I just returned from a 4 week baby wellness check and home visit with one of our moms. I was thrilled to see how rested, happy and bonded with the baby she was. It was a treasure too
watching Dad holding and communicating with his son, all the while, the baby making eyes and baby
sounds for him. They were all so in tune! Baby was completely comfortable in his body and parents
were obviously adept at “reading” his cues, for nursing, for changing and so many other little things. Hardly a drop of stress in the house! They wanted to share so much of what they were learning – As if they themselves had been birthed into a whole new life.
Last week I witnessed a similar thing at a 4 week postpartum visit: mom was tucked away upstairs enjoying nap time with her baby. Dad and younger sibling were downstairs making food and generally bouncing gently around the way younger kids need to do. Both of these moms felt really comfortable in their bodies, had energy and felt “recovered” from the birth and both were dedicated to spending as much time as possible focusing on baby time, nursing, resting, enjoying. The babies were totally thriving! I was told they hardly ever cried.
Parents could tell what the babies needed before crying ever happened.
The most prevalent energy in these homes was JOY!
But It can be DIFFICULT
I remember a much different picture with my own first baby. My husband went back to work the day after the birth. I rested as much as I could, but there was still food to cook, dishes and clothes to wash and all the various household chores while I was caring for a newborn, learning how to breastfeed and
recovering from the birth. Labor and birth were a true vision quest for me, unimaginably transformative, and then suddenly, boom! that’s all over, now get back to normal life. I understand now that I really needed time to rest and integrate what I had just gone through. It was certainly the biggest experience I had ever had. My other challenges included outrageous
fatigue, screaming muscles, basic overwhelm with everything being so new (I had never done this before!) and no one to share it with. I felt so alone but didn’t even know how to talk about that. Was I supposed to be enjoying this? My saving grace was the love I saw in my son’s gaze
and my overwhelming desire to mother him.
I had intended to stay home exclusively for 21 days to give my baby time to “totally come into his body” and feel 100% secure, safe and thriving. I couldn’tdo it. By two weeks I was getting “cabin fever” and went out into the world with him on some mundane errand. It was obviously a big mistake. He cried. I cried. My errand didn’t get accomplished. We both needed the slow calm attention and flexibility available at home in our nest. The simple act of driving and trying to “get something done” were moving us in the wrong direction.
During those early postpartum days, I talked to my mother on the phone (we were more than 3000 miles apart) and told her how sore, aching and tired I felt and she responded “Oh yes, I remember that’s how it is.” And that was it.
This was just “the way it was.”
No one had told me how to create a BabyMoon time for myself and my newborn. I didn’t even know I would need it! I didn’t know that I would really, really need this thing I had never even heard of. The new mom needs TIME. Time for recovery, rest, healing, bonding, adjusting, integrating – These are very real needs in the days and weeks after birth. There are physical and emotional
costs when these needs are unmet.
For my second, third and fourth babies, I was more prepared. I had helped many other women plan their postpartum “lying-in” time experience. I did my best to create a BabyMoon experience for myself and I got better at it with each baby.
We are creating a BabyMoon Project at Three Sisters Midwifery in Jacksonville that you can benefit from right now. We want to spread the word until BabyMoon is a cultural tradition. As a community we can help each other. When you sign up for our Baby Moon Project, you can receive newsletters with information and resources about how you can create your own BabyMoon. We are gathering a circle of women who can mentor and support other women to create and sustain their BabyMoon time.
Find out more at www.threesistersmidwifery.com
Three Sisters Midwifery HomeBirth • WaterBirth • Well-Woman Care Rhione Zeixchel, LDM Insurance and OHP accepted Jae Rowan CPM, LDM Call for free consultation Katie Guidotti, ND threesistersmidwifery.com Maraya Brown CNM, MSN 1-541-833-0999
Infant Massage:Bonding and Benefits for Parents and Babies
By JoAnn Lewis, LMT, CEIM, Trainer with the International Assoc. of Infant Massage, Sweden, USA chapter.
Evidence keeps pouring in to show us that loving, nurturing touch between baby and parent is essential to our baby’s best development in all ways. The stimulation, relaxation, relief and interaction of infant massage all play an important part in baby’s emotional, intellectual and physical well-being that lasts a lifetime.
