Monday, March 7, 2016

Time to "Spring Forward": Tips For Helping Your Baby With Daylight Savings

By Jill Campbell, Psy.D.

One question that often comes up in The Pump Station & Nurtury's Mommy & Me classes this time of year is, "How do I help my baby adjust to daylight savings?" Every year around this time we prepare to move our clocks forward one hour (Sunday, March 13, 2016). While adults can usually adjust to this time shift pretty quickly, babies and toddlers often find the change a bit more challenging. Here are a few different ways to help your baby transition to daylight savings time:

1. Don't Change A Thing:
If you are a parent that has been struggling with an "early riser," then by doing nothing, your baby or toddler will naturally be waking up an hour later! Simply move your clock ahead to the new time after your baby has gone to sleep on Saturday night. Your baby will wake up at their normal time Sunday morning, which will now be an hour later on the clock.  So if your baby was an early riser and consistently waking up at 5:30am, then your child will now wake up at 6:30am according to the new clock. Proceed with your normal daily routine according to the new clock. Meals and naptimes tend to go pretty smoothly with this method, but you may find that come nighttime, your baby or toddler isn't feeling so sleepy.  This is because if you are putting your child down at their "regular" bedtime (let's say 7:30pm), but 7:30pm tonight was 6:30pm just the night before. Therefore, you might need to be a little flexible with bedtime, maybe putting your child down somewhere in between the old clock and the new clock. Then for the next few nights, keep shifting bedtime up until you are at your child's regular bedtime according to the new clock.

2. Start to shift your baby's feeding and sleeping
schedule slowly ahead of time.
Starting six days before daylight savings, prepare ahead of time by moving feedings, naps and bedtime earlier by 10 minutes each day.  So if baby usually has her first feeding for the day at 7:30am, see if you can do that feeding at 7:20am.  If she refuses, don't force her, but you get the idea.  Just try to make the routine adjustments as the day goes on.  If her first nap of the day is typically at 9:30am, see if you can put her down closer to 9:20am.  These small time shifts should help your baby to go down a bit earlier at night without having a child that is just too awake for an earlier bedtime. If all goes well, then on Sunday morning after the time change, your baby will wake according to the new time.  So if baby typically woke up at 7am before the time change, she will now wake up at 7am according to the new clock.  Her feedings and sleep times should now be adjusted to the new time.  If you find it is still off a bit, (or if you did not start making these shifts so far in advance) just continue to shift in small time increments post time-change, until you are back on track.

3. Adjust the light:
Try to give your child at least a half an hour of natural sunlight first thing after waking up in the morning. This should help your child's internal clock adjust to the time change faster.  In addition, blackout shades can be very helpful if there is still sunlight coming into your child's bedroom at nighttime or before wake-up time in the morning.

4. Don't Panic:
Please remember that even if all this planning doesn't go quite according to schedule, simply by keeping to a steady daily routine, most children will naturally adjust to the time change within a week or so.
Jill's Favorite Products for Sleep
Daylight Savings Jill's Recommended Items
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Sleep Classes & Services at The Pump Station & Nurtury®

Sleep: Getting Your Newborn Off to a Good Start
Ages: Newborn - 3 months with Jill Campbell, PsyD
March 21 at 2pm in Hollywood Enroll...
March 31st at 3pm in Santa Monica Enroll...

Sleep: Your Growing Baby
Ages: 4+ months with Jill Campbell, PsyD
March 14th at 2pm in Hollywood Enroll...
April 7th at 3pm in Santa Monica Enroll...
April 18th at 2pm in Hollywood Enroll...

Mommy & Me Groups - Topic discussed according to baby's stages. Sleep is a biggy!
Click here for more info... To enroll or inquire about available groups please email (Santa Monica Location) or (Hollywood Location). Make sure to mention your baby's birth date so we can find the group that is right for you.

Sleep Consults available with Jill Campbell, PsyD.
To setup a consult please email
Learn more... 

