It can be overwhelming to know what is necessary to prepare for the arrival of a new member to the family. Seasoned mothers and La Petite Creme founders Fanny and Cecile go back in time and explore what they whish they had known before baby arrived. In episode #4 of our Moms Talk series "Moms talk with a French accent", they openly talk about how to best prepare for baby's arrival from a logistics and an emotional standpoint along with their co-host Dr. Varisa Perlman, a NY-based pediatrician and Holistic Health Coach.
(full text transcript below the video)
Moms Talk with Dr Varisa Perlman [episode #4]: How to best prepare for baby's arrival
Cecile: Hi, Cecile here from La Petite Creme.
Fanny: Hi, this is Fanny.
Cecile: Welcome, everyone. Hi. Welcome to our Moms Talk, episode number 4.
Fanny: Yes, already. [laughs]
Cecile: [laughs] Yeah, I know. So we are on episode number 4, and we're all happy to welcome the first people to join. Hello, everyone. Hello, hello, welcome. And we're going to introduce our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Perlman. So let's get her in right now.
Hi, hi, everyone. I wave at you all. We're so happy you're here.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi. How are you?
Cecile: Good morning. Welcome, welcome.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Good morning. Oh, let me adjust myself. Oh, let me do it this way. [laughs]
Fanny: You were good. You were good.
Cecile: Good morning. We were just introducing ourselves quickly. So, again, I'm Cecile from La Petite Creme.
Fanny: And I'm Fanny.
Cecile: And we're happy to welcome you, Dr. Perlman.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Hi.
Cecile: Do you want to give a little intro about who you are?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. I'm Dr. Perlman. I'm a pediatrician and practiced for about 25 years and now I work as a holistic health coach in New York and Florida. So I do visits virtually, and it's just a wonderful time to support parents and unravel whatever stuff we've got going so we can be the best parents and people for ourselves as possible. So that's the kind of work that I do.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: And I've really enjoyed it.
Cecile: And we really appreciate having you with us today again for episode number 4 of our Moms Talk series. So we're so happy that we are getting this on track. And we have a few more people that just joined.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Great.
Cecile: Now why don't we go ahead and jump into today's topic, which seems to have gotten a lot of traction because we have a lot of people joining. We want to talk about how to get ready for the arrival of baby.
Cecile: Yeah. So we're mothers, Fanny is a mother of two.
Fanny: Yeah, of two, yeah.
Cecile: And I am a mother of two, and you are a mother of two, so we're a happy group of mothers of two.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.
Fanny: So we've already been prepared for babies.
Cecile: Yeah, so were we really prepared, though? Are you ever completely prepared?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes, never. [laughs]
Fanny: No, you think you are. You get a lot of stuff, but after you get a baby, you are like, huh, I should redo that list.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: You're like, wow. Absolutely.
Cecile: And that's the reason why we got this topic together today is to give a different look about how to prepare for baby. So you mentioned the stuff, like the registry, the material thing that we need, but what we wanted to do this conversation about is the thing that you don't see.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.
Cecile: So how do you prepare mentally, physically, emotionally for your baby, and what is the place of stuff in that whole equation?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. I think that, as you were saying—I mean, all parents will say it— you just never prepare. In life, you try to prepare, but you just never prepare. And I think the easy stuff, the low-lying fruit, is the stuff, right? The physical stuff.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Okay, so let's do that first if you don't mind.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Just to get that out of the way. Let's do the basic stuff. Because I do think sometimes the stuff in themselves can kind of represent the emotional, so it can kind of go along the way, right? So let's be deliberate about this. I mean, there's obviously physically, how do you create space in your environment. So whether it be a room, whether it be a bassinet, just basics. And I think that people try to kind of like—they get overwhelmed, and they're like, I want to make the perfect baby and child room for my child.
Yeah, you can do a little paint, you can do a couple things, but in the end of the day, it's like, this being just wants to be with you. Literally, it doesn't care like what color is on the walls. Don't stress yourself out about that. You just put together what feels right, what seems on a practical basis because those few weeks, those few months, they go by fast. And it's that kind of thing where you just need a space that is soothing, that is convenient, because you'll be in and out of that room, and getting everything to be as streamlined as possible.
Cecile: So you're bringing a very valid point is those word of convenience and efficiency. It feels like my personal experience, I felt like having a baby was that loop, that cycle of doing the same thing over and over again, because they eat, they poop, they sleep, they eat, they poop, they sleep.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. [laughs]
Cecile: So that component of efficiency, looking back, was very, very important. One item that just popped into my mind is the changing table. If you read online that, oh, you can just change a baby on your couch. You're going to be changing like 2,500 diapers within the first year, so you don't want to be doing that 2,000 times on the couch.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right. Your back.
Cecile: It's like a working station for you.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: It is.
