Jen Wittes
Bump Birth & Baby
As I sit down to write this month’s column, we’re at the beginning of our ever-increasing social-distancing mandates from both the state and national governments.I don’t know when we’ll be on the “the other side” of this societal halt, but — either way — it seems like the perfect time to explore the tradition of la cuarentena.In Latin, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and some European cultures, a period of confinement after giving birth isn’t considered a luxury or a sacrifice.It’s simply... more
Childbirth spotlight: Hypnobabies
Have you ever heard of Hypnobabies? Does the phrase leave you curious? Cautious? Skeptical? Bemused?Hypnobabies is not a way to put infants in a trance.Hypnobabies is a complete six-week childbirth education course, which includes instruction in “eyes-open childbirth hypnosis” as a form of pain and intensity management.It’s a program... more
Stay. Off. The. Google.
There’s a plague devastating the lives of today’s parents — known to induce headache, worry, insomnia, nausea, body aches, racing thoughts, confusion, loss of appetite and general malaise. This illness is relentless, rampant and it’s significantly diminishing the joy of parenthood for countless sufferers. I’m talking about GES,... more
Help! My baby won’t sleep!
As with so many parenting decisions, the issue of infant sleep weaves a rough and ragged patchwork of choices. You’ve got hardcore CIO (Cry It Out), co-sleeping for-flippin’-ever, Ferberizing, fading, no-cry, wake-and-sleep, etc. Every option is more likely than the next to give your wee one supreme strength and independence … or a... more
Looking back on babyhood
Three years ago, I wrote about the soft, sweet, aching art of watching your kiddos grow up for the Toddler Time column.In that essay — titled The Need to Stop Time — I promised you, Minnesota Parent readers, that every stage would be super cool, even better than the last. But even then, I admitted my theory might be tested in the teen... more
The joy of holiday birthdays
Mild concern among parents about a child born in December is normal, I suppose.There’s the competition with holiday festivities, two-in-one gifts from relatives, budgets stretched a little thin for dream-making celebrations at the American Girl doll cafe or the ever-loving institution that is Chuck E. Cheese. But the December... more
Good news for preemies
It’s one of the “scary thoughts” that plagues expectant parents the most: “What if my baby comes early? What if my baby comes really early?”About 500,000 preterm infants are born each year in the U.S. That’s about 10% of all births. The number is steadily increasing, in part due to the increased prevalence of fertility treatments,... more
You’re pregnant! Get ready!
In the minutes and hours after learning of a pregnancy, it’s common for the expectant parents to realize that they know very little about pregnancy. Or childbirth. Or — Are you kidding me with this thing? — how to tie a Moby Wrap. Within minutes and hours of announcing said pregnancy, the parents-to-be will be inundated with doctor... more
The wisdom of babies
Babies know everything. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a newborn and experienced the unsettling sensation that she understands — well — everything? Those wide, searching, unflinching, drinking eyes seem to hold your heart’s deepest desires, the meaning of life and the intricacies of the universe — plus, you know, how awesome... more
The incredible placenta
Let’s cut to the chase. The placenta is freaking amazing. It is the only organ that is spontaneously created … and then involuntarily disposed of. It gives your baby nutrients, oxygen and an umbilical cord. It removes waste from Baby’s blood and filters out toxins. Your hormones tell you to make this thing simply because you are pregnant... more
Does breastfeeding really burn 500 calories?
Casual myths are often thrown around about breastfeeding and post-pregnancy weight. Don’t worry, your baby’s gonna help get that baby weight right off.It makes sense that it takes calories to make calories for Baby. But does breastfeeding actually increase metabolism? Does it help you lose weight?Eating for two, again, sort of... more
Your nature baby!
If you’re raising an infant in Minnesota right now — through the lush spring and summer months — you’re lucky. Parks and picnic blankets, zoos and nature trails, fresh air and sunshine await you! Without scary, subzero temps and cabin fever to cramp your style, you can and should get outdoors with Baby. It’s good for both... more
The B, B and B playlist
The power of music is undisputed. It makes us laugh, cry, sing, shout and move. Whether toe-tapping or heartbreaking, songs can lift our spirits or give us permission to succumb to cathartic sobs. Music sets the mood, sets the tune, brings us back, propels us forward.You will love the moment your baby first smiles at a pleasant song or... more
My awesome home birth
After writing this month’s feature story on birthing at home, I was inspired to continue the discussion here with my son’s birth story. Almost 12 years ago, my son was born at our then home in Poughkeepsie, New York. Two midwives, both named Susan, were in attendance and our street was lined with snowbanks 4 feet high after a... more
Your first time
It’s the hardest little baby step in learning to care for your baby … letting someone else care for her! Whether it happens seven days or seven months after birth, moms in particular often experience more separation anxiety than their babies during the first time apart. It’s completely natural. Moms — and dads, too — are... more
Doula is not a dirty word
While many families and care providers are now accustomed to the presence of a birth doula during labor, the general public is still warming to the idea of a postpartum doula. Although today’s new parents appear to be more comfortable asking for (and accepting) help, there’s also a belief that such help should come from... more
‘Has she slept through the night yet?’