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Benefits of Baby Wearing

sling, consultant, lactation consultation, baby carrierBaby Wearing has been practiced for centuries all around the world; for many, it is and always has been an important part of life. Each culture developed a way for a mother to carry her baby while allowing her hands to be free to perform the necessary tasks of daily life. Today we have research to support that the traditional ways were likely the best ways.

Research shows that Baby Wearing may support the development of Happier, Healthier, Smarter, Safer Babies, and happier parents! Here are some reasons why....
  • The gentle movement and closeness to a parent reminds a baby of being in the womb.
  • The more babies are held, the less they cry. Crying raises the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the baby.
  • A fussy, tired baby can be easily put to sleep when placed in a sling and taken for a walk.
  • Babies who are worn may smile more and may have better social development with a better sense of self-esteem and independence.
  • Baby wearing may decrease the risk of flat head syndrome that can result from too much time spent lying in a stroller, car seat, or crib.
  • Baby wearing may lessen spitting up, colic, and reflux because of the upright position.
  • Baby wearing allows the baby to be an active participant in the movement of parents, thus promoting better neurological development.
  • Carried babies develop a strong and secure attachment to their moms and dads (grandparents and caregivers can also participate!).
Learning to wear your baby has a definite learning curve, so please don't give up. It does take practice.
Sling Clinics
Free Sling Clinics are offered in all locations once a week. In each
clinic our experienced instructors will demonstrate a variety of slings and
carriers such as:
Baby Carriers, Baby Wearing
So, leave your stroller and car-seat in the car and experience
the joys and benefits of wearing your baby!
Purchase a baby carrier online here...
or find a wider selection in-store.
Santa Monica
2415 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Sling Clinics held Thursdays at 1pm
No appointment necessary.
1248 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90038
Sling Clinics held Tuesdays at 3pm
No appointment necessary. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

7 Key Points for Sleep: Getting Off to a Good Start

Sleep is a very important subject for new parents because we know that good sleep is not only essential to your baby's growth and development, but the whole family's well being. The key points listed below are designed to help you put good sleep habits into practice so that as your baby grows and develops, he or she will have the tools for healthy sleep.
  1. Between the ages of six-eight weeks and four months is the best time to start to establish good sleep habits that will eventually teach your baby to sleep through the night.

  2. Many babies make the transition to sleep easier if they have "positive sleep associations" with them at bedtime. For younger babies, white noise or soothing sounds, swaddling, and/or finding their fingers or thumb to suck will help them self-soothe and fall asleep. For older babies, in addition to those things, comfort can be found in a transitional object. Examples include a very small blanket (often called a lovey), a piece of mom's t-shirt, or a small stuffed animal. Incorporating a comfort object into your baby's bedtime routine can help your baby fall asleep on his/her own, and sleep through the night. 

  3. Begin to try to put baby down drowsy but awake. You can do this best by separating feeding and sleeping. Have a small, calming activity in-between the two (i.e. a little massage, a song). Put your baby down in his/her crib while he/she is still awake (it is okay is he/she is drowsy). This way your baby learns that he/she does not need to be nursing (or have a bottle) to fall asleep. 

  4. Babies thrive on routines and schedules. Create a bedtime routine for your baby (i.e. a bath,pajamas, feeding, massage, song, or storybook, bed) and try to put your baby to bed at the same time every night. Make sure to do the bedtime routine in the same room in which your baby is going to be sleeping. 

  5. Have the bedroom environment be consistent at bedtime and throughout the night. Black-out curtains often help babies to take longer naps. Don't over stimulate baby. If you need to feed or change your baby during the night, keep the lights low and your interactions to a minimum. 

  6. If baby awakens during the night, listen to the crying. If crying is strong, go in and soothe your baby. If crying is weak and intermittent, see if you can wait a couple of minutes to see if baby puts himself back to sleep. This type of crying may indicate that your baby may not be fully awake and is adjusting to a different stage of sleep. 