Cecile: So you have to make it at a good level, like good height level, which is not the same for you and your partner, something where you have space around. And sometimes we overlook that for the pretty because practical is not what the company tells you is what fits for you. Practical for you is are you right-handed, left-handed. You practice doing something 2,000 times. Again, 2,500 times, you're going to be changing a diaper. So that's one of the things to be mindful about, right? Efficiency.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. Well, I mean, some of the changing tables come with straps for the baby. But also, sometimes you have to be able to put something so that you can hold your hand on the baby and reach and grab it and bring it. Does that make sense?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: It's not going to be pretty. But this is a working environment. [laughs] It's literally a working environment. So don't distract yourself with having five different things, everything cluttered where you can't find things. Literally, you need to have things so that you could close your eyes in the middle of the night and you could do it without even opening your eyes. [laughs]
Cecile: And that's very literal because you're going to be doing that.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. [laughs]
Fanny: [laughs] It's going to happen. You're going to change a diaper while you are still sleeping.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right?
Fanny: That's the reality.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: They have so many stuff that they sell these days. I remember my husband being infuriated because they were selling wipe warmers for your car. And he's like, what is this scenario? What are we talking about? And in the first one, you buy all the stuff because you think that you need all this stuff. They really sell it to you. But the second kid, you're like, I want the basics. Give me the basics. And that's why your product is fun because it tries to boil it down to the most basic efficient space.
And I've talked about it before, this whole thing of, it is what it is, but this whole element of performative parenting where it's like, the more that I have, the better prepared I am. And I find that actually to not be the case. The key is to declutter your life. [laughs] Declutter what's around you as much as you can because in the end of the day, you need clarity. You need to have all the energy that you face in the world to be like, eat, sleep, stress. You want to kind of—I was going to say poop, because basically [laughs] there's a lot of poop going on. But just trying to simplify everything is really important because it will give you peace of mind when you're sleep deprived and you're tired and you're just going to look around like, oh my god, I have all this crap and I don't even know what I'm doing with it. I don't want you to get to that point.
Cecile: So that's difficult. When you're pregnant and you're nesting and you have that feeling of you want to fill the space preemptively. You want to just be like, oh, I want to fill it because—So what you're saying is make room. And if you have nothing to sort, nothing in the room, nothing in your head, it's actually better because that's more room for the baby to fill, right?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. And to be able to be a little bit more in touch with like, what things do I need to go to the store that I need? Not that everyone tells me I have to have there, but if you're like, oh, in the middle of the night, I actually needed this cart. Okay, you go out and you buy the cart because you needed it that day. But don't try to anticipate, oh, I'm going to have 10 different carts. Maybe you didn't need 10 different carts. But just boil it down to the basics because you just—Again, a cluttered room is not—it may seem like, oh, it's warm and friendly, but a cluttered room becomes a dirty room [laughs] very quickly.
One of the things people always say when they have children, and I still say it when my college kids visit me [laughs], is like how much crap do you have? You look at one day and all of that clutter became—all that stuff, the decorative elements became clutter very quickly.
Cecile: Yes, it's noise to your—
Cecile: And it's overstimulating because you have to look at things.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Every one.
Cecile: You have to touch things.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. You got more stuff to clean.
Cecile: It's just bringing all of your senses in turmoil, right?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: And so I like how when we talk about the physical, it alludes to the mindset I want you to have. One of the things I remember when we were talking about making this talk or doing these talks in general, there was a lot of us wanting caretakers, people with children to hear their own voice. And if you learn anything, when they're 1 year old, when they're 5 years old, when they're 15, when they're 20, is that the stronger you are to your own intuition, the more connected you are to your own intuition and your own sense of what would work for your kid, the more accurate you are as a parent, the more present you are as a parent, what that means is that you've got to clean the clutter, whether it be a physical clutter [laughs], emotional clutter, you got to declutter everything because it's just too much. You cannot process all of that.
It's funny because I would do a lot of like, you're about to have a baby and then they meet the pediatrician talks, and people would come in, what books should I read? My baby's due in two weeks. Give me five books so I can read them. Almost like cramming. You're cramming to have a baby. I don't know. That doesn't work. It doesn't work [laughs] like that. And they're like, tell me what to buy. Tell me all these things.
And I would be like, take a walk. [laughs] Take a walk. Just spend these last couple of weeks really being present as much as you can. Get good food. Have people around you. I know I hate to call people clutter, but when your house is full of people and neighbors and all these other people, your head is full of all of that. Declutter what's around because the parents, honestly, that come into the birth and they're like, I have this oil for this, I have this song for this, I have this, and they're just trying to control every minute of their labor and everything. And I take a pause because I don't want to scare people. But I was like, in my experience, the ones that walk into the whole birthing process, like, ah [laughs]—
Fanny: We'll see what happens.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: They just shrug their shoulders, they're like, let's see how it rolls, they're just kind of open to what's going to happen, the baby literally pops out. Literally just, plop. It just plops out. But the ones who were like, oh my god, this didn't happen when it was supposed to happen. And they're just so stressed out. You're basically telling your body something is wrong. And nothing's wrong. You're fine. The tries didn't start exactly when you thought, but you know what? It's not your show. There's a whole Mother Earth thing going on. This is not really about you.
