Help! My Toddler Is So Picky

Dear Is This Normal,

I’m dealing with a 100% full blown picky toddler who refuses to touch anything green and would rather go hungry than eat anything “healthy.” I try to draw a hard line, but when my kid tells me they’re hungry during bed time, it breaks my heart. How do I find a balance of giving my child healthy options while also making sure they eat enough? What’s the balance? How do I make this work without feeling guilty on both sides of this issue?

Signed, 

Healthy Soldier

Dear Healthy Soldier,

Every single parent of a toddler just nodded their head in agreement as they read your dilemma. Toddlers are awesome little humans, but reasonable and adaptable? Not so much! This is all so incredibly (and frustratingly) normal, I can’t even tell you.

Don’t fret, mama! Sometimes, all it takes is a change in the way you present food to them and giving them a bit more control over the situation. When all else fails, you go full Trickster Mom and start hiding veggies in the foods they love until they come around. Pediatrician Dr. Alison Mitzner is here to offer some specific support and advice for getting your toddler to expand their palate, and hopefully give you some peace of mind.

First of all, you are fighting the good fight. Don’t feel guilty. Toddlers can be very picky! If they are healthy, growing appropriately, and energetic, they are most likely getting all they need right now.

But, introducing healthy options into the meals your toddler eats is so important in the long run. And there’s a couple of ways you can do so.

It may help to get your toddler more involved in the food you prepare. Take them to the grocery store with you, show them healthy options, and let them choose what to buy and what they want to eat at home for meals and snacks.

At home, have them choose between the two healthy food options they picked out at the store. This makes them feel more in control over what they’re eating (and more likely to eat it!). Also you can have them help prepare the meal. Children are more likely to eat foods they helped prepare.  At meal times, make sure to serve everyone the same thing. You want them to stick to the healthy meal that is made.

Model good eating habits. We are our kids biggest role models, and if they see you trying, eating and loving healthier food options, they’ll be more likely to eat them too.

Pay close attention to how you portion and serve meals to your toddler; kids are often hungriest at the start of the meal, so this is also the best time to have them try a new veggie or food.

If you’re running into a wall with these other tips, it might be time to get creative. Lots of parents resort to mixing in veggies into foods their kids love (like carrots in macaroni and cheese, cauliflower in tater tots, and even broccoli or spinach in sweet smoothies).  Often times they love it and never know they just ate a full serving of good, healthy veggies! 

If you have any concerns about your child’s diet, always discuss them with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician sees you and your child frequently in the first years of life, and can and should discuss their diet and nutrition to ensure your child is growing appropriately and getting what they need.

Remember, the most important thing to do is keep introducing new foods, in small amounts, one at a time, into your child’s diet. Even if they don’t like it the first time, keep trying. Don’t get discouraged by their refusal to eat something new—it may take several attempts, but knowing you’re feeding them good, nourishing food is so, so worth it.

Good luck out there,

Dr. Alison Mitzner

Dr. Alison Mitzner is a single mom, a board-certified pediatrician, a writer, a fitness expert, a Sr. Director at a major pharmaceutical company, and a passionate supporter of moms feeling calm, confident, and healthy. Her health and wellness articles have been featured in the The Huffington Post, Today, Shape, Parents, Reader’s Digest, Aaptiv, Self and more. Dr. Mitzner’s mission is to help moms of all types with real, science-backed advice and parenting tips — so they can feel great, parent with confidence, and get back to their most important job… being a mom!

www.dralisonmitzner.com

How Do I Know When To Start Feeding My Child Solid Food?

Dear Is This Normal,

My baby is almost 5 months old and our pediatrician gave us the go-ahead to introduce solids. But I have no idea where to start! How do I start feeding my child solid food? And what do I do if it turns out my baby doesn’t like a lot of the foods we give them? 

Sincerely,

Ready to Dig In

Dear Ready to Dig In,

Awwwww yeah! Congrats on reaching this, my most favorite of baby milestones! Introducing solids felt, to me, like a major shift in this whole parenting gig. Suddenly the baby wasn’t just. . .a baby, if that makes sense? They did more than baby stuff! Introducing solids felt like the first big change from blobby infant to babbling babe. It was the best. It was also very messy and sometimes very gross, but hey! So goes parenting, right?

