Ann Douglas is like the mother to all us mothers since she's written a mother lode of motherhood books, 29 to be exact! Her popular pregnancy book The Mother of All Pregnancy Books is being released as a second edition so it's brand spanking new (pardon the pun), updated and revised with new content.
Ann Douglas fans and followers, and I don't mean just on Facebook and Twitter, will be tickled pink or blue (depending on what the ultrasound reveals), to learn more about how to be prepared for their pregnancy. Another great way to share this book is to pass it along to a friend or family member who may find themselves "in a family way". Hint: it makes the perfect baby shower gift! Hmm, I wonder if my new sis-in-law would like a copy? Just dreaming of that fresh new baby smell and hoping to become an auntie. Oh my - um, where was I? Back to the book and its bounty of information for moms planning a pregnancy, glowing moms-to-be, and mom's who are postpartum with baby. Ann has a mother lode of information and she's sharing a few tips from her book, so take a gander, ponder all the possibilities and have a happy pregnancy!
Planning Your “Babymoon”
Everyone expects a newly married couple to take some time to themselves after the wedding: it’s widely recognized that they need to be given some space so that they can become comfortable in their new roles (to say nothing of beginning to recover from the sheer insanity of those stress filled weeks leading up to the wedding). But when couples who’ve just had a baby ask to be given a few days to themselves before the visitors start arriving in droves, they’re sometimes made to feel as if they’re being unreasonably selfish in depriving other people of the chance to sneak a peek at the new arrival.
There’s certainly a strong case to be made for taking what renowned anthropologist and childbirth educator Sheila Kitzinger has dubbed a “babymoon”—time alone as a family during a baby’s first few days of life. Not only do new mothers need to physically recover from the rigours of giving birth and adjust to the hormonal changes that are triggered as they move from a pregnant to a non- pregnant state, but both parents also need a chance to regain their bearings and to get used to the fact that from this point forward they’re going to be someone’s mom or dad. As Kitzinger notes in her book, Homebirth, “The time immediately following birth is precious . . . A child is born and for a moment the wheeling plan- ets stop in their tracks, as past, present, and future meet.”
People in other parts of the world would no doubt be amused to hear about Western society’s supposed “invention” of the babymoon. In many cultures, it’s been a long-standing tradition to give mothers and babies the time and space required to get to know one another better. One tribe in Brazil, for example, routinely grants a mother and her baby a month of seclusion, while in India, it’s traditional for new mothers to focus solely on meeting the new baby’s needs during the first 22 days after the birth. These cultures have long known what we’re just now discovering: that it’s only natural to want to drink in everything about your new baby— the softness of her skin, the vulnerability of her cry, the irresistible smell of the top of her head, and those soulful stares that tell you there’s a lot more going on inside her head than you might otherwise have suspected.
Consider Hiring a Postpartum Doula
You’ve no doubt heard the buzz about birthing doulas—labour assistants who offer support to a woman and her partner during and immediately after the birth. (You can find out more about them in Chapter 11.) You might not be quite as familiar with postpartum doulas, but they offer a similar service during the postpartum period, providing hands- on assistance to new parents during the first days or weeks of parent- hood. Postpartum doulas are “jills of all trades” who bring a range of different skills to the table. As Elisabeth Bing and Libby Colman note in their book, Laughter and Tears: The Emotional Life of New Mothers, “The postpartum doula is baby nurse, housekeeper, and experienced advice giver all in one.”
If you don’t have extended family members in the area who can provide you with this kind of hands-on help and emotional support, a postpartum doula might be just what you need.
Postpartum Essentials for You
These are the types of items you’ll definitely want to have on hand after you have your baby.
The Mother of all Sanitary Napkins - You’ll need at least two large boxes of the most absorbent sanitary napkins you can find—ideally ones designed specifically for postpartum or overnight use. Light pads won’t cut it, even when bleeding tapers off, about 10 to 14 days post- partum. Avoid pads coated with wicking material, which can cause contact dermatitis that you may mistake for a yeast infection. Tampons are taboo during the postpartum period, and they’d be next to useless anyway, so forget about simply relying on any old tampons you might have kicking around in the back of your bathroom vanity.
