Monday, June 2, 2014

25 Tips For Daddy

We all hear about and talk about the things you didn’t know as an expecting mom, but, what about the things you didn’t know as an expectant dad?  There can never be enough information to share about learning to be a parent.  You never truly get your masters in the field because your kids will keep you constantly learning.  When my husband and I were expecting we did not have a clue!  You will be experiencing a whole heap of firsts as you enter into daddyhood.  The most important rule, is to have fun! Life is tough enough...make every and any experience as fun as you possibly can for you and your partner and soak in every second.

That being said, there are some unexpected points it could be helpful for all you daddies to have in the back of your head.  My husband will be the first to tell y’all that nothing will truly prepare you for what’s in store...but every bit helps!

Let’s begin!
  1. Add the baby to your health insurance ASAP.  Do it before the baby is born, do not wait until the last minute.  You will have roughly 30 days with the baby covered from the date of birth, but it is best to make sure that is in order.
  2. While registering, be sure you and your partner are on the same page for what is necessary and what is unnecessary. Arguing with a pregnant woman in the middle of a baby store is never good.
  3. Bottle warmers seem silly when you can just put the bottle in a bowl of hot water, but when your baby is screaming for milk, the last thing you want to do is wait 15 to 20 minutes for the bottle to warm up in a bowl of hot water.  Bottle warmers have the bottle at the perfect temperature in 3 minutes.  Invest. You will use this a great deal in the first couple of months.
  4. You probably do not need a portable changing pad; however, invest in something that will fit in your diaper bag to change the baby on.  Getting poop on a beautiful rug at someone else’s house is very unpleasant. 
  5. Baby proof your home prior to the baby being born.  Just 3 months ago I was saying how much time we had and now our son is crawling and attempting to walk... we had to invest in a DVD cabinet with doors because our baby’s favorite thing is to go over to the shelf and take all the DVDs off.  It goes by fast.
  6. Amazon will be your best friend.  There will be so many things you will need and in bulk the best route...Amazon.
  7. Get a baby swing.
  8. Get a Jumperoo.
  9. Get a walker.
  10. Get an exersaucer.
  11. Get a play yard.
  12. Once your little one is born, you should come to terms with the fact that you will be wearing more bodily fluids from your baby than ever before, and you will be doing laundry like you have a household of 7 when it is just you, your sweetie, and your baby.
  13. Don’t hold the baby when you are all dressed for work...especially of the baby has just been fed.  You will wear vomit well, and won’t care.
  14. In your first week of changing your baby’s diaper you will get pooped on and peed on at least once.  For little boys, they have impeccable aim.  You could invest in a Pee Weeblock if you need some extra coverage.
  15. Word to the wise...such a cute baby but nasty, nasty filled diapers!  You will spend a lot of time wondering how such an adorable little one can produce that.  Plug your nose.
  16. You will not sleep.  Even if you start to fall asleep, chances are your partner or baby will be waking you up.  Do your best to get some shut eye when the baby is napping.
  17. Share feedings with your partner.  Maybe you can alternate if the baby is not sleeping through the night.  If you baby is sleeping through the night, have one of you take night feeding and the other take morning feeding.  This way one of you can go to bed earlier and the other will get up earlier. This should help you each get a bit of sleep.
  18. Deactivate your gym membership and invest in INSANITY or P90X.  My poor husband asks me all the time if he can go to the gym.  There is always so much to do by the time he gets home that it is too late by the time he is free to go.  Get a workout DVD and you can do it in your living room for 20 minutes, get a good workout and be there for your partner.
  19. Make sure you have some good babysitters lined up.  You will need some one on one time, even if your partner isn’t ready, do all you can to push her while still being sensitive to her.
  20. Learn the art of baby talk.  You will look and sound ridiculous, and will not care.
  21. The first time your baby poops during a bath will be an experience.  Enjoy the laughter.
  22. You may need a mini freezer for milk.  Not kidding.  Empty your freezer and make room for the breast milk that is about to take over.  Make sure you clearly label all the breast milk and possibly make a note of what you had to eat the day before and day of.  This way when your baby is spitting up and has gas all night, you will know why.
  23. TAKE VIDEOS OF EVERYTHING! We are so lucky now to have our Iphone’s at hand and can quickly video those adorable moments.  They go by much to fast and you can’t get them back.
  24. Don’t forget about your partner once the baby is here.  This goes both ways.  Mommas and Daddas need attention from each other, too.  Be patient with each other. Laugh together and cherish each moment.
  25. Remember, this too shall pass.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Couvade Syndrome

For all expecting dads, you don't have the joy of being kicked in the rib at 2 o'clock in the morning, or throwing up at the sight and smell of chicken, or gaining 30 pounds overnight; however, men do go through changes during the pregnancy whether realized or not.  There is something I am sure you have heard called “sympathy pains” that dads-to-be experience.  You are probably saying "yea, yea, yea, he just wants attention" but this is a real thing.  It is often referred to as Couvade Syndrome, which simply means a sympathetic pregnancy.  

