Ep 235: Demystifying Parenting with Sharon Mazel

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The blessing and curse of living in the digital age is the overwhelming amount of information. How are you supposed to know what’s reliable and what’s not? It can feel paralyzing to have every fact at our fingertips. Fortunately, you’ve got experts like myself and Sharon Mazel to help cut through the noise.

Sharon is an internationally recognized parenting and pregnancy expert, author, journalist, speaker, parenting coach, and mom of four with over 25 years experience in the field. She wrote her new book, Bite-Size Parenting: Your Baby's First Year, to distill all of that content down to what you really need for baby’s first year!

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why modern parenting feels so overwhelming
  • How to tell if information is trustworthy
  • What to expect from baby in the first few weeks
  • Which parenting rules are actually myths
  • How you can stimulate baby’s growing mind
  • When to start reading to your baby
  • How to balance your personal identity and your role as a parent

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Transcript

Dr. Nicole (00:00): You are going to learn some great parenting advice in this episode with Sharon Mazzell. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy and birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway-Rankins, a board-certified OBGYN, who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.

(00:50): Hello there. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 200 and thirty-five. Whether you're a new listener or a returning listener, I'm so glad you're spending some time with me today. Sharon Mazzell is an internationally recognized parenting and pregnancy expert, author, journalist, speaker, parenting coach, and mom of four. With over twenty-five years experience in the field, Sharon reaches hundreds of thousands of new and expected parents with her popular parenting and pregnancy guidance on social media, parenting, coaching, digital resources and parenting courses. Sharon's social media has been called one of the most educational IG accounts for new parents and one of the best Instagram accounts for new moms. In fact, she has over 270,000 followers on Instagram. Sharon is the author of bite-size, Parenting Your Baby's first year and was previously with the What to Expect Book series. Sharon's Writing and Guidance have also been widely published online and in numerous publications including what to expect.com, everyday, health.com, parenting Magazine, baby Talk Magazine, the Washington Post, and other publications as well.

(02:12): We have a really informative conversation about why modern parenting feels so overwhelming these days, what you can expect from your new baby in those first few weeks of life, things you can do to stimulate your baby's growing mind. Some myths about parenthood, how not to lose yourself when you become a parent. So important and much, much more. You are going to love this episode as always. Now, before I get into the episode, are you making a birth plan? If not, you should, but it's really important for you to make it the right way because handing it to the doctor, the nurse at the hospital, when you go into labor, that is not the right way. That doesn't actually help whether or not the doctor, the nurses, the hospital, actually support what is in that birth plan. And if you wait to find out when you're in labor, that is too late, I teach you a step-by-step process of seven or eight easy questions you can ask in order to know whether or not your doctor in hospital actually support your wishes for your birth.

(03:20): And you know that well before you get to the hospital, you know well before you get to the hospital, then you go into your birth just feeling much more at ease, much less stressed. And let me tell you, when you go into your birth stress, that can actually slow down and even in severe cases, stop your labor. You don't want that. So go ahead and take my free class, make a birth plan the right way. You'll get that step-by-step process. There's a workbook to help you, questions to ask. Really great class, really informative. You can find the class at drnicolenrankins.com/birth plan. All right, let's get into the conversation with Sharon. Thank you so much Sharon for agreeing to come onto the podcast. I am very excited to talk about this topic.

Sharon Mazel (04:12): I am as well. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be chatting with you.

Dr. Nicole (04:16): Yeah, so why don't you tell us a bit about yourself and your work and your family if you'd like.

Sharon Mazel (04:22): Absolutely. So I am a parenting and pregnancy expert. I've been doing this for over twenty-five years. I'm a journalist actually by trade. So all the research and the writing that I've been doing all these years comes from my background. I have four children of my own, and so I have a lot of personal practice as well, but I'm really excited about my brand new book, Bite-Size Parenting, which I know we'll talk a little bit about today because it complements all the resources that I offer for parents, for new parents. I am very active on social media. Many of you have perhaps seen my Instagram. I have newborn courses, I have eGuides, and also I'm a parenting coach. I get to chat with parents every day.

Dr. Nicole (05:06): Okay, awesome. I love it. I love it. How did you come to be in the space of pregnancy and parenting?