If your pediatrician is giving you the green light for solids, that means your little one has already reached some pretty cool milestones, like sitting up on their own, doing the whole tongue thrust thing, and showing a general curiosity for what’s going on outside their baby bubble. But I totally get it—being TOLD you can start solids and knowing HOW to start solids are two entirely different things. 

While there are some definite no-nos (no honey and nothing that can be a choking hazard), the rest of it is pretty much up to you! So let’s get both of you off on the right bite so feeding your baby solids is a fun and exciting stage.

First, it’s important to remember that at this age, your baby will still be getting the majority of their calories and nutrition from breast milk or formula. You’re not looking to replace any of it at this stage—you’re just going to be adding to it. When it comes to introducing solids to baby, most parents follow the baby solid food guide and start with fruit and veggie purees, like apples or pears or peas. 

You’ve probably heard the old advice of introducing one food at a time and waiting three days to introduce something new. But many experts now agree that unless your babe is high risk for food allergies (having a family history of food allergies or eczema, for example), this precaution may not be necessary! If you’re still worried about this, introducing isolated foods (like apples for breakfast and sweet potato and carrots for lunch) will still allow you to pinpoint the culprit if there’s a reaction.

One more piece of outdated advice I want to clarify: starting your baby on a sweet food or fruit does not make them prone to having a sweet tooth. Apples, pears, and bananas are perfectly acceptable first foods. When it comes to choosing which foods to start with, a service like Little Spoon, which delivers fresh food made with organic ingredients right to your door, can take a lot of the guesswork out of it (not to mention save you a ton of time!). We don’t want to toot our own horn or anything, but here at Little Spoon, we’ve sort of perfected this whole fresh baby food thing – you’ve got enough to worry about, let us make this one thing a bit easier for you!

Pick a schedule that works for you and aim for a time of day when they’re the most alert and happy. You can start with a one solid meal after their morning bottle or nursing session, and one meal after their evening bottle or boob sesh. At first, your baby will probably only eat 2-4 tablespoons in one sitting, and that is totally normal! Sometimes, they might not be interested at all (also totally normal). It’s also a good idea to intro a new food earlier in the day and on a weekday; if your baby has a reaction to the food, you want your pediatrician to be reachable right away!

Most of the food will likely end up on their chin and shirt and all over the highchair tray—they’re still learning to control that tongue thrust. Don’t be surprised if your baby shows immediate dislikes or preferences to certain foods (even babies can have favorites). But don’t stop offering the foods your baby doesn’t seem to enjoy; it can take babies as many as 15-20 tries before they take to a new food. Variety is really important, even with babies just starting out on solids! That’s why here at Little Spoon, we have a varied menu of different flavor and texture combinations, and send each BabyBlend in pairs, so there’s always plenty to keep offering. Patience, and a really good stain remover, are definitely required when you introduce solids to baby. This is a fun stage, mama. Enjoy every spoonful.

One Bite at a Time,

Is This Normal

How To Date As A Single Mom

Dear Is This Normal,

I’m a newly single mom to a preschooler, and I am having the hardest time figuring out to tackle this new life. I really want to get back out there, but where do I start?! My life is so different now. I can’t just run out to meet someone for drinks or bar-hop with my girlfriends to meet new people. And really, I’m not sure that I’m even interested in doing that now! I would love to meet someone new, maybe another single parent, but it feels more and more like I have a better chance of meeting a unicorn at this point. Help!!

Newly Single and Ready to Mingle

Dear Newly Single,

Welcome to the club, mama! This is a really strange time, I’m not going to lie. It sounds like you’re ready to get out there, which is the first step. But you’re right—it’s not the same anymore! You’ve got a little person at home, so your priorities and schedule are totally different. Dating isn’t easy, EVER, and it’s especially weird and hard as a single mom. That being said, don’t write off meeting someone new just yet! All you need is a new game plan.

