Grandparenting.101

Congratulations, you’re about to become a grandparent!

You’re probably aware that things have changed a lot in the past 20 or 30 years. For example, while many parents still choose to use disposable diapers, there has been a shift back to cloth diapers. These aren’t your old white cotton rectangles, fastened with ducky safety pins and covered by bulky, plastic pants. Nope, these new nappies are colorful, easy to use (and clean!) and snap or Velcro into place. So what else might be new and different for grandparenting since your own sweet baby was a newborn? Here are some tips to help you navigate birth and parenting in 2014.

1. Doulas. What the heck is a “Doula”?

If your adult child has mentioned that she is considering hiring a doula, she is referring to a professional birth support person. Doula means “woman’s servant” and she supports the laboring woman and her partner, before, during and after the baby’s birth. Doulas offer evidence based information and education so parents are empowered to make informed decisions throughout pregnancy and birth. Doulas assist dads by reminding them which comfort measures and positions can help keep mom as relaxed and comfortable as possible. They remind and encourage dads/partners to eat, drink and rest during the long process. Postpartum doulas care for mother and baby after birth and through the first few weeks. They help with newborn care, breastfeeding and light housework.

2. Childbirth Classes.

When you were expecting your baby, you may have taken a Lamaze class where you learned to “Hee-Hee” and “Hoo-Hoo” to help get you through the contractions. Childbirth education has come a long way baby and there are a variety of classes that suit each couple’s birth visions. Some classes you may hear mentioned are, Bradley, Birthing From Within, HypnoBirthing, Hypno Babies, etc. Most hospitals still offer basic childbirth education classes as well. Lamaze is still taught and still focuses on breathing patterns and natural birth.

3. Home Birth & Birthing Centers.

Although the majority of births still take place in hospitals, many parents are opting to take advantage of alternatives to a hospital birth. The practice of midwifery has grown in popularity and many moms are now exploring the benefits of midwives and the midwives’ model of care. Home birth has experienced a surge in popularity because it’s a comfortable, familiar place where moms can eat, drink, rest and move as desired. Interventions are minimal if any and many parents enjoy the comfort and safety of being in their own homes. A birth center is a location either in or near a local hospital, where moms can have their babies in a home-like setting, with the least possible interventions but where emergency medical care is only seconds away.

4. Breastfeeding.

Although breastfeeding itself hasn’t changed (we still have breasts, babies still eat from them), there is new information about the importance of bonding and nutrition that only comes from breastfeeding. Having the support of family and friends is extremely important for successful breastfeeding. Ideally, babies will be exclusively breastfed for a minimum of 6 months. Solids in the form of fruits and veggies may be offered after 6 months, but remember the phrase, “Food before one (year of age) is just for fun.” Baby’s primary source of nutrition comes from breast milk.

Lastly, being a grandparent is a joyful and rewarding experience.

Some of the ideas your kids have about how they want to birth or parent may be completely foreign to you, but be open and have faith in their abilities and intuition. Being respectful and supportive of your adult child’s parenting journey is crucial to forming this new phase of your relationship with your adult child and your new grandbaby. (Also, it’s perfectly OK to spoil them and then give them back to their parents.)

*Julie Guarino is a Certified Labor Doula and Childbirth Educator and the co-owner of Macushla Birth. She has six spoiled grandchildren of her own. Julie is a Belly Bliss Doula and co-teaches Empowered Birth Through Conscious Pregnancy..