Breast Pads - Washable cotton or wool breast pads are not only the most economical and the most environmentally friendly, they’re also the most comfortable. (Unlike paper breast pads, they don’t have the annoying habit of cementing themselves to your nipple—something that makes removing even the most stubborn of bandages seem like a picnic.)
A Nursing Bra or Two - You’re going to need more than just one or two—particularly during the early days of nursing, when leaking is the norm—but you don’t want to load up on too many nursing bras until you’re reasonably confident that you can judge the final size of your postpartum breasts. In other words, don’t blow the entire bra budget all at once.
A Breast Pump - A breast pump is handy to have, even if you’re not planning to spend much time away from your baby. It can help you to relieve engorgement during the early days (although you’ll also want to learn how to hand-express milk, so that you’re not totally reliant on your breast pump each time you need to get rid of a little excess milk) and allow you to stockpile some breast milk in the freezer so that you can enjoy an occasional baby-free outing. If you’re intending to return to work, you might want to consider renting or purchasing a high-end breast pump—one that will allow you to pump quickly and efficiently with minimum noise and discomfort. Hospitals often have rental options, or if you’d like to try before you buy, many breastfeed- ing clinics will allow you to test drive them.
A Bottle of Witch Hazel Lotion or Ointment - There’s no denying it: witch hazel is a hemorrhoid-suffering girl’s best friend. (Hemorrhoids are a common by-product of both pregnancy and the pushing stage of labour.) Pick up a bottle at your pharmacy or health-food store and apply it to your tender parts with a cotton ball, or buy witch hazel− soaked pads. It will help to reduce some of the itching and burning. If you prefer, pick up alcohol-free baby wipes (ones that contain alcohol sting and can be drying to your skin) or hemorrhoid wipes instead— keep the container in the fridge to help put the fire out. While you’re at it, why not splurge on some really good toilet paper?
A Hemorrhoid Cushion - These doughnut-shaped pillows can make sitting a little more comfortable if you’re dealing with a tender perineum and/or hemorrhoids. Be sure to have one on hand.
Prenatal Vitamins - It’s a good idea to continue taking your prenatal vitamins throughout the postpartum period (and even beyond that if you’re nursing or planning to get pregnant again in the very near future).
A Sports Bottle and a Hot Beverage Container - You’ll be unbelievably thirsty if you’re breastfeeding, so you’ll want to tote a container of liquid with you wherever you go. You can fill your sports bottle with ice-cold water and your hot beverage container with decaffeinated coffee or tea. It doesn’t matter which type of beverage is on tap as long as you’re getting plenty of fluids.
Clothing: What Your Newborn Needs
12 sleepers in a seasonably suitable weight and fabric
2 hooded towel and washcloth sets
3 fitted crib sheets
12 extra-large receiving blankets
3 pairs of socks
3 sweaters (depending on the season)
2 cotton hats
1 snowsuit or bunting bag (depending on the season)
4 large bibs
Nutrition on the Run: Healthy Foods for Busy Moms
These foods have been chosen because they take just seconds to prepare and can be enjoyed with a baby in your arms. Best of all, they work equally well at mealtime and snack time and are all highly versatile.
yogurt mixed with cereal and diced fruit
hard-boiled eggs sliced meat english muffins, bagels, or pitas whole-grain crackers fresh fruits
salads in bags (stuff the salad in a pita to make it easier to eat when you’re holding a baby)
peanut butter or soy butter and banana on whole-grain bread
chocolate milk or almond milk fruit-and-yogurt shakes low-fat cheese hummus, tzatziki, and other spreads/dips bran muffins dried fruits and nuts fresh vegetables granola bars
hearty soups with a stew-like consistency (full of good stuff; less likely to drip)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Wiley Canada Trade Books has signed copies of THE MOTHER OF ALL PREGNANCY BOOKS Second Edition to give to 2 lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment sharing their pregnancy tips and Kathy and Kim Originals will include one of their limited edition water bottle for each winner!
Yummy Rules and Regulations:
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until July 6th , 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email [email protected] as a "safe sender" when you enter the Bookalicious giveaway!