When my marriage ended, I took some time to adjust to this new normal. When I was ready to put myself out there again, I realized that “out there” was not as I remembered! It didn’t help that all my friends were coupled, so it’s not like we could go trawling for guys together. So, I embraced dating in the digital age, and signed up for a few dating apps. When you don’t have a lot of free time or options for meeting new people, dating apps can really help weed out the ones not worth your time.

I’m going to be honest – some of them are really hit and miss, and you will “meet” a lot of creeps. But the great part is, you can just swipe them right out of your life like they never existed. No one has time to go on a bunch of random dates, and in this day and age, most people want to get to know someone before actually meeting them in person. Download a few of the more popular apps, find the best pictures of yourself, and set up some profiles! At the very least, it’s a lot of fun to have a couple of glasses of wine with your friends and check out your matches together.

Sometimes, dating as a single mom hinges on just getting out there and meeting people in similar circumstances! Are there any local groups in your area for single parents? Maybe some playgroups at the park or an organized get-together at Gymboree. I found a few such groups on social media and through word-of-mouth. Takes a lot of the pressure off, since you’re not there to necessarily meet a specific person. Also, this is going to sound strange, but I met some of the coolest single dads at the grocery store! Dated a guy I had a meet-cute with at Trader Joe’s for a while, in fact! It’s kind of annoying to get cute to go to the market, but when you’re dating as a single mom, you take advantage of every situation that presents itself.

When you meet someone new (and you will!), you might feel guilty about spending time exploring your new relationship. I’m here to tell you to JUST SAY NO to single mom guilt. That crap is going to try to sneak in and put the brakes on things. It’s the worst! And it’s unnecessary. As long as your little one is loved and cared for and looked after when you’re not at home, you have nothing to feel guilty about. Not. A. Single. Thing. You’re a mom, yes – but you’re also a woman who is exploring being single for the first time in a long time. If you want to devote some of your time and energy to that, GO FOR IT. You’ll appreciate the break, and new relationships need attention! It’s a balancing act, but there is room in your life for both motherhood and new love.

I wish you all the best on this new adventure, mama! And trust me, it is an ADVENTURE. It’s going to suck at times. And you’re going to delete and download those dating apps probably ten times or more. But you know what? It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s not everyday you get a chance to do it over again, you know? Take this chance and see where it goes.

Not-So-Newly-Single,

Is This Normal 

Still Recovering?

Dear Is This Normal,

My baby is almost 11 months and I feel like I should be back in the swing of things with my fitness/diet. Instead, I haven’t lost the baby weight and I’m a completely different person. I’m lethargic all the time, I feel utterly exhausted and I have no motivation to start working out again. Is This Normal? How do I break this and get going again?

Still Recovering

Mama, there is no hard and fast rule about when you should feel up to doing anything after the birth of your baby. We have this idea that women should (there’s that annoying word again) bounce right back after pregnancy and childbirth without missing a beat.

But in reality, we are all different humans and will do things at our own pace and within our own limits of comfort and ability.. If you’re ready to start getting back to feeling a bit like your pre-baby self, that’s amazing. But it’s also OK to take the time you need to adjust to this new season of life. For some tips on how to ease back into exercising, , we have board-certified pediatrician and fitness expert Dr. Alison Mitzner to help get you started off on the right foot.

Dear Still Recovering,

Dear Still Recovering,

First, it’s important to be clear on expectations and misconceptions. Getting back into shape doesn’t happen overnight, like you see often with celebrities. It’s true that you can lose about half the weight quickly in the first month or two, but the remainder can take months or even a year or so! It took your entire pregnancy to put on the weight. Losing it the right way takes time, too.

Getting started with exercise and a fitness routine is often the hardest part for new (and overwhelmed) parents. There’s a lot to factor in. When you have a child, you expend a lot of your energy caring for your baby, often with little sleep. If you’re nursing, you have to consider your milk supply, which also takes a lot of energy to produce. Of course you’re feeling tired! 

