Postpartum Depression in New Fathers

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Postpartum depression in new fathers may be more harmful to a baby’s early development than in the mother.

There is a lot of press these days about postpartum depression in women, which is great, but did you know that men can also suffer from postpartum depression.

According to several studies, anywhere between 8% and 25% of new fathers suffer from postpartum depression. Yet, almost no one talks about it. Many men never speak about their struggles.

In a 2017 article, Time Magazine reported that 83% of new fathers who were classified as moderately to severely depressed did not tell anyone about their symptoms.

James F. Paulson, PhD, of the Center for Pediatric Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., presented his findings at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

WebMD reports that Paulson not only found that postpartum depression was prevalent in new fathers, but also that it has more of an effect on early childhood development than postpartum depression in new mothers.

His research found that children of depressed fathers had a smaller vocabulary at 2-years -old than children whose fathers engaged with them by reading and singing to them. The same research found no correlation between vocabulary in toddlers and depressed mothers.

It is long past time that we started treating new fathers with the same care and understanding that we grant new mothers.

Perhaps, if we stopped treating postpartum depression as a mother’s issue, and started treating it like what it is, a family issue, we could get help to more of the men who need it.

5 Inexpensive Must-Have Baby Toys

In the interest of honesty, I will start out by saying that my baby’s favorite toy right now is a plastic spaghetti scooper. That notwithstanding, these are some of our favorite baby and toddler items.
Spaghetti
Click the product photos below for more information about each item.

  • Wrist Band and Sock Toys

When babies are small, they can’t really hold on to things too well, but that doesn’t stop them from wanting to hold things. These little soft toys strap onto their wrist and slide onto their feet. My baby pulled the socks off after a short period of time, but until then, she was entertained by them.


  • Baby Links


I use these things to attach all sorts of toys to the stroller, the car seat, even the walker. They are safe for baby girl to chew on, and they keep her toys from falling onto the floor and getting lost.

 

  • Small Textured Balls


Aside from the spaghetti scooper, these are baby girl’s favorite toys. She chews on the spikey one and throws the others around the living room. They are big enough that they can’t fit in her mouth, but small enough that they fit in her hand.

  • Xylophone Music Table


There is just something about banging and making noise that babies love. It is loud, but baby girl loves it. She continues to go back to this toy over and over again.

  • Teether / Pacifier Clip

While not technically a toy, baby girl chews on this thing constantly. We never go to a public place without it. It keeps her pacifier safe and close by, while also serving as a teether.

Brutally Honest Review: Menstruation Cup

Warning, this is a brutally honest review of a menstruation cup. Content may not be suitable for those uncomfortable with their body and its functions.

I am a woman who has a heavy period. For at least the first two days of my cycle, I go through a super tampon every 45 minutes. I have never cared for pads, for I just deal with the frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the day.

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At night, I use three super tampons at once, then get up in the middle of the night to change them. Sometimes I have to do this twice a night…that is nine super tampons just to get through the night.

Needless to say, this is uncomfortable. I experience crapping due to the tampons and I frequently bleed through my pants. Not to mention, I have a bathroom trash can full of bloody tampons, which comes with its own issues.

Every cycle I go through 40 plus super tampons.

After 25 years of menstruating, I started looking for a new solution. I Googled “tampon alternative,” and that is how I learned about menstrual cups. I asked around and found that only one of the women I know uses a menstrual cup.

Based on her recommendation, I decided to bite the bullet and try it out for myself. I went to Amazon and bought the Dutchess Cup. I got the size A, which is the bigger cup, suitable for women who have had children or are over 25. I am both.

Day one, I opened the box and read the very simple instructions. Mostly, I looked at the picture of how to fold the cup to make it small enough for insertion.

The material is silicone based, so it is very flexible, but still strong. The cup itself fits in the palm of my hand. You insert it just enough to hide the whole thing, pull nubby and all, maybe 2.5 inches.

I was able to insert it on the first try. I was worried that it didn’t unfold all the way, so I wiggled it a little from the pull nubby. Then, off to my son’s soccer game…of which I am a coach, so no bathroom breaks for me.

Ladies! Let me tell you, I forgot that I had my period. I was so comfortable and had zero feelings of impending leakage. I came home from soccer and was still fine. That first cup lasted almost five hours. I could feel a slight difference and so I decided that I might be full, sure enough I was.

Now, taking the cup out for the first time was a bit harder than putting it in. The cup had a pretty tight suction going on, so I had to pull harder than I had anticipated, which made me a little nervous, but once it started to move a little, I yanked it right out.