Oh, but we do love to talk about infant sleep. Where they sleep, with who and with what — be it with mom (judgement kindly offered either way) or a twin, with deadly stuffed animals and crib bumpers or beside a white noise maker that will dictate a lifetime of NEVER being able to sleep well in a quiet room. We love to ask if Baby is... more
How to be an aisle-seat activist
I’ve always traveled with my children. On planes, trains, buses, subways, you name it, we’ve done it and everything that comes along for the ride — diaper changes in airplane lavatories, nursing next to uncomfortable men in suits, overstuffed bags of Gerber puffs. I know mothers of 5-year-olds who still don’t dare take a child on a... more
Baby gifting
Who’s this gift really for?That’s a good question — and more than valid when it comes to selecting a gift for Baby. If you’re a well-meaning auntie or family friend, you have the parents to please (hint — nothing resembling a weapon, no candy, no convulsing, giggling, furry red Elmo chairs). If you’re the parent in question,... more
Say … ‘Dada!’
For Baby’s first year, maybe two, Mom is tops. She’s often the ultimate source of comfort, familiarity, food and life. She is the universe. In a typical mother-father pregnancy-to-birth family structure, Dad might find it hard to compete with the fact that Mom’s body, which was a home to Baby, now serves as an oxytocin-laden food... more
More than one newborn!
When we talk about that “new normal” in the realm of  becoming parents, I think it’s fair to refer to becoming parents of multiples as the “new not normal.” Now, that’s not to say that you, producer of much loin fruit, are a freak. It’s to say that you’re expected to do superhuman things, from the moment you’re expecting.... more
Your new foodie
There are many different opinions about starting solids. Five pediatricians may give five different recommendations. Five different books will say all kinds of different things. Your friends have different stories about their babies’ first foods. Your grandma added cereal to your dad’s bottle the first day home from the hospital and she... more
You. In stereo.
Certain emotions are a given with a new baby — joy, fear, wonder, exhaustion. The standards. What’s talked about less often, if ever, are the heightened feelings outside of the intimate relationship between parent and child. As you hyper-focus on parenting, what happens to your other relationships? To your feelings about work,... more
Your birth philosophy
An old friend recently asked me — while sorting out her plan for birth and postpartum doula support — if it was possible to have an unmedicated birth without a doula.She knew she wanted to birth without narcotics or an epidural, but she also wanted to maximize her postpartum care and was dealing with a... more
Your 'high needs' baby
Your grandmother, or even your mother, may scoff at the term “high-needs baby.”We didn’t pseudo-diagnose our children. Babies were babies. We didn’t overthink it. And we played outside and drank Kool-Aid and ate mud pies and lived in houses with lead paint and were better and tougher and poorer and... more
Feel better. Stay alive.
When you're suddenly and dramatically confronted with caring for, loving and nurturing another living being (your child), it’s easy to toss aside even the most basic methods of caring for and nurturing yourself. Now, I’m not talking about the yoga or happy-hour variety of restoration. I’m talking about basic needs: Food. Sleep.... more
K is for Kegels!
You might live your whole life without hearing about, thinking about or reading about Kegel exercises; and then — you get pregnant. Suddenly they’re a part of your doctor’s recommendations, woven into your yoga class, insisted upon with grave intensity and warnings of reproductive organs spilling out onto the floor from a severely... more
The Guilt Switch
Last month we talked about the stunningly intense Worry Switch — the what-ifs and what-abouts that click into high gear with parenthood.I conveniently left out the other switch, which is equally powerful, if ever-so-slightly more pronounced in female parents.I’m talking about the Guilt Switch, well ... more
The Worry Switch
Even for those who, by nature, tend to be a little paranoid — even for those who typically get lost in “what ifs” — the near-insane level of worry triggered by parenthood can be a shock.It starts during pregnancy and is fueled by how-to books and (ahem) magazine articles and doctors and experts and neighbors and folklore. Soft... more
Oh, the Places You Could Birth!
One of the first big decisions you must make as a parent is where to birth. Which hospital, if a hospital is your choice. Maybe you’d like to have a homebirth … but how does that work exactly? How much does it cost?  The so-called middle of the road option is a birth center, but is it really that much different than a hospital or —... more
Do babies need toys?
My sad, deprived baby.When my daughter was a newborn, a family member came to visit and asked, “Where are all her toys?” She was about 2 months old and I — perhaps appropriately — thought it was kind of a crazy question. ALL her toys? She just got here! She sleeps, eats and poops. Aren’t my two boobs fun enough? She seems to... more
What makes a belly
I like to tell my daughter she’s made of teddy grahams and milk. Cottage cheese with pickles and Wheat Thins. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My son is all brownies and Mexican food. Those were my go-to pregnancy cravings. Powerful, consuming, satisfying, must-have. “What’s your baby made of?” It’s one of my... more
Paced bottle-feeding
Whether you’re formula feeding from the start, pumping the occasional bottle for the sitter or practicing for the return to work, there are best health practices for bottle-feeding.A bottle-fed baby should be fed according to feeding cues (mouth movement, rooting, sucking on hands and eventually crying — just as you would feed a... more
Bleb and beyond
Before we get into all the fun things that can happen to your boobs while breastfeeding, I want to make something clear: I support all feeding choices. Next month, I plan to focus on bottle-feeding. It is my belief, having worked with many different families during their postpartum period, that some moms love breastfeeding and some... more
The doula is in
Whether by birth or adoption, your transition from non-parent to parent covers about two years and change — two years of monumental, unparalleled, bonkers, worrisome, heartbreaking, heart-healing change. My daughter, my firstborn, changed me in about 5 billion ways. From the foods I ate, to the medical choices I made, to what I did... more