How to Support Someone Through Child Loss

There are times in life when the unthinkable happens. The loss of a child is such a tender, difficult experience, and sometimes it’s difficult to know how to help. One of the most important things you can do is not withdraw from the situation. Don’t be afraid you’ll say or do the wrong thing, but do think about how you can best help. Here are five ways to support someone through child loss:

Don’t offer. Act.  

Instead of asking, “What can I do to help you?” just help out where you know they need it. Whether it’s a call that says, “I’m bringing over dinner sometime this week, which day works best?” or telling your friend to make a list of things they need every day and calling them for the list at a specific time, actually doing shows you care.

Let the griever own their grief. 

This situation isn’t about you, so remember to be a support and not the center of attention. While this might seem obvious, sometimes it’s easy to start offering suggestions, advice, or platitudes that aren’t actually helpful. Stay away from terms like, “It’s God’s will,” or, “They’re in a better place,” because these phrases are hurtful and not constructive. And the grieving process is different for everyone; follow the lead of your friend.

Don’t withdraw… listen with compassion.

Sometimes, rather than engaging the person you know who has experienced a loss, it’s easier to withdraw in fear. The fear that you’ll say or do the wrong thing; the fear of being at a loss of what to do. One thing you can do is listen with compassion. This is a great way to acknowledge the loss and help your loved one work through their grief. Try to accept and acknowledge their feelings, be willing to sit in silence and be willing to talk about how their loved one died. As mentioned above, don’t minimize their loss through reductive statements; rather, be present and actively listen to their unique experience.

Advocate and educate. 

You may find yourself in a situation where other friends, family members, and acquaintances inquire about how your loved one is doing. This provides you with a great opportunity to advocate for your friend by not betraying confidences, and also to educate those who are asking by normalizing your loved one’s grief. Statements like, “They have good moments and bad moments, and will for awhile,” can be helpful to let people know that grief is an ongoing process and isn’t something that ever really goes away.

Remember. 

Sometimes it’s easier to be involved with your friend’s loss at the beginning when there are events to plan, and immediate needs to fill. But one of the most impactful things you can do is to remember. Remember anniversaries, and remember to help after the funeral or other memorial events are over. Remember to act, not offer, and to listen and engage. This loss is something that your loved one will always carry… and remembering that can be one of the most compassionate and helpful things you can do to provide support.

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Is Your Baby’s Crib Safe?

Ensuring that your baby’s crib is a safe area to sleep is a vital part of overall baby safety. As part of Baby Safety Month, here are five ways to keep your baby’s crib safe.

No Bumper Pads, Ever

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but bumper pads are not safe to put in your baby’s crib. Back in the day, they were used as a means to prevent a baby from getting her head stuck between the rails of the crib (before cribs had to meet stricter safety standards). Some still use them thinking that it will prevent their baby from hitting her head on the crib rails. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is “no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment.”

Make Sure Your Crib Slats Are Close Together

This ties in with the bumper pad issue above. If you’re using a vintage crib or bassinet, you need to ensure that the crib slats/rails are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart. This eliminates the risk that your baby could become trapped between the rails, and also further eliminates the perceived need for bumper pads. Feel free to measure this distance when you’re crib shopping too. It never hurts to double-check.

Keep Crib Area Free of Pillows, Blankets and Stuffed Animals

The AAP encourages parents to keep soft objects and loose bedding outside of the crib because they create a suffocation (and, with blankets, a strangulation) hazard. These items include pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and bumper pads. They also caution against the use of wedges and positioners for the same reason. Put your child to sleep on her back on a fitted sheet, with no other items in the crib. If you’re worried that baby will be too cold, try using a sleep sack for extra warmth.

Get the Right Crib Mattress

Ensuring that your crib mattress fits snugly against the inside of the crib is vital. A great way to test if the mattress fits properly is to use the two-finger test: if you can fit more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib, it’s not an ideal fit. Standard crib mattresses should measure at least 27 1/4 inches by 51 3/8 inches and be six (or less) inches thick. Think of it this way… the harder it is to make the bed, the better it is for your baby. Please also make sure your crib mattress is appropriately firm.

Just Say No to Drop-Side Cribs

If you’re using a vintage crib, please be aware that drop-side cribs are a safety hazard and have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If you feel you must use one, please invest in a kit the converts it to a fixed-side crib. But be advised that said kits are not foolproof and that the crib needs to be tested before use. Also, when using a painted vintage crib, please make sure you test the paint to make sure it’s not lead-based. You can also view the CPSC guidelines about crib safety here.

Happy crib hunting!

 

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Baby Bath Safety Tips

Baby’s first bath is a huge milestone, and subsequent baths never stop being cute either! But baby bath time also requires vigilance from mom and dad to prevent any accidents and to protect baby from the many hazards found in the bathroom. Here are some important tips to help you keep bath time safe and enjoyable for you and your baby.

 “Top and tail” while they’re very young

Before the umbilical cord falls out, babies only need a sponge bath. After a few weeks when it finally falls out, your baby is ready for their first real bath! But keep in mind that babies don’t need a full bath every day, only 2-3 times per week. However, you should give them a topping and a tailing every day.

