Recently I am reading a few books about pregnancy, labor, postpartum care, and newborn parenting. While I am overwhelmed with all of the things that I have learned, I am also extremely grateful for the knowledge many doctors, nurses, and parents passed on. Apart from the books my friends loaned me, I also did a lot of research on the Internet: everything from nutritious food for breastfeeding to immunization to baby products to Chinese confinement practices. There's so much stuff to remember I feel like I am cramming for an exam. I am so tempted to compile a list of "Must-Dos" and memorize it before the baby gets here (actually, I already have a few lists in my head).
Because I have asked so many of my friends who are new mothers, I have come to understand the process of labor a little bit better. What I understand is in America, when you start feeling your contraction, your labor begins. That's why people have like 30 plus hours labor. In the beginning when I hear people say they went through 20 plus hour labor I was thinking of the pregnant woman ACTIVELY pushing for 20 plus hours. I have never heard of any women in Malaysia having to go through that long of a labor. I guess it's because when they say labor, they mean actively pushing til the baby gets out, which is usually only a couple of hours. Also, when my friends in America told me they gave birth naturally, they meant not-C-section. I thought they meant no drugs AT ALL, as in no epidural, no morphine, no nothing. In Malaysia, that's what natural birth means. Very interesting contrast, no?
So these are some of the things that I learned from the books I read:
1. The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp.
I love this book! I worry about having a colicky baby because I was a colicky baby. I have also no idea how to calm a crying newborn. Crying toddlers, yes. But crying newborn...that truly is like rocket science to me. I don't want to jinx it but I think that this book has given me so much more confidence about how to handle/calm a crying baby. The book explained the fourth trimester which is the first 3 months of an infant's life, and the 5 S's to calm a fussy baby down. I thought all of Dr.Karp's 5S's makes sense and are easy to practice. I am actually practicing his methods on my teddy bear now. Hopefully I'll be able to calm my little one down in a matter of seconds. His 5 S's are swaddling, side, shhh, swinging, and sucking. I also watched a video of him using this technique and it looked really uncomplicated and it calmed the baby down fast.
2. Dunstan Baby Language
So this is actually not a book but a DVD program. I saw it on Oprah and thought I would give it a try. This Australian researcher/mother, who has photographic memory of sounds discovered that ALL babies, despite their nationalities, "speak" the same language, and there are 5 distinct words that they say before they turn 4 months old (remember Dr.Karp's fourth trimester?). She called these 5 distinct sounds pre-cries, which are little "requests" babies use before they go into their frenzy cries. The DVD explains what each sound means, shows a lot of real-life examples of each "word", and provides solutions to all of the cries. After watching the DVD, I wonder if I really could recognize these sounds when I hear them on my baby. Nevertheless,it truly is useful to know what your baby needs through his pre-cries before he goes into an earth-shattering cry. I am practicing this too. I recorded the baby pre-cries on my phone so I can play it over and over to see if I can distinguish each one. I can distinguish 3 so far! Yay!!
3. What to Expect When You Are Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
Great book. A classic. It has all the info one needs to know about the pregnancy and after the delivery. In fact, it's "American's pregnancy bible." I LOVE IT and I swear by it. It has answered SO many of my questions even before those questions were formed. Because of this book I have practically no questions for my Ob.
4. Before, During, and After Pregnancy by Chung-man Mak
I also am reading a few Chinese pregnancy books and I found this one to be the best one that I have read. the author is a Chinese herbalist. I really like that he is rational and scientific in his methods and does not base his suggestions solely on superstitious Chinese practice, like so many other things I have read on postpartum care for a woman. The book also comes with recipes of foods a pregnant woman should eat during each trimester. My favorite is that it has recipes for food a new mother should eat to regain her strength, to help her body heal quicker, and to provide milk for the little one. It also includes some exercises for after the delivery.
Apart from taking care of the baby, a new mother also needs to take care of her own body. This sounds like a daunting job. I am so glad that I have a good husband who will be there for me physically and emotionally. I am sure he is going to be as exhausted and busy as me after our boy gets here. But I am grateful to know that I will not be alone in this. My mom and my sister are coming from Malaysia and Australia to help out too! Well, actually my sister just wants to come play (haha) but my mom is already getting busy buying Chinese herbs and collecting recipes for my confinement (if you don't know what this is and want to know more about it, let me know!). I know that many family and friends can be reached easily if I ever need anything and I am so so so thankful for the support that I have.
I didn't get to take a belly shot this week so I am posting this one. See, I am getting bigger.