  7. Try to remain calm. Your baby will take his/her cue from you. If you feel comfortable with the sleep routine you have established, your baby will too.
For more info check out Jill's lecture
"Sleep: Getting Your Newborn Off to a Good Start"
for Newborns - 3 Month olds. Next class is on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 at 3pm in Santa Monica. Click here to sign up!
Jill's Favorite Products for Sleep

1. Serenity Star by Aden + Anais Buy now...
  • Continuous play option
  • Has room temperature indicator to let you know if the room is too hot or too cold
  • Feeding diary feature
  • Easily portable

2. Sound Oasis: Sleep Sound Therapy System Buy now...
  • Good sound quality
  • Continuous play option
  • Many sounds to pick from and mix
  • Has an alarm clock so it can go with your baby when he/she goes to college!

4. Nighty Night Owl "On the Go" by Cloud b Buy now...
  • Smaller than the original Sleep Sheep
  • Attaches to car seat or stroller
  • Great for naps that are on the go
  • Can also remove sound box if needed
  • Comes in a Sheep version as well

5. Angel Dear Animal Lovies Buy now...
  • Great as a transitional object because it is soft, breathable and small
  • Baby's often like to suck or chew on the head of the animal
  • Moms can keep it close to their chest so it has mom's scent
  • Easy to wash

6. Swaddle blanket: Aden + Anais Buy now...
  • Great traditional swaddle blanket. Lightweight muslin cotton.
  • I like that you can chose if you want baby's elbows to be in a slightly bent position.
  • I like that you can transition baby out of swaddle when ready: one arm out, then two, then off.
7. Swaddle blanket: Woombie Buy now...
  • Better for younger babies because of its stretch.
  • Many moms have told me that they like this swaddle because it is very easy to put baby into and baby cannot break out of it.
  • Baby can have a little bit of arm movement and allows hands to be in the natural fetal position on the chest rather than at the baby's side.
  • Easy to change diaper
8. Swaddle Blanket: Miracle Blanket Buy now...
  • Super strong swaddle. Some moms like this because some babies will sleep longer without any arm wiggle room.
  • Secures arms so your magician baby doesn't come out of the swaddler
  • Comes in two sizes for growing baby

9. Sleep sacks: Aden + Anais Sleep Sack Buy now...
  • Great item for when baby is outgrowing the swaddle and not just yet ready for a blanket
  • Arms can be free. When baby rolls over there's no need to worry about blankets falling on his/her face 
  • Great for a lighter sleep sack. Lightweight muslin fabric for warmer weather

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Time to "Fall Back": Tips For Helping Baby With Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings ends on Sunday, November 1st at 2am. Turn your clocks back one hour.

One question that often comes up in The Pump Station & Nurtury's Mommy & Me classes this time of year is "How do I help my baby adjust to daylight savings?" Every year around this time we prepare to move our clocks back one hour. While adults can usually adjust to this time shift pretty quickly, babies and toddlers often find the change a bit more difficult. Here are a few suggestions to help make this transition go a little smoother:

1. Start to shift your baby's feeding and sleeping schedule ahead of time.
Begin preparing a week ahead of time by pushing feedings, naps and bedtime later by 10 minutes each day. So for example, let's say your baby's bedtime is normally 7pm. Starting six days before daylight savings try to slowly push your baby's schedule by 10 minutes later during the day. So if baby usually feeds at 7am, see if you can do the feeding at 7:10am. If baby is super fussy by 7:05am, then of course feed her then, but you get the idea. 

Just try to make the routine adjustments as the day goes on. If her first nap of the day is typically at 9am, see if you can put her down closer to 9:10am. These small time shifts should help keep your baby from getting too hungry or being over-tired. Therefore, by the end of the day, your normal 7pm bedtime will now be around 7:10pm. 

The following morning, shift everything by 10 minutes again, so bedtime on the second night now falls at 7:20pm. Continue with the 10-minute shift each day. If all goes well, then on Sunday morning, you can wake your baby according to the new time.  So if baby typically woke up at 7am before the time change, you can now awaken her at 7am with the new time change. Her feedings and sleep times should now be adjusted to the new time. If you find it is still off a bit, just continue to shift in small time increments until you are back on track. 

2. Adjust the light: Melatonin, a hormone that helps induce sleepiness, is affected by light. Therefore, a helpful tip during daylight savings "falling back" is to allow your baby to have some light exposure in the early evening, and then use blackout shades at bedtime so that her room is not too bright in the morning.

