5 Major Changes Made in Parenting Throughout the Years

One of the biggest remarks I think I’ve heard since having Savannah is, “things have changed so much since I had a kid,” whether it pertains to the toys she plays with, the type of food she eats (breastfeeding, formula, and solids) the crib she uses (oh man this is a big one!) or just the manor in which we chose to interact with her! All of it has changed so so drastically in the past 50 years. So it got me thinking – after having a pretty cool conversation with my friend Kayla about how we don’t know hooow people back in the day dealt with their lack of options for child rearing, it got us thinking – it would be so cool to actually look back and talk about the changes that have been made over the years! Kayla brilliantly thought this would be a great blog post and with her OK with basically nabbing this idea, I have decided to make this into a little series! This week I want to go through the top 5 obvious changes I found on the internet that I thought were pretty dang fascinating, and the next couple of weeks I plan to interview some people! As far as who its going to be, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out! If you lived through this time and respectively disagree with something on my list, absolutely let me know! I want to use this as a chance to educate the moms of  the present on how lucky we are to have all of the options we have now – even when it feels like most days its just not enough! I did my best to support each change made with evidence based information, which I do find super compelling! But we still love to hear how things were before changes were made. We still have a looong ways to go as far as normalizing, well, basically parenting, but it is so good to look back at the past and take stock of all the changes society has made – for the safety and development of our little ones, the mental wellness for our the mothers, and the normalizing (and encouragement) of having fathers play a bigger role in the development of their children! I hope you enjoy! 💛

P.S. this is a long one!

  1. 1. Breastfeeding  

This is a majorly big one in my eyes! We have made such great leaps in the past decade with normalizing breastfeeding – and not just in public! With the abundance of resources that are now offered to amoms, regardless if you’re a first timer or not, breastfeeding is highly encouraged for the benefits the liquid gold that is naturally produced  from a woman’s body at the time of birth. Now, it hasn’t always been like this – breastfeeding has actually gone through many stages! But the one main theme that has maintained since the birth of the United States and really really hinders the choice of each mom on whether they want to breastfeed or supplement  is: who gets to breastfeed and how, and what does everyone else think about it. 

I found this really fascinating interview from Time with a professor of history of medicine from Ohio University named Jacqueline H. Wolf, and she basically said that through her research, breastfeeding hasn’t always been seen as a nuisance! While there is a clear separation of class and race when it came to *which* baby was actually breastfed, nursing has always been regarded as the surest way to enhance the chances of survival for your baby. The jobs of  “wet nurse” was a viable job option for women in the 1920’s, but was actually an extremely tragic choice. Women who became wet nurses were apparently extremely desperate for survival because they were either disowned by their family for having a baby out of wedlock, or abandoned by the father, so their only means of survival was to be hired by a wealthy family to breastfeed their newborn child. The second truly awful consequence of doing that was that the wealthy family would almost never allow her to bring her *own* child, so that child had to be taken to what’s called a foundling home where it more than likely died. So, in other words, this was a time where a wealthy baby lived and a poor baby died as a way of life. Now, this is idea that wealthy babies live and poor babies die is not uncommon in todays world either! Systemic racism is *very* real whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, and the disparity between black women and white women who are encouraged to breastfeed is still extremely prominent. Black women are 3 times more likely to die from *giving birth* than a white women in todays world. How do we end this? Educating ourselves. Acknowledging that the roots of many problems when it comes to not only breastfeeding, but giving birth in America, stem from cultural issues. It is absolutely a woman’s choice whether or not to breastfeed, but it is known throughout the literal *world* that the US makes it extremely difficult for any mother to chose to do it. With the vast majority of us having to go back to work very quickly after giving birth because of our pitiful maternity leave options, and not always having the luxury to pump in the middle of the day while we are at work to maintain our supply, its incredibly difficult for American women to breastfeed. I know so many mothers who say they just want to be able to breastfeed until they have to go back to work because they wont be able to  maintain their supply once they have to go back – its incredible how trivial of a topic that has been regarded as for the better part of 100 years. If you want to read the interview I’m talking about, you can find it HERE.

This year, Netflix came out with a documentary called “Babies” and it takes us through the research done on breastmilk and formula, and surprise! There is very little. They even commented that there is more research done on coffee than there is on breastmilk.. Looking back, I saw this documentary right after having Savannah and its definitely what got me so interested in babies and parenting – I highly recommend it!

