Archive of ‘POSTPARTUM’ category

Now Offering Postpartum Support

12801279_745574438876689_175770200292917669_nI’m very excited to announce that I will now be offering postpartum doula services to local families.  The postpartum adjustment is my favorite topic and it is a real joy for me to serve women during this time.

For more information on how I can help and what postpartum support looks like, please head over here.

Compassionate Care

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelo

 

One of my favorite quotes is by Maya Angelou –

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

There is no time when this is so true than during labor and birth.  Make sure that you choose a caregiver and support people who are going to be compassionate and kind.

Your birth is a memory that will remain with you for life and although you can’t always control exactly what happens, you can surround yourself with people who are there for you no matter what the outcome.

Language And New Mothers

POSTPARTUMDEPRESSIONDo you ever find yourself constrained by language?  I am trying to name a class that I have planned and I’m falling short.  The reason is that our culture seems to have so little regard for the topic of new mothers, that every word which could describe their place in life, is misunderstood.

I want to name this class so that people understand what it’s about.  I initially decided to put “postpartum” in the title, but then I realized that most people see the P-word and think “depression.”  It’s commonly understood that adult learners will skim over anything that they don’t believe applies to them.  Most are not expecting any postpartum issues, so I don’t believe many would sign up for a class with this name, unless they had a more-than-basic understanding of birth and new motherhood.

 So then, I went to the cute term, “Babymoon,” which I think sums up the period of falling in love with your new little human, just perfectly.  But the parenting magazine industry seems to have borrowed that word and changed the meaning, so that most people understand it to mean a vacation expecting parents take before their baby is born.

Postnatal sounds so medical.

Fourth Trimester is probably my best bet, but I’m still not sure people are going to understand that at a glance.

Why is there no clearly understood word in the English language, for the period of time immediately following a birth?  The period of time where a woman needs a gentle touch, rest, sincere encouragement and a lot of support?

At university I did a year of linguistics.  We were taught that the more a people group (with a common language) value something, the more words they will have to describe it.  Essentially, the language we speak both affects and reflects our view of the world.

Kind’a figures that we have nothing describing or new mothers, doesn’t it?

 

Expectations and Struggle

Can we just take a minute to talk about expectations?

Image by Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis @ Flickr click for source.

Image by Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis @ Flickr click for source.

One of the most difficult parts of my “job” is watching new families struggle and kick against the goads of life with a newborn.  A little understanding and preparation for the realities of this season can make the transient challenges much sweeter.  It seems in our culture, that we have, for the most part, failed to prepare new parents for what they can expect.  Instead of a realistic picture of the early months, they’ve been fed a bunch of arbitrary information on how life “should,” or “could” look.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom:

  • Your new baby will want to be in your arms most of the time.  This is their safe place.  A newborn recognizes its mother’s smell and voice (father’s voice too!).  Think of where this tiny human has been for its entire existence: a dark environment, being gently rocked and swayed as his/her mother goes about her daily life.  Hunger, thirst, pain and cold are entirely new sensations.  Your baby craves you and you are her comfort.  Despite what Grandma may have been told when she had her own babies, an infant cannot be spoiled by being held and carried a lot.  This period is uniquely designed for bonding (NOT discipline, for which the toddler years will provide plenty of opportunity).  Going with the flow, instead of against it, is going to make everyone’s life easier and happier.
  • Babies never seem to follow a pattern for very long.  Especially in the beginning, schedules are more harmful than helpful (want low milk supply?…put baby on a schedule).   Even if your baby begins sleeping well, for long stretches and going down easily, you should not expect that this is how life is always going to be.  There are a number of reasons for “sleep regressions.”  Teething, growth spurts, illness, developmental milestones, etc. all play a role in upsetting your routine.  So say after me, “the only constant with babies is that nothing ever stays the same.”
  • When you are sleep deprived, sleep training might sound mighty appetizing.  Don’t do it until you have studied arguments for and against.  I’m not going to tell you what you should do, but I will tell you that there is almost no evidence for allowing a baby to scream until they shut down and there is plenty of evidence against this practice.  At the end of the day, you get to decide, but make your decision based on what your instincts tell you is right and not because of outside pressure.  It is entirely normal for a child to not sleep through the night until well after their second birthday.
  • Life never returns to normal.  You find a new normal, which might resemble life pre-baby, but will have some marked differences.  Recognize the early days as sacred and something you need to honor and respect.  The whole process of falling in love requires time to focus on just one another (I’m not saying you can’t love your baby if you aren’t alone together, but if your days are full and rushed, you are asking for emotional upsets in the first month).  For your own recovery and emotional adjustment (moms), you need to do as little as possible, outside of resting and baby care, for as long as possible.  Prepare for this and you will improve your chances of avoiding postpartum depression by leaps and bounds!

