In this episode, Trish welcomes Sharon Mazel, an internationally recognized parenting and pregnancy expert, author, journalist, speaker, parenting coach, and mom of four with over twenty-five years of experience in the field.
Sharing her extensive knowledge on how to handle parenting your newborn during their first year, Sharon highlights the realities of what that first year looks like.
Tackling myths around breastfeeding, dispelling unrealistic expectations of immediate bonding with baby, and embracing imperfection.
During pregnancy, you have visions of what that first year will look like. Then, baby comes, and those first 6 months are so exhausting – between changing diapers, feeding, and sleep deprivation. All the while, finding the moments to marvel at baby’s first smile and crawls.
She shares much more on this in her amazing book, “Bite-Sized Parenting”, guiding expecting and new parents through parenting during their first year with baby.
Sharon and Trish share their own experiences and traumas during childbirth, emphasizing the need for open conversations about imperfect help and the challenges in partner relationships.
“I'm hoping with Bite-Sized Parenting to demystify the unknown, to give that knowledge so that parents then feel empowered to say, “You know what, I got this. I can do this. It's not so hard.”” – Sharon Mazel
More from Sharon Mazel:
Grab her new book Bite-Sized Parenting: Your Baby's First Year
Follow @sharonmazel on Instagram
Connect w/ Trish:
For more pregnancy & birth education, subscribe to The Birth Experience on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Next Steps with LNM:
If you are ready to invest in your pregnancy & postpartum journey, you are in the right place. I would love to take your hand and support you in your virtual labor room!
If you have a scheduled cesarean, take our Belly Birth Masterclass and own that experience.
If you are a newly pregnant mama or just had the babe, you want to join our private pregnancy and postpartum membership, Calm Mama Society.
Remember, my advice is not medical advice. Always discuss what you learn with your team. See my Disclaimer here! Also, We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them.
trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sipping mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering many babies in my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse and as a mama of seven.
I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the bottom of the show
trish: Hello everyone. I am Sam. so happy about our guest today. And many of you guys will know her [00:01:00] from Instagram. She's got an incredibly valuable account on Instagram. So today's guest is Sharon Maisel. And she is a parenting expert, baby expert, pregnancy expert, all the things expert. So welcome, Sharon, I'd love for you just to tell everyone just a little bit about you.
sharon: Thanks so much for having me, Trish, and hi, everybody. Yes you, you did give me a good introduction already. I am a parenting and pregnancy expert. I've been in this field for over 25 years. I started off as a journalist and as a journalist, we become experts in the fields that we start to research and write about, and I have, as you mentioned, a robust social media presence.
I work one on one with parents. I have courses and e guides, and I'm thrilled about my brand new book Bite Size Parenting, which just came out, which is yet another resource for today's parents, and I'm thrilled to be sharing it with [00:02:00] you and your audience and my audience and parents everywhere. I
trish: love that so much.
And I want to really talk a lot about your book. I, we talked on Instagram live about this and I am a reader. I love to read. And I love to have a real book in my hands, which is, I know some of my kids, I homeschooled, I've homeschooled for a very long time. And I've gone through the journey of we used to have to go to the library and get books to they all have a Kindle.
And they have their books back to like now I've been buying my eight year old actual books because I love having a book in my hand. So I really want to talk a lot about your book because although we both have very big accounts on social media, I think it's really important for parents to be off of social media some.
as well. So
sharon: go ahead. Yeah, no, absolutely. I think there's so much benefit to social media as you and I have found we're able to [00:03:00] reach an entire generation of pregnant families, parents to be new moms, new dads. But there is something so valuable about having a book in your hands when you don't have to be mindlessly scrolling, when you're able to say this is a trusted source.
I, I know that it's evidence based and it's organized. One of the things about social media that I find frustrating and I know that parents do as well is that they can't always find the information they're looking for because like Trish your social media account is this wealth of knowledge, but let's say I'm a nine month pregnant woman and I'm worried about, did I just.
break my water or not, and I know that you've posted about it, but how do I find it, right? Or someone's a new parent and they're just about to start feeding solids, so they look on my account and they're like, I know Sharon's posted about starting solids, but how do I find it through all this, because there's so much information.