Some of the these sympathy pains dads experience are: anxiety, nausea, mood swings, weight gain, toothaches, backaches, headaches, and leg cramps.  I am going to dicuss some of the pains brought on by Couvade Syndrome that will make it seem like your partner is the one carrying the baby!
Weight Gain.  Pregnancy weight gain is normal and healthy for mommas, I bet you didn't know you would experience it too.  I am sure your partner may be experiencing those pregnancy naturally you have to eat along side her during those midnight snacks; however, there is a bigger reason for the weight gain you daddies may be experiencing.  Men become very stressed when expecting a baby, whether conscious or subconscious.  Your life is about to change completely and unfortunately men were not blessed with the gift of being able to feel that change physically.  Due to the high stress levels happening to your body, a hormone called cortisol is released.  Cortisol is the “stress hormone”.  It is a tricky little devil because it is what regulates insulin and blood sugar levels in your body.  It is the deviant that causes the weight gain you might be experiencing.  Cortisol increases your appetite and sugar cravings, thus, cause you weight gain.  It binds to receptors in the brain (hypothalamus) and causes you to eat food in high fat and sugar content leading you directly to a bigger size pant.  Know that if this is something you are experiencing, you are not alone.  To counter this, exercise in is the best medicine.  Release those endorphins, reducing your stress, bringing you back to your normal pant size.

Mood Swings. If you are feeling extra moody this can also be from the weight gain.  When you gain weight, your body creates more fat tissue, leading your testosterone to become estrogen.  This is the culprit behind and mood swings and nausea you may be having.  Isn’t pregnancy great?

Cramps and Aches.  In a need for daddy to bond with the baby during pregnancy, his mental makes his physical match what momma might be experiencing.  In some cases, daddy wants that same connection and there is a hint of jealousy so the body actually will be deceived into feeling pregnant.  This is not the case for all and it is very subconcious, but it does happen.  As with anything, when you harbor anxiety and stress, it will manifest itself in a physical way.  This is an exaggeration of that.  This does, in some way, allow you to connect with the baby before he or she is born.

For all those aches and pains you may be having during the pregnancy, be comforted to know that according to studies, they are most likely in your head.  Because of the feelings your partner is having, you physically want to feel this too.  The mind is a very fun thing and can actually trick you into having similar pains as described by your partner.  For women during pregnancy, let’s face it...we are not the most sympathetic to whatever aches and pains your man may think he’s having.  To add to that, men don’t feel needed during the pregnancy...”woe is me” you may be finding yourself in competition (subconsciously) with your partner.

There are some things you can do to ease the symptoms you may be experiencing.  It will also be helpful to do these things with your partner which will keep her going as well.

  • Exercise. As I said before, exercise is the best thing to get your spirits up.  It would be really nice if you and your partner could come up with a workout plan together, even if it is just taking a simple walk together, it will make a huge difference.
  • Healthy Diet.  Eating right will help with the weight gain and keep it to a minimum.  It will also help your mood.  Exercise and diet are the two main factors in lifting your spirits and easing depression and anxiety.
  • Communicate.  Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial in any relationship, pregnant or not.  If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed talk to your partner about it.  Though us women can be unapproachable at time while pregnant, be sure to express how you are feeling.  I must warn you though, never start with “I don’t feel well” or “My *insert body part here* hurts!” Because you will get your head ripped off.  On that note, it is crucial you tell your partner about the fears and anxiety you may be feeling throughout the pregnancy.  It is totally normal to feel this way! Put the baby clothes, nursery paint chips and infant gear aside and go have a date night.  Do your best to make it about each other.
  • Date Night.  This is so important for a few reasons, it will help you communicate with your partner and it will also make things about you as a couple instead of your pregnant partner.

Totally unrelated but thank you so much everyone who voted for my baby boy to be on the cover of a magazine!  He is high in the ratings so let's keep going!! Any vote will help!  You can vote once a day! We are so close! Thank y'all so much for the love and support! Just follow the link to vote!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vote For Baby Bradley!