This is a topic that I can literally talk about for days and you can find a lot of articles on (recent one I might add) about the history of breastfeeding and formula – I just skimmed the very surface.  I highly encourage you all to do a little research whenever you have a question on whether to chose something, regardless of what it is! Understanding both sides of your options can be so important!

HERE is the article that I used for information!

So I guess this is a relatively new practice that has been implemented in hospitals. Rooming in refers to the practice of keeping your baby with you in your hospital room while you recover from childbirth and it just allows you to get to know your newborn right off the bat! Standard practice was the baby was taken to the nursery for the majority of your stay to monitor, bring the baby into your room when you needed to feed or to just visit with! But now, they have discovered the added benefits to having the baby remain with you for the entirety of your stay (unless there are medical complications of course, where as your baby would most likely stay in the NICU) The benefits of “rooming in” include skin-to-skin contact, establishing breastfeeding (how to get a proper latch and feed on demand) and learning to become more confident in reading baby’s cues for when its time to go home! It all depends on the hospital though, for different ones have different rules when it comes to this practice! Some have restrictions on nursery usage,  while others let parents use it whenever they like! I’m not quite sure what the policy for the hospital I was at was, but Savannah did remain with us virtually the entire time. She left maybe 2 times when the nurses needed to do specific standard tests, but otherwise our little Bee was with me from start to finish. While I did learn a great deal with her, it was incredibly exhausting and I really could’ve used a nap! I went into the hospital at 12:37am on Tuesday night, where I then labored for 16 hours – I  think I got maybe 2 to 3 30minute naps? I had Savannah at 6:28pm on Wednesday evening and Two hours later, people were already visiting! I had maybe 3 hours total of sleep that first evening, and with people constantly coming throughout the whole day and evening, I didn’t get any naps that first day. The 2nd night was the same – about 2-3 hours of sleep. I think I got a total of 7 hours of sleep from Tuesday at midnight to Friday afternoon – all the while dealing with a 2nd degree tear that was incredibly painful. So, looking back, I definitely think for my own sanity, having a couple of hours with no visitors and Savannah safely in the nursery would have been preeeetty amazing – not only for my body but  for my mental health. But then again, it was during that last night of wondering around the room with her in my arms where the name Savannah Bee popped into my head, something I had never thought of before – and it’s a  moment I will always cherish. I also got a really really good glimpse into what the next 3 months were going to look like. So, in some ways it was truly difficult, and others truly priceless.

HERE is the article I used for information!

This one absolutely terrifies me. While I was pregnant my mom told me that when she had us, every mom was told to have their baby *only* sleep on their stomachs, but NOW?? Oh goodness gracious – Savannah is nearly 9 months old and just starting to do that and I swear I can’t sleep thinking about it! But as far as the crib goes, our pediatrician pounded into our head that a boring crib, is a safe crib. No blankets, no toys, no bumpers, no drop sides – nothing. All of these things raise the chances of smothering when the baby is learning to flip over – but cannot flip back yet. Baby smothering is very very real and because they are at risk of it happening until the age of two, we opt for a very boring crib and sleep sacs for Savy to sleep in. While plenty of mothers have done all of the above and surprise! Their babies are still alive and kickin, Trev and I just didn’t see the risk worth it so we’ve opted to not use them. But with that said – what in the world are bumpers and what is a crib with a drop side?? Let me tell you!

Bumpers were created to place along the edge of the crib to basically block the baby from getting their arms and legs stuck in between the slats of the crib. You know that poofy lining you see in old timey cribs that make it look super duper fancy? Those are bumpers! And seriously dangerous. They have opted instead to creating mesh bumpers that are supposedly breathable and much much thinner – just enough fabric to create a clear barrier between your baby’s appendages and the spaces between the slats, but pediatricians still warn vehemently against them. They can *still* cause smothering – yet they are on every baby site, advertised and being sold regularly. Now, drop side cribs were created to make your life easier when laying your sleepy baby down to sleep. The side of the crib literally drops down, so you can lay your baby down calmly, and then you just raise the side right back up. The danger lies in the gap that can form between the mattress and the drop-side, where the baby can literally get lodged in the wedge. Also, the drop side detaches from the upper corner creating a “V” shape, where the child’s head or neck can get caught, causing serious injury and death. 