Sharon Mazel (05:13): So I used to work as a television producer and writer. I was doing nightly news and when my first child was born, it was really difficult for me to be out of the house until 11:00 PM when the nightly news was over and then get home close to midnight. And so I left the world of television much to my chagrin because that is my true love. And I started writing freelance writing for various topics. And one of them was about parenting and pregnancy and it made sense because I was living it as well. And by then I had a second child as well, and I was with the What to Expect book series and website for 21 years. And I moved on to my own parenting expertise and coaching and the labor of love that I have been really working on for the last two years, I guess is this book Bitesize Parenting.

(06:08): And I call it a game changer in the parenting literature world because it's really focused on today's parents and what today's parents need and want and in a way that is extremely digestible for them so that they can get the information that they are looking for in a very easily accessible way with the strategies that they need in a digestible way because who has time to pile through Dr. Google and blogs and social media. And I'm excited about the format which we can talk about. And this is something that really, really I think speaks to today's parents. Okay,

Dr. Nicole (06:49): Awesome. So speaking of today's parents, let's hop right into some topics about today's parents. One of the things that you mentioned when you wrote in was about modern parenting and how it feels very overwhelming for many parents. Why do you say that's the case?

Sharon Mazel (07:06): So I've seen a huge difference in what parenting looked like twenty-five years ago, let's say, when I first started in this field versus what it looks like today. And I would say there's probably three reasons for why today's parents and modern parenting feel so overwhelming. So the first is social media. Now, I think there's a lot of things positive about social media. I'm on my Instagram every day interacting with parents, moms and dads parents-to-be. And it's a really incredible way to not feel alone, to have other people commiserate with what you're going through. But there's also some negatives to social media, which is the unrealistic portrayal of New Parenthood. You have not to call out anybody in particular, but sometimes you'll have influencers who've just had a baby and all of a sudden they look perfectly coiffed or they have toddlers and there's not a toy in sight and their house is really perfectly neat and everything.

(08:06): We know that that's not really true, but the pressure for parents is they'll see this and they'll be like, I don't understand. How is it possible that my life isn't like that? What am I doing wrong? Am I not good enough? So social media I think really creates a sense of overwhelm for parents. And I think another issue is the culture of comparison and this sort of place hand in hand with social media. We're always comparing ourselves. And in the olden days, let's say twenty-five years ago, 50 years ago, who did you have to compare yourself with? You could compare yourself with your neighbor, your siblings, your somebody that you meet in the playground, but today you're comparing yourself with millions of other parents out there. And that could lead to again, worry, concern, am I doing this right? Do I know enough? And the third thing I think that makes modern parenting so overwhelming today is too much information.

(09:03): There is so much information, and I briefly mentioned this in the introduction, there's so much information out there you can find anything you want on Google, it's wonderful, but you got to spend a lot of time sifting through Dr. Google. And with all that information out there, how do we know what to trust? There's a lot of opinion is what's trustworthy. This person says to do this, that person says to do that. And as parents, we take it all in or we tune it all out because when there's too much information, it's as if there's no information at all. And so it erodes confidence in a way because you just don't know where to turn to. And that's actually why I wrote Bitesize Parenting. I really wanted to help reduce the sense of overwhelm that parents feel when there's too much information. So I boiled it down to really the essential information that new parents need for their baby's first year.

(10:01): And I actually categorize it into the big three, the secondary two, and the relegated one. So the big three are things that parents are consumed with most of the time eating, sleeping, and pooping or diaper contents. Those are the big three. And so a lot of the topics in this book will cover that. The secondary two are the things that we're thinking of as parents when we're not mired in the big three. So things like playing and learning milestones, baby care, that sort of thing. And then the relegated one is us as parents, our lives as parents, and a lot of parenting books don't talk about parents and the struggles that we go through, the challenges that we face. And so I focus on that as well. And the book is organized by a month. So every chapter is another month in the first year.