And what's so wonderful about having a book, a physical book in your hand, one that has a robust [00:04:00] table of contents, a huge index, and lots of other ways to get. To find information, you can literally search or look for or flip to Starting Solids. And there it is, all the information at your fingertips.
So having a physical book in your hand, and I'm actually holding it in my hand right now, my book, just being able to flip through it, look at it, choose what you want to read when you want to read it, is so valuable. And you're right, you and I spoke on Instagram about the value of reading. And as parents, One of the things that is so important, especially in that first year, which is what I focus on in Bite Size Parenting, is really teaching your children a love of reading.
And one of the strategies one of the ways to do that, there are many, but one of them is for your children to see you reading. And so if they're always seeing you on your phones on your computer because of social media, and they never see you pick up a book, then that value isn't being passed down in the same way as if [00:05:00] they're watching you physically hold a book or a Kindle and reading words on the page that's a great Modeling lesson for children.
trish: love that so much. Can you tell us like what inspired the concept behind your book? Was it because you wanted to give them a one stop place to find all the things that you
sharon: educate about? Yes, and something else. Yes, having it organized. And as you said, one stop shopping is fabulous. It's organized month by month, every month in the 1st year.
So you don't have to be thinking about starting solids. If you have a newborn and you don't have to be thinking about counting dirty diapers. If you have a 9 month old. Having an organized month by month in a book form is really great. But really what. What my mission is to educate parents, but in ways that they are able to absorb the information.
1 of the, highlights of this book is not just the content, but how the content is, [00:06:00] is portrayed. It's a really digestible book. And that's my goal here to give the information in a digestible and accessible format. I use a lot of illustrations. Every topic has an infographic and I do that because I understand that today's parents have very little time, but they want the answers.
If you need answers, my baby is taking a really short nap. What do I do about short naps? You can flip to that topic in the book. There is an infographic there with six or eight, depending on the topic, short, quick. Illustrated tips and strategies that you can implement immediately. And then maybe when your baby finally falls asleep, or you have a little more time later in the day or the next week, you can read through the closer look section, which every topic has, which is more detailed, more nuanced, goes into all the how and the why about this.
topic about the strategies that you've already learned and maybe even implemented. So it really reaches parents where they're at with limited time, but [00:07:00] also wanting to know the knowledge. And so that's why I call it extremely digestible. It's quick bites hence bite sized parenting that you as a parent can really learn from quickly and and then implement them, but then also give you.
real depth so that you understand the underpinnings, the data, the research, the science the bottom line of why these strategies work and how you as a parent can be thinking about this particular topic. I love
trish: that so much. Do you, when you're talking about topics or, common themes throughout because you're going through each month.
I know when we talked before, you said there's a few common themes throughout each of those. So maybe you can share that as well. And I think it's the big ones that they're mostly worried about.
sharon: Exactly. I did set out to write a book that has every single topic that you will ever encounter in the first year because every baby is different.
So one baby may have fifth disease and another baby will never encounter that in [00:08:00] their entire childhood. So I didn't put that in the book. There are other resources out there that really, especially your pediatrician, that can answer those types of questions. What I set out to do was to create the essential guide.
So the big topics, the topics that nearly every parent encounters, thinks about, worries about, wonders about. So I broke it out down into what I call the essential, the big three, the secondary two and the relegated one. So the big three are those three big topics that every parent. Wonders about questions about stresses about in the first year, and that is sleeping, feeding and poops or diaper contents.
And, I speak to parents all the time, both on social media and in my coaching. And these are the topics that figure most prominently that take up most of our headspace in that first year. Is my baby eating enough? Why isn't my baby hungry right now? Did I feed my baby too much? Why isn't my baby enjoying this bottle or this session at the at the breast?