(You can find more information on this HERE)

Keep in mind folks, these products are considered safety hazards because they could theoretically cause death – but because they already have. Since 2011 there have been 11 separate drop-crib recalls which has resulted in the removal of 7 million cribs from the marketplace. In 2009, the CPSC or Consumer Product Safety Commission (who is in charge or keeping track of hazardous products being sold) issued a recall for 2 million StorkCraft drop-side cribs – this was the largest single recall in CPSC history. They were then banned on December 15, 2010 by CPSC, meaning they cannot be made, sold, or even donated. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill called “The Safe Sleep For Babies Act of 2019” that would ban infant inclined sleep products and crib bumper pads from being manufactured, sold, or distributed. This does NOT include the mesh bumpers however, so those are still sold freely at walmart and even Target (my heart breaks for that one.)  You can find the act HERE.

I found a super fascinating Forbes article  released in May of 2020 talking about how Millennial women are delaying having children for various reasons. The age for first time mothers has gone up from age 21 to age 26, and for fathers age 27 to age 31. I had Savannah when I was *29* so I guess I was really delayed huh? But I wasn’t ready before then. The reasoning behind this stems from financial considerations, health implications, and career/life goals the study found – all of which were huuuuge reasons for me! Financially, I know I wanted to wait until I actually had a career where I was making stable paychecks (didn’t happen that way of course) and looks like I wasn’t alone in those thoughts! 60% of participants in a study said they were delaying because they felt they didn’t have enough money, and 50% said they were waiting to earn a higher salary. Just giving birth to a baby is insaaaanely expensive. Trevor and I literally put a down payment at the hospital months before I gave birth to help cover the costs of my *hopefully smooth with zero complications* delivery. And we still had a massive bill after! I had a pretty smooth delivery, so I don’t know what the cost would’ve been if I had had any complications. 

Health implications is a very real one. Race and wealth play really big factors on the type of care you are given once pregnant – also the type of resources you have access to. This pandemic has greatly affected this fear too! 46% of women in the study said they had a great sense of fear around having access to prenatal care and 61% hold fear and anxiety around the ability to have children and plan a family in general. With the pandemic happening now, and the spread of Zika Virus, its kind of terrifying to be pregnant right now. When I was pregnant with Savannah I was asked by my OB about any and all travel plans we had for the entirety of my pregnancy, and they warned against certain areas to travel because of the Zika Virus. 

Career and life goals are a very big one too. With being a millennial, the emphasis on going to college ( not to mention generating a ton of debt in the process and dedicating years upon years of our life to finishing) just to find a job that wasn’t even guaranteed after, means giving that all up to have a family and baby is giving up on all of the heart and time you invested for the better part of 12 years. That’s a super scary thing to face down! 

If you want to read more about this topic and ways we can combat it, HERE is the article I got this information from!

This one! I absolutely love this fact.  In an article I found from Motherly in 2018, fathers are said to spend 3x as much time with their kids than previous generations. This so so great to hear because this not only helps the development of their children, but it absolutely creates a deeper bond with the parents. In 1982, 43% of fathers admitted they had never changed a diaper – now? That number is down to just 3%! Research indicates that if the dad dress, diaper, and bathe their babies, their father-child relationship grows stronger as the child grows. Splitting the duties between parents also takes a massive load off of the mother – who, lets be real, since the beginning of time – has always been the assumed care taker of the children. 

If there is one thing I’m proud of that Trev and I have really tried to do as parents, is really sharing the duties. I need a break from feeding her 24/7? Trev takes up the feedings with a bottle. I need some me time at night around bath time? Trev does the bath time alone and puts Savannah to sleep. I truly feel so lucky that I don’t have to badger him into helping – he loves to help. So much so, we try to do bath time together with Savannah every single night, and we have started feeding Savy solids 2 times a day – I do it once in the afternoon while trev is working, and Trev does it once in the evening so he can do it. I seriously swear that once we started doing that, Savannah just looooves eating solids! And I truly believe it’s because Trev has started doing it too. Babies and their mamas have an extremely unique, strong bond – but so do fathers, and its so important to remember that!

If you want to read more about it, HERE is the article I used!

WHOOOA ok I seriously did not intend for this to be SO LONG! I had so much fun researching this and writing about it! I just scarped the very very very surface of this topic and I can’t wait to find out more! 

Thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!