Though it seems counterintuitive, small amounts of exercise, even 15-20 minutes at a time, can really help. Walk around the block with the stroller or do a workout video in your living room while the baby naps. Just start moving! Physical activity can be super beneficial, even when you’re tired, since it gets those endorphins and blood flowing and can give you the boost of energy you need. Besides the obvious physical benefits, exercise can also do wonders for your mental and emotional state and lift your mood when you’re having a particularly rough time.

Try to find a support group or group of moms working toward the same goals. Your tribe can help you get and stay motivated, and accountability goes a long way! Consider downloading one of the many apps that can help track steps while walking with your baby. The accountability often makes it easier to set—and stick to—your goals. After a while, you’ll probably find that the way you feel after exercising is all the motivation you need to continue.

When building a routine, make sure you’re paying attention to your eating and sleeping habits, too. Drink plenty of water, and take a look at what you’re putting in your body every day (a food diary is a great way to track what you’re eating if you don’t follow a specific meal or food plan). Good nutrition is key to feeling your best!

Sleep is the last part of the equation, but I know it’s easier said than done with a little one. Nap if you can and if needed. Lack of sleep can actually lead to overeating due to changes in your hunger hormones. If sleep has been an issue for you, you may find that by adding exercise into your routine and tweaking your diet, you actually end up getting more quality sleep!

Good luck mama,

Dr. Alison Mitzner

Dr. Alison Mitzner is a single mom, board-certified pediatrician, writer, fitness expert, Sr. Director at a major pharmaceutical company, and passionate supporter of moms feeling calm, confident, and healthy. Her health and wellness articles have been featured in the The Huffington Post, Today, Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Parents, Reader’s Digest, and more. Dr. Mitzner’s mission is to help moms of all types with real, science-backed advice and parenting tips — so they can feel great, parent with confidence, and get back to their most important job… being a mom!

www.dralisonmitzner.com

How Do I Get My 7 Month Old To Sleep Through The Night?

Dear Is This Normal,

Our 7 month old wakes up crying every hour and will only go back to sleep if we pick her up. We’re losing sleep and losing our minds. Please tell me this is normal and temporary?!

No Sleep in the Suburbs

Dear No Sleep,

Ugh, sleep is the best. Why don’t babies love it?! Every single parent reading this right now just looked off into the distance, remembering a time not long ago when they, too, though they would never sleep again. The good news is: this IS normal, and this IS temporary. The not so good news? It’s unlikely to change without some work. But fear not, No Sleep, you will one day sleep again.

Babies are a lot of things, but born with the skills to sleep is not one of them. They go from sleeping all the time as newborns, to just … not sleeping? With any regularity or discernible schedule? It’s a real buzzkill, let me tell ya. 

I’m going to share with you the two words that saved my nights, my sanity, my mental health, and in the long run, turned my kids into pretty good sleepers. SLEEP. TRAINING. Sleep training! My god, sleep training. I’ll probably get flamed for this, but I don’t even care. I did sleep training with both my kids (one at 7ish months, one at 9 months), and it was a game-changer and lifesaver. It was a few days of unpleasantness for many, MANY nights of blissful sleep. For all of us. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

So let’s break down what’s happening with your baby. Around 4 months, most babies hit a sleep regression. This is because their sleep cycle is changing to become more like the one we have; they cycle in and out of REM sleep (just like we do), but they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves back to sleep (like we do). So when they wake up, instead of settling back into slumber, they cry. Then we go in and pick them up, and rock them back to sleep, and thus begins a vicious cycle. Now, if your baby was able to settle themselves back to sleep, they may cry out but would quickly fall back asleep. This is where sleep training comes in.

There are quite a few baby sleep training methods out there. I’ll tell you what worked for me and literally ALL of my friends with babies: the Ferber method. I will warn you, there is crying involved. Both for your baby and, probably, for you, too. But, hey. No regrets.  Your baby needs to learn how to fall asleep on their own because that’s how good, lifelong sleep habits are built. The Ferber method is a way to help them develop healthy tendencies while letting you get back to your normal sleeping patterns. 