How do I start [00:09:00] solids? When do I start solids? Why is my baby not eating solids? That's the feeding one of the big three, and that's going to be in every chapter. The second big three is sleeping. How much do we worry about sleep in that first year? How do I get my baby to sleep longer? How do I get my baby to do contact naps or not do contact naps?
When will my baby sleep at night? And so on. And then diaper contents. Why does my baby's poop look green? Why is my baby pooping so much? Why is my baby not pooping at all? These are questions that we talk about a lot. And so those are going to be very big and figure very prominently in the book. But then there's the secondary too.
And, it's actually a little more than two, but I do push it into two, it's play and learning stimulating your baby activities, things that your baby happens to be learning in every particular month, how your baby is playing, the milestones that your baby might be encountering or working on that month, rolling over, sitting, crawling, standing taking those first steps eventually as we round out the first year.
So those are the, [00:10:00] those are those and development, things like development. Those are the next two and inter. Spurs between these big three and the secondary two are going to be things about baby care, how to bathe your baby, how to burp your baby, what to do about spit up. Those kind of things are in there because those are also really important.
And then the final, big topic that has, that makes its appearance in every chapter is what I call the relegated one. And the relegated one is you, the parents. So many parenting books out there. Parenting resources focused solely on the child, on the baby that you're parenting. And that makes sense because we're thinking mostly about the parent.
But we also have to think about ourselves as parents and the journey that we go through when we become parents of a newborn and then that entire first year from newborn to toddler. So I make sure to address parenting concerns and challenges in every chapter as well. Things like newborn let's say first year myths.
How to deal with unsolicited advice, which you will get plenty of [00:11:00] in that first year, what to do with your relationship with your significant other, your partner, how to navigate that now that you're a parent, how to handle friendships that maybe your friends aren't having kids, but you are, how to gain confidence as a parent, how to find the joy in parenting, how to handle the mental load of parenting.
There's so much that we as parents go through in that first year. And I really wanted to make sure that I didn't forget about parents because it's equally about the baby that we are parenting and ourselves as parents that we are parenting. I
trish: love that you have your big three because I think a lot of parents probably think that going into parenting, the big ones are going to be developmental and learning and all of these and peeing, pooping, sleeping all those things take over your
sharon: life. Yeah, exactly. We think when we're, and you obviously are dealing, in the pregnancy stage, we have these visions of what that first year is going to look like. I'm going to be marveling at every wonderful [00:12:00] new smile.
And when the baby first rolls over and those first. Crawling efforts. And yes, that's true. But the truth is, and especially in the beginning, we're much more worried about not when my baby's going to roll over. We worry about that a little bit. But we're worried about this last feeding that we just had.
Or the feeding that we're about to do. sleep that the nap that the baby just took or the nap that the baby didn't take. And we're so sleep deprived in the beginning, especially in the first six months of the first year that, that we don't even have time to marvel at the development and the amazing things that are happening because we're worrying so much, or we're.
I don't want to say worrying because it's not worrying, but we are focused so much on changing those diapers, on getting the food in, on figuring out a good sleep schedule. So that's just the reality of what the first year looks
trish: like. No, I think the first like six to eight weeks of parenting is wondering and worrying about what the hell came out of you and what is coming out of my baby.[00:13:00]
sharon: Exactly right. And not only what's coming out of my baby, but also what's going in, which eventually comes out. Because that is just, that's what your life is, especially in that newborn stage. It's, all right, it's feeding time again, diaper changing time again, can we get in a nap? Okay, it's feeding time again, right?
It's just constant cycle of eating, sleeping, pooping, and that's what, or peeing, and that's what certainly in the first. two months, the major focus is, and it's as we gain confidence as parents, we start to understand, okay, my baby's eating just fine. The sleep will happen in whatever form it comes in, depending on my baby and his or her personality quirks.