(10:50): And so every month covers these topics, the big three, the secondary two, and the relegated one. And this way it's a much more digestible organization for parents. And the format is also something that's very digestible. I actually call it like a choose your own adventure because as a parent I'm giving you the choice of how to consume the information. So each topic, and I'll show it. I know we're doing some video here. Each topic has an infographic, it's illustrated, and it's when we have a little bit of time, let's say our baby is crying and we need to have some suggestions, some strategies to implement right here, right now. So you can turn to the illustrated infographic overview and boom, boom, boom, you get your answer right away. And then maybe when the baby isn't crying or the baby is sleeping and you have a little more time, every section has what I call a closer look.

(11:46): And you can turn to those sections and read much more nuance, much more detail the how and the why of the strategies. And so this way you get to choose not only how you consume the information in a way that feels right for you, but then once you're armed with the information, then you choose what to do with it, how to parent your child. And I really, really want to empower parents. So that sense of overwhelm that we just talked about doesn't get to be too much so that parents can feel empowered, feel confident, and feel that they can choose what will work best for their baby.

Dr. Nicole (12:22): Gotcha, gotcha. So how do we know, speaking of so much information out there, how can new parents know whether or not sources are trustworthy, whether it's a book, whether it's social media, what are some ways that parents can know what to listen to?

Sharon Mazel (12:40): It's a great question because there is so much out there and it's hard to distinguish something that a source that's trustworthy or that's something that you can trust in terms of the evidence. So everything in bite-sized parenting is evidence-based. And I have a whole list of sources that you can see on my website. The link is in the book. So everything that I'm presenting, all the information is from the medical journals, from doctors, from professionals, like physical therapists, from nutritionists, from psychologists. This is not an opinion book and opinions are great, and I certainly have my opinions, but what I'm presenting is all the evidence. So I always like to say that when it comes to parenting, aside from things like health and safety, things like when we're strapping our babies into the car seat, make sure that they're strapped in and that it's rear-facing in the first year, that's for safety.

(13:36): When we're putting our babies to sleep in the first year, let's make sure that we are putting them on their back in a crib without bumpers or blankets or pillows for safety. So those are safety and health issues, but aside from that, it doesn't really matter. And the data shows that it doesn't really matter whether you choose to start feeding solids with purees or choose to start feeding solids with finger foods. It doesn't really matter if you decide to sleep, train your baby or co-sleep with your baby. The data shows that you can choose and that there's not a black and white, you must do it this way as a parent. And so I encourage parents to seek out reliable, trustworthy sources, evidence-based, again, I'm reading through every medical journal there is on pediatrics and OB-GYN. I'm going through all the data and the research, and because of my training as a journalist and a writer, I'm able to distill all that information to take that medical jargon and create, turn it into a format that's really easy to understand for anyone who wants to not have to read through forty-five journal articles to get to the bottom line.

Dr. Nicole (14:47): Sure. Gotcha, gotcha, gotcha. All right. So let's get then into a couple of more specific pieces of advice or things that folks should know. So what are two or three things that parents can expect that their babies are going to be doing in say the first month, second month, third month of life? What are some things that they can expect?

Sharon Mazel (15:07): So I love when parents are educated in a realistic way so that they know what to expect when their baby comes home in those first couple of months, and especially the newborn period, which is probably one of the most difficult periods. There are many difficult periods. We could talk about toddlers as well, but certainly that newborn stage, that first six to eight weeks is going to be very challenging. And so in the movies and even on social media, we'll see babies that are perfectly rounded in their face with no blemishes and they're just peacefully sleeping. And that's not really the reality

Dr. Nicole (15:42): We

Sharon Mazel (15:43): Know. So I like parents to get the real deal to understand what's going to be going on. So you ask, what are babies going to be? What we expect babies to be doing in those first few months, they're going to be doing a lot of crying. And it doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong as a parent. Crying is a way that babies communicate. And the more we as parents get to know our baby's personalities, the sound of the cries, and we'll start to notice different sounds of the cries, different tonalities and cadences, we can start to learn, oh, my baby's hungry now, or My baby's bored now, or My baby's tired now. And once we get to learn those cues, we could start responding to our baby in a way that is helpful for the baby and helpful for us. Sure. So expect a lot of crying in the beginning.

