Simple suggestions to help new mothers maintain a healthy balance between their needs and the needs of their new born
Every new mother I have worked with agrees on this same point: nothing, absolutely nothing, can completely prepare you for parenthood.
Your beautiful baby has arrived and with it comes the realisation that this vulnerable little creature is completely and utterly reliant on you. The accompanying sense of responsibility can overwhelm and it is very easy for new mothers to overlook their own needs at this intense time.
Women are very good at looking after themselves when they are pregnant: beautiful organic food, yoga, massages, hypnobirthing, the company of other mothers-to-be at NCT and other such groups.
As soon as the baby is born, quite rightly, much of this energy is transferred to the new arrival – baby massage, cranio-sacral therapy, sing and sign, water babies – to name but a few distractions.
Having had three children myself, I am familiar with these early weeks. I know how powerful the desire is to devote yourself completely to caring for your baby.
However, you can’t be the best parent you can be if you are feeling run down to the ground. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to make time for yourself – to ensure that you do have enough energy to support all this wonderful giving.
Your baby is thriving if she is producing regular dirty nappies, putting weight on and crying for a feed – and, crucially, she needs you thriving too.
A few small tweaks to your day is all it takes to keep a healthy balance between the needs of both mother and child.
Here are 5 suggestions I often offer mothers-to-be:
- Tend to your needs firstIf your baby needs a feed and you yourself is hungry too– stop and have a snack. Make yourself comfortable before breast-feeding, be sure you have enough pillows and a big drink to hand before getting started.This is healthy self-care – indicating, to both yourself and your baby, that you are giving from a place of strength.
- Restrict visitorsMichel Odent, an internationally respected obstetrician, advices restricting visits from family and friends to 2 per day. I wholeheartedly agree. In my experience, any more than this can prevent the mother from being able to rest when she needs to rest. I also believe that any well-wishers should arrive laden with gifts of tasty food!
- SoupComforting, full of key nutrients and easy to digest. Good old-fashioned chicken soup is, almost universally, regarded as the ultimate cure-all broth. With its generous balance of key minerals and vitamins I consider it an ideal restorative for new mothers.Make gallons of the stuff in the late phases of pregnancy and freeze it. This way you’ll have bowlfuls quickly and easily available whenever you need them. Breastfeeding and limited sleep take their toll on your body and your energy levels can suddenly drop – so easily available, nutritious foods and snacks are a must.
If you’re a veggie – try vegetable broth and miso soup.
- Yoga NidraThis yoga technique focuses on establishing deep relaxation. There are numerous excellent Yoga Nidra recordings available online to guide you. Lie in a warm quiet place and listen to the recordings which take you into deep and very quick relaxation.Time is precious when you have a new-born – but just 15 mins can make the world of difference.
Yoga Nidra practitioner Ashley Jones and I have worked together to create the following yoga recording specifically for new mothers:
oxfordww.uk/treatments-services/post-natal-massage (scroll to the bottom of the page)
- MassageThis is a gently recuperative way to begin to reclaim your body after the months of pregnancy. You should seek out an experienced practitioner who understands the needs of women who have recently given birth. Someone who can work safely with all those tender areas which have worked hard with breastfeeding and childbirth.
I hope these simple techniques and suggestions help you to establish a healthy balance, allowing both you and your baby to thrive, during this remarkable time in both of your lives.
For more information on post- natal and pregnancy massage as well as birth doula services please visit oxfordww.uk