3. Don't Panic: Please remember that even if all this planning doesn't go quite according to schedule, simply by keeping to a steady routine, within a week or so your baby should naturally adjust to the time change.

By Jill Campbell, Psy.D. Staff Psychologist
Upcoming Sleep Classes and Services
Sleep: Getting Your Newborn Off to a Good Start
Ages: Newborn - 3 months with Jill Campbell, PsyD
November 19 at 3pm in Santa Monica Enroll...

Sleep: Your Growing Baby
Ages: 4+ months with Jill Campbell, PsyD
November 5 at 3pm in Santa Monica Enroll...
December 3 at 3pm in Santa Monica Enroll...

Sleepy Time: Gentle Sleep Techniques for You & Baby
Ages: 0-12 months with Marilee Hartling, RN, MFT, Infant and Child Development Specialist
Dates to be announced soon! Learn more...

Mommy & Me Groups - Topic discussed according to baby's stages. Sleep is a biggy! Click here for more info... To enroll or inquire about available grous please email (Santa Monica Location) or (Hollywood Location). Make sure to mention your baby's birth date so we can find the group that is right for you.

Sleep Consults available with Jill Campbell, PsyD.
To setup a consult please email
Learn more...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You’re busy, BUT don’t make mistakes when it comes to childcare!

by Lindsay Heller, Psy.D. Professional Nanny Consultant

As busy working parents, we’re often times faced with a schedule that’s completely overflowing with both work and family responsibilities. It can be hard to set aside time for extremely important tasks like finding the perfect person to take care of your children. However, not focusing the required time and attention to finding a nanny can lead to these common mistakes:

1) Skipping the background check: can be a big “no-no”. How do you know if your candidate has had any brushes with the law without one?

2) Hiring in a hurry: if you hire a nanny without a face-to-face interview and without interviewing multiple candidates, you could be headed towards a nanny nightmare.

3) Not identifying your needs beforehand: could leave everyone in a state of confusion. Did you want your nanny to have cooking abilities? How about a car with a valid license? Without this step, the nanny you hired may not even be up to snuff for all of the things you need her to do.

4) Not using a reputable agency: finding someone through internet sites like Craigslist can be a crap shoot. Better to consult someone familiar with the industry before hiring.

If the thought of hiring a nanny while balancing your work schedule leaves you reeling, then join us!

The Nanny Class” with Lindsay Heller, PsyD
THIS SATURDAY at 3pm at The Pump Station & Nurtury® Hollywood
Whether you are thinking about hiring a nanny or just have questions, drop in! You will receive essential handouts and all of your questions will be answered. Sign up here...

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Breastfeeding Twins Story

Although the majority of women are capable of providing enough milk for twins, it doesn't always work out that's one mom's story.

by Kate DiRienzo-Payne, Twin Love Concierge

When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I didn't exactly know what that meant having twins but I was determined to have breastfed babies. 

In my birthing class they spent a good amount of time covering breastfeeding. We learned that babies come into the world equipped to not have milk for a couple days as your milk is coming in.  They do not require a ton of milk, as their stomachs are so very tiny.  The basic concept of supply and demand also applies to breast milk.  My doula also provided me with literature on breastfeeding twins and I watched numerous videos on tandem feeding and how to burp them both.  I felt confidant and ready.  Then I gave twins.

I was not prepared for the level of exhaustion I felt pushing 2 babies out nor was I prepared for what it really meant feeding two babies every 2 hours.  Both boys had trouble latching on.  One had a tongue-tie and the other kept testing positive for low blood sugar ending up in the NICU for about a day and a half. I couldn't tandem feed, in fact I couldn't even breastfeed my baby in the NICU at all because I was on another floor and feeding his brother.  That stressed me out immensely and immediately started me on the path of guilt by motherhood knowing he was getting so much formula.