(16:31): Expect a lot of eating. Babies will need to eat a lot every two to four hours, depending on whether you're breast or bottle feeding. That's going to be a lot. It's going to be a marathon of feeding and then a marathon of pooping and eating a lot of diapers and also no sleep. And there's so much emphasis on when is my baby going to sleep through the night? And I like to remind parents that most babies are not going to be sleeping through the night until four to six months at the earliest, and there will be babies that may not sleep through the night the entire first year. And I offer strategies and bite-sized parenting about how to establish healthy sleep habits. But it's important for parents to know that those first few months are going to be hard. There's not going to be much that your baby is doing.

(17:19): But I will say this, I don't only want to focus on the negative because there's a lot of things your baby will be doing in those first months that's wondrous and fabulous and joyful, and things like playing. And a baby can start playing even from day one. Experts will encourage parents to put their babies in tummy time very early on, even that first week of life, it's really important for development of the core and the neck and the head and the back muscles, which then play into rolling over and crawling and sitting and eventually walking. So babies can do that, and you can, as a parent, can take time with your baby on the floor in tummy time with different toys. Little babies love black and white patterns because that's what they could see. And newborn stage, they could see eight to 12 inches away from them.

(18:09): And then that starts to get a little further as their eyesight develops more. And then certainly in the second and third month, we can be giving them toys in a hanging bar as they lie on their back and their side and their tummy. So there's lots of things that babies are doing. Even very early on, we'll be hearing COOs, which are the first parts of language development, and of course we're going to be looking for that social smile that you'll start to see around six weeks, which is worth all those sleepless nights and those crying bouts.

Dr. Nicole (18:39): Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now, in your work, I'm sure you've come across some myths about parenthood. So what are two or three myths about parenthood that you would really like to debunk?

Sharon Mazel (18:52): So there's so many, and I touched briefly on this unrealistic view that sometimes parents have of what New Parenthood is like. So there's a lot of myths that go around, and the reason why myths are so detrimental is because when we don't accomplish or reach that myth that we think we should be, then we start to feel bad and we lose that confidence that we need as parents. So I would say that one really big one is that bonding with your baby is going to happen right away. And there are times when for many, many, many parents, when you are handed that baby in the delivery room or even three weeks later and you're looking at this red-faced crying baby who just had a poop blow out and hasn't slept, and you're thinking, who is this person? And why don't I feel this sense of love bursting from within me? And that's very normal. It's very difficult to expect new parents to just feel that incredible connection and bond immediately. And I always encourage parents to give it time because the more you give to your child, which you will be doing a lot, the more that bond develops and grows. And sort of another hand in hand with that myth is that you as a parent will enjoy every minute of being a

Dr. Nicole (20:13): Parent.

Sharon Mazel (20:15): And you're laughing because you're like saying, yeah, there are many moments that are not enjoyable.

Dr. Nicole (20:20): Exactly, yes, 1000%.

Sharon Mazel (20:24): So when we have this expectation that even when we're not sleeping, and even when our babies are crying and having those poop blowouts and we don't know what they want, or they're flinging the food off their high chair, or they're saying no to us that we're going to enjoy every minute, it's just not true. We're not going to enjoy every minute, and that's okay. That's okay. And that's to be expected.

(20:49): And I would also say that for parents who choose to breastfeed, there's another myth that is very popular that breastfeeding comes naturally to every person who chooses to. And the truth is that even though it's a very natural thing, our bodies are made for this, the truth is that it doesn't work that way. It's a learning curve for both mom and baby when you breastfeed nurse pump, all these things. And so the problem with these myths being perpetuated is that, again, it makes parents feel bad, and if a parent really wants to nurse their baby and then it doesn't go well right away because that happens most of the time or a lot of the time, then they might give up very quickly. And if that's the right choice for that parent, then fine. There's so many wonderful options with formula or with pumping that equally feed and nourish your baby. But if you really want to breastfeed, don't expect it to be perfectly natural and blissful right away.

Dr. Nicole (21:54): Yeah, absolutely. I always call it a labor of love because it can take some work and it doesn't come easy to everyone, and that's totally normal. Exactly. Totally normal. Yeah. Yeah. Now you mentioned stimulating your baby with tummy time, with showing them black and white images. Are there other things that should be done to help stimulate your baby in those first few weeks and months of life? Yeah,

Sharon Mazel (22:17): We tend to think that our little babies in those first weeks and months, as you said, do nothing or are incapable of doing much, they just feel like, but the truth is that there's a lot going on in their cute little heads, and we want to be encouraging, playing and stimulating those brain cells very early and making those neural connections. So I talked about tummy time, which is great for physical development, but also for mental development because if you put those black and white images or even a mirror in front of your baby during tummy time, let's say, or during any playtime, your baby's going to start to look at these patterns or that little person looking back at them. They won't know it's them yet, but they'll start to make these neural connections of, oh, that's another person. What does that mean? Babies love to look at faces.