Hey everyone! Bradley is in the running and I would appreciate so much if you would vote for him!
Just click here and vote!

Thank y'all so much for your support!!

Paternal Postnatal Depression

I have discussed with y’all Postpartum Depression and how pregnant moms can experience this or other postpartum disorders; but, what about dad?  Since the baby’s father was not physically pregnant, can he experience Postpartum Depression?
The answer is yes!  Just as you, your partner can experience the baby blues, Postpartum Depression, and other postpartum disorders.  This is called Paternal Postnatal Depression.

What is Paternal Postnatal Depression?
Paternal Postnatal Depression is a severe depression in the weeks after bringing your new baby home from the hospital.  We often forget about daddy because physically there really is not change.  Dads are not physically pregnant and we do forget that there are hormonal changes happening for the men as well as us.  Along with any hormonal changes, some dads struggle with the reality of parenthood just as we might.  Let’s face wonderful and joyous as being a parent is incredibly scary.  For some men, these fears and responsibilities can be too overwhelming.

What are the signs and symptoms of Paternal Postnatal Depression?
The signs and symptoms of Paternal Postnatal Depression may vary man to man.  The signs and symptoms look different for that of Postpartum Depression.  You definitely may see some similar symptoms but there are a few differences.

You may see your partner struggle with:

  • Irritability
  • Isolation and withdrawal from relationships
  • Working more or less as means to distract
  • Low Energy
  • Fatigue
  • Low motivation
  • Unable to focus
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, pills...etc)
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach (G.I) issues
  • Anger outbursts
  • Violent Behavior
  • Suicidal Thoughts

What causes Paternal Postnatal Depression?
There are a number of reasons your partner may be experiencing Paternal Postnatal Depression.

Sleep deprivation -- As any new parents knows, when you bring that baby home, even with an amazing baby who sleeps through the night, you no longer will.  Sleep has now become a privilege for you.  It is seriously underestimated how sleep can effect and exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Adjustment to Parenthood --As I said before, most amazing, incredible, yet terrifying thing in your life, and your life will be changed forever.  Being a parent takes so much compromise and adjustment for you and your partner.  It can be overwhelming, which is totally normal.

Family History of Depression -- As with any medical issue, with a personal or family history, you are already at higher risk.

Hormones -- There have been studies that have shown, just because daddy isn’t physically pregnant, does not mean his internal is not going through changes.  These studies have shown that dad’s hormone levels change just as mom’s do.  Testosterone decreases and estrogen increases.  Lower testosterone in men is associated with depression.  

A Depressed Momma -- If your partner is depressed and you feel helpless it can often bring you down in the dumps as well.

Relationship Stress -- Let’s not sugar coat...relationships are hard! When you add in factors like...a baby, where you are not sleeping, now you are forced to make these decisions together that you never had to before, yes it make it even more difficult.  Having a baby does put stress on a relationship because now you have added in so many factors to your relationship that were not there before; finances are now increased, sleep is now decreased, communication will be more difficult because you will be so busy, these factors all can add stress to a relationship.

Not feeling included with your baby and/or partner -- Your partner wants to be included in all the experience; however, because they did not undergo the physical as you did, it can make your partner feel like an outsider.  Moms don’t always realize that they are excluding their partner from being a part of their baby.  I am guilty of this myself.  I used to think I was just helping my husband by doing everything because he worked and I didn’t want him to feel like he worked all day, then came home and worked more.  This was a big mistake and I am glad we dealt with it early on.  Taking care of your baby is not work for your partner.  Let him in on things, changing diapers, feeding, all the fun things that go by all too quick.

There are so many other factors that take part in Paternal Postnatal Depression.  If your family is under financial stress or your family has recently dealt with a loss or disaster, this can also lead to exacerbating the depression.

How is Paternal Postnatal Depression dealt with?
As we all know...admitting things can be difficult for men.  It is hard for anyone to face that there may be an issue.  The reality is, it is sometimes hard for a person to see for themselves that there is an issue.  Paternal Postpartum Depression is not as known about.  It is more common than you may think, but there is not much discussion out there on the subject.  There are a few things you can do to help in dealing with Paternal Postnatal Depression.

Come to terms with the issue.  As I said before, in general people don’t always recognize there is a problem, it may take an outsider to notice.  Once you and your partner are on the same page about the issue, you can move forward in dealing with it.

Surround yourself with positive support.  Letting your family and friends know what is going on will be beneficial for you.