And the sooner that you can almost release that sense of that need for control, the baby appears.
Cecile: So can we state then, letting go of control and adding space and adding room and adding moments where you do nothing is actually what you need to add on your registry?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. [laughs]
Cecile: Space and emptiness and the calls of congratulations more than actually something that is physical and take room.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes.
Cecile: Because it feels like instead of removing stuff, we talked about that when we talked about picky eating back a few episodes ago, that sometimes removing stuff is hard.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Totally.
Cecile: It's easier if you add things that kind of balance it out. So maybe adding blanks, right? Adding space, adding room, adding emptiness would be a good way to prepare.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: It's interesting, and I'm glad that you talked about it in a very concrete mind. For all of us, we need to schedule in moments of nothing.
Fanny: Yeah. And I mean, for the people who needs to fill with something, my advice will be to fill your freezer with food.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. If you really want to do, well, you can cook.
Fanny: I didn't want to change the topic, but if you really want to do something and have the impression that you are active and you are doing something to prepare for your baby, prepare something for you.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. I agree.
Fanny: Because you are nesting so you need to have the impression that you're doing something, but you're going to be in this nest when the baby is here. [laughs] And you're going to feed this baby. You are not going to sleep. But you need to eat because if mom doesn't eat, if mom doesn't function, baby doesn't function. So that's the best advice. I think that my 100% advice, in your registry, put a Uber Eats gift card, put Grubhub, anything that when you are so tired and you just want to do nothing, just take your gift card and order food because you would need food. And you need comfort food, not a salad or something you can just grab on your fridge because nobody wants that. You just want comfort food. You are miserable, you are tired, you just want to eat something good.
So that would be my best advice. If you need to fill a little bit of that space because you are anxious and you have this sensation that you have to be active, just freeze some food, like do some lasagna or, I don't know, comfort food.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. Cook.
Fanny: You will be so glad. Put a note on your lasagna and say you're doing a great job.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. [laughs] Literally, when you were saying that, because you are right, you're nesting, you feel like you have to prepare something, even just wanting to—like I have to do the top because I need to—In the end of the day, like you said, the only thing I need, your house could be bursting at the seams and you will never have enough of is food. When you are trying to breastfeed, but even if you're not breastfeeding, literally, your healing comes from protein, it comes from fat, it comes from fluid. It doesn't come from like I grabbed a handful of nuts and a cracker. You can't heal. You don't make milk.
And in so many ways, I would see moms, day 3, day 5, they just literally came home with the baby and they're breastfeeding and it's going not so great and they're a little frustrated and it's 4 o'clock, say that they're at our 4 o'clock appointment. What did you eat today? You guys know. I've seen you at that stage, right?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: What did you eat today? You get busted really fast in my office, right?
Fanny: And you're like, no, no.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: What did you eat? And they're like, I had a smoothie at about 9:00. And it's fascinating, they'll say, but I've been so busy feeding the baby all day. If you had eaten every two hours a nice bowl of soup, a piece of something with rice, eating something every two hours, you wouldn't need to feed the baby and keep the baby—Because the baby's smart. The baby's like, I don't know what the hell's going on right now. I need to get my food. I'm just going to stay attached and hope for the best because hopefully, the delivery will come. And here you are, you're like, but I'm so stuck.
I would always talk about it. I always joke that I should go on Shark Tank for this. And again, talking about what you have, where you would sit to feed the baby. You need to have a whole cart. Even if you had like a refrigerator there or you had a basket, so that you can literally feed the baby and eat at the same time.
Cecile: And drink water. And drink fluids.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Right? I mean, they have those backpacks.
Cecile: The camera bag? [laughs]
Dr. Varisa Perlman: I like the visual of the hat with the beer, you know, that people pour the beer. And I'm like, put broth in it. Hopefully, it will be hot. Literally sit there and—In Chinese custom, they actually kidnap the mom and the baby. They sit them down in the corner, they literally spoon-feed the mom broth the entire day and just let her sit and just breastfeed the baby because she must need to be calm.
Cecile: So the analogy on food is the same for the brain, right? It feels like a lot of that nesting time then can we apply that same thing to make space in your brain because you're right, you're trying to control and anticipate anything about your baby. And if it's your first baby, you don't know how the baby is going to sleep. The one thing you know is yourself. So you know what you eat. You know what you like. You know how you like to sleep. You know how many times you go to the bathroom. So anticipate what your needs are going to be because these are not going to change. You become a mother, you still need to sleep, you still need to eat, you still need to relax.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: And you can't really control—The thing that all of us at multiple stages of raising kids is that what is the one message that is literally pounded in your head over and over, is that you don't control anything. Especially with what's going to happen with your kids. We do the best we can, but you can't control. So what they say, right? Control the things that you know you can control and the things that you can't control, you let go. So there's certain things that—Listen, all of our babies have a certain path of journey of what needs to happen. But the one thing you control is what food goes in your mouth, you can control that. You actually can control that. So do the best you can with that. That's the whole idea. And this is going to come up over and over again when you're raising children. They always say put the mask on yourself before you put it on your loved one. Right? Because if you pass out, you're not any use to that kid.