(23:09): So looking at mom or dad or caregiver's faces is great, but their own faces is wonderful too. Singing to your baby, playing lullabies or any types of songs is great. Babies love music, and that rhythm is really, really good for them. Even early on, I would say massage your baby if it works for you. It's not a must do, but massage is, first of all, you could do it with your baby on their tummy. So it's like a two-for-One, you get tummy time and massage in one, but massage is really great because it's great for you as a parent. You get to interact with your baby really with that sense of touch, but your baby also is feeling. And so it's not just about seeing or hearing. We saw with the patterns, let's say we heard with the music, but feeling is another sense that we want our babies to develop. And so especially in the early months before they're picking things up with their hands on their own, having that feel of your skin against their skin, that massage is another great brain development activity that you can do. And certainly as your baby gets older, you could start playing finger games and peek-a-boo. There's so much, and you'll marvel at how much your baby develops in such a short time. Gotcha.

Dr. Nicole (24:26): Gotcha. What about reading to your baby

Sharon Mazel (24:29): Reading is amazing, and you can start in that first week as well, and your baby won't understand that it's a book, won't understand the words, won't even understand that this is reading time. But there's so many reasons why reading early is great. First of all, it creates a habit and a pattern, and that's really amazing because it develops the lifelong love of reading from a very early stage. But when you're reading books, especially books that are created for little babies, there's rhyme and rhythm and cadence and repetitive words, and those stimulate your baby. And even if your baby doesn't understand the words, he or she will start to hear the rhythm and the up and down cadence of the words on those pages. And it's another way other than just talking to your baby, which of course is also really important, but it's another way of helping to develop language skills even from those first months. Okay.

Dr. Nicole (25:25): Awesome. Love it, love it, love it. So you talked about how you talk some in the book about maintaining a connection to yourself as a new parent. So what are some strategies to not lose yourself in the midst of being a new parent?

Sharon Mazel (25:45): So it is hard to not lose yourself because we spend, especially that first year, focused so much on our baby's needs, and we often forget about our own needs. This is why in every monthly chapter I have a topic, a section specifically for parents, and I'll talk about some of these myths that we talked about, ways to feel more confident as a parent, how to ask for help. These are all things that we can do to find ourselves again, and to be able to give ourselves the grace to fail and make mistakes, and then pick ourselves back up and say, okay, I put the diaper on wrong. That's okay. Now I know that I have to tighten it a certain way to make sure that there's no leakage. These are things that help to bring confidence back to us as parents. And it's really important to be able to trust our guts, to feel empowered, to feel confident, so that then when we are taking care of our babies, we are also taking care of ourselves.

(26:49): So one of the things that one section is about asking for help, and I would say that that's probably one of the most important ways to get through that first year without becoming so overwhelmed and losing ourselves in it. And it's really hard for us as parents to ask for help. It feels like, what? Wait a second. Maybe I'm a failure. If I have to ask somebody how to do something or to help me out here, we worry. Maybe someone's going to judge us like, oh, she needs help. He needs help. Oh, she's not a good parent. And again, we may feel like, well, we're not good enough if we can't do it by ourselves. But the truth is, is that parenting is one of the toughest jobs there is out there. Absolutely. And just like we would call a plumber if our toilet is leaking or we would call an electrician, if our lights are flickering, we can call upon people in our lives to help us when parenting gets challenging, which will happen because parenting is a challenging, challenging job.

