My favorite piece of trivia from KK our doula: She can tell if a baby was born vaginally or via c-section just by changing their onesie. “It’s because the act of putting the onesie over and through the baby’s head reminds them of their passage through the birth canal, and it is traumatizing enough to make them cry,” she says. “Babies born via c-section don’t have that same sensation, so more often than not they won’t react when a onesie goes over their head.”
To continue the post about some of the things I’ve learned from KK, here are a few more snippets from the conversations we’ve had.
On Swaddling and Soothing and all those other S’s. KK lent us the DVD of Dr. Harvy Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block to teach us about the 5 S’s as to how to soothe babies, colicky or not. Swaddling in particular was something we learned wasn’t bad or constricting, and after two girls we’ve learned to appreciate its value.
- Use 40″ x 40″ swaddle blankets (in Manila the pranela tela is best) for best fit.
- White noise — because it sounds like the mom’s digestive system — helps soothe them too. So bathroom vents, kitchen vents, hairdryers on cool… yes they all work.
- There is no such thing as holding a baby too much in the first 3 months. We Filipinos particularly believe that we shouldn’t get them used to being held or carried too much as it will make our lives harder in the long run (and another book did say you should start as you mean to go along), but KK says in the first three months, babies need to be held as much as possible, so that they feel most secure.
- Following the previous point, KK likes to wear babies. By putting them to your chest, they learn to regulate their heartbeat in tune with yours. That, and you have both hands free to do other things, too (which is how she gets everything done in 4 hours). Of all the wraps she’s tried, KK is an advocate of the Baby K’tan wrap, and has taught me how to use it. I am now re-considering my decision to actually get one for me.
- As tightly as you swaddle them to put them to sleep, you must unswaddle them to wake them up to breastfeed, otherwise you may not get a fully awake baby and they will fall asleep in the middle of feedings.
On Sibling Integration. KK has recently talked to me about managing the older sibling (and the new addition to the family), given our current situation. “Imagine what it’s like,” she says, “if all your life it was about you, and then suddenly everyone is talking to you all excited about your new role as a big sister. Day in and day out, that’s all you hear. It can get pretty tiring.” That’s precisely why when she comes, we focus on me spending time with Sam as Sam, just doing her own thing, without any concern for Jamie. She’s old enough to understand something different’s going on, but also still young enough to need attention that is just about her and no one else.
“It’s like a husband telling his wife — I love you so much and you make me so so happy, that I want another wife. She’ll come home here, and you have to accept her and share me with her. How would you feel if he did that to you? In a way, that’s what you’re telling Sam with respect to Jamie.”
KK also says even from the beginning, it’s important to show both children that they are both important, and as such each one will have to wait their turn to get the proper attention they need. “That’s not always easy to do, especially since the younger one can only cry. But eventually they’ll learn.” I think this statement of hers makes me less frantic when I hear Jamie cry and I’m attending to Sam. After all, when I’m attending to Jamie and Sam is crying, she too has to wait.
For all these and more, I am glad we have KK in our lives. I could go on, but I think half of the learning is to actually work with her. So if you do get the chance I would definitely tell you to go for it. Her or other doulas like her who actually care for your family beyond their “scope of work” as we would say in the working world, can make all the difference.
KK is moving to Virginia later this year to be with her daughter and first grandchild, and will continue practicing her doula services there. So those of you who will be near her, do look her up!