The lactation consultant at the hospital was great, she actually helped diagnose the tongue-tie and helped me pump colostrum to send up to the NICU. I went home from the hospital feeling a little better and with a renewed sense of resolve to keep on breastfeeding. It immediately went downhill once we got home. Breastfeeding just wasn't working. They were still having issues latching, they were both losing more weight than their doctor was happy with and I was beyond stressed out. I tried to increase my supply, by drinking tea, taking herbs, eating lactation cookies a friend made for me but I knew it wasn't enough. 

So, I made an appointment with a lactation consultant at The Pump Station & Nurtury® and she was amazing. After an examination and watching me feed the boys she gave me some tips on positioning, however, after weighing them, told me it was clear I wasn't producing enough for 2 babies. It was nothing I was doing but the way I was built. "Some women's bodies make too much milk and some don't make enough," she said, "you need to supplement with formula." She also gave me information on a supplement that would help increase my supply and it did, nevertheless I would still need to supplement. But more importantly she took away the shame I felt in feeling like I could not provide a natural method of feeding my babies. Instead helping me see I should be grateful we live in a time where there are alternatives to help mothers like myself. So for a year I breastfed and formula fed my boys. Looking back I wish I could have given myself a break, I was a new mom, with twins, doing the best I could.  

So, I try to pay it forward to expecting moms in my class. I always tell them "get ready because people are going to ask you if you breastfeed. It is probably the number 1 inappropriate twin question other than are they natural." Sometimes they ask out of curiosity wondering how you do it with two and other times there is judgment in their question. Either way, I make sure to tell moms to be, own your answer and be confident in the knowledge you are doing what is best for your babies. And instead of us women judging or having a negative opinion of mother's using formula lets put our energy in supporting our fellow twin moms and moms in general. 

Kelli Venaas, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant also a fellow twin mom to identical twin boys, teaches a Breastfeeding Multiples class at The Pump Station & Nurtury®.  She has given us her top 
4 tips on breastfeeding multiples:

1. Make sure you have lots of help. I tell expectant parents in my classes to start during the last trimester lining up help from friends and family who are pro-breastfeeding. I recommend daily help for the first month at least. That means someone comes over to give you a shower break, do your dishes, bring you lunch, or give you a nap while they hold the babies every day, even if just for one hour. 

2. GET REST. Every day you need as many catnaps as you can get. If you aren't good at taking short naps, then make sure you lie down several times a day with your feet up. Go to bed early when the babies take their longest stretch of sleep, and see if your partner can help with at least one nighttime feeding. Partners can help by getting the babies diapered and swaddled after you feed them, and you can get back to sleep immediately while he/she is settling the babies.

3. Attempt simultaneous (aka tandem) nursing as soon as possible. The extremely rigorous feeding schedule of 2 newborns becomes much less daunting when you can satisfy them both at the same time. You will spend much, much less time breastfeeding and have a little more time for yourself in between feedings. It takes some practice and an extra pair of hands in the beginning, but keep trying at least once every day.

4. Seek the help and advice of a professional lactation consultant at the very first sign of a problem. Do not wait until your nipples are bleeding or your milk is barely there to call someone. There is no shame in admitting you're having trouble, because with breastfeeding multiples it would be quite a miracle to encounter no issues at all. Even if it's just a gut feeling that something isn't quite right, make the call. Even a brand new mom has that innate sense of her babies' well being, and her gut is usually right.

Kate DiRienzo-Payne has experience working in the childcare industry as a caregiver and also in the pre-schools. Over two and a half years ago she began her journey of becoming a mom to multiples. Living far from her family, meant she and her husband were going to be traveling the road to twins without the close-by support of their families. She set out on learning everything thing there is to know about twins by taking classes, reading books, testing products, and speaking with other twin moms. Along with raising two happy, healthy, adventurous twin boys, she is focused on bringing other twin moms in the Los Angeles area together to give each other the support and TLC they need. She teaches Expecting Multiples Baby Care class at our Pump Station & Nurtury® - Hollywood Store. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

What is the perfect bottle for a breastfed baby?

by Wendy Haldeman,  MN, RN, IBCLC & Co-Founder of The Pump Station & Nurtury®

It is general recommendation of many lactation consultants that breastfed babies begin receiving a bottle of breast milk at around 3 weeks of age. Offering a bottle too early may create problems with breast refusal. Waiting to long could result in a baby completely refusing to feed from any bottle. Once a bottle has been introduced the recommendation is to offer at least 2 bottles of expressed breast milk per week but not more than one per day until the mother returns to the work place.