(27:51): And so I think one of the biggest reasons why asking for help and not losing yourself in parenting is so important is to remember that parenting is a learning curve. Every day we are learning something new every day we are getting to be a more experienced parent. And if we can give ourselves that freedom without the pressure to do everything perfectly right on Monday, it's never going to be perfect where there's no such thing as a perfect parent. All they can do is take the information that we learn from trusted sources, gather that, choose what works best for us, feel good about the choices that we're making, and then parent our baby in the way that feels best to us, because then that will help remind us of ourselves, who we are as humans, not just as parents. And also give us that confidence to know I'm pretty darn good at this. There

Dr. Nicole (28:50): You go. Absolutely. Absolutely. So then as we wrap up, what would you say is one of the most frustrating things about your work?

Sharon Mazel (29:03): I actually don't find many things frustrating about my work because I love what I do. I love talking to parents and educating parents because it is not only one of the hardest jobs, but also one of the most important jobs. I don't know that I would call it frustrating, but I wish that parents would internalize a little more. And I work with parents to do this is really to remember that they have the tools from within them and maybe with a little bit of help from others to really be the right parents for their children. We have this tendency in our culture to, again, reach for perfection. And I mentioned this before, and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. And so if we want to help our children and help ourselves as parents, let's take a step back. Take a deep breath. Remember that things are not black and white. We're perfect in parenting, and that our babies will be okay. They will be okay. They will all learn how to eat. They will all learn

Dr. Nicole (30:08): How

Sharon Mazel (30:09): To go to the bathroom on the toilet. They will all learn how to walk. They will do it in their own time. And that's the beauty of each individual child, to celebrate the accomplishments of your child instead of comparing or worrying about what your child isn't doing. So this is what I wish for parents to, let's all take a deep breath. It's all going to be okay. And when you have the right tools in your toolbox, whether it's books like mind, bite sized parenting resources like you, other trustworthy sources, then you have the right strategies at your fingertips and you'll be able to get through the day and the month and the years with that sense of confidence and with a sense of calm and less overwhelmed.

Dr. Nicole (30:53): Absolutely. Absolutely. So then what is the most rewarding part of your work?

Sharon Mazel (30:58): So it kind of is sort of the same thing working with parents. I love, I do coaching and I meet parents with all different ages, children and different countries, different cultures, different backgrounds. And what I see, even with all the individual struggles that parents have, what I see is that everybody is the same. We are all in this together and we are all struggling in the same way. We are all experiencing joys in the same way. Yes, it's individual and unique to your particular personality and your child, but we are a community, a village of parents who are doing their best every single day. And I love being able to help parents get to a place where they recognize that, that I'm doing amazing things for my child and having them feel that they can do it. That sense of empowerment is just so rewarding. Yeah.

Dr. Nicole (31:52): Yeah, absolutely. So then what is your favorite piece of advice that you give to expectant parents or new parents

Sharon Mazel (31:59): Or new parents? Look at the big picture instead of the every day. So yes, every day we'll have frustrating moments. I'll give an example from feeding, and this is something that parents in the first year are always so concerned about, right? We all are, is my baby getting enough to eat? And especially when our babies start eating solids around six months, and it's a learning curve. Babies have to learn how to bring food to the mouth, how to manipulate food in the mouth, how to chew, bite down, how to swallow portion sizes. This is something, these are skills that a baby has to learn. But what happens is that when we get so mired in the everyday worry of, oh my gosh, my baby, is she eating enough? He just flung half his meal off the height share. He only took three bites. She only swallowed four pieces.

(32:50): Oh my gosh. So I like to remind parents, okay, let's take a step back, look at the bigger picture. Instead of looking at just this meal, look at what happened the whole day. How much did your baby eat? Not just at lunch, but also breakfast and dinner, and maybe even take another step back instead of just looking at the Wednesday that you're worried about, look at the Monday through Sunday, look at the entire week and see how much your baby has eaten over the entire week. There are times when we as adults are not hungry and times when we're ravenous, and so even we will eat differently. Sure. So taking a step back and using the feeding example where looking at the larger picture instead of getting so focused on the minutiae is very healthy for parents to be able to look at the bigger picture. Okay, my child is crying right now. It is not the end of the world if I haven't figured out exactly what she needs, but I know that in a minute or two or 10 or even half an hour, that baby will stop crying and I'll get a smile. So take a step back.

Dr. Nicole (33:54): Okay. I love that. Love that. So where can people find you?