This is how it works: you’ll do your normal bedtime routine, rock your baby, give them lots of cuddles and love. But instead of putting them in their crib when they’re totally asleep, you’ll put them down when they’re drowsy. They may fuss, and yes, they may cry. So you’ll comfort them, and then leave the room while they’re awake. Wait a few minutes, then return for a minute to soothe your baby. Then leave again! Wait a bit longer, then repeat the soothing. Your wait times will get progressively longer until your baby finally falls asleep. But this is important: DON’T PICK THEM UP! It’s totally fine to talk to your babe, comfort them, pat their back, then skedaddle. It’s a rough few nights, but so, so worth it in the end.

Listen, everyone needs sleep. You need it, your partner needs, your baby needs it! And as much as we want our babies to just sleep, they’re not equipped for that—not without a little help from us. So my advice to you is: look into sleep training, and find a method that you feel will work for your family. Research shows that sleep training is a safe and effective way to help your baby develop sleep habits that will stay with them well into childhood and beyond. And I’m telling you, that first night’s sleep without having to rock a crying baby for two hours? Just about the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have. Godspeed, Sleepless. I’m sending you zzzzz’s from afar.

Sleeping in the Suburbs,

Is This Normal

Normal to Feel Upset When My Husband Gropes My Breast Rather Than Hug Me?

Dear Is This Normal,

Let me start by saying I love my husband. He’s a great partner and father, and even though we have ups and downs just like anyone else, we’re still happy together after all these years. But if there’s one thing about him that bugs me, it’s that he’s not romantic. At all. Not only that, but he doesn’t seem to understand when I need physical comfort that’s not sexual. Every time I go in for a hug or a cuddle, just to have some intimacy and physical closeness, he uses it as an opportunity to grope my breast or grab my butt. It’s really starting to bother me that he doesn’t seem to understand/care about my needs. Is it normal to feel upset or disappointed when my husband gropes my breast instead of just hugging me?

Sincerely,

I just want a hug

Dear Hug,

Ugh, whyyyyyyyyyy can’t they just learn to READ THE ROOM sometimes?! A hug between a husband and wife is not always an invitation to cop a feel, ffs. This  would annoy the crap out of me too! Intimacy in a relationship is super important.

Intimacy is about more than just sex – it’s hugging each other, trusting each other, confiding in each other. Honestly, it sounds like your husband needs a little help in this particular area! I don’t for a second think this makes him a bad guy or a bad husband. But some guys (and gals!) need help understanding that not everything is sexual.  Mama—it’s time to set some boundaries and talk to him about the difference between intimate and sexual touch.

If you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is tell you husband how you feel. Explicitly tell him that it bothers you that you need companionship and he takes it to a different level. There’s a really good chance he has absolutely no idea. Some men just really don’t. Now, if you HAVE told him all of this and he still continues to do it, well, that’s a horse of a different color and a topic for another (much longer, much sterner) discussion. But I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here and operate under the assumption that he literally doesn’t know what he’s doing annoys and bothers you.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to set some boundaries. I love boundaries! We are all entitled to agency over our own bodies and emotions, and not nearly enough of us enforce that. Being married doesn’t mean you give up your agency. Until your husband understands how you feel you need to set AND enforce those boundaries  yourself. 

Now, what that looks like will be dependent on you and your relationship. It can be as simple as telling him he isn’t allowed to grope your breasts or butt without your consent. It can mean that you are in charge of initiating sexual contact for the time being. Or it can mean that you both come up with a certain code word or action that says, “Yep, I’m feeling some kind of way, you’ve got the green light!” This can actually be kinda hot? Imagine giving your husband the look or whispering the code word in his ear when you’re at the grocery store or a birthday party. That kind of anticipation is crazy sexy. But there definitely need to be some boundaries here, for the both of you.

Finally, talk to your man about how important it is for you to have intimacy and romance in your relationship. I get it—you get married, have some kids, and it’s the first thing to go. But it doesn’t have to be! We could all probably use some help on how to be more romantic. And non-sexual touching (a hug, a hand placed on their leg while you’re watching TV, holding hands, a back rub) is a great way to build intimacy and show your partner how to use romance in your relationship.

