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28 to 32 Weeks Pregnant (part 8) - 31-32 WEEKS PREGNANT - What kind of diapers will you use?

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How will you feed the baby? Breastfeeding is recommended by pretty much every health organization, and for good reason—it’s good for Mom, good for Baby, and good for public health. It can also be extremely convenient, once you get the hang of it: no bottles to wash, no formula to purchase, no water to sterilize . . . your milk is always ready, and always at the right temperature. If you plan to nurse your baby, here are some issues you’ll want to think about:

• How will you share the burden of nighttime feedings? Some moms pump and leave a bottle so that Dad can get the first feeding while they sleep through. Other moms find that pumping a bottle is almost as much hassle as getting up in the middle of the night, and you may experience a drop in your milk supply if you don’t breastfeed every few hours in those crucial early weeks. One nice compromise is for Dad to be the one who gets out of bed and brings the baby to Mom for the feeding.

• Will Dad feel left out if he doesn’t get to feed the baby? If so, brainstorm ways to help him feel involved in the process. One nice idea—he can “feed” mom nutritious, healthy food so she can keep making that milk without overtaxing her own body.

• Is Dad really on board with breastfeeding? Does he understand the level of support he’ll need to provide to help you succeed? Some reading material or even a special “breastfeeding 101” class geared toward expecting couples may help him see the light.

• How does your spouse or partner feel about breastfeeding in public? If he’s squeamish, educate him now. Babies shouldn’t have to hide away in dirty bathrooms to eat, and moms can learn to breastfeed so discreetly you’d never know they were doing it.

• Make sure you plan to bring your spouse or a good friend (the kind you don’t mind being a little immodest around) with you the first time you make a public outing with the baby. When you’re getting the hang of breastfeeding in public, an extra set of hands or just a body to block you from view can make it much easier.

Bottle feeding can be comforting to the mom who wants to know exactly how much milk her baby is getting from day one, and moms who know they’ll be returning to work soon after the baby is born often see bottle feeding as the more convenient option. Here are some considerations to keep in mind before you choose the bottle:

• Will you give formula exclusively, attempt to alternate breast and bottle, or pump breast milk for your baby? Some mothers who are uncomfortable with breastfeeding because of a history of abuse or other body issues are able to pump and give breast milk. Regular pumping will require quiet time every two to three hours and active help from your spouse, since it’s pretty difficult to pump and hold a baby at the same time.

• Have you budgeted for formula? It can be very expensive. If your baby does not tolerate the kind of formula you’ve chosen, can you afford the special type?

• How will you and Dad share feedings, especially nighttime feedings? Will you split them fifty-fifty or come up with some other system? Talk about it now so you’re both on the same page later. If you have a cesarean birth, it’ll be especially important that you have a lot of help with bottle feedings. Remember, you’ll need to measure and mix the formula, heat the water, pick up the baby, and put her back down. That’s a lot of activity for somebody who’s recovering from abdominal surgery.

Where will Baby sleep?

Once you’re home, will your baby sleep in her own room, in her own bed in your room, or in your bed? Consider these potential issues:

• If she’s sleeping in her own room: She’ll be eating around the clock for the first several weeks of her life. Who will listen for the sounds that indicate she’s waking up and hungry? (It’s usually easiest to calm a baby who hasn’t worked herself up into a fullfledged cry.) Will you use a monitor? Who will go get the baby and bring her to the bedroom? Don’t make any assumptions. Talk about it in advance.

• If she’s sleeping in your room: How will Dad assist with nighttime waking? If the baby is sleeping in your bed or very close to your bed, it might seem there’s no point in your husband getting up for feedings—you’ll have it covered easily. But if he can take over all or some of the nighttime diaper changes, that will ease your burden.

What kind of diapers will you use?

Cloth Diapers: Some dads seem almost afraid of cloth diapers. They envision pinpricks and poop flying everywhere. If you’re leaning toward cloth, take a moment to show your spouse how simple the new systems are to use. In those first couple weeks postpartum, you will need to rest, not cart heavy loads of diapers to the washing machine. Make sure your spouse knows what he’ll have to do to get the diapers where they need to go. Some couples who know they’ll be using cloth diapers down the road opt for disposables for the first few weeks to make things easier. If chemicals and the environment are a concern, you can buy unbleached, ecofriendly disposables from companies like Seventh Generation and Tushies. Or try flushable diapers, a relatively new product that’s more environmentally friendly than regular disposables but doesn’t have the same laundering requirements. You can find out more at GDiapers.com.
 
Disposables: How will you dispose of dirty diapers? Some people are fine tossing newborn baby diapers right in the regular trash. Even the poopy ones generally aren’t any smellier than other food waste. Other folks aren’t comfortable unless the diapers are triple-wrapped and stamped with a biohazard symbol. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Where does your partner or spouse?
 
No matter which option you choose, diapering requires developing a comfort level with your child’s bodily functions, not to mention fluids! Yes, I am afraid sometimes you will get poop on your hands, no matter how careful and sterile you try to be. Unfortunately, society seems to give men a pass in this department (ever noticed there aren’t nearly as many diaper-changing stations in the MEN’S restrooms?), and too many women let their partners squirm out of really taking responsibility for diapering because the guys play squeamish. Along with children come years of pottying accidents, blood, and vomit. If Dad can’t handle a little innocuous newborn poop now, he needs to get over it! Making the lion’s share of the diapering his job in the early weeks will help.
 
Who will take Baby to her first doctor’s visit?

It’s a cruel truth: You’ve just gotten home from the hospital and settled in with your new baby, and the very next day, your pediatrician is probably expecting you to show up in her office with the baby. I highly recommend that your spouse or partner attend this appointment with you. Not only will it be good for the two of you to both develop a working relationship with your child’s doctor, but you’re going to need help getting out the door on time with a new baby!

This is only the beginning of your co-parenting relationship with your child’s father. Most decisions you make now can be changed later as you get a real taste of juggling life with a baby and all your other responsibilities. But I encourage you to involve your spouse or partner heavily in your baby’s care (and in the early weeks, your care) because this may influence how involved he is comfortable being down the line. As your lives get busier and busier, it will be only too easy for both of you to fall into the familiar gender roles that were likely reflected in your home growing up, and for his involvement in his child’s life to be downplayed or relegated only to stereotypical “male” areas. Begin as you mean to go on. Get Dad on board early, and in a meaningful way. This is such an important topic I’ll revisit it after Baby arrives. In the meantime, open the lines of communication with your partner. It’s bound to reap rich rewards in every area of your relationship.
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