At the Touch Research Institute in Miami’s University Medical Centers, research shows premature babies given daily massages for 15 minutes gain 47% more weight and go home in half the time with savings upwards of $9,000 to the hospital and the parents! This is just one of many studies illustrating the advantages of infant massage in reducing colic, sleeping problems, and stress hormones. It is found to improve nerve coatings, digestion, brain development, muscle tone, immune function and much more…
Touch is the first sense we develop while still inside our mothers and the strongest since birth. And we continue to need touch all of our lives for well-being.
At every class in infant massage the parents and babies learn about each other together with this ancient traditional way of communicating through touch, “dancing” and relaxing in deep harmony with respect to each other. It is the lovely dance of massage! Parents can really relax for the first time with each stroke as their baby responds to their touch, their voice, and their complete, loving attention. This simple and strengthening nourishment of massage builds their confidence, their bodies, their trust in each other; setting a strong foundation for life!
Call the Family Massage Education Center at 77 Manzanita Avenue in Ashland, Oregon for a schedule of parent/baby classes at 541-482-3567. Or call to become an educator/instructor of infant massage at the next certification USA training in Ashland with JoAnn Lewis, USA Trainer.
How did you first learn to change a diaper, burp an infant, console it, or pack a diaper bag? I’m the eldest of five children, so in my case, it was tending siblings during the rare times my parents went on “date-night.” And I did a fair amount of childcare for other families to earn spending money.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that today, women have fewer children, they have those children later in life, and according to most data, 41% of those children are going to be raised by a single parent. Often that single parent will juggle both a low-wage job and childrearing. So it won’t surprise you that locally, 85% of children and youth qualify for free or reduced school lunch. 70% of youth in custody did not grow up with both parents. Generally, raising kids falls disproportionately to women. They are, traditionally, culturally, and arguably biologically, the better-suited caregivers. 72.5% of those accused of shaken baby syndrome crimes are men. Yet with more women going to college and graduating from college, women are now often the primary breadwinner. Add these findings together, and there is a need to teach men how to raise children.
As a teacher, I see the effects of kids raised in poverty daily. Many crave even negative attention from adults. They are often hungry, and often unsupervised at night, staying up to morning hours to play video games. 24% of our middle schoolers will miss 10% or more days of school in our state. Often, their reading and math skills and motor skills are behind grade level because from a young age, their caregivers are unable to afford certain toys, books, internet access, sports fees, etc. that wealthier families are.
We can either sigh and lament these statistics, or we can recognize that we are not preparing men well for two realities: 1) they will want to leave a relationship when they find out that they aren’t able to provide their family with the level of financial support that they would like to, and 2) by staying, they can provide their families with far more than financial support.
With a few weeks of my 2015 summer vacation left, I heard an NPR broadcast that taught gang members who never had fathers— how to _be_ fathers. A few phone calls later, I had financial support from AllCare to become a facilitator and establish a chapter of “Boot Camp for New Dads” in Grants Pass and Medford.
Boot Camp’s motto is: “A father for every child, no matter what.” The 3-hr. course uses “veteran dads” who have 2-12 month old babies— to teach “rookie dads”— those who are soon to deliver. It covers fears that fathers have, and how to form a parenting team; how to react when/if the female shuts out the dad as “not competent enough” to care for the child. Rookies change diapers of the veteran dad’s children; learn how to console— and they learn how to nurture their relationship with a newly hormonal, overtired mom. Changing diapers, consoling, taking the child to a park, and reading or singing to it will give her relief rest that she desperately needs.
It’s one thing to have the perfect class available at the perfect time. It’s quite another to have a gender that prides oneself on their independence— _sign up_ for the course. In Grants Pass, there are 25 distribution points where an expectant father would come across our brochures: Women’s Health Center, Southern Oregon HeadStart, Options, Child Welfare Services, and Pregnancy Care Center, are just a few.
Enthusiastic, proud veteran fathers will be ready to impart their wisdom on the 2nd Saturday of every month, at the Women’s Health Center off Ramsey at 1075 Grandview Ave. in Grants Pass, 9-12 am and from 1-4pm at La Clinica Wellness Center, 730 Biddle Road in Medford.