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First-time moms wish they'd known more about baby care challenges

Posted Jan 27 2009 7:17pm
Dear friends,

The below research confirms my speculation that realistic expectations gained through proper parenting preparation prior to childbirth would benefit families. I have thought seriously over the past year about how my PPMD might have been lessened if I knew the reality of life with a newborn/infant. GPSN's efforts will include efforts to address this issue in the hope that we can support new families before and during the amazing life change that parenthood presents.

Wed, Sep 17, 2008 (Reuters Health) — Many new mothers wish they had learned not only about what to expect from childbirth, but from life with their first baby as well, according to a new study.

In interviews with 151 first-time mothers who'd given birth several months earlier, Australian researchers found that 35 percent said they felt "not all prepared" for the physical aftermath of childbirth, while 20 percent felt unprepared for the emotional experience of caring for a new baby.

Most of the women — 86 percent — said that during pregnancy, they turned to the media for information on infant care and the experience of being a new mother. Fewer (69 percent) got information from their doctor or other healthcare provider, while 55 percent turned to prenatal classes for help.

The findings suggest that many women may need more information than these sources typically provide, the researchers report in the Journal of Perinatal Education.

More than one quarter of new moms, for instance, said they wished they'd learned more about breastfeeding, while a similar percentage said they would have liked more preparation regarding new infants' sleep patterns and their own sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Overall, nearly half felt less than prepared for the work of caring for a new baby and for the effects on their own health and well-being — including fatigue and depression symptoms.

One common complaint was that pre-natal classes often focused too much on labor and delivery, and put too little emphasis on life with the baby.

The findings suggest that a "reorientation of education and services to assist women and families to 'think about the baby' would be beneficial," Dr. Margaret Barnes, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters Health.

Gaining "an understanding of life with a baby, particularly from other mothers, may assist in their own transition," said Barnes, a senior lecturer in nursing and midwifery at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Sippy Downs, Australia.

She suggested that new moms-to-be look for classes or groups where they will have the chance to meet other women who've already had a baby. It's also a good idea, according to Barnes, to simply think about the lifestyle changes that will be necessary after bringing the baby home, and be aware that fatigue and other physical and emotional effects are to be expected.

-- Amy Norton
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