Sharon Mazel (33:57): So you can find me on my website, you can find me on social media. I make it easy. It's all my name. And also you could find me on, or you could find my book Bitesize Parenting everywhere. That books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble anywhere online and also on my website. And I answer all my DMs on Instagram. I chat with parents all day all the time. So please find me. Awesome.

Dr. Nicole (34:25): I love it. Well, thank you so much, Sharon, for coming onto the podcast. This is such helpful, useful, easy to understand information. So I really appreciate you coming on.

Sharon Mazel (34:35): Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, and I'm excited for parents to get their hands on Bitesize Parenting.

Dr. Nicole (34:47): Wasn't it a great episode? Such helpful advice to help you in that new stage of having a new baby. Now, when I have a guest on the episode, I do something called Dr. Nicole's notes where I talk about my top takeaways from the conversation. Here are my Dr. Nicole's notes from my conversation with Sharon. Number one, social media is a blessing and a curse. I feel like I've been a little bit on a kick with this lately because me personally, I've found social media in my own life just to be a bit overwhelming and quite frankly, sometimes depressing. It is a great medium to connect with people, but it can also, as she mentioned, present unrealistic expectations. It can invite comparisons, and there's just a fire hose of information. Now that doesn't mean you have to get off social media entirely, it just means that you have to have a relationship with it so that you take control of your social media so that it serves you and not controls you.

(35:54): And for me, that has been setting boundaries about how often I do it. Now I'm about three days a week for a few minutes a day that I pop on and check things out, respond to comments, that kind of thing. And then also getting things out of your feed that just do not serve you. So craft a plan for using social media that helps you, that serves you, and again, that does not control you. Okay, number two, this is another thing that I think is just so important to reiterate. You may not bond with your baby or even your pregnancy, and that is completely normal. If you go through your pregnancy and you are like, I don't like this. This is not great, I don't enjoy it, that is okay. It doesn't mean that you love your baby any less. And also you just may not bond with your baby right away.

(36:49): There's this sort of fantasy presentation of you see your baby, you immediately fall in love and there's stars and rainbows and unicorns floating by. And for some people that may happen and that's great, but it may not happen. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. And it doesn't mean that you love your baby any less. Remember, you are both getting to know each other. This is a new thing for both of you. Okay? So totally normal if you don't bond with your baby right away. And along those same lines, there will be times that it just sucks, right? Look at your baby and you'll be like, this is hard. This is challenging. Why did I do this? All of those things, those are all completely, completely normal feelings and have no indication of how much you love your child because of course you do, right?

(37:42): Of course you do. Alright, and then the last thing that I'll say is that you will make mistakes As a parent, we are humans. We all make mistakes. Give yourself some grace. You just want to admit from the mistakes and learn from them. It is very unlikely that you'll make some sort of tragic mistake that's going to permanently damage your child or hurt your child or anything like that. But you'll make lots of little mistakes along the way. A couple that I remember that kind of stand out, one is my older daughter. It's not funny obviously, but I put her on a chair. I put her on a chair to turn around and get something, and she rolled straight off of that chair onto the floor. I was mortified, of course, I was worried. I gave her a concussion, all of those things. She ended up being just fine.

(38:37): Everything was perfect, no issues. She's a straight A student. Now, another big one that I remember is my husband and I were riding down the highway and we were looked at each other and I can't remember which one of us brought it up, but it was like, did you strap in the baby? And it's like, did you strap in the baby? And we realized that neither one of us had strapped in the child, so she was just riding in the car seat without being strapped in. So you will make mistakes, give yourself some grace, learn from your mistakes, and just grow as a parent and commit to learning from it and doing better. Okay? So there you have it. Please share this podcast with a friend. I so appreciate you sharing. I'm on a mission to reach and serve as many pregnant folks as I can.

(39:22): And whatever help you can give me in doing that, I appreciate it. Also, subscribe to the podcast and Apple podcast or wherever you're listening to me right now. And please leave me a review in Apple Podcast, five star review. If you really like the show, it helps other women to find the show, helps the show to grow. I love to hear what you think about the show. You can also shoot me a DM on Instagram and let me know what you think. I'm on Instagram at @DrNicoleRankins, and I also post bite sized pregnancy and birth information there as well. So that's it for this episode. Do come on back next week and remember that you deserve a beautiful pregnancy and birth.