What??! My baby doesn’t come with a manual?

Pea in the Podcast: Caring for your Newborn

Why this podcast?
Well, the name, obviously!
How can anyone not want to listen to something called Pea in the Podcast?
Well, ok, maybe the name wasn’t the only reason I chose to feature this podcast.
I had heard a lot about it, all good things, and I was very interested to find out more. On the Pea in the Podcast homepage, I discovered that –

“Pea In The Podcast was created to provide pregnant women with important information including everything they need to know about their bodies and their babies.”

Given the genre of podcasts I write about, this was not especially surprising. What I was surprised to learn was that this is not an ongoing podcast.
A set number of episodes were created and released and this concept really intrigued me.

The Pea in the Podcast host, Bonnie Petrie, is also the writer and producer. An award-winning journalist who has conducted hundreds of interviews with big names such as Hillary Clinton and Rudi Giuliani, Bonnie also has a three-year-old daughter and is now doing her Master’s Degree in Child Development and Family Studies.

Leila Pernia, who has an impressive background in media, particularly launching and running podcast companies, co-founded Pea in the Podcast with her husband in 2006.

With such a professional background, I was curious to know what this podcast would be like.

How does it look?
As I mentioned, this podcast consists of a finite number of episodes.
There are forty episodes, each about six to eight minutes long, which focus on your baby’s development and the changes happening in your body each week and thirty-five episodes which focus on specific topics. These episodes are longer and last anywhere from fifteen to forty minutes.

The topics that are covered include labour, single mothers, the baby shower, financial planning, the three trimesters, VBAC, emotional health, looking and feeling good & naming your baby.
As you can see, a wide variety of areas are featured from the serious, such as pregnancy complications, to the more fun, like what do you really need to buy for your baby?

Why this episode?
During pregnancy, many of us focus on the amazing little being growing inside us and, of course, on the birth.
We may think a bit about those first cuddles and bringing our baby home, but maybe not too far beyond that.

I know that when I was expecting my first child a lot of my friends already had children. I was already super interested in pregnancy, birth and babies, so I had asked all the questions and read all the books. I was going to be the most chilled out, relaxed new mother ever.

But then my son was born. We got home, walked through the door and sat down on the sofa. I’m pretty sure all three of us still had our coats on at this point and I remember so clearly my husband and I looking at each other and thinking ”what are we supposed to do now?”

This episode covers the fundamentals of the first couple of weeks with your new baby.
All the basics are covered:
How your baby might look straight after birth, jaundice, breastfeeding, crying, colic, reflux, circumcision, cord care, sleeping, flat heads and SIDS.

Who should listen to this episode?
Anyone expecting a baby (including partners) and anyone with a very young baby who is still finding their way (which is probably just about everyone).

The episode
The way this episode is structured took me a little while to get used to. The host asks a question or talks briefly about a subject and then the expert expands on it and provides an answer.
What threw me a bit was that it sounded very much like the host asking a question and then pressing play on the relevant part of the pre-recorded interview with the expert.
Now, I understand that podcasts are pre-recorded but it somehow didn’t flow well for me.
It didn’t sound like an interactive conversation and personally, that’s something I really enjoy listening to.

However, the essential areas of newborn care that this episode covers and the sound, detailed answers that were given, mean it is a great resource and once I got into the episode and focused less on the style, I was impressed by the information provided.

As I continued to listen, I realised that the host often adds to the knowledge brought from the expert and shares little stories from her own time with a tiny baby. This lends an element of warmth and interaction with the audience that I originally thought might be missing.

Something that really stood out for me was Bonnie’s way of talking. Her voice has a certain melody. She speaks in a very warm, relaxed way and her voice carries an aura of wisdom, experience, and calm.

I imagined an older woman, maybe in her fifties or sixties, passing down her wisdom to a new mother. Reassuring her that everything will be okay and providing little insights into her own fears and experiences with a new baby.

I was pretty surprised when I saw a photo of Bonnie on the Pea in the Podcast homepage and realised she was way younger than I had imagined.
A wise soul, perhaps.