Unfortunately, that first yank was not the best idea. When the cup popped out, it sprayed blood everywhere. If I am ever murdered, my husband is definitely going to jail, because that bathroom had tiny blood splatters everywhere.

My second attempt at taking the cup out went much better. My suggestion for a clean removal is to pull the nubby until the cup is about half way out, then grab the cup and pull it the rest of the way out slowly.

I dumped the cup out into the toilet and rinsed it in the sink with hot water. Put it back in place and washed my hands. The more I did it over the course of my cycle, the better I got at it.

On my heaviest flow day, overnight I had to empty in the middle of the night once. That next morning, I did experience a very small leak, but it was because my baby daughter prevented me from getting to the bathroom. I could feel the sensation of being too full and needing to empty, but I couldn’t get away in time. That being said, the leak was a teaspoon or so, not the half cup I am used to.

After using the Dutchess Cup, I will never go back to tampons again.

American Working Mothers are the Most Stressed

According to a recent study, American working mothers are more stressed out than their European counterparts.
Sociologist Caitlyn Collins reveals in her new book, “Making Motherhood Work,” that American mothers experience higher stress levels and feelings of guilt than working mothers in Germany, Sweden and Italy.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Collins says, “I want American moms to stop blaming themselves. I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That’s just not the case.”
Alleviating the stress on American working mothers is easier said than done. Working mothers often feel like they have to work twice as hard at the office just to prove that they are still dedicated to their jobs.
Science Magazine reports that working mothers often feel this way because they face, what the magazine calls, the “maternal wall bias.” Described as a type of discrimination that working mothers face from co-workers and management. It is a perceived lack of dedication because the mother is, or should be, focused more on their children than on their careers.
On top of the stress of having to prove their dedication to their careers, working mothers also face the societal pressures to be active in their children’s school programs and sporting associations, maintain the household chores, and engage in social activities.
Just writing this article and taking the time to critically think about all of the directions that I am being pulled in as a working mother, was enough to get my anxiety flowing.
Katrina Alcorn, author of “Maxed Out: American Moms on theBrink,” said, “We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs.”

So, what is the answer? How do we dial back the pressure on working moms?
In her book, Collins sites the American mother’s lack of external support as a major factor in her increased stress. Working mothers in other developed countries, like Germany, Sweden, and Italy, expect to be supported by both their employers and husbands in order to maintain a healthy work / life balance.
Meanwhile, in the United States, stay at home fathers are routinely mocked for doing “women’s work.” There is no such thing as paternity leave and zero federal regulations for maternity leave.
Men are expected to use vacation days to attend the birth of their children and women are expected to return to work as soon as they are medically cleared. In some cases, as soon as 3-weeks after giving birth.
Changing these ideals won’t be easy, and it will take time. Fathers will need to be more vocal about accepting a larger share of household duties. Working mothers, and fathers alike, will need to demand more from their employers or seek new employment with more family focused companies.
Eventually, companies who want top-notch employees will have to change with the tide and begin offering working parents more flexible options for a better quality of life.

Forgive yourself the way you would anyone else

Women: We are too hard on ourselves, and I can prove it.

Image your partner is trying to lose weight. They are struggling with their diet, and they can’t always get their workouts in. What do you think? Are they a failure?
 

That time I forgot to
bring a baby blanket

No, you would never think that way about your partner just because they are struggling to find time for themselves when the family needs their attention more.

Now, imagine yourself in the same scenario. I bet you have a totally different view.

Next, imagine that your partner packs the diaper bag and forgets the baby’s favorite sippy cup. How do you handle it? Do you tell them they are the worst? No, of course not. You tell them it is OK, it is just a cup, it is not a big deal.

Now imagine you forgot it…different story?

I know that I, for one, hold myself to a completely different standard than I do anyone else. I am constantly beating myself up over not meeting or exceeding my personal goals. I agonize over forgotten toys and under packed diaper bags.

We need to learn to forgive ourselves with the same ease that we forgive others. I am not saying that we need to make excuses for ourselves, or that we shouldn’t set goals and work hard to reach them. I am saying that we need to remember that we are human too.

Moms are not perfect, and that is OK.

It is OK to mess up, it is OK to forget sometimes. We should talk to ourselves the same way we would talk to a loved one. Let’s work to change our internal dialogue to mirror the same love and respect that we show others.

A CBD Themed Baby Shower for Kim K

I don’t usually follow pop culture icons, like Kim K…BUT, this caught my attention because it is something I am actively researching.