Sleep!  You will need sleep in order to function and communicate properly with your partner.  You and your partner should work out some kind of schedule to be sure each of you get a nap in.

Communicate with your partner about being involved with the baby.  If your partner is breastfeeding, talk to her about expressing milk so you could feed the baby a bottle once a day.  Help with tubby time.  Get a routine with your baby.  Maybe at night you rock with the baby and read him or her a story.

Go on a date! You need alone time.  At first it will be difficult, but do your best to get yourselves out of the house together.  Even if you just take a quick walk, anything will help.  Try to talk about fun things that don’t pertain to baby, finances, or anything super stressful.  

Be patient with your relationship.  Sex is the most common downfall for couples post baby. Be patient and considerate of your partner.  It  will get better, but be patient and communicate about it.

Talk to your healthcare provider.  We are so lucky that there is so much help offered now.  There are so many options for you if you may be struggling.  It it also a good ideal to try out Couples Therapy, especially if both of you are depressed or you feel the depression is really weighing on the relationship.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Put Down The Beer & Pick Up The Bottle!

Hey y'all! As we are entering into the month of June, we are entering into Daddyhood.  With Father's Day coming up I have been really thinking about what to do for my husband for his first Father's Day!  Daddy doesn't need another tie.  I think my Dad definitely has enough ties and coffee cups at this point.  There are so many creative things you can do for your partner when you're expecting and as he enters into his first official Father's Day.

For Expecting & New Dads:

Finding a diaper bag that your partner won’t be embarrassed by is no easy feat.  Here are some great diaper bags that my husband and some of our fathering friends love.

I recently took the survival guide I made for my husband and turned it into a kindle book.  It is called, Put The Beer Down & Pick Up The Bottle, and can be found on  Survival guides, like this one, add an element of humor to what can be a stressful situation.  If your partner is into sports you can make a Playbook.  Whatever sport your partner chooses, whether soccer, football, basketball, or baseball you can create a playbook geared towards parenthood.  Wisdom for the expecting.

Creating a survival gift for an expecting parent is so fun.  You can through in any little inside jokes you may have while also getting things you will actually need for when the baby arrives.  I made my husband a survival kit for his birthday.  He loved it and we actually ended up using most of the stuff in it.

Making a gift basket is a super fun way to include things for the new baby and some personal things as well.  Along with the survival kit I made my husband for his birthday I made him a gift basket that had alcohol nips, funny onesies, scratch tickets, the playbook I made him, framed photos of us and the ultra sound.

If you know the gender of the baby and have decided on a name you could engrave something for your partner with your baby's initials.  Whatever they are interested in. You could also engrave a frame and put the baby's first ultrasound picture in it.  For my husband, I made him a personalized Iphone case for pre-birth, birth, and 3 months.  Having our baby boy’s 3D ultrasound or picture on his phone helps him while he is working all day missing us.

Gender Reveal-
If you want there to be a surprise element for your partner, one of you can find out the gender and plan a reveal for the other.  You can do this through framing a maternity photo in pink or blue, baking with pink or blue dye, or you can do a scavenger hunt and leave little clues and riddles. In my next post I will be talking about clever ways to do gender reveals!

Coupon Book-
Coupon books are always fun, thoughtful and inexpensive.  It is so important to let you partner feel loved through this process because they are put on the back burner.  Having a coupon book will allow you to have that time together in a fun way.  You can do just about anything whether you want it to be romantic, spicy, or just a movie night.

This is a little bit pricier, but getting a glider for your partner would be beneficial because that time when they spend in the rocker with the baby is so special.  In my own experience, the bond that my husband has while rocking the baby is like my breastfeeding.  He absolutely loves his time at the end of a long work day when he can just sit down and relax with our baby.

Some men out there do enjoy a bouquet of roses, but for those that don't there are other ways to give a bouquet.  You could do a bouquet of your partner's favorite alcohol nips and cigars, or candy and snacks or coffee doing the bouquet in a nice mug.  

