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Baby Moon Bliss
by Beth Leianne Curtis

newborn and big sisterSometimes so much attention is paid on being pregnant that the shift to life outside the belly for baby and mom can be quite a shock. Suddenly, baby arrives and now the amazing journey of motherhood has officially begun. Spending nine or ten months preparing for your birth and for taking the plunge into motherhood instantly culminates in that magical moment when you hold your newborn child close to your chest, skin to skin, madly in love. While meeting your baby can be a blissful experience, it is so important to be mindful of the great transition that is now facing you, your partner and your baby. Consider taking your time to formally fall in love with your newborn, and again with your partner, as you embrace the postpartum concept of the “baby moon.”

The baby moon is those precious new days, weeks and months when you become acquainted with your new baby, your postpartum body and, quite possibly, your view of the entire world. You are a different woman now – in body, mind and spirit – so give yourself permission to experience a wide range of feelings. Having a baby is hard work; being a mother is even harder! Hormonal changes can leave you feeling high as a kite and completely alone out on a limb, sometimes all at once. Be kind to yourself! You are not alone on this journey. Seek out supportive, like-minded new mothers at mother’s groups, La Leche League meetings or local playgrounds. If you do not have a support network of friends or family that you can readily call upon, a good postpartum Doula will be a must. Take a moment to make a list of people you can call on when you feel you need an extra hand or an extra meal. It really does “take a village” to raise a child, particularly a new baby.

A helpful tool that I share with students and clients of mine is what I describe as the “law of threes” when beginning the postpartum period. The first three days after your baby is born, try to stay in bed or at least in your bedroom. Many other cultures worldwide have much longer “lying in” periods for mother and baby. If you can give yourself the much-deserved rest of focusing on breastfeeding, sleeping, eating and recovering from the work of labor, your body and your baby will thank you for it.

While birth is a healthy, normal event, honor the recovery period that your hard working body needs and deserves. The less you physically do in the initial few days following childbirth, the better and stronger you will feel in the weeks ahead. Delegate housework, cooking and any physical demands to your support team. Stay in bed, eat wonderful nutritious food and keep your pajamas on! Well- meaning visitors will be more likely to cut visits short if they see you are absolutely not in entertaining mode.

Next, prepare ahead to have three weeks of meals readily available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will be amazed at how time seems to slip by so quickly; it can be late afternoon and you have forgotten to eat both breakfast and lunch. A refrigerator and freezer filled to the brim with delicious homemade meals from friends and loved ones is truly the gift that keeps on giving. And don’t forget to make sure you have plenty of high calorie snacks and drinks tucked away for those marathon breastfeeding sessions.

Finally, understand that those first three months after birth are truly a time to embrace the unexpected. There is a reason so many folks jokingly call this time period the “fourth trimester!” Go with the flow and understand that sleep deprivation, baby growth spurts, changes in the size and feeling of your breasts and emotional issues about being a mother will surely all surface. For some mothers, after three months is when breastfeeding really begins to be fun and easy. Many parents find that at the end of this transitional time, baby has moved through any colicky phases and that suddenly baby looks and acts more like a “real person.” Be open to trying new ideas and continue to seek support from like-minded friends and breastfeeding counselors. Take deep breaths often and remember that this too shall pass!

Physically, this is when your body slowly begins to return to its pre-pregnancy state. Remember that no woman is completely the same after crossing that bridge to motherhood. Birth is a labor of love and your new body may, indeed, show the badges of this honor. Stretch marks will fade with time, breastfeeding will help you burn up those much needed fat stores and your belly will slowly change shape once again. Resist those images that encourage you to lose weight too quickly. Let your lochia – your postpartum bleeding – guide you. Many women find that the bleeding caused by involution of the womb subsides in three to four weeks. If your bleeding suddenly resumes, it is your body’s way of telling you to slow down and do less. Getting in touch with abdominal muscles by doing gentle pelvic rocks and tilts or sitting on a stability ball is about all the exercise you will want to do in the early weeks. Also, do not forget to do your kegel exercises! Gently doing only ten or twenty kegels is a great way to access that pelvic floor which helped push out your newborn. Breathe deeply, go slowly and appreciate your amazing female body!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, enjoy this time getting to know this baby who shared life in your womb for so long. Wear your baby around the town and let the gentle rocking of the sling or carrier naturally soothe your newborn. Research shows us that babies who are worn by their mothers cry less and breastfeed more. Enjoy skin-to-skin contact with your newborn and breathe in that wonderful baby smell. Keep your infant in your arms and touch, massage and play with all those yummy little baby body parts. There are few pleasures in life like cuddling a new little person that you helped create! Talk to your baby, sing to your baby and dance around the room in bliss. When you feel the need for a much-needed momma break, hand baby off to your partner for some cuddling time.

Communicate openly with your partner about your feelings, your needs and your concerns. Practice non-judgment with yourself and remember that feelings are not right or wrong, they simply are. Enjoy your baby moon period and nourish your body, your mind and your soul.

As in birth, trust your baby, trust your instincts and become your own expert. When you need them, please call on the wide variety of postpartum resources available in the birthing community in your local area. Remember, you are not alone in this amazing new journey ahead. Best of luck with this incredible new beginning in your life!

Beth Leianne Curtis owns Believe In Birth, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a Home Birth Midwife completing her Certified Professional Midwife credential, as well as a Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Birth Doula.

 

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