An Obstetrician and Maternal Mortality Expert Chimes In

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It goes without saying that when baby arrives, parents’ lives are changed forever. But as our hearts fill with unconditional love for our new addition, our heads fill with questions.

A lot of people have a lot to say about parenting. As an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert, I have delivered more than 6,000 babies and I can tell you that there are a lot of unfounded myths about raising children that are perpetuated by fear rather than scientific evidence. There’s no need to be fearful of parenting. Have faith in your ability to raise healthy and happy children. You’ve got this!

New parents ask me a lot of questions, but there are three that come up all the time. Moms and dads want to know when a child should stop breastfeeding, whether to let a baby sleep in the family bed with them, and when to begin the process of potty training. Well, I’ve got answers! You might be surprised by what I’m going to tell you, but in my nearly 40 years of delivering children, I’ve learned that the conventional way of doing things is often not the best way. Here are my top tips for new parents’ most commonly asked questions.

When should I stop breastfeeding my baby?

A lot of parents are concerned that the timing of discontinuing breastfeeding will have a huge impact on a child’s well-being. Well, stop worrying! There really is no set time you should stop breastfeeding. You can stop when it feels good to you. For some women, this may be after a few months. For others, this may be after a year or so. Just remember, it may be hard to continue breastfeeding when your children start heading off to school!

Should I let my child sleep in the family bed?

Women receive a lot of criticism about letting babies sleep in the family bed, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. In fact, it can protect your child from a potentially dangerous fall. When you’re exhausted — which is the case for most new parents — you’re going to fall asleep. If you’re sitting in a rocking chair with your newborn, they will fall to the side as you drift off. It’s much more preferable that you set them to sleep in the bed beside you, lessening the risk of an injury. Letting your newborn sleep in bed with you offers both comfort and safety. There is nothing wrong with it.

When and how should I potty train my child?

This is one of the biggest stressors for parents, and there is a very simple answer. I suggest potty-training children at age two. This may sound radical, but just take their diapers off. Yes! I said to take their diapers off. If all a toddler feels is warm when they pee, they don’t know that they need the toilet. The same goes for when they are pooping. Taking their diapers off raises their consciousness. Otherwise, they won’t be truly motivated to use the toilet. Your child will become aware of their bathroom needs and they will quickly change their behavior. Potty training in a more conventional way invites the misconception that children don’t understand what to do and that’s why it takes time. It actually takes more time because the children aren’t motivated. By removing their diapers, you can potty-train a toddler in as quickly as one or two days. This method is not for the faint-hearted, but it promises great results. As children learn to use the toilet more quickly, you will avoid any shame they might feel for struggling to do something correctly over a longer period of time.