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  • Writer's pictureRebecca McCann

Droplet of water

I am not a parenting expert. I’m mostly still learning as I go with our 3 boys. But years ago I heard a great piece of advice that has stuck with me: on tough days, “just add water or fresh air.” It’s so simple and it works with all ages. Got a fussy newborn? Try a warm bath, or a walk outside. Got a cranky toddler? Take them to the playground. Bath time also still works like a charm (take a cue from @busytoddler and throw some Duplos, pom pom balls, or even glow sticks in the tub to add some extra fun). Got a bored school-aged kid? Let them run in the sprinkler or play with water toys outside (water and fresh air!). 

Over the years I’ve found one additional thing that works wonders for both my attitude, and the kids’ moods - music. Dreading that load of laundry or the stack of dishes in the sink? Turn up your favorite tunes. Tired baby? Sing a lullaby. Whiny kids in the car? Roll down the windows and turn up the radio. 

I used that trick one day last summer. Pretty sure my oldest was having a bad attitude about something, and my youngest was playing his favorite game when he’s tired. It’s called disagree-with-everything-that-anyone-says. I was losing my patience, so I rolled down all the windows and cranked up one of my toddler’s favorite songs, “Timebomb” by WALK THE MOON. My 7-year-old loved it, my toddler started laughing his head off, and my 10-year-old acted like he was embarrassed (while secretly hiding a grin). His embarrassment skyrocketed when the next song came on, which happened to be the theme to Thomas & Friends. I kept all the windows down and blasted that theme song through our neighborhood. Needless to say, we were all laughing our heads off by the time we got home. 

In one of our family’s favorite episodes of Bluey, the mom also uses the music trick with great results. Bluey is grouchy, mom can’t decide what to make for dinner, Bingo wants to play with dad, and dad wants to go for a run. Nobody is happy. Then mom decides they’re all going to play musical statues. Of course everyone ends up having a great time, and they eat cereal for dinner. 


Just add water or fresh air. This timeless bit of advice is so simple and so versatile. Although it’s one of my favorite parenting hacks, I sometimes forget this little gem. So this is my reminder to myself and to you…when in doubt, remember to just add water, fresh air…or music!

If you want to add a splash of fun to your bath time routine, check out Busy Toddler on Instagram - @busytoddler. She’s got fantastic and simple suggestions.

Woman holding infant. Both smiling.

In my previous blog post I discussed reasons why prenatal breastfeeding preparation is crucial, but to really optimize and simplify your life during the 4th trimester, I recommend crafting a comprehensive postpartum plan, addressing not only breastfeeding but also the broader spectrum of challenges and changes that occur during this time period.

I recently conducted a casual survey on Instagram which revealed that a majority of respondents found postpartum recovery to be the most challenging part of having a baby (other options included pregnancy, labor & delivery, and breastfeeding). These results might be surprising but they make a lot of sense. During the 4th trimester (the first 12 weeks after the baby is born), we are recovering from childbirth, learning to care for and feed a new baby, operating on less sleep than usual, navigating new family dynamics, and riding a roller coaster of emotions triggered by drastic postpartum hormone changes. How can we navigate this period more smoothly? Let's break it down into three crucial areas: your physical needs, household tasks, and support network.

Physical needs:

  • Plan for your nourishment in advance - consider making freezer meals ahead of time, stocking up on nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods, accepting offers of meals from friends and family, or setting aside extra funds for food delivery/take-out.

  • If you don't already do this, you might consider grocery delivery. Many stores offer grocery delivery for a fee, or you could pick up your groceries in the store parking lot (often for no additional fee). The second option saves you from having to take your baby into the store. Even if the store charges a fee, you might find that you save money in the long run because you're only buying the items you need (and skipping the impulse buys you might make in the store, if you're like me!).

  • Personal care:

    • Stock up on items you'll need for your postpartum recovery: pads and/or postpartum underwear, breast pads, ice packs, over-the-counter pain relief

    • Stock up on items your baby will need: diapers, wipes, baby soap, etc.

Household tasks:

  • Have a discussion with your partner and any family/friends who are going to take an active role in supporting you during the 4th trimester. Talk about who will be responsible for tasks such as:

    • Feeding, bathing and diapering the baby

    • Taking care of older children

    • Pet care

    • Laundry

    • Dishes

    • House cleaning

    • Bill paying

  • Don't hesitate to accept offers of help from friends and family. If someone says, "let me know how I can help" they often really want to support you but aren't sure what to do. Give them a specific task, like starting a load of laundry or picking up some things from the store.

  • If possible, explore options like hiring a postpartum doula, or assistance for house cleaning.

  • Prioritize rest for the new parents!

    • New moms especially need time to rest and recover from childbirth. In an ideal situation, their only other responsibility should be feeding the baby.

