Enjoying Your Baby Moon

Your baby has arrived!

Congratulations!  Life will never quite be the same.

It’s a huge transition.  Especially with that first baby.  But still true with second, third and subsequent children.

Enjoying your baby moon is the idea that the first month or first moon after the baby is born is a special time of settling in together. Getting to know each other on the outside and getting used to one another’s personalities.  It’s a really special time.  Just like a honeymoon.  Hence the name baby moon.

For that first month after your baby is born, give yourself permission to take it slow.  Spend time at home just hanging out with this new little person.

Let go of all the little stuff… the unimportant stuff… like the state of cleanliness in your house, or the errands on your to-do list.

All of it can wait. 

Hopefully your freezer is already full of easy-to-prepare meals… and if it isn’t, send out someone to buy that type of food for you.  And if anyone offers to help, ask for things you really need, like help with cleaning, laundry or meals.  Remember your primary job is to care for your little one.  All the rest is extra.  Bonding with your baby is more important than the dishes!

It’s important to recognize that your body needs time to heal as well.  The place where the placenta was attached to your uterus is an open wound inside you.  That takes time to heal.  Additionally, your body may have damage to the pelvic floor to heal from.  And if you had a cesarean birth you have major surgery to recover from.  So take it easy and allow yourself time.

Everyone will tell you to nap while the baby is napping.  THIS IS ABSOLUTELY A GOOD IDEA!  I know it’s hard.  It’s soooo tempting to get stuff done.  But for the first month, just relax and let the baby sleep on you.  And even if you don’t actually sleep when baby is sleeping, then at least lie down and rest.  Caring for a newborn is so much more than a full-time job.  It’s a 24-7 job and there is nothing else quite like it.

Here are some helpful hints to making that babymoon one of the best months of your life.

1. Simplify Meal Preparation: A fridge and freezer brimming with healthy food can be a blessing in those early days with a newborn.  Nursing makes you hungry.  Stock up on nutritious snacks that you can eat with one hand while you nurse or hold a baby.  Fruit and cut-up veggies, tube yogurt, muffins, and cut-up cheese slices work great.

2 Know Where to Find Help and Support: Knowing beforehand where to go if you run into trouble can really help. Find your local breastfeeding clinics, emergency rooms, 24-hour pharmacies and local new mother support program.

3 Build a support team. As a new mom, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking… “I’m an independent working woman who has managed my own life successfully for years.  I’ll be able to take care of things myself.”  The truth is that newborns are demanding.  And you will appreciate help.  Family is great.  You might even consider a post-partum doula.

4 Keep Visits Short.  Visits are ok, but only if they are short and not too many. Especially while you and baby are learning to breastfeed.  Often breastfeeding at the beginning will be easier if mom is naked and baby is naked.  That isn’t easy to do with company.  And waiting to feed baby until the company leaves, results in a fussy baby and a mom whose breasts are so engorged that it’s hard for baby to latch.

5 Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. It takes time for you and baby to figure out a rhythm and settle into your nursing relationship.  If you can any difficulties ask for help right away!  Problems are easier to solve the sooner that you get help.  See a lactation consultant – they are truly the experts in this area.

6 Get as much sleep as possible. Sleep deprivation is a true challenge and the truth is that most babies are wakeful at night… many even cluster feed in the middle of the night when you are the most used to sleeping.  Changing your attitude towards night feedings can really help.  Think of them as a special time for you and baby with no other distractions when you can really focus on each other.  Keeping baby physically close to you can also make it easier.  That way you can reach baby quickly before either of you fully wakes up.

7 Hold that baby close. In the first months of life, babies crave a womb-like environment.  Things that mimic the womb trigger their own built-in calming reflexes.  This is the reason that swaddling, shhing, and rocking all soothe baby.  Please please read the happiest baby on the block to learn really practical ways to calm your baby.  Babies thrive on touch.  It is their first means of communication.  Baby  massage is an excellent way to build loving touch into the rhythm of your day.  Wearing your baby is the other excellent way to build lots of touch into your day with them.  Babies love interaction; looking at you and hearing your voice.  They can see your clearly from a distance of 6 to 11 inches away… that’s the exact distance they are when you hold them.  Isn’t nature great?  Babies even recognize your smell.   You are the centre of their world.

8. Let bonding happen in its own way.  There is pressure to bond right away.  My sincere wish is that every woman would feel that deep immediate love for their baby the second they meet them.  This is why I am such a huge advocate for skin-to-skin contact after birth.  It’s like there is glue on the baby and glue on the mother right after birth and when they are placed physically skin-to-skin, the glue sticks and the bonding is strong and easy.  When moms and babies are separated, it’s like the glue begins to dry a bit, and it can take longer to stick.  But stick it will if you simply touch.   So if you didn’t feel that deep love right from the start, don’t despair… the day-to-day experience of being close to your baby will establish and deepen your bond (wearing your baby is great for this).

9. Give Dad the baby.  In the first bit, it’s easy for dads to feel a bit left out of the action, and some Moms have a hard time trusting that their partners will do the job right.  It’s important to remember that your partner is different than you and will do things differently.  And THAT’S OK!   Give them the space and time to establish their own bond with baby and to build their confidence as a caregiver.  Plus it’s really important that babies learn to be soothed by both parents.  If baby is only comforted by mom, pretty soon mom’s touch is the only one that baby will accept.  And that’s a shame for both partners.

10. Read some wonderfully helpful books.   All these titles are likely available at your local library and as well as local bookstores.

The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother – Heng Ou (a gentle nurturing guide for new moms with great advice & recipes for the first month postpartum)

The Happiest Baby on the Block – Harvey Karp, MD (great advice for the first 3 months – especially if baby is fussy)

Natural Health after Birth – Aviva Romm  (a wonderful book which concentrates on the mother and her health after birth)

Infant massage, a handbook for loving parents – Vimala Schneider McClure (a classic for baby massage, wonderful writing, research and photos)

The Baby Book, by Dr. William (MD) and Martha (RN) Sears (a wonderful all-around guide for gentle parenting from birth or 2 years old.  The book answers lots of questions)

The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg (a good guide for creating a rhythm to your day and learning your baby’s cues)

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also like these two posts.

Are You Ready For Baby?

To me preparing for a new baby is much like getting ready for a trip to a foreign country.  You read the travel books.  (AKA the mountains of baby books you have likely started to accumulate.)  You talk to other people who have been to that country.  (AKA you talk to friends who have already had kids)  Keep Reading 

Looking for the Perfect Swaddle

Ahhhh… the swaddle.  There is something so sweet about a little wrapped-up munchkin.  But getting that perfect swaddle is not so simple.  I remember watching the nurse at the hospital wrap up my daughter so quickly and effortlessly.  And I really remember how quickly it soothed her.  That motivated me to learn… and well… there was a learning curve.  Keep Reading

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