This episode features Dr. Sara Rizvi, a Paediatrician, who somehow manages to give quite a bit of detail about each area without taking too much time over it.
I appreciated that each area was clearly explained and that she didn’t patronise the listeners by shying away from including more medical detail when appropriate.

Given all the areas that are covered, it is pretty impressive that this episode is only forty minutes.

I want to talk a little about a few of the topics covered that stood out for me but I don’t want to try and cover all the ground here, that’s what this ‘manual’, or episode, is for.

Dr. Rizvi gives a clear explanation of what jaundice is and why it can occur. She also goes into the difference between physiologic jaundice, which is pretty common and which usually shows up in the first week and breastfeeding jaundice, which develops later.

If jaundice shows up within the first twenty-four hours of birth, however, it needs to be investigated straight away*

It is rare that physiologic (normal) jaundice will get to the point of requiring treatment. Usually, regular breastfeeding will help your baby to eliminate excess bilirubin (a chemical that is released when your baby starts to break down excess red blood cells) from their body.
I was really happy to hear it mentioned that, while a few care providers are still suggesting that taking a break from breastfeeding can help, in fact, the opposite is true.

In the case of breastfeeding jaundice and where bilirubin levels are extremely high, your baby may need to take a very short (around twenty-four hours) breastfeeding pause.
This is because this kind of jaundice may indicate an abnormality in the breastmilk itself.**

Flat Head
You don’t hear this talked about so much but as your newborn starts to sleep for longer periods they can develop a flat area on the back of their head. Their bones are still soft and they do not move much so it is fairly easy for this to happen.

The advice on the podcast is not to worry too much as, once your baby is able to move more, roll and sit up, this flat area will generally disappear.
Occasionally it won’t just go away on its own and in that case, your child might require a special helmet to help reshape their head.

Whilst it is absolutely not my role to give advice I will say that these flat areas can also develop on one side of the back of your baby’s head if they decide they like to sleep with their head tilted one way or the other.

My oldest child loved sleeping with his head turned to the right and he developed a significantly flat area on that side. Not only that but his neck muscles on the right had shortened and he found it very uncomfortable to turn his head to the left.

We avoided the helmet by seeking help from a children’s physiotherapist who gave us some great advice. It helped a lot and his head was fine.

I am really not a fan of the ‘let’s scare the pregnant / new mummy with horror stories’ thing so that is absolutely not my intention.
However, it can’t hurt to keep an eye on your little one’s head and seek advice if you think it’s appropriate.

SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is every new parent’s worst nightmare.
Although we don’t like to think about it, it is important to be informed so that you can reduce the risks.

This episode talks a little about the new guidelines for reducing SIDS and I really respect that Pea in the Podcast does not shy away from this frightening topic. Ensuring your baby is on their back to sleep and keeping pillows, soft toys and bumpers out of the cot are just some of the ways to reduce the risk.
Research also suggests that smoking may increase the risk for SIDS and breastfeeding may reduce it.

To wrap up
I wish I had been more relaxed after my son was born and spent way more time enjoying him rather than worrying.

It is easy to tell new mothers to enjoy every moment but the reality is that having a baby is a huge responsibility.
Being informed about what to expect and what is normal in those first weeks could help you to trust more in your own instincts and allow you to simply revel in the wonder of your baby.

I love the warmth and positivity of this episode.
The focus is really on relaxing and spending those first, miraculous weeks just being with and loving your baby.

Dr. Rizvi and Bonnie emphasise that for your baby, (and for you), this really is the fourth trimester.
They are used to being snuggled up in a warm, dark, cozy environment and suddenly they are thrust into a cold, bright world.

In the first few months, they do not need a lot of stimulation. They don’t need to watch baby Einstein or learn to sleep alone.

They just need you.

Other episodes on this topic
The Pregnancy Podcast: Episode 11 – Bringing Baby Home

The Pregnancy Podcast: Episode 12 – Bringing Baby Home – Troubleshooting

Healthy Births Happy Babies: Episode 56 – Depression in New Mothers – Realities & Solutions

Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond: Dr. Howard Chilton on The Needs of Newborn Babies





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By emilywills

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.

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