    • You may want to consider limiting visitors in the early days to only those people who can provide genuine support.

I realize that every family has different circumstances and may not be able to take much time off to rest. Unfortunately our society does not prioritize postpartum recovery time, and many parents have to return to work quickly or don't have a large support network to help with other tasks. To the extent that you are able, try to maximize your rest time during the 4th trimester.

Support network:

  • Think about who you can count on for support in the early days and weeks after your baby is born:

    • Family members and close friends

    • Healthcare providers for you and your baby (keep their contact info handy)

    • Breastfeeding support: IBCLC, local breastfeeding support group, supportive friends/family

    • Mental health: learn the signs of postpartum depression and anxiety, and know who to contact if you need support

To learn more about postpartum depression and anxiety, and to download a detailed postpartum plan that you can personalize, check out the resources from Postpartum Support Virginia.

Bringing home a new baby has it's challenges, but it's also a really beautiful time. As I reflect on my own postpartum experiences, I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

Life is amazing. And then it's awful. And then it's amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it's ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That's just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it's breathtakingly beautiful." - L.R. Knost

Enjoy those amazing moments as you get to know your new baby, and help your future self get through the hard parts by creating a postpartum plan ahead of time. You'll be so glad you did.

If you need breastfeeding support, or help with prenatal breastfeeding planning, contact me for a 1:1 consultation or check out my comprehensive prenatal breastfeeding class. You can do this, and I've got your back.

Updated: Feb 15

While most families meticulously plan for labor and delivery, set up the perfect nursery, and stock up on baby supplies, one vital aspect often gets overlooked - breastfeeding preparation during pregnancy. This omission can lead to unnecessary stress when caring for a newborn. I've seen too many families wind up in this situation, and my heart aches for them because some of their stress could have been avoided. In this post, I'll outline why I think learning about breastfeeding beforehand is essential.

  1. Simplifying your postpartum life will pay off in huge ways. Life in the early days is challenging. You're going to be recovering from childbirth, taking care of a newborn, operating on less sleep than usual, and spending a lot of time feeding your baby. Newborns nurse a minimum of 8 times per day (usually more). Imagine navigating the learning curve of breastfeeding on the fly. Simplify the early days by gaining knowledge beforehand - it's a small investment with significant returns.

  2. Positioning and latch techniques matter. Learning proper techniques in advance can spare you from nipple pain, optimize your milk supply and potentially increase the amount of milk your baby receives. Babies who are latched well get more milk!

  3. Be prepared to tackle concerns head-on. Understanding and preparing for common issues like sore nipples, plugged ducts, and mastitis can reduce your risk of encountering these problems and enable you to resolve them more efficiently if they do arise.

  4. You can't count on support in the hospital. Now, don't get me wrong! I love and respect bedside nurses and hospital-based lactation consultants. I was a mother-baby nurse for 6 years and a hospital lactation consultant for 9 years. Let me explain why you can't count on their support. Bedside nurses are supposed to help with breastfeeding when they can, but their availability is limited. They are also juggling multiple patients with various needs, and have to prioritize care. If they have an emergency situation to respond to, have to administer medications, or admit/discharge patients, breastfeeding gets moved to the bottom of the priority list. Hospital lactation consultants also have many patients to see and have to prioritize accordingly. I've worked in hospitals where we had 1 lactation consultant for 30 patients. I've also worked in a hospital with 10 lactation consultants for 72 patients. That's a better ratio, but we still didn't see every patient every day, and certainly couldn't be present for every feeding. It's not the fault of the nurses or lactation consultants, it's simply that the system isn't set up to provide feeding assistance at all times.

  5. You won't be in the right mindset to learn a ton of new information. After delivery, you may be very tired (understandably!). You should be focusing on rest, recovery and bonding with your baby. But aside from exhaustion, your brain actually changes during the postpartum stage. Hormone shifts cause physical changes in the brain that may make it easier to bond with, and care for the new baby, but also make it a little harder to recall information. You won't be in a physical or mental state to learn everything you need to know about breastfeeding.

In my years as a mother-baby nurse and a lactation consultant, I've witnessed firsthand the challenges that families face when unprepared. I'd love to see every family starting out with the knowledge they need to confidently feed their babies, and simplify their postpartum life. That's why I've developed a prenatal breastfeeding checklist, offering 4 actionable steps to prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy. You can find it here. Additionally, I offer a comprehensive on-demand prenatal breastfeeding class that allows you to learn at your own pace. Access the class here.

Investing time in breastfeeding preparation before your baby arrives will undoubtedly prove invaluable during those early postpartum days. Equip yourself with the knowledge needed to confidently feed your baby and simplify the transition into parenthood.

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