyed to get to know your desires for this season and how you desire to be supported.
First off, yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. I hope you knew that. I didn't until today and you can absolutely bet that our family will be celebrating a day late!
It makes sense that this is a holiday in July.
It's stinkin' hot!!! Who doesn't want a big scoop on a hot summer day?! Especially if you're growing another human! If that's you, hang in there and get a double scoop. One for the baby and one for you right?!
Summer pregnancies It can make for a pretty miserable season depending on where you’re located.
In Bellingham, Lynden, Ferndale, Mount Vernon and Burlington, we tend to get a few weeks of fairly intense heat.
Here are some ways to beat the heat while pregnant.
Good luck! If all else fails, those portable A/C units or window units can make a world of difference!
If you’ve shared your pregnancy news, most likely you’ve been told congratulations more than you can count quickly followed by either some pregnancy and birth horror stories or advice.
People love giving advice and we all learn this oh so quickly during pregnancy, birth and parenting.
I’d love to say it will soon stop but this is only the beginning. The hope is that you’ll get used to it or learn some slightly snarky responses ;)
We don’t want to add to the mounds and mounds of advice so we thought we would share some more helpful information…
15 pregnancy symptoms that no one told you:
If you’re pregnant and have not experienced some or all of these things, you’ve been warned now!
In our birth class we cover these pregnancy symptoms and ways to ease the discomfort associated with them.
Skagit Valley! We have been listening and are now teaching our birth class in Mount Vernon! Check out our services page for our upcoming class schedule.
The hope is that you don’t deal with all of these issues, but if you do and have a way that you have worked around it, let us know your trick in the comments! We’re always looking for new ways to help our clients deal with the struggles and discomforts of pregnancy.
So you're expecting a baby! Congratulations!
Have you started planning your babymoon getaway?A quick, or not so quick, getaway before you add another little person to your family.
Sometimes it can be frustrating when trying to come up with fun things to do while pregnant. Especially those last weeks when the aches and pains of pregnancy can really throw you off. How about planning a trip to distract you?! Take some time to soak in these last weeks of your family as you now know it!
I’d venture to guess you won’t regret it!
Traveling with a baby in tow changes things quite a bit! Take advantage of this time you have before your baby arrives.
If you’re pregnant in Skagit or Whatcom County and need a (mostly) local breath of fresh air, consider some of these options!
1. TreeHouse Point; Issaquah, WA
Schedule an appointment to tour the tree houses or stay in one of them! They are open year-round! TreeHouse Point is only a 2 hour drive south of Bellingham in Issaquah, WA.
Indulge your senses during the Boehm’s Candies & Chocolates factory tour located nearby. If you want to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest further, bring your hiking boots and venture out on one of the several hikes nearby.
2. Post Hotel; Leavenworth, WA:
Whether you venture out for a Snowshoe or bicycle adventure, or take the time to experience the german culture Leavenworth embodies, you can be certain that you will be able to let the stress of life melt away at their tranquil spa.
If you’d rather spend your babymoon out of the country, but have been advised against traveling that far, consider Leavenworth! Although it’s only located 175 miles out of Lynden, many would say that it feels like you’re a world away.
3. Semiahmoo; Blaine, WA
This treasure is conveniently located within Whatcom County. You can hop on a Whale watching cruise, running from September through April, go out for a walk, cozy up in your beautiful room or indulge in their heavenly spa.
4. Seaside, OR
If you’re looking for something a bit further away, check out one of the many options available in Seaside, Oregon from hotels to a nice AirBnB.
You can check out Haystack Rock on Cannon beach, hike up Saddle Mountain Trail, laugh while posing for Instagram worthy photos at the Seaside Inverted Experience, or shop the many boutiques in the Broadway Core.
5. Harrison Hot Springs Resort; Harrison, BC, Canada
Hop the border and relax at Harrison Hot Springs! You have an abundance of lodging options, catering to a variety of budgets. With the hot springs nearby, you’re bound to have a relaxing and peaceful babymoon.
Did you take advantage of a babymoon? Where did you go? If you visited one of these babymoon destinations, let me know! I’d love to hear how your experience was!
It 100% sucks.
Except for the times when you really don’t want to share your cookie and the bathroom hideout was just occupied by your other child who has a stomach-ache. Now that house with the extra bathroom is on the must have list… anyways…
If you’re nodding your head right now, know you’re not alone. Between my two kids, we have 2 anaphylactic allergies and 5 intolerances and counting.
Our list of things to avoid (assuming I even remember them all) currently includes peanuts, tree nuts (aka all the other nuts out there), corn, dairy, soy, coconut (no, it’s not always lumped in with tree nuts), something in hummus although we aren’t sure what that is quite yet, eggs and clearly I’m forgetting some.
So basically we’re rabbits, but I can’t fail to mention the Costco size box of Cheerios we go through every week.
My point is, it’s a lot to keep track of and it changes the way we live life. Many people don’t understand the stress families in these situations are under on a constant basis.
"Many people don’t understand the stress families in these situations are under on a constant basis."
→ Bringing a new baby home or going through a crisis where people offer to bring over food? Gulp. It’s not so easy to accept their meals.
→ Heading to a potluck? Better bring your EpiPen, your own meal and energy for CONSTANT supervision.
→ Samples at Costco? Hard pass. Try explaining to your toddler that they can’t eat the candy every other kiddo is chomping on. No thanks.
→ Toddler birthday parties? Nope. Make sure to come prepared with an allergy friendly treat for your child and watch them closely!
→ Family dinner eating out? Better be careful! Most times it’s just easier to eat at home. Going through the menu with the manager feels exhausting and defeats the purpose of a quick and easy dinner.
Sound stressful? It is. BUT, it’s a great scapegoat for introverts (like me) and picky eaters (my husband cough* cough*) to get out of those awkward invitations and the soggy casserole your well-meaning neighbor offers to deliver.
So, how do we help these families?
Side note... If you have someone in your life with an egg allergy, try out these chocolate chip cookies. They are AMAZING! Even if you just want to eat the dough, I dare you to make these. You may never go back to any other recipe! If you need some allergen-free snack options check out the Enjoy Life brand. They have everything!
How do YOU navigate food allergies? How does it change the way you live on a daily basis? Comment below! I’d love to get your insight!
Author, Kristina McMurtrey, is a passionate doula who aims to see families supported regardless of their unique way of navigating pregnancy, birth and parenting.
North Cascade Doulas provides care for families looking for Labor Doulas, Placenta Encapsulation and Childbirth Education Classes. We support all parenting philosophies and birth plans.
We specialize in :
(natural) unmedicated birth / (surgical) cesarean birth / epidural birth / induction / planned induction / planned cesarean / VBAC / TOLAC / waterbirth / multiples / breastfeeding / bottle feeding / formula feeding / NICU / PPD / PPMD / bed rest / high risk / low risk / advanced maternal age / miscarriage / IVF / and more.
Areas we Serve:
We serve Whatcom and Skagit Counties and the neighborhoods of Alger / Anacortes / Bellingham / Big Lake / Birch Bay / Blaine / Bow / Burlington / Clear Lake / Custer / Everson / Ferndale / Glen Haven / La Conner / Laurel / Lynden / Mount Vernon / Sedro Woolley / Sudden Valley