If you have a sports fanatic on your I do, you can choose a theme depending on the time of year it is.  My husband loves the Baltimore Ravens.  When I made him his bouquet and gift basket I centered it around football and all the accessories were Baltimore Ravens.  I made him a basket filled with nips, cigars, scratch tickets, a bottle opener, the list goes on.  Along with this, I got him a Baltimore Ravens diaper bag, and they sell all teams, of all sports, stuffed with what a daddy might need for his little one!  I find this to be such a great idea for any expecting or new dad.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Postpartum Something

PostpartumAs I have discussed with y’all, there are some things you want to be on the look out for once you have delivered your baby.  When all the dust settles, the visiting decreases, the meals stop coming, and it is now just you, your partner, and your new baby, the baby blues may set in.  It does not happen to everyone, I am so thankful to have skipped over the baby blues, the postpartum depression and all the glory that comes with it.  I was recalling my first few weeks home with our new baby and thinking back about my experience.  Though I did not have postpartum depression, I had postpartum something...there are more things to be on the look out for than just postpartum depression.  Between the hormones, the lack of sleep, and the overall adjustment of life as you know it, it is perfectly natural to experience some form of emotional vulnerability.  For some women, a good nights rest, a hot shower, and a home cooked meal will do the trick; however, for some women, nothing helps.

When nothing is seeming to help, and you have symptoms of postpartum depression.  Click here to see more on postpartum depression.  If the symptoms are similar but not quite the same, it is possible you could be suffering from postpartum anxiety or postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder.

What is postpartum anxiety?
The definition for anxiety is feeling worried, nervous, or unsettled about something, an event or situation.  I have never had anxiety in my life. Ever. My mom and dad always say I cause anxiety, I don’t have it.  After having my son, I have had serious anxiety.  The stress of a new baby can bring on anxiety.  In my own life, my anxiety is postpartum situational anxiety brought on my dealing with family stress.  My husband and I were faced with many difficult challenges involving his family that has now caused me to have serious anxiety.  It stemmed from our son being born and the issues with them on top of our newborn was too much for me.  If you are having intense feelings of worry or panic about your baby or even in general after birth, it is very possible you could have postpartum anxiety disorder.  This anxiety will come up within the first 2 or 3 weeks of being home.  Some women have some symptoms that mimic postpartum depression, but not all.

Symptoms of this anxiety are:
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Chest pains or discomfort
  • Feeling like you can not catch your breath
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Trembling and shaking
  • Sweating
  • Faintness
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Fear of dying
If you are experiencing any of the above call your doctor or midwife immediately.  

What is postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is recurring fear that will lead you to do repetitive behavior, literally compulsions.  To an outsider the compulsion may seem incredibly extreme, but not necessarily to the person suffering.  Someone who suffers from OCD sees danger everywhere, leading them to extreme compulsive behavior to protect from whatever the danger is they feel could be harmful to them.  Postpartum OCD is opposite of postpartum depression.  Women who have postpartum OCD live in constant fear of something bad happening to their baby, far beyond the normal worries new mommies may have, contrary to a women with postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.
If you find you are constantly thinking about violent thoughts happening to your baby, you may have postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder. These thoughts will come up randomly in the first couple weeks after giving birth.

What causes these postpartum disorders?
There is no single thing that can be held accountable for any of the postpartum disorders I have mentioned.  It is truly a combination of hormonal, environmental, psychological, and genetics. 

What can I do to be less at risk?
Of course the number one thing you must do is call your doctor or midwife if you experience any symptoms that make you feel you may have any of the above.  That being said, there are definitely some things you can do to help your be less at risk with postpartum depression, anxiety, or OCD:

Take care of you. Try to get rest any time that you can and keep a good diet. 

Lower your expectations.  Don’t expect too much of yourself.  If you have clinical depression, anxiety, or OCD, it takes every ounce of your energy just too get up and showered everyday.  You should not expect anything of yourself and feel guilty because of how you are feeling.  Rather than have expectations of yourself, you should set goals for yourself and go a little bit at a time.

Ask for help
. Part of being a good momma is knowing when to ask for help.  Don't be proud or afraid of asking for help.  In order to get better, family support and help from friends is a huge part.

Talk it out.  Have someone who you can confide in and talk to them about how you are feeling.  Joining groups with postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD is a huge help.  Women don’t realize quite how many other women are experiencing the same feelings.

Get yourself outside. Get a stroller, put your baby in a stroller and get outside!  Fresh air is the best thing for you and your baby.  It is not good to be cooped up in the house, that will just fuel the fire.
How can I help my partner during her postpartum period?

The postpartum period is just as difficult for the daddy too. Simply be there for whatever she may need.  Do a bit of research to understand what she may be going through and try not to be judgmental.  Just remember that you can not fix this.  The only thing you can do is be supportive.  She will need to seek the proper help from her doctor or midwife.  If you notice some things are off about your partner but she is not seeing for herself and you think that may be signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, anxiety or OCD call her doctor or midwife and discuss what you should do.