But certainly in the beginning, and certainly for first time parents, it's, It is there's a lot of unknown. And so I'm hoping with Bite Size Parenting to demystify the unknown, to give that knowledge so that parents then feel empowered to, to say, you know what, I got this. I can do this. It's not so hard.
It's really, pretty digestible and [00:14:00] accessible and easy to tackle. And I'm going to get through every day and every week and every month. I think
trish: anything that makes their lives easier is. incredibly valuable. So I have a couple questions. You said two things that I want to touch on. So you said that you go through the myths of that first year.
So I was just wondering if there's some that you hear repeatedly that you're like, has to be
sharon: in the book. So there's a few of them. I'll point out maybe one or two. I think the first one is that breastfeeding is easy or comes naturally to every mom or, breastfeeding parent.
I I know we have a lot of kids between us. I nursed all four of my children and and it was for me relatively simple, but I've. watched plenty of friends of family members. I've watched and I've spoken to plenty of parents and I just know from the research and the data that it's just not true that it comes easily to all breastfeeding parents.
And [00:15:00] it's a myth that is perpetuated, and there's so many wonderful things about breastfeeding, about nursing, certainly. Or giving your baby breast milk, but it's not an end all be all. We have so many wonderful options with formula these days, and not every parent wants to breastfeed, not every parent can breastfeed, not every parent is able to exclusively breastfeed, and that's okay because they're, this is a choice that we get to make as parents, and and I think giving ourselves grace, Or let me back up before even giving ourselves grace, but understanding that breastfeeding isn't always going to be this blissful, easy, put your baby on the breast and boom, he or she just suckles and the unicorns are flying.
It's just not that way for so many new parents. And I think that demystifying that myth. Can help reduce some of the guilt that a lot of parents feel can help stop the mom shaming the parent shaming that happens around [00:16:00] breastfeeding. And I think that it's important for parents to know that.
So that's 1 big myth that I talk about. I think another 1, especially. early, the early days is that bonding happens immediately.
trish: I am so glad you said that, because I was gonna ask you about that, because that is a huge topic in my postpartum membership.
sharon: Yeah, again, it's one of these myths that are perpetuated by Social media, by movies, by books, maybe by the world, right?
That, that baby is handed to you. You've just delivered. You've had it, whether it was an easy delivery or not easy delivery, whether it was a vaginal delivery or a C section, you're handed this baby. And, again, those unicorns start flying, butterflies and roses and, this moment.
And it doesn't always happen like that right away. And it doesn't always happen like that in that first week or the first month or even the first four or five months, whatever it is, bonding and love [00:17:00] that you feel towards another happens. After you've given a lot, right? That's that's in a relationship.
There's a lot of I'm not a psychologist, but there's a lot of psychology around what love means. And a lot of it is about giving. And when it comes to a baby, a newborn, you're giving a lot, but you're not getting much back in the beginning. Because again, that baby is just crying and sleeping and pooping and needing to be fed again.
And yeah. Not bonding or feeling that intense love immediately sometimes makes new parents feel really sad, upset, anxious, guilty, and it's just not true that it has to be or that it will be this emotional thing. Sense of joy and love immediately. It's something that happens over time. And so again, if that's another myth that can be demystified and just said let's put an end to this bonding is not this.
this feeling that [00:18:00] happens immediately and it happens over time, then I think that a lot of parents, new parents, won't feel this sense of dejection or, or feel like they're alone. They're the only ones feeling like this what's wrong with me? Why am I, as a mom or dad, not feeling connected to this new baby that I've just that I've just delivered or that I've just adopted or whatever it is, right?
This is something I really hope to to help parents understand there's nothing wrong with the feelings that you're feeling if you're not feeling like this close emotional attachment to your baby. I
trish: love that so much because like I said, we've talked in depth about this. We hang out every Thursday night on Zoom and we've had a lot of conversations.
So I have spent a lot of time thinking and again, I'm not a psychologist either, but if you look at the trends from. When TV and movie and these things were, began to be produced and mothers were [00:19:00] portrayed on TV inside of a, just given birth and, oh, she loves her baby. So you think about like from the male perspective, right?
