You’ve done your hypnobirthing sessions
You’ve packed your birth bag
You’ve had your first cuddle
And then it all starts to fall apart…
As a society, we have now started to wake up to the idea that the more you put into birth the more you get out. It’s clear from the amount of prenatal services you can buy – hypnobirthing, pregnancy yoga and pregnancy reiki all aim to empower and provide support to expectant parents. In my opinion this has transformed the birth experience for many women for the better and long may it continue.
But what happens after the cuddle?
The many visits in the early days and weeks from the health visitors, midwives, family and friends can make new mums (me included) feel that there is the illusion of support for a new parent. However, this like all illusions, fades and so many of my clients talk about being a first time mum who was alone, isolated, exhausted and empty. In my opinion there are some key dates when all new parents need some support and care to help them get through. It doesn’t matter who you get help from, just making sure that you have some support, can make all the difference.
Key dates when postnatal care/a support network needs to be there:
Day your milk comes in – This usually happens between the first 3-5 days postpartum. I actually woke up already crying on this day. For any new mum this day is an emotional roller coaster. Hormones have high jacked what was already a very rocky ship and making everything just so hard. Tears, fears and new babies are a hard mix. This day the new mum needs emotional support. A constant shoulder to cry on, lots of tea and cake. Someone to brush her hair (not necessarily washed) and tell her it’s all going to be okay are the medication I prescribe.
Day Dad goes back to work – A biggie for new mums as flying solo is another ‘first’ in a world full of them. This usually happens two weeks after the first cuddle. This day is about survival. It’s not about getting out of the house to meet up with loads of family or friends in a new coffee shop an hour and a half bus ride from home. It’s about sticking to what you know and gaining confidence that you can cope with the huge demands put on a new mum looking after a new baby. Try to stick to any sort of routine you already have going and make sure you have supplies so you don’t have to get out of the house if you can’t. By accepting support and being prepared can make this day a confidence booster rather than emotional black hole.
Weigh ins – Usually after the first 6 week check up new parents will be told when their local weigh in clinics are, then probably monthly after that. Many a time I have picked up a friend or client from the stress that is a weigh in. Every single new mum wants to do what’s right for their new baby. Being told their baby hasn’t put on weight is not only seen as a sign of bigger concerns but ultimately mum feels like she has failed. Compound that with the fact that she thinks she might have failed at birth and you have a whole lot of hurt, blame and anger. Mums need to be informed about their options and listened to about how they want to proceed. Many a new mum has made huge decisions that have impacted the rest of their breastfeeding journey based on the comments made by health workers. These appointments are usually pretty rushed and there’s not a lot of time allocated to talk to mums about their options so a knowledgeable second option and listening ear are a must, especially in the early days.
Immunisations – From 6 weeks. Chances are your a new mum who has ‘ummmed and arred’ about the pros and cons on immunisations anyway so this is a situation where a new mum has had to make one of their first big parenting decisions. The new mum is so concerned about their new baby and making sure they haven’t done something catastrophically wrong that they really need someone to talk to. They want to discuss their fears and have someone to check that they’re doing everything they can to make their baby comfortable and safe in the days following immunisations. Please don’t offer any judgement.
6 week check up for mum and baby – If there are any unresolved issues from birth or any medical issues that haven’t healed yet then this day is a big one. This is also a day when the vital doctor/new mum relationship is formed. Depending on how this day goes can fill mums with confidence that they feel supported and listened to by a medical professional (often their first port of call) or if they are treated with contempt and frustration. By having someone there to help can give mums the confidence to speak about and trust their ‘mumtuition’ for the rest of their lives as a parent. Don’t underestimate its importance.
These days are just the common one’s that I think most mums will share, but no doubt there are heaps more depending on your situation. To find out more about how birth coaching can help you to feel supported and empowered after your first cuddle, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org