CHILDBIRTH CLASSES? Around your seventh month of pregnancy, you should start a childbirth class with your partner. Most hospital classes run about two hours per class for four to six weeks and cost about $50 – $100. You’ll share class with other couples (up to 15 couples), many of whom will be first-time parents. Classes are taught by professionals who experience childbirth every day.
BREAST OR BOTTLE? If you’re a working mom, you may be inclined to head straight to formula for your infant, but consider your decision carefully: Study after study has found that breast milk is more nutritious than formula, with benefits that include fewer allergies and ear infections, lower rates of SIDS and obesity and possibly even higher IQ scores. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding your baby for at least one year. This is a deeply personal decision though, so if you decide that formula is best for your baby, know that millions of children have done just fine on it.
CIRCUMCISION? If you’re having a boy, be prepared to answer the circumcision question in the hospital. Is it necessary? Circumcised boys have less chance of getting a urinary tract infection and the rate of penile cancer among circumcised men is lower than those who are not circumcised, but both of these conditions are extremely rare. Some couples want their son to look like his father … but in short, there is not real medical reason for your boy to be circumcised. The decision is completely up to you. If you do decide to circumcise, talk to your physician about applying a numbing topical cream about 30 minutes before the procedure.
DIAPER DEBATE? Disposable or cloth? According to Diaper Changes: The Complete Diapering Book and Resource Guide (M. Evans and Company, Inc.; $14.95) by Theresa Rodriguez Farrisi, it costs from $3.50 – $9.60 a week to launder cloth diapers yourself or $12 – $15 to use a diaper service, compared with $17 for a week’s worth of disposables. Over the course of three years, this can add up to a difference of more than a thousand dollars.
IMMUNIZATIONS? The American Academy of Pediatrics and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a standard vaccination schedule (see it at aap.org). Almost all pediatricians support the schedule as a way to protect children against diseases, citing it as safe and with no data supporting the concern that vaccines will cause autism in your child. Still, the issue has its controversy. Some parents prefer alternative schedules to spread out certain vaccines, like postponing the MMR until after age 2 because they think it may lower the risk of autism; others believe that the Hepatitis B vaccine given at birth isn’t necessary until later if the child doesn’t have a high risk of contracting Hep B. Talk with your pediatrician if you have concerns.
Books: The Snuggly Alternative for the Answers You Seek
Sure, the Internet is great for finding information you need … but perhaps nothing is as comforting as a good book when you just want to curl up.
The Baby Bump: 100s of Secrets to Surviving Those 9 Long Months by Carley Roney (Chronicle; $18.95) offers a feast of great info divided into chapters for each month of your pregnancy. Manage your to-do lists, monitor your changing body with confidence and hone-in on the good, the bad and everything in between
My Pregnancy Journal by Alison Mackonochie (Octopus Books; $19.99) is a beautifully designed keepsake journal organized with annecdotal prompts to help you handwrite your experience, along with pockets for certain items you may want to keep and key month-by-month information (this will be a treasure to pass on to your baby!)
Natural Deliveries Just May Be Making A Comeback, and A Green Guide to Your Natural Pregnancy and Birth (Cico Books; $24.95) by Clair Gillman is an authoritative well-rounded guide for those who seek natural alternatives. Explore pregnancy super foods, environmental pollutants, remedies and therapies, natural birth options and more in this concise and lovely resource.
Music for Baby’s Ears
Music for Little People is celebrating 25 years of bringing alternative music to children of all ages – and now that you have a baby on board you can bring music to him! Current children’s artists Laurie Berkner, Dan Zanes and Milkshake are in Music for Little People’s current catalogue, and from the very beginning, the label’s founders wanted to honor and support kids with its musical selections. Three outstanding new collections help to mark the 25th anniversary. Pickin’ & Grinnin: Great Folk Songs for Kids ($13.98) includes cuts from Pete Seeger, Woodie Gurthrie, Raffi and more. Love & Peace: Greatest Hits for Kids ($9.79) features artists like Faith Hill, Willie Nelson, Maria Muldaur and many more. And, if it’s lullabies you’re after for your lil’ darlin’, try Sweet Slumbers ($13.98), a special 25th anniversary recording including songs from many different cultures plus the Cultural Heritage Choir. Get your copy at musicforlittlepeople.com.