 

I believe in the CBD movement. In my heart, I am hoping that CBD is the holistic answer to anxiety and depression issues in both children and adults.

 

The pop culture princess herself has jumped onto the CBD bandwagon, and is planning a CBD inspired baby shower for her 4th child, according to an USA Today article. She claims that the couple just want a Zen party to help her relax before the baby’s arrival.

 

Now, it should be noted that Kim and Kanye’s baby is being carried by a surrogate, so Kim is not actually pregnant.

 

CBD oil has been highly touted by its supporters as a basic cure-all. While I do not believe that CBD is the cure for cancer, I do believe that CBD can help reduce anxiety and pain in patients, which leads to a better quality of life and more effective treatments.

 

There is strong scientific evidence that CBD can reduce seizures in children with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Both of which, according to an article on the Harvard Health Blog, typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications.

 

The concerning part about CBD is the lack of production and quality regulation. WebMD cautions potential CBD users that in “a 2017 study led by Bonn-Miller found that nearly 7 of 10 CBD products didn’t contain the amount of marijuana extract promised on the label.”

 

If you are planning to try CBD oil as a treatment for pain, anxiety, or sleeplessness, it is important to research the brand that you plan to use. Look for real reviews. Reach out to the company’s customer service and ask them questions about their quality control process. Look for an ingredients list to be sure there aren’t hidden hazards in the product.

 

Treat CBD oil like you would any other medication or health product. Make sure you are getting what you are paying for and not getting anything you don’t expect.

Why you should keep your parenting advice to yourself

My son didn’t sleep through the night until he was 7 or 8 months old. People back then thought that he was too old to be waking up. They said that I should let him cry it out. They said to switch him to formula.

My daughter is almost a 1 year old and she is no where near sleeping through the night. As you may have guessed, people say the same thing this time.

I don’t always handle her sleeplessness with poise and grace.

I sometimes doubt myself during the seamlessly endless nights.

However, I will not let her cry it out. I will not switch her from breast milk to formula. I will stick it out for her, like I did for her brother.

Why?

Because that is my choice.

Because I made the commitment to her and to myself that I would.

Furthermore, if you decide that you want to let your child cry it out, or that you want to use formula, I will support you in that decision. Because that is your choice.

No one has ever walked up to me and told me that I should drive and different car. Or that I should wear a different color shirt. Or buy a different style of shoes.

So why are people so comfortable telling me how to raise my baby? Why is it that we, as a society, think that it is ok to spout off our unsolicited advice as parenting law?

We all do it, if we are being honest with ourselves. We all scoff at the idea that someone else’s parenting style is better than our own. After all, if we agreed with them, then that is what we would be doing too.

What our fellow parents really need is support. Empathy. Not criticism, or judgement.

I have been working on this in my own life. When a friend comes to me with a tale of parenting woe, I listen, and I try to cheer them up. I remind them that they are doing the best they can. I remind them that all things are temporary.

I hold back the advice until it is asked for.

Best Practical Baby Shower Gifts

I am one of those people who tries really hard to pick the perfect gift for someone. When it comes to baby showers, I rely on my own experience as a mom to help guide me to a gift that is actually practical for new parents.

 

So, the next time you head to a baby shower, skip the registry and cute onsies, and look for something more practical.

 

 

My husband and I both have our own kangaroo pouch shirts. We wore them around the house and at family gathering all the time. Now that our daughter is almost 1-year-old, she is too big for the shirt’s pouch, but to extend the usefulness, I cut leg holes in the bottom of the pouch. Now I can still use the shirt to help me carry my daughter with just one arm.

 

 

A car seat is one of the most important items to have, obviously, but what many new parents don’t think about is having extra bases for their infant seat. Life is so much easier when you can click in and pop out of the car with baby. Not to mention, having an anchored base in the car help to ensure that the seat is properly secured every time.

 

 

There is no such thing as enough wipes. The sheer volume of wipes that a baby goes through in the first year is astounding. Yet, wipes are something that people often don’t give as a gift.
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Sleep sacks are basically a wearable blanket for your baby. They are easy to put on the baby and one size lasts for months. The are perfect for newborns.

 

 

My second baby was colicky and if you have ever experienced a baby with colic, you know that parents will do anything to help ease the crying and fussiness. A good friend’s sister turned me onto to Grip Water and it was a godsend.

 

 

If the new parents are on-the-go types, a car bottle warmer is amazing. The warmer plugs into the car cigarette lighter outlet and allows you to warm up a bottle anywhere.

