Tag Archives: breastfeeding

16 Products & Services to Make Your Postpartum Easier

This list is not in any particular order nor is it complete. I feel like I should have some sort of disclaimer like “Individual results may vary. You might not like or need or want any of these products or services.” But really, I don’t know what I would do without most of these things:

 

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1. Snuza Hero

 

This might be one of the most important, beloved gifts we were given during pregnancy. The Snuza clips easily onto both disposable and cloth diapers, as well as little pants. Does the baby sometimes wriggle around enough so that it unclips itself and goes off and gives us a heart attack at 2am? Sure. Are a couple of inconvenient false alarms worth the peace of mind that the Snuza gives us? Absolutely. It’s easy to use and can go anywhere the baby goes, unlike infant monitoring pads that stay in the crib. No matter what room our kiddo finds herself napping in, we can attach the Snuza to her. It’s pricey, but worth every penny for anxious new moms like me.

 

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2. Keurig Coffee Maker and Ekobrew Reusable Filter

I didn’t appreciate our Keurig until our daughter was born. I use an Ekobrew filter so can fill with my favorite regular or decaf coffee (decaf… ha! hahahahAHHAHAHAHAh) and press a button and have a cup of coffee within seconds. The Ekobrew saves us money and doesn’t harm the environment, so everybody wins.

 

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3. Lactation Counselor/Consultant

If you’re even considering breastfeeding for any amount of time, please research and contact a lactation counselor or consultant during your pregnancy. Have their number on your fridge and programmed in your phone. Call them. Have them come over. Pick their brains. Let them direct your hands and watch you attempt to breastfeed and let them work their magic. Our lactation counselor charted the course of our postpartum period, saved our marriage, and changed our life. In like, 2 hours. Please. Please please please have a lactation professional on speed dial; breastfeeding can be challenging BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.

 

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4. Boba wrap

We love this wrap! Our daughter has been enjoying her Boba since she was about 2 weeks old. Some days her being in the wrap on my chest was the only way she would nap or I could get anything done, like dishes or laundry. The wrap has also been great for exercise and cabin fever as it keeps her warm and snug even in the cold winter months and I can get out of the house!

 

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5. Birth Ball (aka Yoga Ball)

Our birth ball was of mega importance during my induction and labor and continued to be a great tool after our daughter was born. Bouncing or swaying on the ball with her in my arms has helped her to calm and sleep when otherwise I would have been required to walk around the house exhausted. Birth balls can be so helpful when both you and your baby are tired but he/she needs movement to drift off to dreamland. The ball was also hugely helpful in alleviating my lower back pain after labor. Bouncing on it was -not- happening in the first 5 weeks when I was still healing, but eventually I was using it all the time.

 

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6. An assortment of nursing pads

So, I didn’t realize in pregnancy that my chest would go through a bunch of crazy size and shape changes after birth. I knew my milk was going to come in and things would change, I just didn’t realize that my breasts could change shape literally from day to day. I also didn’t realize that certain nursing pads would work great with a larger bra needed on days when I was more engorged, and others would work better when I was smaller, pointier… you get the drift. Luckily I have a bunch of different types of pads, both cloth and disposable, that work for different sized bras and boobs.

Bamboobies: great for round/larger days/bra with a tighter fit

NUK cloth pads: great for every day, but not the softest material so can be scratchy

Target brand with adhesive: great for larger bras/smaller or larger chest days

NUK Ultra Thin pads: great for rounder days- no adhesive so if bra doesn’t have a snug fit, can move around or fall out when nursing

 

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7. Coconut oil

Make your life easier by going to Costco and getting a big ole tub of organic coconut oil. We have never used a lotion or cream on our baby- only coconut oil, and she has the softest, smoothest skin. I never have to worry about her ingesting chemicals, especially now that she chews on her hands all day long. She has had only 2 small dots of cradle cap, and that was when she was a week or two old and we weren’t bathing her yet. After every bath, we slather her in coconut oil. It’s compatible with cloth diapers, has gotten rid of diaper rash, has healed cuts on her face from nail scratches, and worked wonders as a nipple cream. We tested a bit out on her ankle where the skin is thin when she was a day or two old, watched for a reaction and we’ve never had a problem with it. It’s also delicious, in case you were wondering.

 

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8. Boppy

I’ve tried a few different types of nursing pillows and now only use our Boppy if I want to use a pillow. In the early days when baby was still so tiny, it provided the perfect amount of height to help with breastfeeding. I also use it now when I’m in bed- I place it atop two pillows (like an upside down horseshoe) and lean back to breastfeed. Sometimes we sit the baby inside of it for a minute. sometimes I rest a plate on it to eat. We use our Boppy ALL the time, and love that the cover comes off easily to throw in the wash. I also love that we bought it gently used for $8 at a baby expo.