What is the perfect bottle for a breastfed baby? Any new parent who has explored the wide selection of baby bottles is undoubtedly confused and overwhelmed. The choices appear endless.  Nipples come in many different sizes and shapes. Should the bottle be plastic or glass? Does the angle of the bottle make a difference? What flow rate is best for the baby? Are all bottles fundamentally the same?

From a lactation consultant’s point of view, the biggest challenge in helping the breastfed baby to transition easily between the breast and the bottle is the rate of milk flow through the nipple. All bottle manufactures produce “slow flow, or newborn, or level one” nipples. The problem is that the actual flow rate between all these nipples can be quite different. Why is a slow flow so important? According to the research conducted at the University of California Davis, while bottle-feeding; infants tend to overfeed by as much as 25%. A truly slow flowing nipple will allow the baby a more leisurely feed, giving the stomach time to communicate with the brain that the baby is becoming satiated.

A favorite bottle among the lactation consultants at The Pump Station & Nurtury® is the LATCH bottle by Munchkin. This newborn nipple is actually one of the slowest flow nipples we have found. We also appreciate the soft, wide nipple shape which can “feel” more like a breast in a baby’s mouth. The Munchkin Company designed a unique according-like base to the nipple which allows the nipple to move and stretch within an infant’s mouth. An anti-colic valve at the bottom of the bottle prevents air from traveling through the milk. Lastly, this bottle system is easy to clean, as there are only 3 parts to take apart and clean.

Munchkin sought out the expertise of lactation consultants and occupational therapist to aid in the development of this unique bottle. Babies are easily able to transition from breast to bottle and back. With its wide, soft nipple that is truly a slow flow; the LATCH bottle is an excellent choice for the breastfed baby. 

Disclaimer: Munchkin is a paid sponsor for The Pump Station & Nurtury® September Campaign 2015. Always consult with your medical provider regarding any personal health questions or decisions (including nutrition, diet, and exercise).

Friday, August 14, 2015

Enter to Win our #BabyCare101 Giveaway!

Our Sponsor for this giveaway is Medela! 
Enter to win their Pumping Accessories Bundle by entering below and don't forget to tell your friends! Winners will be chosen in 2 weeks from today. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What every dad-to-be needs to know and no one ever talks about.

Photo Credit: Jenny Quicksall Photography

Why didn’t anybody tell us this before our baby was born? This is the most common complaint that we hear from new parents! When couples are expecting a baby, they spend plenty of time researching doctors, taking childbirth preparation and baby care classes, and getting their home ready for their new arrival. All those things are certainly important, but what is even more important is that both partners have realistic expectations about pregnancy, the day of baby’s birth, and what life is going to be like once baby arrives. Having a plan and preparing yourself for the challenges ahead can make a big difference in how you feel about and handle things later on. New dads are just as vulnerable as new moms when it comes to navigating the life changes that a baby will bring. In some ways, we believe that men in particular can be at a disadvantage, because women are more likely than men to reach out for support after baby arrives.

There are so many things that will need to be renegotiated in your relationship with your partner after the arrival of a baby. For example, many couples of newborns find that as domestic duties double, so do fighting over them. Couples often start keeping score over who did what chore last, and who has been contributing more than the other. Most likely both partners are sleep deprived and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Research shows that women tend to think that if they point out what needs to be taken care of, their partner will volunteer to do it. But men often respond much better to direct requests. This different way of communicating can increase dissatisfaction in one another and lead to distancing and arguing in the relationship. People rarely talk about the fact that couples’ satisfaction in their marriage drops after their first child is born and studies support the fact that the risk of depression rises in new fathers that do not feel close to their spouse during this time period.

