I am having my first baby in a few months. Do you recommend having a doula?

Let’s explain first what doulas do in case you are not familiar with them. A doula provides physical and emotional support before, during and shortly after childbirth. It is important to know that although most doulas have completed some training, there are no specific qualifications needed to work as a doula. It is an unregulated profession. 

Doulas are (usually) experienced mothers who have some training and experience with birth. The doula is not there to advise the family medically but to help the mother prepare for labour, during labour, and shortly after the birth. They are there to ‘mother’ the mother, to take care of the mother. 

There is a strong body of research showing that having a doula is good for the wellbeing of the mother and the baby. A recent review including 16 studies found that mothers who had a doula were less likely to have a C-section, less likely to have premature babies and more likely to have shorter deliveries. Mothers who have the support of a doula have also been found to have less anxiety and stress.  

If you decide to have a doula, it is a good idea to ask friends for recommendations. You can also ask your midwife or doctor in case they know a good doula. You will find more information about doulas and other professionals that can help you during birth in our masterclass delivered by midwife, Dee Bell.

My son will be two in September and I am considering sending him to nursery. A friend told me that sending him that young may be negative for him, and it may damage our attachment. What is the data on this?

The only consistent finding is that what matter when deciding whether and which nursery or daycare to choose is its quality. A good quality setting is one that is safe with responsive and highly engaged staff. 

In terms of attachment, do not worry.  Children can get attached to more than one person. They are usually attached to those adults with whom they usually interact. The fact that your son goes to nursery will not influence his attachment with you or other caregivers. 

We have a fantastic masterclass on how to choose the right  nursery in case you want to find our more on this topic, You can watch it here but only if you are a REC Parenting member! If you want to become part of our community, you can do it here.

I have intense feelings of guilt whenever I am not with my child. How do I deal with it?

I think that we need to change the narrative about mom guilt. Guilt implies that we have done something wrong but when we feel bad because we are at work and not with the kids, or with the kids and not at work, or at the gym and not with the kids, and on and on it goes, we haven’t done anything wrong! I think we need to talk about tension but not guilt. Tension because we have many different things that we need to tend to and sometimes we feel that we are failing at all of them. It is important to remember that there is not a right amount of time or a right number of things that you should do with the kids. You can only do what you can with the resources you have and do what feels good for your family, 

Here are three tips to deal with mom guilt: 

  • Let’s change the narrative: stop thinking about guilt and think about tension. You haven’t done anything wrong, you are simply juggling all the balls, the best you can.
  • Do not look at social media: those perfectly curated feeds of the perfect families are a lie and looking at them leads us to compare ourselves with others. Unfollow all those accounts.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people: We all have the judgy colleague, the sister-in-law that thinks you are a bad mother, and the friend who makes you feel inadequate because they seem to be super woman. Ditch them and favour spending time with people that is supportive, that understand what you are going through, who share your values. Find your tribe and spend time with them. 
  • Let go of the Super Mum Myth: This is the idea that all mothers should be constantly loving, ever-attentive and never angry. That we should be fun, patient, always interested and always available to our children. Motherhood is a very ambivalent experience. Not enjoying every single moment of parenting doesn’t make you a bad parent. 

“My three year-old daughter won’t sleep unless I leave a light on but I am worried that she won’t rest as well. Do you have any tips?”

Light can affect children’ sleep. In the evening when it’s dark we produce melatonin, a hormone that helps us feel sleepy. If children have bright light in the evening (including screens), the release of melatonin will be inhibited, so they won’t feel sleepy when it’s time to go to bed. Having a bright light on during the night also inhibits melatonin, but if they are scared of the dark it is ok to have a dim light. If possible, get the ones that are red or amber. It is not that red light improves sleep, but it doesn’t inhibit sleep and it doesn’t interfere with melatonin production. 

“My 12-year-old grinds his teeth in his sleep. Do I need to take him to the dentist?”

Teeth grinding is very common. Your child won’t be aware that he is doing it and there isn’t anything you can do to stop the habit. Remember to mention it at his next dental check. Sometimes they may grind their teeth so much that they can damage the enamel, when this happens try to reduce the amount of fizzy drinks they have, as a combination of the tooth ware and the acid can speed up the damage to the teeth. Your dentist will advise you on whether a night guard will be a good idea to protect the teeth. 

I caught my 16-year-old smoking cannabis. I am freaking out. What do I do?”

I understand why you are freaking out and I am sorry you are going through this. I know that it is easier said than done, but it is important to remain calm and come out with a plan of action. 
What does a good plan look like? You need to open up a conversation with him. First, think about practicalities, choose a time that works for you both, that you won’t be distracted and you are prepared to listen. It may be a good idea to have this conversation in a public space so there is no risk of the conversation ending up in a screaming fight. It may also be a good idea to have the conversation while you are not making direct eye contact (e.g., driving, cooking, walking) because he may feel less intimidated and it may be easier for him to open up. 
Second, you need to understand why your child is smoking pot. What is driving his behaviour? What does smoking do for him? Do they have issues going on at school or in their lives that you are not aware of? Let your child talk so you can figure out what is going on. 
Third, what do you want to achieve? Do you want your child to stop smoking pot or do you assume that he is going to do it no matter what and you want for him to do it safely? This is a very personal decision that only you can make but in any case, it is a good idea to discuss with him the risks that smoking pot entails in terms of mental health, wellbeing, and legally as well.  

It is definitely a good idea to talk to someone before you have this conversation. Our REC Parenting therapists can help you with this. Not only will they help you to decide how to approach the conversation but also they will you support to deal with your own emotions and wellbeing. 

If you are worried that the smoking goes on after the initial conversation, seek treatment for your child. Once a professional evaluates your child, they may recommend to set some boundaries and a ‘watch and wait’ approach or they may recommend treatment. We recommend that you look for a professional that specialises in teenagers because working with teenagers and adults is very different. 

You may be thinking that this all sounds great but there is no way your teenager will open up to you. Would he talk to someone else? Maybe he has a grandfather, family friend, aunt or trusted teacher that he would open up to?

However you decide to tackle this issue, as parents it is important to remember that sadly our children live in a world where they will encounter drugs and our role is to give them the tools to navigate them wisely and safely. If you want to know more about this topic, watch the masterclass by Dr Paula Corcoran. 

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