But I'm going to say that's why I do what I do in terms of working with parents. Because I saw over and over again, the kids are really resilient. But the parents, if we don't take care of ourselves, on so many levels, we cannot be present for them. It just doesn't work. Do the math. You need to be present for yourself before you can be present for them.
Cecile: So on that note, just to finish on the material stuff that you need, so we said, okay, diaper changing, because poop is going to come, poop and pee, so that's a given. So we need something to tackle that and to make something practical, whatever is practical for you.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: It doesn't have to be pretty.
Cecile: Yeah, not pretty, just efficient.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Not pretty. Practical.
Cecile: What are the other things that are must-have for babies? I would assume sleeping, eating, and getting them home. Right?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. There are so many choices now, so I know that they're incredibly overwhelming. You go to Babies R Us or—they don't really have those much anymore. But you know, any of these stores. So, obviously, everyone has preferences in terms of carriages and basic—like you can even play it on your head. The baby has to come home in something. What do I have? The baby has to be pushed around in something. What do we have? Make it very simple, like day-to-day. Having the cart.
From a medical standpoint, I love having—In terms of figuring out how to bathe the baby, in terms of what you need to—I like to put some emollient on the skin when they come out. So whether that be coconut oil—We always talk about your product works with a lot of oils as opposed to creams that we don't know what a lot of the additives are. So to try to simplify, people would sometimes say, don't put something on your skin that you couldn't eat. So we talk a little bit about that concept. I am a big fan of salt water. The saline sprays, I think can sometimes be something that—again, not having to shove it up or suck it out or anything, but just sprinkling it, trying to keep them a little bit moist there. A thermometer, both the fancy ones, which—I say fancy ones, but the ones that go on the head, they're not that accurate, but just screening thermometers, but also a rectal thermometer with some lubrication.
In case you have a fever, again, undress the baby entirely, make sure that they're not overdressed before you take the temperature, above 100.4—
Cecile: I have a comment about that because we're from France, rectal temperature is the way we grew up with and that everybody has. We find that here in the US, it's something a little taboo. As a matter of fact, the product that we do, our diapering lotion, works great as a lubricant because it is oily and it happened to be right there by your changing table. But why is it that it's not something as common here? Because it seems to be so much more accurate.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, because Americans get weird about stuff. They're just still like, it's going to go inside him. How far? Will I hurt? And honestly, it's like, think about how big their poop is when it comes out. The rectal thermometers are not even the size of your finger. And I'm not saying you know shove the whole thing, but the digital ones, it's so fast and literally it's just the tip that goes in, you lubricate, and it's the only—If you ever called your doctor and said, my kid has a fever, especially when they're in the first three months or so, the first thing they'll say is, what's the rectal thermometer?
Fanny: That's the more accurate one.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: They're like, tell me what the rectal temperature is. That's all they want to hear. Sometimes we'll just hang up and be like, call me back when you [laughs] get a rectal thermometer because anything else just doesn't work. It just isn't accurate.
Cecile: That's good to hear because the social media and everything makes you feel like you need the thing on the forehead.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, but it's so inaccurate that I'm like, okay, it tells you something, but I don't even know what it really tells me.
Cecile: So back to basics again.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah.
Cecile: Back to the old time, good-
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Go old school.
Cecile: -thing that has been proven to work for you.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: I'm not saying the mercury. I'm not telling you about the mercury. I don't even have to even sell those anymore. I'm not telling you those. The digital ones work just fine. And until they're obviously old enough they can hold under the tongue, there is that in-between. It's hard to do a rectal thermometer on a 1-year-old, but it's the kind of thing where in the first couple months, those are very helpful.
I think the food thing, obviously, are you going to use bottles and do you need to order certain organic formulas? And having that space there, because some of the organic formulas take a little while. Have some of that prepared, even if you're breastfeeding, just have it there, whatever bottles. I'm not saying you're going to actually use them. Don't go crazy with it, but it is hard to get out when you're—The great thing about ordering online these days is like, it's like nothing.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: So I feel like a lot of those concerns are not, but it's still one or two days, so if you're going through something—Again, just going back to the basics. I mean, this is it. You know what I mean? I have this one person that I kind of follow on social media a little bit, and literally her baby has not been born yet, she has clothing in baskets for the baby until they're 5 years old. She literally shows she's bought a whole year's worth
of clothing. And she has a closet. I look at that and I feel anxious. I already feel anxious. I don't even know what I'm anxious about. But it's that kind of thing where, you know, just allow some space for you to feel like, okay, do I need this or not? And to really make those decisions and not feel bullied into getting all this clutter all over your house that you're just like, I don't even know.