I really think that by communicating and enforcing your boundaries, you and your husband can nip this behavior in the bud. Either that or he’ll get the hint when you start swatting his hand away like you do when your kids reach for another cookie. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that!

Hug It Out,

Is This Normal

Setting Boundaries With The Grandparents

Dear Is This Normal,

I am at the end of my rope and need some help or advice or something to help me feel like I’m not losing my mind! My partner and I are the parents of two amazing kids. Our daughter is 3, and we just had a new baby boy two months ago. We’re slowly settling into our new normal as a family of four, and things are going well! For the most part, anyway. We’re having a pretty major issue with my in-laws. 

My parents live far away, but my partner’s parents are just a 30 minute drive away, so they have a really close relationship with our kids, which is great! The problem started when our son was born. They went from visiting every other weekend to wanting to come over every single day. But the worst part is how they’ve started to butt in on our parenting decisions and strategies and try to override rules we have for our toddler. I know they mean well, but it’s like they don’t think we can handle two kids! I’m really starting to resent them and their visits. Help! 

Too Much Nana and Papa

Dear Too Much,

Oh mama. So many people are going to read this and relate SO MUCH to what you just described. Grandparents are awesome! But a little bit goes a loooooong way sometimes and too much of a good thing can quickly turn sour. Especially if they’re not respecting boundaries and trying to assert themselves into more authoritative roles in yours and your kids’ lives. You probably don’t want to rock the boat and risk hurting anyone’s feelings or damage the relationships you have. But I’m here to tell you: one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our kids is set boundaries.. And the sooner, the better. At least before things get really bad and you just completely lose your ish.

It sounds like your in-laws are trying to be helpful, but in all the wrong ways. While their intentions may be good, it’s clear they’re not coming across as intended. So it’s time to set some rules for grandparents. Yes, you can set rules for grandparents! In fact, I personally feel like EVERYONE should have some rules in place for the grandparents (coming from someone with an overbearing mom, hi mom). The key here is setting these rules and boundaries in a way that doesn’t hurt or alienate anyone. That’s the tricky part.

I know you’ll hate to hear it, but I think it’s time to have a family meeting with your partner and their parents. Let them know that you really appreciate them being so readily available, but that you’d like to establish a schedule for when they can come by and visit. If you’re up to it, maybe once a week! If you’d like a bit more space, set up a bi-weekly family dinner every other weekend. Make sure they understand that it’s not like you don’t enjoy their company and help (again, we’re trying to avoid hurting feelings here), but that you and your partner would like to have time to adjust as a new family of four, and give your daughter a chance to adjust to having her new little brother around. 

You can also see if they’d be up for babysitting to give you guys some one-on-one time with each child, steal a date night every once in a while, and give them grandparent time with the kids. In this meeting you want to make  them feel useful and needed, but also help them understand that you and your partner ultimately decide when and how they are most needed and useful.

After establishing these boundaries, it’s time to lay down the rules. Rule number one? You and your partner are the parents, and as such, you make the rules for your kids. And those rules need to be respected. I know some grandparents have a “No rules with grandma or grandpa!” attitude, but nope. Kids, especially toddlers, need consistency. If you have rules for your daughter at home, like no sweets before dinner or no screen time, then those rules need to be enforced no matter who she’s with. Those are rules in your home, rules for when grandparents are babysitting, and rules that apply with you leave your child with the grandparents.Help them to see that following these rules both helps your toddler and helps you and your partner. 

I know you’re frustrated, and I know you don’t want to cause a family riff. I totally get that. But it’s so important to have these conversations now. Because while your in-laws are your family, they’re not your family family, you know? You have to worry about your partner and kids, and make sure that anyone in your lives are enhancing it in a positive way by not making things harder. I hope it goes well! It might not be easy. But it’s better in the long run to lay down the law now. 

Rules Are Meant to Be Followed,

Is This Normal

CBD Curious?

