Photo Credit: Rosie Pope Maternity
Last night on Pregnant in Heels, Rosie Pope schooled a truly clueless couple. First time expectant parents Paula and Jay failed Rosie's "mummy IQ" test -- Paula wasn't sure when to bathe a newborn; Jay thought that babies should "never" be placed on their backs to sleep -- and they struggled when Rosie brought them a robotic baby to test-parent for a night. (Total time the baby spent calm: 7 minutes.) Read on to find out how Rosie whipped these under-prepared parents-to-be into shape -- and how other expectant couples can prepare, too.
Parenting is instinctive to a large degree, but there's also a lot of practical know-how involved. What's your advice to parents-to-be who are starting with zero parenting knowledge?
Knowledge brings confidence and good parenting. Yes, of course there's a large degree of instinct involved, but we're also parenting in different times -- not surrounded by our "tribes" that can teach us the ins and outs of caring for a baby. Today, couples are more likely to get great career advice from in-laws than swaddling skills! That's not bad, it's just different.
Arming yourself with information (from baby books, websites, classes) equips you with the skills you need so you don't have to worry whether you are doing certain fundamental things correctly. This will make the first few weeks with your baby easier because you'll know more about how to meet his needs and will have more confidence as a new parent. My advice to parents like Paula and Jay is to study, study, study. Your baby deserves it!
What are the three most important things new parents need to know about parenting?
First, it's normal to be anxious! Second, be flexible -- you'll constantly need to adapt, and just when you think you have one schedule down a new one will be needed. Finally, love is by far the most important thing you can give your child as a parent.
How do you reassure nervous parents-to-be that they'll be good parents?
I think some anxiety is healthy. It's the parents-to-be that don't worry that worry me! I reassure them that all this anxiety comes out of wanting to be the best parent you can be. The important thing is to make it productive and get studying. When you hold your baby in your arms your world should change, and you should want to do everything in your power to be good parents. That is something every parent should take comfort in... trust in the love you are going to feel.
Work-life balance is challenging for anyone, let alone working parents of a newborn. How can new parents find the necessary balance?
Life must change when you become a parent. The baby must be your focus and your priority, and that takes getting used to. With workaholics like Jay, it's important to discuss schedules. If they can look at a schedule and feel somewhat in control knowing that they will get work hours in, they're more able to relax in the hours they're with the baby. It is also important to discuss quality time even if there isn't quantity. Multi-tasking while playing is not a good idea. (That's right, put down the Blackberries while you bond with your baby, folks!).
Paula wants Jay's help, but then criticizes him whenever he tries to give it. What's your advice to new moms for allowing dads to play a key role?
Different parents are good at different things, and it's important to keep your eyes and heart open to what your partner may be able to do better than you and then let them in. It's not healthy for you to try and do everything. It is healthy to let them be involved and to communicate about how best to do that.
Paula and Jay are already at war with each other before the baby comes. What are the three things you recommend new parents do so that they're parenting on the same page?
Take a step back from your hectic lives -- take a babymoon, if possible -- and use that time to communicate and discuss parenting. Make a list of the things you love about each other and try and turn those into parenting qualities and philosophies. And finally, remember you made this child together, so parent together as a team.
Rosie Pope is a clothing designer, maternity concierge and the star of Bravo's 'Pregnant in Heels.' Read her Q&A with iVillage Parenting every Wednesday after the show. Follow her on Twitter: @RosiePope, or find her at rosiepope.com.