But I agree with you, if I could ask you for anything I mean, maybe you need another freezer. I want your house to have so much food [laughs]. Even making things of broth yourself or even buying a bunch of the broths so that all the food is within arm’s reach I think is really fantastic. I think it's interesting, you actually brought up a Grubhub coupon or something. That's an incredible gift, I think, because— [laughs]
Fanny: Yeah, that's the best to put on your registry, and I'm so sad I didn't put any on mine. I was so dumb, I was like, shoot.
Cecile: You need to do another baby. [laughs]
Fanny: No. [laughs]
Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Because sometimes you might feel like, oh, I feel really bad about getting food delivery, this and this, and then you're like, I guess I won't eat. It's like a circle or a weird thing. But if you have a gift card, you're like, oh, I guess I'll use the gift card.
Cecile: Another thing maybe also in this phase of preparing is also getting all your apps and all those accounts set up prior to baby arriving. That's something practical you can do. Do all your sign-up, put your credit card, put your password somewhere, share it with your spouse, share it with your friends and your family members, so when they text you and you're like, I need food, they have access, they have your address pre-populated, all that stuff, because that's something practical you can start doing today that's going to fill your time and fill that need for nesting and become really practical down the road because it's going to be easier to text your mom and say, mom, I need this food, everything is already set up. You don't have to be on the phone with her and be like, put your credit card, click here, do that. So all of those preset. Preset your Amazon where you can scan everything, that code scanning so you can reorder everything in your house by just scanning it, which is crazy bit works. So all those stuff so that you're, again, efficient, you're efficient because you're going to be doing things a lot with very little brain power sometimes.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Sleep deprivation is very real. It is. I don't know why I know it. So I'm just going to—but they have torture research that they released, and they're like, literally, if you have less than four hours of uninterrupted sleep, you start to go clinically insane. Things get kind of loopy.
The truth is that babies are kind of like jet lag when they first come. And so night and day doesn't always make a lot of sense. So being able to try to discipline yourself so that during the daytime, you wake them up gently every two hours trying to feed them. And then at night, they can sleep three to four hours. If you let them, don't wake them up at night if you can avoid it. And once they reach their birth weight, which is usually at about two weeks, I'm like, don't even touch them at night. Don't wake them up at all. But the night and day is tough because if they sleep—
I remember, not that I'm planning to have another kid to right my wrongs, but we had my in-laws staying with me. I had all kinds of visitors. So everybody was really happy to hold a sleeping baby. So you look up, and all of a sudden, your baby has slept for six hours in the middle of the day. And sure enough, we'd be getting ready to go upstairs and literally like, boom, the one eye, we would call it as pirate eye, would open. And I would turn to my husband, I was like, I don't want to go upstairs. I just know, the whole night, that they would be up. And we go upstairs and they just started screaming. That was not me doing a good job of decluttering. I did not declutter my life there because I didn't need all those people in my house. I didn't need all of that. I needed people to drop off food.
Cecile: You mentioned it before, prepare that space from people. How do people do that nicely in a smart way, and how do we know before we have a baby what kind of people we want in our team? And how do we identify these people?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: I think that one of the things that they were talking about—Again, we're kind of hinting at it, but I'm hoping it's becoming clear, is that taking care of yourself and preparing to take care of yourself is the way that you prepare to take care of a baby because you are the instrument that will be caring for this baby. We'll say it over and over again until it becomes second nature, taking care of yourself is the way you take care of your baby. So that's a basic idea.
And one of the things I had read recently is this whole idea where boundaries is our wonderful self-care tool. And what I mean by that is that if you know that there is someone who is going to really look after you in a sincere—whether it be a friend or a family member, who's going to come over and be like, oh, you want some water? Okay. Let me make something to eat, okay. Why don't we just hang out and watch TV together? Right? That person, they can stay all day, right? [laughs] They can stay all day. They can stay as long as they want because it's great to have another pair of hands. That's fantastic. But if you know it's somebody who's like, oh, could you get me something to eat? Oh, you know what? Could you do this for me? Can you get and do that? Even though they're over your house and you are the one taking care of a baby. An hour. And be like, I'm really sorry. I have some people coming over in an hour. Do you mind? I'm just going to try to make it simple.
COVID was kind of nice. I have to tell you, I'm going to be completely frank, I had more than one family that had a baby without COVID and a baby with COVID, and they were like, we love this COVID thing. [laughs] And I was like, what do you mean by that? And it was the best excuse. Like, oh, 30 people want to visit me in my hospital room [laughs] when I literally just gave birth eight hours ago, like, oh no, you can't come 'cause it's COVID. [laughs] They were like, we love COVID. I mean, this woman, the first time around, her boss is staring at her. Her breast is sticking out. She's trying to breastfeed her baby. And she's like, why are you here? Why are you here? So that became a great thing, like I don't want a lot of people at my house because of COVID. And when the restrictions started to lift, they were like, yo, is there another? Could you give me something [laughs]-
Cecile: [laughs] Can you come up with something else?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: -that's going to work quickly? Because it gave a little bit more space to people who feel badly to tell people to leave their house, but it gave them almost like a great out because in the end of the day, it's just so much energy and you are sleep deprived, you probably haven't eaten as well as you should have, you are not cared for. To be an entertainer in your house is crazy. It's a crazy idea.
