It’s our second edition of the Blog Carnival of Evidence-Based Parenting!
If you’re new to our carnival — or blog carnivals in general — a blog carnival is a collection of posts from different bloggers, all of them centered around one theme.
Last month’s theme was Preschool. (If you didn’t get a chance, check out last month’s Carnival hosted by Alice Callahan of the Science of Mom. Read the posts, as well as Alice’s terrific explanation of blog carnivals and what “evidence-based parenting” means to us.)
I’m honored to host this month’s theme, the Transition to New Parenthood. (Our original theme was the transition to first-time motherhood, also in honor of May and Mother’s Day, but since we’re also delighted to feature a post by science writer and dad Matt Shipman, we decided that we also needed to change our title!)
Parenthood is one of life’s biggest transitions. The arrival of a new baby brings physical, emotional, social, and economic changes to the parent, the couple, and the family unit. No one is short on advice for new parents. You’re told from the moment that you announce to anyone that you’re expecting a baby, “This will change everything.” Yet until you experience it for yourself, you have no idea what those pieces of parenting wisdom actually mean: for your daily routines, for your identity, for your physical and psychological health, for your marriage or relationship, for your friendships, and for your professional life.
The transition to parenthood has been a topic that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, far longer than I’ve been a parent. My undergraduate sociology thesis was an interview study of a group of Connecticut mothers before and after the birth of their first babies. Over the course of several months, I interviewed them individually and with their husbands. As a senior in college, this was purely an academic (as well as fairly random) thesis topic for me. However, I found the changes to these women’s lives and identities to be fascinating and puzzling. Parenthood seemed so far into the future that I didn’t think too much about what that experience would be like for me.
Now, so many years later, I’m actually older than most of my former study participants, and I can think back on these women’s experiences with much more empathy and understanding. Colic, the isolation of wintertime new motherhood, breastfeeding challenges… I get it now.
And just like the experience of parenthood, which can be described by both commonalities as well as individual differences, this month’s contributors write about both common themes as well as fresh perspectives and new questions.
As “evidence-based” writers, we’re trying to understand that variation in the experience, in addition to the complexity of factors that might influence the real-life circumstances of new parenthood.
First, in her post, Momma, PhD outlines what new parents can expect for the new routines of parenting to become “habits.” She also contrasts the differences between the newborn period for a first child and a second.
At Momma Data, Polly Palumbo offers caution to new parents about accepting the advice and accuracy of information from the “parenting media.” She tells us where new parents head to online to find out what they want to know about parenting and then describes why we should be skeptical about much of that information’s quality.
At Red Wine and Applesauce, Tara Haelle tells us that it’s okay for maternal bonding to take a little time. New mothers often get concerned when they feel the intense bond with their baby that they’ve read about in magazines, but Tara describes how there’s a wide range of what is “normal” for new moms to feel.
Alice Callahan at the Science of Mom describes more about a topic that is at the forefront of the minds of every new parent: sleep. I’ve read (and re-read) many of Alice’s compassionate and informative posts on baby sleep, and this time she tells us why sleep is a critical issue for the functioning and coping of new mothers. (And see if you want to take Alice up on her sleep challenge!)
Blogger and dad Matt Shipman describes what makes a man “ready” for parenthood. (Hint: it’s not the same for all dads, and it’s a little different than it is for moms.) I was pleased to learn more about the experience of new fatherhood from the dad‘s perspective.
At Slate, Melinda Melinda Wenner Moyer defends the practice of swaddling newborns. For many new parents — including me — swaddling can literally make the difference between a sleeping, soothed infant who stops crying and a colic nightmare. She examines the current debate about swaddling’s safety.
On the The HerStories Project, a blog about new motherhood for which I am a collaborator, I take a closer look the confusing research about parenting and happiness. Are new parents really as miserable as much of the media and academia would have us believe? If they are, which parents are most unhappy and for how long?
Over at Six Forty Nine, Jennifer Doverspike writes about cross-cultural differences in the postpartum “confinement” period. It turns out (not surprisingly) that American expectations for a new mom are not the same as cultures’. Do other cultures offer better ways of supporting new parents?
Suzanne Barston of the Fearless Formula Feeder discusses the postpartum adjustment period and breastfeeding. She describes important research about the effects of breastfeeding difficulties on attachment and postpartum mood disorders.
From the blogger and anesthesiologist at the Adequate Mother, we learn about the connections between birth experiences, labor, and trauma. As a mother who endured a completely unexpected and difficult emergency c-section birth, I can relate to much of her discussion about childbirth pain and delivery. I also share her hope for more discussion about the short-term and long-term consequences of childbirth.
What was your experience of new parenthood like? We’d love to hear more about it!
Here’s a quick list of our contributors for this second edition of the Carnival of Evidence-Based Parenting:
The Transition to New Motherhood (Momma, PhD)
Bonding in Early Motherhood: When Angels Don’t Sing and the Earth Doesn’t Stand Still (Red Wine and Applesauce)
The Connection Between Poor Labour, Analgesia, and PTSD (The Adequate Mother)
For Love or Money: What Makes Men Ready for New Fatherhood (Matt Shipman)
What the Science Says (and Doesn’t Say) About Breastfeeding Issues, Postpartum Adjustment, and Bonding (Fearless Formula Feeder)
No, Swaddling Will Not Kill Your Baby (Melinda Wenner Moyer, Slate)
Sleep Deprivation: The Dark Side of Parenting (Science of Mom)
The Parenting Media and You (Momma Data)
40 Long Days and Nights (Six Forty Nine)
You can also “like” the Carnival of Evidence-Based Parenting on Facebook. Check out our Facebook page, and connect with all of us there!