Dear Is This Normal,

I’ve been hearing a lot about CBD lately, but I’m not sure what it’s all about! I’m currently pregnant, and am having a hard time with nausea and back pain. A friend recommended CBD oil, but I’m really unclear about whether or not I can take it during pregnancy. I’m not even sure I feel comfortable talking to my doctor about it! Can you break it down for me? What do I need to know about it? Is it safe during pregnancy?

CBD Curious 

Dear CBD Curious,

I totally understand your curiosity! CBD is everywhere right now. It’s the hot “new” thing, being used to help alleviate a range of ailments from nausea and anxiety to sore muscles and chronic pain. Personally, I’m a fan, and have found it helps with my general anxiety and stress.

CBD isn’t really new—cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years. But as more and more states hop on the legalization train, we’re seeing a huge uptick in the promotion and use of CBD as an alternative therapy or supplement. BUT, and it’s a big but: there’s a lot we don’t know about cannabis-derived CBD, especially when it comes to the effects of CBD on pregnancy and a developing fetus. 

CBD is short for cannabidiol, an oil made from extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a neutral oil. It is a chemical compound of the cannabis plant, but it’s not the part of plant that gets you high. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it’s not psychoactive. Which is why it’s so popular as a medicinal supplement! You can take it regularly without worrying about mood changes, decreased motor movement, or addiction. 

If you smoke or ingest weed to get high, that’s the THC at work, not the CBD. CBD has been used in clinical trials to treat everything from epilepsy to PTSD. Nowadays, you can get CBD in pretty much any form: oils, tinctures, gummies, lotions, food, and beverages. Your friend uses it, celebrities use it, it’s everywhere! 

But, you’re not just anyone. You’re pregnant! And that changes things. You can google CBD and pregnancy and you will, no doubt, find a bunch of articles telling you it’s natural and non-psychoactive so it’s totally fine to use during pregnancy. But while I am a big proponent of CBD and weed (generally speaking), I’m going to be the Debbie Downer here. The problem is, when it comes to CBD and pregnancy, we have next to no research or data on whether or not CBD is safe to use during pregnancy. 

There is no conclusive evidence in the scientific community that states it’s safe. Now, there’s no evidence that says it’s unsafe, either! But most experts almost universally agree: without research, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Avoid ingesting CBD during pregnancy. This is one of those times you want to be EXTRA careful, and if you don’t know how something may affect your pregnancy and developing fetus, don’t take the chance.

Listen, I would still advise you to talk about it with your doctor! You should feel comfortable enough with your OB to talk about anything. While ingesting CBD is not recommended during pregnancy, some experts say that topical creams can be safely used to treat sore muscles and inflammation, since the compound doesn’t enter your bloodstream. Some doulas and midwives actually use CBD-infused creams and lotions on their clients during labor. Talk to your doc about it, but my advice as it stands today? Skip ingesting the CBD oils/gummies/teas/sprays during your pregnancy until there’s more we know.

Best to CBDon’t for Now,

Is This Normal

Anxiety As A New Parent, Any Advice?

Hi Is This Normal,

My partner and I just had our first baby two months ago, and for the most part everything is going well. But ever since we came home from the hospital, my anxiety has gone through the roof. I had some mild anxiety during pregnancy: mostly worrying about the baby and the impending labor and delivery. But since she was born, it’s gotten a lot worse. I can’t seem to stop worrying about everything, I can’t sleep, and I can’t help but think something bad is going to happen. Is this normal? And will it ever stop?

Sincerely,

Anxious New Mom

Dear Anxious,

Mama, I would love nothing more than to reach out and give you a hug right now. I know exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re going through. I know how scary this can all feel. The early weeks and months of motherhood are. . .hard. They’re just hard! Even under the best circumstances, it can be a daily struggle. But what you’ve described sounds like more than the expected struggles of a new mom. Bing a new mom can be hard, for sure, but it shouldn’t be debilitating.

Anxiety and depression after childbirth are somewhat common—thankfully, the conversation around conditions like postpartum depression has become less stigmatized, which means more women are recognizing their symptoms and reaching out for help. However, there’s another perinatal mood disorder that needs more attention: postpartum anxiety. 