Topping involves cleaning their face, ears, and neck with a warm cloth or cotton pad.

Tailing involves cleaning their genital area with warm water and drying gently and thoroughly before  putting on a fresh diaper

Gather your necessary supplies beforehand

Never, EVER leave your baby unattended. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water. Before you give your baby a bath, gather all necessary supplies and put them with arms-reach. If you do forget something mid-bath, bring your baby with you. A wet shirt is a small price to pay for your baby’s safety.

Babies’ soft, smooth skin gets very slippery after a bath, so keep a towel handy so you can immediately bundle them up.

It’s also a good idea to have a diaper nearby in case the fresh air on their little bums makes them feel like going sooner than you expect.

Safety-proof the bathroom

Make sure anything with a cord is put away so the cord doesn’t become a tripping or tangling hazard, or a burning hazard if it conducts heat.

Make sure the toilet seat is closed and locked if baby is old enough to open it

Babies lose body heat quickly, so make sure the air temperature is warm and no windows are open so the water stays warm and baby doesn’t get cold

Place a non-slip mat on the floor and a non-slip mat in the tub to prevent slips on every surface

Use liquid soap instead of bar soap, Slippery can have you diving around, fumbling and can risk bumping baby over.

Learn baby CPR

Accidents can happen to even the most careful parents. While none of us could ever imagine our baby slipping under the water, it does happen. No matter how diligent you are, it’s very important that you learn infant CPR so you can respond quickly and appropriately in an emergency. Although the thought of an incident isn’t pleasant, you will never regret having the necessary life-saving skills to protect your baby, even if you never have to use them.

What steps have you taken to baby-proof your bathroom?

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Roll call! Who’s putting the labor in Labor Day? Check out these tips for your labor!

Who’s spending this Labor Day anxiously awaiting their own labor? I myself was in labor on Labor Day weekend 2 years ago in 2015. Oh, the irony. So in honor of Labor Day, here are some super useful and practical tips for anyone else who may find themselves laboring this Labor Day!

Deep-breathing exercises WORK – medicated or not

Even if you plan all along to get that epidural ASAP, the early stages of labor before you go to the hospital will likely still be painful. Personally, I had been experiencing a lot of Braxton Hicks and contractions from uterine irritability during my third trimester, so when I started having painful contractions in the middle of the night on the day my son was born, I stayed home for a few hours waiting to make sure they were real. In that time the contractions got more intense and super painful, and even though I was planning on an epidural at the hospital I needed to find a way to relieve the pain from those contractions in the meantime. In my mind I tried to think of tips I’d heard before, and of course “breathe” is the first one to come to mind, but it worked! In the midst of the tightest, most painful contractions, forcing out a big exhale helped ease the pain!

So don’t discount the value of learning these pain-management techniques if you’re planning on pain medication. The meds don’t always come the second the pain starts, and you never know if your baby will decide to come before you get the chance at medication.

Befriend the nurses

Get to know the nurses personally. Ask about their kids, hobbies, and their experience as a nurse. It will make your time in the hospital more personal and enjoyable for you and them. Consider bringing a stash of candy bars to give to each nurse who cares for you. It’s a nice gesture for someone who’s working long shifts caring for other people, and it never hurts to be on the good side of the person responsible for your comfort and pain management.

Don’t fear the chance of poop

This shouldn’t be a thing anymore, but it is. If there is something in the pipes ahead of your baby, it will come out first. This is just logic. And in the history of mankind, your poop is nothing special or unique from all of the other probably-billions of other women who have pooped during labor. Everybody poops. You probably won’t even notice if it happens and those nurses are so fast at cleaning up all the goodies that come out with birth that you won’t even think about it.

Voice your opinions, but let them be educated ones

Birth classes and birth plans are fantastic. Knowledge is power. I believe that the more birth stories a woman reads or hears, the more she’ll realize how unique every labor is and the less unknown there will be to fear. However, no amount of online research can replace the years of studying, practice, and wisdom of a seasoned doctor. If you take anything away from doing your own research, it should be that hardly any births go according to the mother’s plan. So while you should voice your opinions and you are entitled to a birth you want, keep in mind that the doctor knows what is best for you and the baby and you must go in with an open mind and flexible attitude to ensure the best interests of you and the baby are the priority.

Ask for extra recovery items

When it’s time for you to leave the hospital, you will be given a “goodie bag,” if you will, of items to help with your recovery. These could include giant pads, tucks pads, a squirt bottle, and a numbing spray to help with the discomfort. Ask for more of these. In fact, (warning, TMI coming), I had a few stitches and was concerned about those, so the nurse left and brought me a sitz bath to add to my collection. I asked for extras of a lot of the items because this wasn’t my first rodeo and I knew I’d probably run out of these things, and wouldn’t feel up to going to the store for a while. My nurse didn’t hesitate to load me up with extras, and I was SO GLAD a few weeks later.

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