Advice from the field: Practical tips for new parents (that no one seems to tell you!)

In the past week, I’ve found out that two girlfriends of mine are expecting. How exciting! I’m glad my baby will have friends his age!

These babes on the way got me thinking though about advice I’d like to offer to the new moms. This advice comes mostly from “first-time parent” mistakes and some tricks I’ve learned in the past 10 1/2 weeks. This by no means makes me a pro at being a parent. It’s just some observations I’d like to impart to others.

1.) Breastfeeding is hard work. No seriously. It doesn’t come naturally. It’s something both mom and baby have to learn. And it takes about eight weeks before things really start to click. In my case, Jonathan was using a nipple shield. Premature babies frequently use them because it makes feeding easier. The nurses in the nursery told me to use the shield until Jonathan reached seven or eight pounds. Jonathan reached that point after a month. Keep in mind that’s a month of believing that the silicone nipple shield is what a nipple tastes and feels like. Weaning him off the shield was difficult (but necessary because shields can decrease milk supply and they are a pain in the butt to carry around with you everywhere and keep clean). I started pulling the shield a few minutes after he started eating and gradually allowed him less and less time with the shield until he’d only have it until the milk let down and then he’d have to hook on to the actual nipple. It took until about seven weeks of age for Jonathan to finally wean off the shield. Continue reading

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