So many of us brush off our anxiety as normal. After all, some level of anxiety after having a baby is to be expected, right? It’s a natural response to protecting your baby. But for approximately 10% of postpartum women, the anxiety goes beyond the usual worrying. It can consume you, and begin to affect every aspect of your life. Postpartum anxiety  can manifest in many physical ways until it becomes nearly impossible to manage. 

You mentioned some of the more common symptoms of postpartum anxiety, like not being able to sleep, a constant fear that something bad is going to happen, and not being able to stop the worrying thoughts from racing through your mind. For some women (myself included), it can manifest in panic attacks and paralyzing fear over everyday situations. I was diagnosed with PPA when my first baby was almost 3 months old. Mama, I was not in a great place. Recognizing that you don’t have to keep trying to live like this is the first and most important step in getting help. 

The next step is connecting with the right therapist—ask your OB or even your pediatrician for a referral to someone who specializes in perinatal mood disorders. There are different types of behavioral therapies that can help you change the thought and behavior patterns that trigger your anxiety. Your therapist can also help teach you techniques like meditation to help you relax. Therapy and support are so very important in managing postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In some cases, medication may be part of the treatment plan and that’s OK. Your mental health is so, so incredibly important. I cannot stress that enough. And if you need some extra help to manage this, then that’s what you (and your baby!) need. 

You’re not alone, mama, even if it feels like it right now. Motherhood is incredible, but it’s also one of the hardest things someone can do. Sometimes we need help. There’s no shame in that—in fact, it’s one of the best possible things you can do for yourself and your new little girl. Seeking help for my postpartum anxiety was the best decision I ever made. I hope it is for you, too.

You Got This,

Is This Normal

I Have Separation Anxiety Being Away From My Kids

Hi Is This Normal,

I have such a hard time being away from my boys, age 1 and 4. Even leaving them for a couple hours makes me feel super anxious and like I’m doing something wrong. Is this normal? How do I manage my anxiety about being away from my boys? 

From,

Always Home, Never Alone

Dear Always Home, Never Alone,

Awwww mama, I feel you on this, and so many parents reading this can relate. We hear a lot about mother child separation anxiety from our child’s perspective. But you know what? Moms feel it too! We’ve spent the vast majority of our time caring for our kids. We nurture them and see to their basic needs by wiping their tears and fixing their boo-boos. So much of our lives—and our identities—can get wrapped up in being their mom. So yes, it’s totally normal to feel some measure of anxiety and guilt when you’re away from them, even if it’s just a couple of hours. 

You know what the experts say about helping your child manage separation anxiety? Assure them they’re safe and secure, make sure they know you’re coming back, and make a quick exit. A lot of that can be applied when it comes to managing your own mother child separation anxiety, too. You’re leaving your child, but you’re not leaving your child, you know? You’re going to be back shortly, they are going to be well-taken care of in your absence, and will most likely have fun with their caretaker while you’re away. 

I think it might help for you to stop trying to NOT feel anxious when you’re away from your boys. It’s not a switch you can turn off!  It’s completely normal (and a sign of a strong maternal bond) to feel not quite right when you’re not with your kids. It’s not always going to feel comfortable, especially at these young ages. But there’s a difference between acknowledging those feelings and beating yourself up over them. Guilt is a common emotion for moms—but it’s not useful or helpful. 

It also may help to prepare a bit more for when you have to leave. Try coming up with a fun good-bye routine to go through with your kiddos. A song to sing with them, a special book to read, even a secret handshake or hug. Then establish a check-in schedule with the caretaker while you’re out; for every hour you’re away, they can send a picture or quick text to let you know the boys are happy and having a good time. 

Try to keep from constantly checking in or worrying about how they’re doing. Your babies are with someone who loves them, and they are just fine.  When you come home, they’ll be thrilled to see you! It will definitely get easier as your boys get older, but these early years are hard on our mama hearts. 

Home is Where the Heart Will Always Be,

Is This Normal