 

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9. Fresh Direct (especially Heat and Eats and 4-Minute Meals)

My mother in law gifted us with 2 weeks’ worth of freshly made meals and they were absolutely delicious life savers. We got everything from -the best- chicken tikka masala I’ve ever tasted, to fresh berries, frozen dinner rolls, salads with chicken and toppings, soups, risottos… These meals are a major component to our eventual breastfeeding success, because I was able to keep fed with fresh, delicious hot meals by just popping them in the microwave for 4 minutes and scarfing. My mother in law hand-picked each item we received, and they arrived at our door ready to be put in our refrigerator and freezer. Another great resource to look into is Door to Door Organics to get fresh produce and groceries delivered- just know that you probably will have zero time to cook anything. 

 

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If you currently own a Star Wars bathrobe, please contact me. You may be a person I need to get to know.

10. Bathrobe

Sometimes there’s not a lot of time to find a shirt in the postpartum period. Sometimes you’re tending to a clusterfeeding baby every 20 minutes and shirts are pointless. Sometimes your hormones go berserk and you’re hot and cold and then hot again, and sometimes you just need a warm, snuggly, soft robe on to make you feel human when you’re sleep deprived and wondering what you got yourself into. Oh, and sometimes you fly out of your 3 minute shower to get to your crying baby who just woke up from her catnap and a bathrobe does the dual jobs of drying you and keeping you warm while you console your little one.

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11. Brita Ultramax Dispenser

Staying hydrated is such a huge, important factor of the postpartum period. It’s one of those things everybody stresses while you’re pregnant but you’re not really listening or caring because, hello, it’s hydration, not rocket science, and No offense, but I think I’ll be able to handle drinking water after the baby’s born, mmkay? You guys, staying hydrated with a newborn can be insanely challenging! I’m thirsty constantly, especially when nursing the baby 12 times a day and she is literally sucking the hydration out of me. Our Brita water thing makes cool, clean, refreshing water available all of the time without having to deal with water bottles and recycling. It’s one of the best purchases we ever made. I believe we got it on sale online at Target.com for around $15.

 

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12. Wearable blankets

This is one of those items we received at our baby shower that I completely did not understand. It stayed in its package until 2 weeks ago when Steve and I were concerned about the temperature. We live in a multi-family home and while the beginning of the evening starts out at a completely livable temperature, as time goes on it creeps up as we are heated from the family who lives below us. By 3am our bedroom is like a sauna! The wearable blanket is the perfect option for us to keep baby warm the beginning of the night- I just take it off at her mid-night diaper change/feed if it’s gotten warmer in the room and then don’t have to worry about the baby overheating and also didn’t disturb her sleep by having to add or remove layers. Whoever came up with wearable blankets is a genius (and obviously a parent).

 

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13. Floating octopus thermometer

 

I used to use this thing towards the end of my pregnancy when I was concerned with whether or not the showers I was taking were too hot, because I was/am a total worrywart. Now we use this for every bath and thank goodness, because apparently I am terrible at gauging whether or not the bathwater is too hot or cold for the baby.

 

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14. EarthMama AngelBaby Bottom Balm

Yes. This got rid of diaper rash within 24 hours. Also- EMAB Nipple Cream is awesome! 

 

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15. Disposable plates/bowls/cups/flatware

You have lots of options here- paper, plastic, even ones made from sugarcane and plant starch (it’s official, Costco has EVERYTHING). Dishes are going to be the last thing on your mind. You will grow to hate dishes, and will be amazed at how many spoons two people can go through in a single day. Disposable dishes and flatware have been sooo wonderful in reducing mess and stress, and when visitors came in the early days I never had to worry or think about cleaning after everyone went home. 

 

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16. Himalayan salt lamp

My sister gave me this a few years ago and it’s turned out to be the most perfect addition to our bedroom, where our daughter sleeps. It gives just the right amount of soft light for a baby. I have enough light to change a diaper and breastfeed in the middle of the night, and yet I can still fall asleep with it. Though, let’s be honest, I could sleep through a hurricane most nights.

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To the Mother on the Cover

To the Mother on the Cover:

Man, did I hate you.

A few weeks ago, I couldn’t even stand to look at you, and kept the book turned face-down at all times. I loathed everything about you; your perfectly coifed hair, fresh face, relaxed posture. You look so at ease with your little baby, gently holding him in cradle position without need of a Boppy. From what I can tell, you’re either gazing down at baby with a very pleased expression, or even WORSE, you’re sleeping, because apparently you’re not only lucky enough to feed your baby easily, you also get to sleep. You’re even wearing real clothes, which upon further inspection, are pressed and… wait, are those some sort of skinny jeans? Effffff yoooouuuu.