They're not going to produce a movie or a TV of a scene of their wife, their mother, their sister, not liking their baby. And then if you think of it from a female perspective, we don't talk about it because we feel all this shame. So she's not going to produce that scene either, where the reality is, and I tell my girls all this time, all the time, like if you invited a guest into your home, they screamed all night, they bit your nipple, they pooped on you, they spit up on you and then cried all day too, you might not.
Like them, and that's okay. You love them and you're caring for them, but you just might not like them all that much. And I think that the more we can share that, like you said this [00:20:00] weight is lifted off of these mamas because it, and the thing is I've had, I have seven children, one adopted, six I've birthed, and each experience is different.
And I, I had a very traumatic birth with my daughter, and the labor was traumatic. Very fast, painful. She was straight O. P. She fractured my pelvis. It was a nightmare. And when she came out, they immediately took her because their machines were malfunctioning. They thought she had a very low blood sugar, took her to the NICU, brought her back.
But in the midst of all that, I was stunned and shocked. And I can remember that night. I was in I would, I had been traumatized, so I wasn't feeling anything, let alone and she was my first daughter to birth after four boys you would think I'd be like, ah, but no, I was like, so stunned.
And I remember inside thinking, like, why do I [00:21:00] not feel what I should feel? And I really didn't have anyone to talk to about that because no one had ever spoken to me about that. ever. So I think it's so important that people like us, accounts like ours, and educators are educating women so that when they do feel that, they have it in the back of their mind oh, wait, I've heard this can be normal.
There's nothing major because when you start going down that path of feeling like there's something wrong with you, then you start. Like seeing everything as bad and wrong and I'm failing and I'm not doing anything right and that can just spiral
sharon: you. Absolutely. And there was one word that there are many words that you use that were amazing, but you said should, right?
I should be feeling this way. And I think that having those expectations, those unrealistic expectations really are harmful to new moms and dads. And that's, we started talking a little earlier about. the wonders of social media and how things are [00:22:00] great. There's so many positives to social media, but that's one of the negatives, social media, this unrealistic expectation that is portrayed by celebrities, influencers.
I'm not calling anybody in particular out, but, we all present our best selves when we're on social media, especially if you're a mom influencer. anD I can't tell you how many people that, that follow me who will say, I don't understand why my belly. still looks like I'm five months pregnant and I'm a month out, but so and so had a baby four days ago and she's wearing her tight jeans again, right?
There's a lot of this unrealistic expectation that's put out there and understandably, right? You mentioned the movies, right? We, and certainly it's understandable why it's like that on social media, but. To have this feeling that I should be looking this way. I should be feeling this way.
Breastfeeding should be going that way. My baby should be doing this already. This culture of comparison that we have in this country, certainly in our [00:23:00] society, really harms. New parents. And so this should mentality really if there's a way that we can chip away at that and make parents understand that everybody's experience is going to be slightly different and it's all okay.
Your baby will be fine. You will be fine. There's nothing wrong with you as a parent. There's nothing wrong with your baby. There's nothing wrong with your dynamic as a mother, child, father, child experience. Yeah, the more we're able to talk about that and more parents are able to understand that, especially when there's such heightened anxiety and stress and worry with today's parents that let's, if we could bring down the temperature just a little bit, then it's win for everybody.
trish: I love that so much. So something you were just saying just stimulated a new question. So one of the things that I think a lot of parents have a hard time with, and new moms in particular, is that relationship with their partner. And, one of the, we have a workshop [00:24:00] in our community about accepting imperfect help.
And I know I struggled with this. with my ex partner is that I felt like no one in this world could take care of my baby the way that I did. So I would nitpick and if they did, so I really needed help, but I had a really hard time accepting imperfect help. And so one of the things we chat with our mamas about is just letting, even if your partner puts the diaper on backwards, it's okay.
tHey'll learn their lesson if it's the wrong event that happens soon after. But do you talk about any of relationship strategies or anything for the new parent?
sharon: Yes. So as I mentioned, the relegated one is the parent and I don't ignore the parents. And so I do have a section on working on your relationship with your partner.