Cecile: How about family members? So we, Fanny and I, both had that experience where we are expats, so our families are overseas. A lot of people in Florida have the same thing where when you announce that you're pregnant, people are buying plane tickets to be like, oh, I'm going to be there on that day and stay for a couple of weeks, because that's the relationship that we have with our families. But how do you deal with that? How do you not cut ties with your family because they still want to see the baby and they can't just come for an hour here and there?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: I know. And I think that that is, again, I feel like ethnic families tend to have this little bit of an issue because that is the culture, that everyone's in the house. Now, ideally, and then I'm going to say the same thing. If they are people that will come and help you, it is amazing. In some ways, if you have a family member, generally, sometimes it's a mother or someone who can literally care for you. They have the right idea. And they're literally cooking for you. Yeah, they can stay with you and maybe have a little bit of downtime or time that like, here, I'm going to take a walk with the baby or I'm going to take a walk on my own. Can you watch the baby?
Create boundaries so that you have your own time as well and they are very helpful, then them staying with you is probably okay, it's good. But if they are the type that are like, you know, and you love them—again, you love them, and I'm not saying you don't like your family, but not everyone—we're not clones. We're not all necessarily going to like every aspect of all of our family members. That's just physically impossible. But if you have family members that you know that are not going to be so helpful, it is going to be really hard. I think it's time to spring for the Airbnb. I think it's time to be like, you stay there like physically and then maybe come over for a couple of hours, but I think that would be it. And so you're here, you're with the kids. And it's not an easy conversation. I am not saying it's an easy conversation.
Cecile: I was just about to say, I'm thinking about people who are watching this and thinking, easier said them done. And so sitting here, we don't have to have that conversation. But I remember you talked about in a previous episode about finding your voice as a parent. And I feel like it ties to that where it might be the first time that you're actually advocating for your kid. As we said, since we are the instrument to be good with our kids, if we feel the stress from family members, if we feel like we're anxious, the kids are going to suffer from it to some extent. So maybe if you have to have that hard conversation, dig deep into that. If you feel like, oh, I'm being mean to my mother-in-law, to my father, to whatever, try to say that you're picking up for your child. And it's like, you're not doing it for you because you're selfish, because you're picky, because you're whatever, you're making sure you're all in the best environment so you can better serve your children.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: So I say this, I probably try to say it at least once every time we have one of these talks, because I say it all the time, but I always tell people and I always remind myself of this, is that the children are born—and this is a Chinese adage—that children are born the way they are to heal the family.
In the end of the day, all of us should have been brought up, or we should all be brought up with the ability to advocate for ourselves and to create boundaries. Now, that is a very new day concept. Any ethnic group, or forget ethnicity, but any older generation, boundaries, privacy—[laughs] I remember my mom literally laughing at my sister when she opened up mail that was addressed to my sister and she was like, no, she's like, all of the mail is my mail. It was laughable to her. That generation does not understand boundaries that well.
And I had to tell you, there are moments that I definitely felt like on my own not so good at advocating for myself, not so good. But if you tell me, and I tell myself, I need to advocate for me right now for my kid, I did it. No question, boom, done. Like you said, that's where the strength came from. So I always felt like my kids gave me that strength because I am not good at that. I am terrible at that, actually. [laughs] I still struggle with that. Trying to say, hey, this is not really cool. But if I say that, hey, I don't think this is really healthy for my kid in this environment, I don't flinch, I'm not flinching.
Cecile: Yeah. That's why I wanted to add that because it's a stronger argument and it does bring the mama bear in us of being like, okay, wait a minute, that's a line that we're not going to cross. That makes you more confident to have that conversation and to use that and getting the focus away from you. That could be a way to do it.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. I have exercised that strength. I have taken that strength from my kids literally multiple times in my life with my family. I always tell parents that if you can't advocate for your children, who else will? I'll go even further. If you can't advocate for yourself, [laughs] who else will?
So this is an incredible moment where, again, preparing for your baby's arrival is the name of the talk, right? If you're sitting there, you are preggo, you are going to be giving birth in the next month, and you're like, I am feeling already overwhelmed by knowing that these people are coming, that person's going to want this. There are so many things that are really overwhelming me and the baby hasn't freaking come out yet. [laughs] What am I supposed to do?
Spend a little bit of that time saying, what is really important for me?
