How to skip the ‘learn-as-you-go’ stress of early parenting

Posted in Parenting.

As a postpartum doula, Karina Lane has heard plenty of horror stories about life in the trenches with a newborn baby.

More magic and less stress

“One mum told me she’d rather go through labour again than relive her early breastfeeding experience. Hearing these stories made me want to have helped these women before they ran into all those the troubles. I could have saved them the stress.”

Keen to reach a bigger slice of this very vulnerable group of new mums, Karina created The Fourth Trimester Program, an online course to help new parents skip the ‘learn-as-you-go’ stress that comes with bringing home a new baby.

“This was the motivation for my program, for all the mums and dads out there who deserve more magic and less stress, right from the start.”

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Why don’t we get taught about the fourth trimester prior to birth?

Karina says that in Australia we prepare for the birth and not the baby. And this is the encouragement we get from hospitals, too.

Speaking from personal experience, Karina says, “We were told to write a birth plan and pack a hospital bag; all those things are fun and important when pregnant but we weren’t prepared for what to do when they handed me the baby. For parents without that support we went home totally shell-shocked,” says Karina.

“I also know from running parenting workshops at the hospital, that many parents think they can bypass the parenting classes – many think, how hard can it be? Maybe they think they can read some books and just wing it! But you do need to prepare for this part of parenting, as it is a profound experience.”

A bird’s eye perspective

While sleep consultants and lactation specialists are great if you definitely know that’s the root of your problem, Karina’s program allows her to oversee everything that may be going on at home.

“I consider all the challenges parents have spoken to me about – and that’s everything from feeding and settling, to relationship stress. I can also address the challenges of feeling too scared or nervous to leave the house with baby, or in cases where they have received far too much conflicting advice,” says Karina.

Karina can also provide post-birth counselling for women who may be recovering from a not-so-great experience, and even birth trauma.

“Breastfeeding support is also key to my program. Very few women breastfeed beyond six months because it all gets too hard. So I can help them keep going a bit longer and meet their breastfeeding goals,” says Karina

“We also look at newborn sleep and sleep settling when they are ready and also ideas for keeping your relationship afloat.”

Completely accessible online

Because every family’s experience of newborn life is different, Karina has designed her program to be not only affordable but also completely accessible online.

“We’ve designed the program to be a lifeline in a mum’s pocket – accessible whenever they need it,” says Karina.

“So if you’re up in the middle of the night exhausted and overwhelmed, you can whip out your phone and get a little boost of support with breastfeeding advice, or support around settling or maybe just to talk about how you are feeling.”

Self-care warriors

Karina told said that teaching new mamas to look after themselves amid all the chaos of the newborn life is a key part of the fourth-trimester challenge.

“Self-care at this point of your life doesn’t mean saving up your time to go to the health spa. I ask mums in my program to be wellbeing warriors, from the beginning so they don’t get run into the ground,” says Karina.

“I encourage short, feel-good breaks and teach how to bring in small and sweet things to your day. We also do a bit of awareness about perinatal depression and anxiety and talk about where to get the right sort of help, right away.”  

Dads emotional needs are included too

Prior to her work as a doula, Karina worked with men in prison – an experience that allows her to bring specific understanding to men’s emotional lives, too.

“We want the dads of today to be different from the dads of our past. They are just as vulnerable to postnatal depression and anxiety, so they need to be looked after as well,” says Karina.

“I encourage them to get involved in meaningful ways, that doesn’t always involve feeding. Because that is not always practical or possible. Dads can teach baby that love comes without food. And they’re also great at settling baby, singing, baby massage and reading stories. We hope to make a nice start on a ritual for life.”

Karina’s advice for new mums-to-be

If you’re pregnant right now or planning to be, Karina says her best advice for new mums is to start learning to listen to their intuition.

“Your baby is the only manual you need. Don’t get caught up in what other people are telling you. Focus on helping your baby to adjust to earth, that’s the most important part of your job.”


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