I have another section on asking for help and you just mentioned how important that is. [00:25:00] And it's. paRt of this culture of it should be a certain way, we often feel I should be able to do it all on my own. And so we don't ask for help, whether it's from our partner because we're worried about the imperfection or because we feel bad asking for help or we feel like a failure.
Like, why can't I? Do it all on my own or why aren't I good enough? And we forget, we're sleep deprived, right? New mamas and dads are sleep deprived which is Very difficult to go night after night day after day and then still be at peak performance so asking for help allows us to Acknowledge our humanity acknowledge that we're not perfect because nobody is there is no such thing as a perfect parent and acknowledge that there are Benefits to having that helping hand and it doesn't have to be if you are a solo parent, it's okay because you can still ask for help with a family members, friends, neighbors paid help.
If you could afford it. There are ways of asking for help without [00:26:00] feeling the shame in that. And in terms of the partner relationship, you mentioned, you that you were worried at 1st he's not going to do it as well as I might be doing it. That's a very common. Yeah. Concern that parents have and I think that there is something beautiful about having a conversations with your partner about, how about trying it this way?
Or, how about trying it that way? And working together to find the solution that works, but also to recognize and especially as your child gets older, that there's a lot of benefit to different parenting Techniques, I don't want to say styles, but it's techniques. So what I mean by that, and this would obviously be when the child is more in the toddler or preschool years that yes, you always want to present a united front and that you're that to your child and that you're parenting style or bottom line is going to be the same, right?
If you want to make sure that you're. Baby or toddler is going to sleep at a certain time. Both parents need to be aligned on that. But if one of you [00:27:00] happens to be a little more soft spoken, and the other one happens to be a little more of a rough housing type of personality, that's really great for the child to see, because seeing different personalities and different styles is beneficial for your child.
It helps. It helps your child understand that there are different personalities out there. It helps your child learn how to navigate different personalities that may be different from what his or her personality is. Embrace the differences while also coming together as a partnership in raising your child.
And so that's, it's a learning curve as everything with parenting. It will take time for all for everybody to find their footing, to find the balance and to find how you work well together. As a pair of parents.
trish: I love that so much. I think your book, it sounds like it, it just covers all the things that they need during that first year, which is amazing.
And I love the conversation we've had today. And I hope really one of you guys that listening that. If you can take away [00:28:00] that it's okay to need help, this is a great resource for you, and it's okay not to be perfect. You don't have to be perfect. None of us are. And anyone you think is perfect, she's not. I promise.
She's not perfect. So I, we've been talking about your book. Can you tell everyone how they can find it and how they can find you?
sharon: Sure. So my book is available anywhere books are sold. It's very easy to find on Amazon Barnes Noble, in stores, online. Or you can find it on my website SharonMaisel.
com, where I also have all my parenting resources. And you can of course find me on social media, Instagram, at Sharon Maisel. I keep it simple. It's all the same across the board. And I, as I mentioned, also offer parenting coaching which I love because then I'm able to speak one on one with parents and help them with tailored strategies because every parent is different.
Yeah I'm easy to find. [00:29:00]
trish: I love that. Thank you so much for coming today. I really appreciate having you on here and love your book. I have one myself. So it's a great resource. You guys check it out and I'll put a link in the show notes so you guys can find it as well. Thank you so much.
sharon: Thanks so much, Trish.
I loved chatting with you.
trish: Hey mamas, I hope you enjoyed this episode with Sharon Maisel where we talked about her new book, Bite Size Parenting. And we also talked about the fact that you do not have to be perfect and there is no normal. You need to give yourself grace. We love you guys. You're doing an amazing job as always Leave us a review, please And hit subscribe and we'll see you again next friday.
Bye for now