Fanny: Hi. [laughs]
Cecile: Sorry. For some reason, everything crashed here.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] Right, it's technology. So yeah, I mean, I think that we were just really driving home that point of finding your voice through your kids.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: And this being the first exercise of it, honestly. Again, we only learn through experience, but I think that you're really right to bring that up that in order to find your own voice, you do have to make boundaries. You have to make the boundaries and know who is good in my space and who is probably not so good, especially when I'm very vulnerable. And we talk a lot about— [laughs] It sounds terrible, but we talk so much about how happy the cows are when you make the milk, right? Everyone's like, did people sing to them? Were they eating good grass? Were they happy? So for some reason, everyone can understand, well, I think the cow, the milk that comes out is better. [laughs] Right?
Cecile: Definitely, yeah.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: But I hate to break it to you, when you are making milk, you are making that milk so your happiness, your joy, your rest, your stress, all of that is very much—it is going to make that milk different. And I want it to be good milk because I want you to be in a good place, but you are the source, you are where it's coming from. So I think, again, eat, sleep, stress, you got to get the three basics into good alignment and have some rules of the game.
And maybe you say, listen, I know these people, they mean well, but maybe I can tell them, is it okay if we just—maybe the first month, I'll send you pictures, I'll let you know, but I need a month to get my head back on straight. I'm not going to be such a great host. In some ways, maybe put it on yourself and be like, it's not that I don't want you to see the baby, but I think that I'm not going be so—which is not untrue. [laughs] You are going to be kind of spinning. Not a good time to have a dinner party. It's not the time. So you're not going to be such a great company anyways. I just want to get a hold of how we're doing at home and get our rhythm and our routine together, and we would love to have you. We would love to have you come stay with us. We would love to have you visit. But I had to tell you, bringing a new baby home back to a full house, it's a bit much.
Cecile: Even for the baby though, if it gives some argument, the overstimulation of too many smells, and noises, and voices, and colors, and different types of holding, for the bonding with your baby, that might be also another argument where you're like, hey, it's not good for my child to just be—we need to connect one-on-one before there is 10,000 people in the room.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. I'm just trying to think of it, how to say it [laughs] in a way that can be a delicate conversation. But I think that, again, perhaps saying that I just need a little bit of space and we want to get everything together. People are more than welcome to drop off food. [laughs]
Cecile: [laughs] Totally.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: I know that [inaudible] situation, you're more than welcome to drop off some food and we can chat for a little bit, and that might be it. I think that just trying to give people—Again, everyone's anxious to help, everyone's anxious to be there. People are not always sensitive to how they might be a little bit intrusive. If you want to come over and drop off something, and then go. I would love to see you. You can take a peek at the baby. But just say like, really, it's going to be a lot. We know it's going to be a lot of hard work and we may not be the best hosts for a long time.
Cecile: Or you don't pick up the phone or you don't open your text. [laughs]
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah. Right. I think that that's another thing, is that wherever you are, and it's hard, I know, in places that are more cold, but for those of us in Florida, for most people in Florida, people will be like, the baby's a week old and they're like, when can we leave the house and take a walk? And I'm like, a week ago. [laughs] I don't know who told you that you couldn't leave the house, but literally, why have you not left the house? This is why we live here.
Cecile: But also, I want to bounce back on that because being cold is not a threat for babies in this world, right? Eskimos have babies and they live in the cold all the time. So I guess it would be okay to go for a walk if you have your babies.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, bundle them up, bundle them up. And actually, the fresh air, it's amazing. They actually find on a neurologic standpoint that just by looking at the sky, your eyes start to beat like in the motion of like the wind and you connect in a way, you become more relaxed in a way that nothing, no pill can do that. Even just taking a walk outside. Again, scheduling it, and saying every day at this time, I'm going to do this. Scheduling that time is really important to protect, again, your mental wellness.
Somebody asked about the pets. I have heard lots of incredible work that people are doing. So if you Google it, I know it sounds rich, but there's all this work where you take a cloth from the baby's bassinet where the baby is sleeping and have the pet smell it, start to get used to it. I will tell you a little bit of a boundary for me. The truth of the matter is that we don't love the co-sleeping just because with big pillows and big blankets, there is that SIDS risk, which is very real. And I mean, listen, there is a certain amount where the American Academy of Pediatrics realizes that if you're breastfeeding, you will end up bringing the baby into bed with you. And so that's neither here nor there, but they'll say, literally, I don't want these big fluffy pillows. I don't want the big, fluffy comfort. That can be, again, a SIDS risk.
You cannot have a dog or a cat that sleeps in the bed normally in the bed too with your baby. It's just too many factors on many levels. Besides the fact that the dander that you might be okay with but it could make the baby quite congested, besides that. But also, there is a real SIDS risk.
So, if you're sitting there, again, you've got 36 weeks, you've got four more weeks to do, I'm going to probably put that on your to-do list that you need to get the pet. And ideally, I would have loved the pet even out of the bedroom because, again, the sleeping space, when you're walking around and there's pet dander, in general, I say it too, but if there's pet dander, you're walking around, but if you have pet dander on a pillow that you sleep on for eight hours, you just put that cat in your face for eight hours. So it's just not a great ventilated space that you need for the baby.
