Editor’s note: House Calls runs every other Thursday. Today’s column is written by Christina Seed, a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Sutter Coast Community Clinic.
“Congratulations and good luck!” said the nurse at Sutter Coast Hospital as we snapped our newborn’s car seat into its place and buckled ourselves in for the short drive home.
As we were leaving the parking lot, we hit the first speed bump, and reality hit as well.
Although I had crossed this particular speed bump dozens of times before, it suddenly seemed much bigger. “Go slowly!” I advised my husband, frightened that our son would be catapulted out of the car.
No one had instructed us on how fast we should go over a speed bump with a newborn in the car. In fact, no one had told me much about what to do once we were released from the hospital.
As we gingerly made our way over the bump, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the fact that I was being entrusted to raise the precious being sleeping soundly in the back seat.
Over the next few months we quickly learned the basics of newborn care. At times it was challenging and there were many instances of wondering if we were doing things correctly. Yet somehow, we managed to get through those first few months.
I quickly learned to ask questions, read books and most importantly, trust my maternal instincts. I also began asking friends and patients how they felt as they became parents and I realized that my experience of feeling underprepared was not unique.
In fact, most parents I have spoken with relate very similar experiences of feeling overwhelmed by their new roles as mothers and fathers.
It’s said, “Babies do not come with instruction manuals.” This phrase implies that parents have to figure out how to care for their little ones on their own.
Although every baby is a unique individual and there is no single approach that works all of the time, there are some basic principles and guidelines that have been shown to help foster infant development.
There are also lots of tips and suggestions that can make the experience of becoming a parent a little bit easier and a lot less overwhelming.
It is my hope in future columns to support other new parents by providing them with some basic tips and resources that will help them feel better prepared to care for their infants.
And, just for the record, going over a speed bump at 5 mph with a newborn is a safe speed and, more importantly, will not awaken the baby.