 

 

When my daughter was born, someone bought us a pack of three muslin receiving blankets, and they were the best overall item we received. We used them to swaddle her, as burp cloths, blankets, you name it. They were light weight, but still warm. We liked them so much, we ended up buying at least 10 more.
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The big car seat strollers are great, but the a just that, big, and heavy. There are many times when you just need something better than an umbrella stroller but not quite as big as the giant car seat stroller. My favorite option, the Urbini Reversi. This is not you mama’s umbrella stroller. It is light weight and small, but still sturdy and versatile. This stroller allows you to switch between forward and rear facing, so it is appropriate for infants and toddlers.

 

 

For baby #1 I had a standard monitor, for baby #2 I had video…and it was like trading a plain old walkie talkie for a brand-new iPhone. Definitely upgrade to video.

 

ProTip: Get an indoor wifi security camera instead of a video baby monitor, they are cheaper and more versatile since they can be accessed from a smartphone.

 

 

With both baby #1 and baby #2 the boppy was one of my most used items. From breast feeding to belly time, to naps.

Stop judging moms with messy houses, and mind your business

Recently, I read an article on Scary Mommy about living in a messy house. I, like many mothers, struggle to keep my house from tipping the scales from “lived in” to the next episode of hoarders.

The article was “My House Is A Damn Mess — And I’m TotallyOK With That,” written by Megan Lieb. But the article’s content is not what I want to talk about. Instead, I would like to talk about the scathing comments under the article’s Facebook post.

Woman after woman wrote how the home in the picture was disgusting and unacceptable. Who are you to decide what is acceptable? The picture was of a home with grocery bags on the counter and children’s shoes and back packs strewn around.

The photos that we are seeing are a singular snapshot of another person’s home.

We don’t know what the circumstances are. We don’t know what the rest of the house looks like. We don’t know that person’s life. Who are we to say what their house should look like?

Every single time that I have the choice between playing with my children or cleaning, I will choose my children. If that means that the dishes wait in the sink, or that toys are all over my living room, then so be it.

Do you think that my children are going to grow up a think, “gee whiz, I wish mom had spent more time cleaning the house?”

I’m pretty sure that my children are going to grow up and remember the times we were playing in the back yard, or walking to the playground, or roasting marshmallows.

My home is safe, and my children are clean and cared for. The fact that my house is “messy” has nothing to do with my ability to be a good mother, and frankly, it is none of your concern.

Mommy Life Hacks

Over the years, we all develop our own little tricks to make mom life easier. Here is a list of some of

my favorite mom hacks…

Use the rounded edge.

Use a blackhead extractor as a baby boogie hook.

I know it sounds weird, but trust me, this is the easiest way I have found to safely pluck those hard
boogies from my baby’s nose without hurting her. In the past, I would use my pinky nail, but often times I would end up hurting her tiny baby nostrils.

Port-a-Potty for anytime you are away from home.

Potty training is hard. Kids can’t always warn you that they have to go, and they definitely can’t hold it until the next rest stop. A small training potty lined with a grocery bag or puppy pad can save your seats on long car rides. You can take the potty with you to older sibling’s sporting events, play dates in the park, or anywhere that has limited potty access.


Mesh laundry bags for small baby clothes.

Baby socks, tiny t-shirts, miniature shorts, and all the cutest little clothes you can find for your special little angel make doing laundry a nightmare. I have a drawer full of unmatched baby sock, who’s mate will never be seen again. If you wash your baby’s clothes in with other children’s clothing or even your own, put the baby clothes in a mesh laundry bag and toss the whole thing in the washer and dryer.

For a bonus hack, use a different mesh bag for each kid’s clothing and making separating the laundry easy peasy.

Buy a tub of diaper cream and use a wipe to apply it.

I actually can’t claim this hack as my own, my neighbor taught me this one. The tubs of diaper cream are much cheaper and last much longer than the tubes, but you have to scoop it out with your finger. We all know that diaper cream under the fingernail is a lost cause, it is there forever. The hack here is to use a wipe to cover your finger, dip it in the cream, apply to baby, and toss the wipe. No more diaper cream manicures.

Screen Shot 2019-04-19 at 6.16.30 PMUse a small box as a breast milk bag freezer organizer.

Breast milk bags can pile up in the freezer in short order. If you are like me, you end up shoving the bags anywhere they will fit and then dodging the falling frozen bags every time you open the freezer. That is, until I had the brilliant idea to cut the top off of a long soda can box and use it to store my bags in one spot.