Cecile: So, back to point one of making space, that would also mean less maintenance for you, another thing for advocating for yourself, that you won't have time to change those pillows or vacuum as much or do your regular cleaning that you do with pets. So maybe reclaiming that space and time is another way to prepare. So it's in line with everything we talked about before.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, it's totally in line. Just the idea of really sitting in the room, sitting in the space, and saying like, what does this room need? You know what, if I'm sitting there and I'm on a rocking chair and feeding the baby, I might need a light. Okay, is there a plug here? Where do we move it? Again, you have not heard me say anything about being pretty, right? [laughs] This is about efficiency, literally looking at it as a workstation. You are going to be the assembly line worker of poop. [laughs]
Cecile: Well, on that line, since we're talking about it, we couldn't stop it without mentioning how we streamline the poop and pee business. So at La Petite Creme, we have this French lotion, which is traditional of how they change a diaper in France. When you have a baby in France, they don't give you baby wipe, they give you a bottle of lotion., and that's how you clean and you protect your baby's skin. And we decided with Fanny to bring that to the US when we couldn't find it for our own children. And it does streamline the process because it's one single product, it cleans, it protects the next time it cleans, next time pee or poop comes out, it's not sitting on that skin, and it's making that whole process faster. It's one bottle that's easily accessible. So one less thing to worry about.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: And so then you could see why, as I'm advocating for all this and then when I heard—You guys are my patients, you're talking about your product, I was like, yes, that's what I'm talking about. Because the more that you can have less that you're carrying, less that you are having around you, just basic stuff where you just take the lotion, and you just kind of—What I liked about it is the idea that you wipe it, and then if it's clean, that stays on the skin because imagine when you're sitting in a diaper, and especially with these absorbent diapers, you're literally taking moisture and putting it right back on the skin. When they sweat into it, in Miami, it's a real problem, they sweat into the diaper right into the skin. And so that skin's like, how am I supposed to have any protection?
That's why being able to streamline—A lot of people don't always put emollient on after, and that's another step, but you really should because there's too much irritation. And then they're like, oh, wow, I'm so surprised. Now, I have a diaper rash. And it's like, if I put that on your skin and—Sounds terrible. If I wet your underwear and put it on you and had you walk around for three hours, guess what would you have in three hours? You would have a rash, right? [laughs] So it's that kind of thing where that's what a diaper is.
And I think that that's good. I think that it kind of goes full circle is that this whole idea where your physical surroundings, you physically taking care of yourself is [inaudible] emotionally, mentally, trying to declutter your head, declutter your influences, declutter your voices, declutter all of these other things that can be so distracting, and they even get worse when you're sleep deprived. The distractions, it's really hard to focus on what you're doing in your life when you are so consumed with eat, sleep, poop. I'm not trying to scare people. I'm just saying that for what you need to get done, you have to have clarity.
Cecile: And maximize your energy because you're only going to have so much and you have to make sure it's on point and you don't have to shuffle through five different things to access your bed. [laughs]
Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] My husband would always get mad at me because when the kids were young, that was what I was, I'd slip around everything. I would have these bags and he's like, what do refugees take around with them? What is the most basic? Why do you have to have 10 of these? And it's that kind of thing where like you feel nervous, that's when babies [inaudible] and then you have everything, you feel like you need all these things. And then by the second kid, you're like, no, just give me this, give me this. Thank you. I'm out.
Cecile: Maybe we can we can close on that. When your baby is born, the one thing that they need is you. Because you mentioned a stroller, you have your arms. The body and life is designed that they can survive off being in your arms, sleeping. They don't move at that time. I didn't realize that when I had a baby. They could sleep on the floor for a few days. They just don't move. So all they need is your arms and your brain to be there, right?
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Less is more.
Cecile: So to circle back, how do we prepare for a baby? Make space right now. Work on space. Push the space and then you can embrace that baby and have this wonderful experience.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. I think that's beautiful what you said. All these things that we're talking about is ways for you to be more present for the baby. In the end of the day, you're absolutely right. All the baby needs is you. They do not need a car baby wipe warmer. [laughs]
Cecile: Okay, we'll scratch that off our baby registry. Too bad.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah, take it off the list. [laughs]
Cecile: The lobby for baby wipes car warmer is going to be calling us and be like, our sales just went down.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: [laughs] How did you do that?
Cecile: We'll deal with that call.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yeah.
Cecile: Thank you very much, Dr. Perlman. Thank you, Fanny.
Fanny: Yes, thank you very much.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Thanks, guys.
Cecile: Thank you, everyone who watched, and then we'll see you in two weeks for the next episode of the Moms Talk by La Petite Creme.
Fanny: Yes. And from now, happy holidays to everyone because next time, we'll be in 2024.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Yes. Happy New Year.
Dr. Varisa Perlman: Bye.
Watch other episodes here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1dpfz3OiZoOwHuST-GmH9sTD0TfF3rIp