You see, you represented breastfeeding success in my eyes, and my experience was anything but successful- my baby had trouble even latching onto a bottle. And despite finally getting a proper breast latch at Day 3 with the help of our lactation counselor, my baby was too exhausted from hunger to try to eat most attempts. Her bilirubin levels were fast approaching “high-risk status”according to the hospital staff and our pediatrician, which meant that we didn’t have the luxury of time for experimenting with positions and techniques- she needed to eat in order to poop out that bilirubin and no longer be neon orange. Finger feeding colostrum and using a syringe were all well and good, but they took too long, and we needed to get as much food into her as possible in our tiny window of time before she passed out again to conserve her energy. We tried everything we had, even basically force feeding her colostrum with a syringe while she was sleeping… the thought of doing this makes my stomach churn even now, weeks later. It seemed like my milk was never going to come in.

We gave her three ounces of Similac in the early morning hours of Day 4. It was the right thing to do, period, and I don’t care who says otherwise- our baby was EATING. The incessant cries of hunger ended. My husband and I breathed shaky sighs of momentary relief, and I collapsed into happy tears. That afternoon, my milk arrived. I thought things would be so much easier once that happened… but things only got more challenging.

Mother on the Cover, there are a thousand comparisons I could draw between our early breastfeeding experience and the one I’ve created for you in my mind. The biggest could be the difference in how I felt during a feeding, and how I imagine you felt while being photographed… you appear content, peaceful, rested. I felt miserable. I dreaded every feeding. I cried, a lot. I freaked my husband out by being dismissive and angry towards the baby when she needed to cluster feed and my nipples couldn’t take anymore. “I can’t do this.” “She hates me.” “I don’t want this.” “Bad mommy.”

All latches hurt. My nipples cracked and bled. I suffered through every feeding for fear that if I broke a latch, she’d never latch again. Every feeding, every latch, was precious. And painful. But we kept trying, and trying, and trying. Some days were easier, some more difficult. All were challenging, either physically or emotionally or both. If not for my husband being home with me, I would have starved and my milk production would have plummeted- he kept me fed and hydrated as I dealt solely with feeding our little one. A good friend told me that it takes one month to start to figure things out, but with each day dragging, one month seemed an eternity away. I pleaded with my daughter to latch, please, even one that hurt. “Please eat, baby. Mama wants to feed you, but she doesn’t know how, I guess.” Oh, how I hated myself, hated breastfeeding, hated how much I craved, needed to breastfeed to soothe my pain and fill the emptiness from the nonexistent relationship with my own mother.

And then, time slowly shifted from burden to blessing. A month passed, and I was healing from birth and eating more, taking better care of myself. Jaundice was no longer an issue and sometimes baby let me try different positions. Sometimes cradle or cross cradle worked, and sometimes laid back breastfeeding, and sometimes even side-lying (we still haven’t been able to make football hold work). We had more tiny victories than I ever thought possible, and though breastfeeding wasn’t “easy” still, it was doable. Some latches hurt, and others were just”okay”, but when I gently unlatched my daughter, I trusted that eventually we’d have a more comfortable (even if not “perfect”) latch. I trusted myself more, I gained patience. And Mother on the Cover, I loathed you less and less.

Today, I realized that instead of hating you for your success, I needed to realize my own. All mothers who feed their babies in any way are successful, even if their methods vary from what they originally intended. You are nourishing your baby, period- how can I hate you for that? And who is to say you never struggled with breastfeeding, or pregnancy, or labor, or motherhood? No one can be sure of what your breastfeeding experience looked like in the days and weeks before your cover photo was taken. Maybe you had long days and even longer nights. Maybe you cried, or felt helpless, or hopeless. Maybe you would have to put the baby down and walk away, give yourself a few minutes to compose yourself. Maybe your postpartum didn’t wind up looking how you always thought it would. Though on the cover you make motherhood look easy, it is only a moment in time, and no one knows your personal journey.

I originally thought that you were the goal, that breastfeeding success would look controlled, and postured, and clean and neat. But so far, for us, it looks more like this:

 and (deep breath)… this:

…completely exhausted, with a body I no longer recognize that’s 30 pounds heavier than I’m used to, with more joy, pride, and peace than I’ve ever known. And of course, frustration. Baby girl and I are only human, after all.

To the Mother on the Cover: You’re doing the best you can, and I support you.

Sincerely,

This New Mom

To stay abreast (see what I did there?) of the happenings with our new little family, follow me on Bloglovin’!

