Interview with author of The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care for Your Infant and Yourself, Whitney Casares, MD
What inspired you to write The Newborn Baby Blueprint?
Having a new baby is awesome and amazing…and terrifying. It can be less daunting when you have the right expectations and the right information. So much of early motherhood is about, ultimately, learning how to cope with the transition from a pre-mom existence to a full-fledged caretaker role. Even though I was a Stanford University-trained, experienced pediatrician, motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. When I wrote this book, I wanted to help other women survive the new mom transition armed with the information they need for infant and self-care so they can find perspective and joy sooner versus later.
Did you know you wanted to be an author when you first started out in medicine?
I’m a storyteller at heart. As a journalism major and aspiring doctor in college, my goal was to eventually use my communication skills and medical expertise to give parents the information they needed in a way that resonated and inspired. After completing my training and starting out in clinical practice, I started applying my goal of translating medical jargon and policy recommendations into relatable guidance as I gave direct patient care. It was when I founded modernmommydoc.com
People have babies all the time. Why another book about how to care for one?
So many modern moms have hardly any experience taking care of an infant when they welcome their own babies home. They’re armed with an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips when they enter motherhood, but their Googling and crowdsourcing efforts often lead to frustration as they try to differentiate quality resources from unreliable advice. Fledgling moms also start their parenthood journeys isolated, for the most part, from other seasoned moms and dads. Add in the reality that newborns have a notorious reputation for bizarre behavior and scary rashes? It’s a perfect recipe for panic and concern in the first few months caring for an infant.
The new moms I know need guidance as they face the deeper questions of parenting—like, how am I going to survive this and come out okay? This book not only gives moms practical advice, it also gives them coping and self-care strategies as they start out on their motherhood journeys.
What’s the most important piece of information you wish someone had given you when you became a mom?
I wish someone had told me to spend my money and time on self-care, not gear, before I became a mom. Just like everyone else around me, I focused intensely on making the perfect baby registry and checking items off my to-buy list before my first baby arrived. When I look back, I would have been happier and healthier if I’d spent my time researching postpartum doulas or organizing family help so I had more time to rest and recharge in my early parenting days. All families benefit when parents take good care of themselves so they can take good care of their kids.
How do you find time to write and practice full-time medicine, plus raise your kids? It seems like you’re doing it all.
Nothing could be further from the truth! I don’t do it all intentionally. I know that, if I did, I would be unhappy, stressed and, ultimately, not very successful at anything. Instead, I know I’ll be most happy and productive if I (1) get clear in my own head about, not just what I have to do, but what I want to do, (2) limit my 100% level efforts to my top three priorities, and (3) stay comfortable enough in my own skin to care less about meeting others’ expectations of my priorities than about being true to my needs and goals. I’m not perfect about it all the time, but self-compassion is part of working mom success as well!
What was the most difficult part about writing the book? The most rewarding?
When I wrote this book, I delved pretty deep into my own experiences as a new mom. In some ways, that was therapeutic, but it also was stressful to go back to those difficult moments time and time again. On the other hand, sharing my stories gave me strong connections with other moms. The more women I meet, the more I find that we have universal struggles as new moms. All of our journeys are unique, but the community I’ve built as a result of this work is so amazing.
You talk a lot in the book and on your blog about your own experience with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. How did you recognize you were struggling and how did you get help?
About one month postpartum, I could tell I was not myself. My daughter was crying nonstop, she spit up constantly, and would not sleep. I can remember rocking her and holding her in the dark for hours, often crying right alongside her and wondering if it would ever end. I would go on a walk to the grocery store, see a five-year-old child with her parent and think, “Wow, it is really amazing that you survived to grow so old.” It was the first time in my life feeling so completely out of control.
That’s when I realized I needed help. I reached out to my fellow pediatricians and other new moms for advice. After a few weeks, I started taking regular chunks of time for myself away from my baby—just small trips to a coffee shop or to the park at first—so I could come back more refreshed. I did a lot of baby wearing and talked to my own obstetrician about support and resources for PPD and Anxiety. I’m always encouraging moms to reach out as soon as possible if they’re struggling.
What do you hope other people will gain from reading The Newborn Baby Blueprint?
I hope my book helps new moms and moms-to-be win at early parenting without losing themselves. I hope that, as readers prepare to care for their infants, they’ll gain the perspective they need to find a lot more joy and a little more ease in the process.
Visit Dr. Casares website here: https://modernmommydoc.com/