We wholehearted believe that if we can begin to discuss and explore ahead of time what your expectations and needs will be after your baby is born, we will help you make that big adjustment to parenthood go a lot smoother. "Just for Expectant Dads," is a new workshop designed by a licensed clinical psychologist and a certified doula and childbirth educator to do just that. It is also a great way to meet other dads-to-be and start building your community now.

Pre-Natal Just for Expectant Dads Class - Now enrolling. 6-9pm in Santa Monica
Click here to enroll!

About Dr. Jill Campbell
Dr. Jill Campbell is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience specializing in early child development, parenting and women’s issues. She received her B.S. from Boston University, her M.A. from New York University, and her Psy.D. from Ryokan College. As an intern at The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Jill worked in their therapeutic nursery school with special-needs preschoolers. Dr. Campbell completed her post-doctoral training at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center in Los Angeles where she worked with parents of infants and toddlers. Jill has worked in private practice and for a group pediatric practice in Encino. In addition, she has been a guest speaker on different parenting topics for preschools and parenting events in the Los Angeles area. Jill has worked on body image and self-esteem issues for girls in schools in Los Angeles, and spent many years as a group facilitator for New Directions Eating Disorder Center in Sherman Oaks. Currently Dr. Campbell is the staff psychologist at The Pump Station and Nurtury®. She provides a variety of services to mothers and their families including psychotherapy sessions, parenting consultations, and classes. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Good Parent Ideal

by Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT, Mommy & Me Instructor at The Pump Station & Nurtury®

Being a parent is wonderful, and while it is also a very personal experience it can sometimes feel like everyone has something to say about the way parents parent. In our society, there is immense pressure to be “good parents.” The pressure is such that we can start to believe that we have to live up to an ideal we haven’t created for ourselves.  

While pregnant, I remember feeling that every question my husband and I were asked by family, friends, and even strangers was a measure (or a judgment?) of whether or not we were good parents-to-be. Questions such as, “What does the nursery look like?” “What stroller are you going to get?” “Have you started thinking of preschools?” would elicit quips in my head I was afraid to utter lest I be thought of as a thoughtless mom. “Hmm... nursery...? It looks like an empty room with a crib that I haven’t set up yet.” “Yes, I bought a stroller. I traded my car in for it.” “Preschool?!?!?!?!?!” Are those the wrong answers?

The list is endless. Once our daughter was born, it felt like the interrogations got even worse because unsolicited advice would often follow. If I was breastfeeding, I was told that I should complement with formula so our child gets the calories she needs to grow and develop. If I were to bottle-feed, I would be told my child wasn’t attaching to me correctly. If my husband insisted on buying organic only, he was ridiculed for wasting money on sheer marketing. Yet, if we bought conventionally grown produce we were told our child was being exposed to harmful agrotoxins. If we let our child explore and go on her own at the playground, we got nervous looks from other parents. If we stayed close, we were helicopter parents. Our inner voices-which were habitually loud and strong-became shy and cluttered with other voices that we didn’t recognize as our own.

Deep sigh.

The thing is, we also have questions. We do want advice. But more importantly, we want to be heard and understood, and know that it’s OK if we don’t have all the answers right away.

Talking to other parents going through similar processes helped my husband and me feel that we were not alone. It allowed us to release some of that pressure and to explore what it means to us to be a good parent, not through the lens of societal expectations, but through our own experiences and feelings. It gave us space to figure things out without feeling judged for not having all the answers or not knowing what to expect.

Learning to be a parent is a social endeavor, and it requires support and help from other parents who know what we’re each facing. In Mommy & Daddy & Me, we get to explore these issues in a safe, non-judgmental environment so you can discover how to be the parents you want to be. As we discuss some of the issues around being first-time parents, I will give you information that I hope you will find useful while not overwhelming you with advice and opinions. I invite you to get to know other parents who, like you and me, ultimately want the best for our children.

I promise to listen without judging, and to be a witness of your child’s development. I promise to give you the tools to listen to your inner voice, and trust it.

Cynthia Rajchman, LMFT is a Mommy & Me Leader at The Pump Station & Nurtury and is currently leading 2 Mommy, Daddy & Me Groups on Sunday at the Santa Monica location.