Wanda Lynne Young"
Canadian author Jen Sookfong Lee is a keen observer of the human condition. In her new book THE BETTER MOTHER she throws together an unlikely pair to highlight the importance of friendship as a vehicle of self discovery. Below, the author talks about her new book and gives insights into her writing experience.
1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
Set primarily in Vancouver in 1982, The Better Mother is about the unlikely and coincidental friendship between Danny Lim, a wedding photographer, and Miss Val, a long time burlesque dancer, and their journey to discover their true selves.
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
3. Where is your favourite place to write?
It used to be my office with its alder bookshelves, but I’ve since moved, so I don’t have a favourite spot anymore! I guess the corner of my bedroom beside my pile my shoes?
4. How do you choose your characters' names?
I choose names that embody a character’s main flaws and virtues. This is highly subjective, of course, and while Miss Val screams 1950s burlesque to me, it might very well be the name of someone’s cat and mean something quite different. I don’t agonize over it though. I just pick and move on!
5. How many drafts do you go through?
I don’t count drafts anymore—it’s too depressing! From start to finish, I would maybe guess at six.
6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, mostly because it’s moving and funny all at the same time. I wish I could be funny in print.
7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
For Danny, maybe Lawrence Chou. For Miss Val, I want to say Kathleen Turner!
8. What's your favourite city in the world?
New York! I’d live there if I could.
9. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
Emily Dickinson. I’d like to ask her if she was really that lonely, and if so, why she didn’t just LEAVE THE HOUSE.
10. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
I need complete silence. I’m not kidding.
11. Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?
My husband. He’s a really perceptive, big picture sort of guy. And he notices historical inaccuracies better than anyone.
12. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Crime novels. I’m not very discriminating about them either. The less plausible, the better. Also, celebrity gossip blogs. I can’t stop!
13. What's on your nightstand right now?
The Divinity Gene by Matthew J. Trafford. I’m really enjoying it. Funny, poignant, wildly creative.
14. What is the first book you remember reading?
It might have been The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop, which no one reads anymore because it really can be seen as racist. But I’d give it to my son. Why not? It could inspire a great discussion. Besides, as a five-year-old, I adored that book.
15. Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. I had no back-up plan. Not very smart.
16. What do you drink or eat while you write?
I eat nothing because I have an issue with crumbs on my workspace (I know, I’m just that neurotic). I drink water. Have mercy, I sound like a monk. I eat and drink lots of other things, just not while writing. Really!
17. Typewriter, laptop, or pen and paper?
Laptop as well as pen and paper, depending on what I’m doing. Laptop for writing content, pen and paper for planning and mapping.
18. What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the first time?
I laughed at my husband who was dancing around the kitchen with my dog in celebration. Then I cried.
19. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I don’t ever make that decision consciously. I usually start writing and the point of view just comes. Every story demands something different. That said, if I could, I would write in the third person all the time.
20. What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Time! Every writer needs more of it. So if you know one who has children, you can offer babysitting. Or if you live with a writer, take on his or her chores on the weekend. Also, we could all use neck and shoulder massages.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jen Sookfong Lee is the author of The Better Mother and the YA novel The End of East and Shelter. Her poetry, fiction and articles have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies, including TOK: Writing the New City, The Antigonish Review and Event.
Jen is a popular radio personality, as the voice behind “Westcoast Words,” and she has a weekly writing column featured on CBC Radio One's On the Coast and All Points West. She is a regular columnist on Shelagh Rogers' The Next Chapter and is a frequent co-host of the Studio One Book Club. Jen lives in Vancouver with her husband and son.
BOOKALICIOUS BOOK GRAB GIVEAWAY
Random House Canada has copies of THE BETTER MOTHER to give to two lucky Bookalicious readers who leave a comment below.
Yummy Rules and Regulations:
You must be a Yummy Mummy Club member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until June 17, 2011. Contest open to Canadian residents. Winners will be picked using www.random.org. Please mark the email [email protected] as a "safe sender" when you enter the Bookalicious giveaway!
Follow Random House Canada on Twitter: @RandomHouseCA @BookLounge and find them on Facebook: BookLounge.ca. "20 Questions with Jen Sookfong Lee" and cover image published courtesy of Random House Canada.
Wanda Lynne Young"