Creating a birth plan helps you understand who you are as a parent. The planning process can help you define and understand your parenting philosophy and preferences – from where you want to birth and who will be in the room to how you will feed this new life. Since certain products are used immediately after birth and throughout the 4th trimester, it is important to think through some of that gear as part of your birth plan.
Some products can amplify well-being and provide pathways to connect with your new baby. Others can create distance and be destructive to health. The products you choose are an extension of your world-view and could have a much bigger impact on both your health and your relationship with baby than you might realize at first blush.
Maybe you are an evidence-based researcher, coupon clipper, all-natural hippie, farm-to-table advocate, convenience hound, health-nut, super easy-going, totally-modern, celebrity-loving, or some combination of those. Who are you? What do YOU care about? Keep in mind that your values will likely change as you transition into being a parent.
Fourth trimester birth planning is a great time to start figuring out what you care about most to help insulate yourself from marketing hype. Here are a few tips to assist in decision making as you think through personal matters of style and taste.
Chemicals: Inhalation and contact with synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals can cause neurological and hormonal problems as well as interfere with breastfeeding. They can cause skin rashes, breathing problems and damage the nervous system. Avoid products and environments with synthetic fragrances.
When it comes to shopping, awareness that synthetic fragrance is damaging can inform your buying decisions about detergents, soaps, lotions, air fresheners, surface cleaning sprays, hand sanitizers, hair products, perfume and anything smelly. Synthetic fragrances might be unavoidable out in the world, but they surely don’t have to be in your home.
Bonding: Babies who see and touch their caretakers more frequently are healthier babies. They are more secure, sleep better, are less fussy and communicate more effectively. When given the option to use gear that separates vs brings you closer to your baby, choose the later whenever you can.
This premise can influence your buying decisions when it comes to choosing gear like strollers, cribs, bouncy chairs and high chairs. Remember the kinds of products that encourage touch include carriers, wraps, and co-sleepers. Luckily these don’t have to be all-or-nothing scenarios. Just be conscious.
Consciousness: Keep in mind that for many different kinds of businesses – from insurance providers to consumer product companies – now that you have had a baby, you are a most prized and coveted marketing target. Statistically, you’ll spend more money on your child in the first year of life than you ever will again until you begin paying for private school or college education.
Some of the companies vying for your cash truly do have your best interests at heart. Countless don’t. Many of these Companies are armed with neuroscientists, market researchers, data analysts, wicked-smart strategists, celebrity figures and massive budgets. Their singular focus is to capture your dollars with a knee-jerk responsiveness that can only be described as Pavlovian.
How to be a Conscious Consumer
Walking through a big box store, filled block-to-block with baby gear, can be dizzying, and for some, nauseating. The decision making process can be quite complex and overwhelming. Before you spend umpteen billion hours walking the aisles, scouring the internet and pouring over countless magazines, take a moment to reduce the number of choices you’ll consider by understanding how the gear you choose can both influence and express your parenting style. Be a conscious consumer. Make thoughtful product and gear choices from your very own core values. Learn to triage. Conscious choices are confident choices.
Parents today are faced with more options than ever before about which products to choose, how much to spend, when to buy products and where to shop for them. At the end of the day, you simply don’t need much gear to have a healthy baby. Filling your closets and hallways with box after box of new stuff will probably not make parenting any easier or more predictable. The right gear can indeed provide convenience, but too much of a good thing can also just get in the way. The precious time you could spend shopping may be better spent taking a walk in the park on a beautiful, sunny day.
Photo credit: Jenny Cu