The First Few Days
Now your Baby has Come into the World, What's Next?
So how did the birth go? It will have had a massive impact on both you and your baby however it went and it is very common to feel very raw after the experience. If you had some interventions you may have very strong feelings about these too and so will your baby.
Dr. Ray Castellino talks here about how helpful it can be to share with your baby information about all the procedures that are standard, so that your baby feels safe and knows that everything thats being done is with a loving intention:
Your baby has been inside you for a long time and the most familiar sounds s/he knows are your voice, the rhythm of your heartbeat, and your breathing rhythm.
Whats more, your baby experienced the birth just as much as you did and may have similar feelings to you about it. Babies are sentient beings:
It comes as a shock to many parents that all babies want is to be held all the time! This can worry some parents as they don't want to 'spoil' their baby, but research shows that babies who are held close either by mum, dad or a person close to the family all of the time, sleep better, feed better, put on weight and grow into inquisitive and secure older babies.
Please take the time to look at Babies Know and if you want to, book onto a course with your partner either before or after the birth. You wont regret it!
How Long will you Need to Carry and Hold your Baby?
It depends on your baby, the birth experience and environment your baby is born into. Generally, within a few weeks babies start to 'unfurl'. You see their limbs are less tightly closed up in a ball. Massage and baby yoga really help to instil their trust in you as a parent able to meet their needs.
Many Mothers talk about how useful it has been to invest in a good sling - look on www.thebabywearer.com for lots of informatin on good slings. InJoy! recommends the 'Hana Wrap' sling for new borns, or for later on the 'Ergo Carrier' or 'Joey Maitai' slings. Your baby was carried by you for a long time; it is natural that what s/he will find most soothing is being carried by you whilst you go about your day. Find out more about the benefits of baby wearing.
It is common for babies to become restless or cry a lot during the hours of the day/night that were the last hour of their birth. You may find it is really helpful to use this time to talk to your baby about the birth and what was happening at this time, to reassure them they are safe and, if necessary, to play them familiar music that you listened to a lot when you were pregnant, or to chant the sounds you loved to chant in class.
All the ways you engaged with your baby when s/he was inside you will pacify your baby now. Often babies simply miss the womb; it was always warm and they were always held. So remember that from complete dependence comes complete independence! You may want to check out www.consciouslyparenting.com or go to the radio show part of www.zoeweston.com for lots of information on what our babies need from us in the early days.
Rest and Visitors
You will both need PLENTY of rest to soothe the nervous system after birth. Though many excited family and friends may want to come and meet you baby in the first few days and weeks, this may feel too much for you, especially if you expect yourself to be 'back to normal' within the first 3 days! It is deffinately really wonderful when loving family and friends wish to come and look after you whilst you tend to your baby, but if you feel you are under pressure to look after everyone else, its worth considering giving yourself some time with your baby to get to know her and settle into life together before having to cater to the needs of others. These first few days and weeks are so magical and precious that its ok to keep them to yourselves! The more you rest over the first three to six weeks, the quicker you will recover and feel good about being a new Mum. Your baby will also get to grips with life much easier.
A 'BABY MOON' is when you take some days/weeks out of normal life, just to be in the house with your little one, and your partner. Some cultures do this for 4 wks, others for 6, and family and friends take turns to prepare meals, clean and run errands so you can have your special time together. They may get some cuddles with your baby when you shower/sleep, but in general it is understood that the time is for the 3 of you to get to know eachother. If you dont have family help, you may consider a postnatal Doula who you can pay to come for a few hours each day to support you around the house and with older siblings if required.
When babies are overstimulated by noise, light and too many hands touching and holding them, they can 'shut down' so that their nervous system can cope. Babies take six times as long to process what is going on around them, so talk to them softly, move slowly, and ask those who are around do the same. Obviously, your baby will adapt to your environment and so long as YOU are feeling happy with whats going on around you, this is a great start.
If grandparents want to visit, or friends want to help, they will be much more useful supporting you with chores around the house and cooking, tending to you in bed, than holding YOUR baby whilst you do the work! These first weeks are precious and set the tone for babyhood and the positive nurturing dynamics of family life. Your smell, your touch, your voice are what your baby wants - the rest of the world can wait!
The more you invest in good nutrition, the better your milk supply will be. It's worth continuing to take a good quality multivitamin post birth to keep your essential nutrients topped up, along with EFAs. In croydon we have the wonderful Authentic Roots healthfood store where both Santiago and Nicola are qualified to advise you on what nutrition/supplement support may be best suited to you. They also offer homeopathy which can be super helpful for these early weeks both for you and your baby.
It can make a huge deifference in your sense of wellbeing to sleep when your baby sleeps. House work will always need doing and if you spend your time trying to catch up with it when your baby naps, you may find you feel exhausted and low. Sleep deprivation is not fun and if you introduce a good sling into yur baby's life soon after birth you may find as many other mothers have that your baby will be happy when awake, to be in a sling as you go about your day, doing what needs doing!
Sleeping with your Baby?
Sometimes this is the only way to get some sleep! Personally I co-slept with my daughter for the first couple of years and all I needed was a big bed to get good rest! There is lots on Babies Know about co-sleeping and the benefits. Also the book 'Three in a Bed' is worth reading with your partner before your baby is born.
Some babies will be happy in another room from early on. It depends on your baby and what works for you as parents. The book Why Love Matters is really worth a read before considering any methods of getting your baby into a 'routine', and also trust your instincts as a parent, rather than the well meaning voices around you. As parents we all want what is best for our babies and every baby is different. Comparing our babies to other babies can end up causing a lot of upset for you both so its worth remembering that the first 3 months are a huge learning curve where your baby's preferences will become apparent. Equally as parents we strive to find a way that works for us too and with patient effort and trust, you will!
Remember you, and only you, are hardwired to understand the unique needs of your own baby. You know what your baby needs if you listen inside to your heart and not so much to the 'helpful advice' others want to give you. Your baby chose you both as parents with good reason. You cannot spoil your baby with love!