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For many women, pregnancy and delivery are small potatoes compared with the sheer panic that sets in once their baby enters the world. While it’s natural to be anxious about mastering your new responsibility, the hospital is not making a mistake by sending you home with your newborn, says New York pediatrician Michel Cohen, M.D., author of The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent (ReganBooks, 2004). “Caring for your baby will be much simpler than what you are imagining,” he promises. In fact, many of your fears about the first year of parenthood may never materialize, and those that do often have easy solutions. Read on for antidotes to some common anxieties.
fears vs. facts
the fear} I have no idea how to care for a baby.
the facts} Especially if you haven’t been around little ones since your high school babysitting gigs (and what were those parents thinking, leaving you in charge?), this fear ranks among the top. The good news: Much like a healthy pregnancy, raising a healthy child is largely based on common sense.
solutions} Refer to just one baby-care book, preferably one written by a board-certified pediatrician affiliated with a leading university or hospital; reading too many can be overwhelming. One helpful guide is the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Caring for Your Baby and Young Child (Bantam Books, 2004). Other resources: hospital baby-care classes and postpartum doulas.
the fear} My baby will die of SIDS.
the facts} Since the national Back to Sleep campaign was launched in 1994, the number of deaths attributed to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has dropped by 50 percent, to about 2,000 each year in the United States. Most deaths occur when the baby is 2 to 4 months old.
solutions} There are several ways to protect your baby against SIDS: Shield her from secondhand smoke; keep her in your room at night; dress her in a wearable blanket and place her on her back to sleep; and remove all soft bedding, stuffed animals, etc., from the crib. Infants used to sleeping on their back who are then placed on their stomach or side to sleep are at increased risk, so be sure to alert caregivers.
the fear} I’ll fail at breastfeeding.
the facts} Prenatal intent is a strong predictor of breastfeeding success, so your commitment to the idea means you’re a long way toward making it happen, says Doraine Bailey, M.A., I.B.C.L.C., president of the Raleigh, N.C.-based International Lactation Consultant Association.