I’m going to stop there for now, because I don’t want to overwhelm you with information.  This isn’t meant to frighten anyone.  These early days are precious and so joyful, when you can let go of expectations and go with the natural ebb and flow of life with baby.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whether new parents’ expectations are realistic, or not.

 

 

8 Things A New Mother Needs

image- bethfletcherphotography.com

So few people stop to recognize the mother when there is a new baby, but her needs are just as important as his!  What is best for baby is a happy and healthy mother who is capable of nurturing him.  Here is a list of things that new mothers need.  These are not just nice ideas, they are essential for her timely recovery!

  • Recognition for the huge mountain she has just moved.  Birth is an enormous event in a woman’s life.  It doesn’t matter which way baby has come into the world, a mother needs to be recognized for having created new life and for having given birth.
  • Time to recover.  A new mother needs to be supported so that she can recover physically.  The more rest she gets in the beginning, the quicker her body will be able to recover.  This is not the time for entertaining guests.  Help with household responsibilities like cooking and cleaning is important.  Visitors should keep their visits short and sweet and not expect to be waited on!
  • Validation of her struggles.  If she had a traumatic birth, is having trouble breastfeeding, is battling with sleep deprivation or any of the other myriad of things that can plague a new mother, she might need to express her feelings.  Don’t try to get her to look on the bright side, she needs someone to accept that this is how she feels.
  • Non-Judgmental Support for her choices   Mothers are individuals, who bring to motherhood their unique beliefs, histories and anxieties.  Don’t criticize, do offer support and encouragement.  Always be gentle with and sensitive to her feelings.
  • Skin-to-skin time with her baby encourages bonding during this critical time and breastfeeding  helps a mother’s body to recover from birth as well as helping mom and baby to relax.
  • Sincere Encouragement. A fragile new mother needs kind words and to know that she is doing well.
  • Time alone.  A “touched-out” mother might need just fifteen minutes alone to recharge her batteries.  Offer to hold the baby for her, so that she can have some time to think of her own needs.
  • Good Nutrition. For her recovery, energy and state of mind, a new mother needs to be nourished.  Help beyond offering to make a family meal.  Bring by nutritious foods that she can grab during the day to fuel her.

Do you have anything to add to this list?  Is there anything you wish that you had in hindsight?

Letter To You New Mama

-A woman, as long as she lives, willI am writing this because I was once where you are now and I would have wanted to hear what I’m about to say.  I don’t presume to have all the answers, but what I do have is a love for mothers and babies and a sense that birth itself is bigger than we know.

First of all, congratulations on creating a little human being, one who is going to come into this world in one way or another.  Whichever way baby arrives, he or she will be born and you will be a mother and will have created and given birth to a new life.  No one can minimize this, it is a huge deal and you are worthy of recognition!

Perhaps you already know how you plan to give birth, perhaps you have tried not to think about it and are hoping that someone else will make it happen.  Whatever your wishes are surrounding your birth, I would like to give you a little piece of advice (and I know that there is “advice” coming at you from all angles right now, so please just bear with me).  Choosing a care giver who makes you feel safe, respected and a part of this process, will probably be the most important step you will take in welcoming your baby into this world.   There is a quote that has proved itself to be true in almost every encounter I have had with mothers young and old:

A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.”  Anna Verwaal.

Choose someone to care for you who is going to make you feel like you matter!

Once that baby is in your arms, your world will never be the same again.  Everything you thought you knew about being a parent and having a newborn will melt away and you will learn how to be stretched to your limit in every way.  This is not something to fear – it will make you strong and perhaps help you to appreciate your own parents a little more.

The baby blues will come and go.  If they tend to come more than they go, speak to someone who knows about these things.   You are not alone and you don’t have to feel that way.

If you choose to breastfeed, you might face challenges, so don’t wait until the baby is born to build yourself a support network!  I can tell you from experience that searching for your local La Leche League’s contact info after three days of no sleep is not as easy as you might think!  If you have access to a lactation consultant, take advantage of this!!

If you have a partner, you might find that having a baby together will bring you closer than ever.  Often though, in the throes of sleep deprivation and the stress of a major life adjustment, the seeds of resentment are planted.  Work on your relationship even if it saps the last bit of energy you have.  Talk to each other, be honest, don’t throw darts.  Love is what brought you here, don’t forget that.

You are going to feel guilty for things that are beyond your control.  Realize what you are capable of changing and let the rest be.  Thank the nosey advice givers for their advice and then do whatever you were going to do anyway.  Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.”

I am so excited for you, motherhood is more rewarding than I have words to describe, but there is one more thing I have to say before I go…Sleep when the baby sleeps!

Sincerely,

The mother who learned the hard way.