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Had Baby, Life Exploded: An Update

To sum up the past many weeks of my writing hiatus:

  • We had a baby. She’s AMAZING.
  • Remember my dreamy planned home waterbirth? Well… after becoming high-risk basically overnight at 37 weeks due to Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension, I was medically induced in the hospital at just shy of 39 weeks. 12 hours of Cervidil, 15 hours of Pitocin, and a 2nd degree episiotomy later, baby girl was born! Labor was FIERCE, ya’ll, and I was able to kick its ass all over the place without an epidural or any medical pain management (which was a huge goal for me) and deliver vaginally (the other huge goal) solely because of the incredible support of our doula and excellent midwifery team/labor&delivery staff (and a bit of luck, who am I kidding?). I am living proof that inductions and hospital births do not have to be traumatic experiences that happen TO us, but rather empowering, positive triumphs that WE, the family, can create. I would not change a thing about our birth and am SO EXCITED to soon be jumping back into birth work. Birth story to come soon… you know, in my spare time (and there will be pictures because we had an awesome photographer!)
  • The postpartum period is no joke.
  • We experienced major breastfeeding challenges but overcame with the help of the most compassionate and kind lactation counselor on the planet. Her support was, in fact, SUCH a game changer for us, and SO powerful for us as a family that it has seriously impacted my focus academically and professionally- I’m now in the very initial stages of becoming an IBCLC and earning my degree in Maternal Child Health with a concentration in Lactation Consulting. I had never even considered the possibility of my life taking this direction before The Bean was born, but her birth and our story has really made my purpose and direction very clear. What could of been a very scary, mental-breakdown-inducing (I was but a step away from this in the first few days… more on this later) time turned into a challenging but doable, even joyous period and I can never, ever repay or thank our LC enough. She changed our lives completely.
  • I had no idea what I was getting myself into having this baby. Did I mention the postpartum period is insane? I actually thought I’d have time to write … excuse me while I laugh hysterically! (silently, of course, as to not wake the sleeping babe permanently attached to my chest). Abandon all hope, all ye who think they’re going to get anything done with a newborn in tow. Please do yourself a favor and just relax and love on that baby of yours and savor every calm moment, as this precious (and stressful) time is fleeting. Oh, and read this post from MamaSeeds: New mamas get nothing done (and other untruths).
  • I cannot even begin to describe how special and gratifying it is to be a mother. My little MilkFace has consumed and brightened my life in ways I never imagined possible! Getting misty-eyed, brb.

 

my buddy and me

New Mom Author’s Note: this post took me 6 days to write.

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Nerdy (Awesome) Baby Hats

Are you one of the many people who aren’t fans of infant headbands? Are you looking for some inspiration for a cute newborn photo shoot? Are you a huge nerd? Then these hats may be for you. Newborns don’t need hats right after birth (their temperature can be regulated through thermal synchrony simply by being skin-to-skin with their mama, and hats may interrupt bonding through smell), so consider keeping these creative headpieces for special occasions, photos, Halloween, and for trips out this Fall and Winter.

 

It’s a crocheted baby viking hat, need I say more? There are many versions of these on Etsy, but I really love this one. There are a ton of sizes available from newborn through 24 months, and it’s made from super soft yarn. The artisan behind Cricket Creations makes a ton of other really cute hats and outfits, everything from dinosaurs to a tiny police uniform.

Check out Cricket Creations’ Etsy page!

 

 

What do you mean your baby was born without a beard? This must be remedied immediately. If you’re crafty, you can follow the pattern and instructions from the genius I’m Topsy Turvy and create your own hat/beard combo!

The mom behind I’m Topsy Turvy is incredibly talented, dabbling in baking, party favors and invitations, home projects, and all sorts of crafts. Now that I’ve found her blog, I consider myself a follower for life. She’s so talented!

Check out all the good stuff at I’m Topsy Turvy.

 

 

I adore this chicken hat, and all the other hats, outfits, and props made by Critters Cakes and Knits. Quality, non-cheesy chicken-themed infant stuff is pretty hard to find it seems, and priced at only $18.50, this newborn hat is a steal.

Check it out at CrittersCakesandKnits’ Etsy page!

 

 

There are many different boobie beanies on the market nowadays (which is awesome), but I really, really love these by CheekyChumy. Made from soft wool yarn, these beautifully crafted hats come in a variety of different colors and shades. CheekyChumy also makes tons of other hats (including an adorable crown and baby lamb hat!) and ships worldwide from the UK.

Check out CheekyChumy’s Etsy page (and do it soon, the boobie beanie is on sale now for only $12.75!)

 

 

This hat, you need. I found many styles of yoda hats on Etsy, but was really drawn to this one by The Owl Tree Knitting Co. Must have something to do with the extra-long ears and the fact that the materials list include acrylic  yarn and yoda. It can be made for your child anywhere from newborn stage to 10 years old!

Check out lots of adorable wares at The Owl Tree Knitting Co.

 

 

This is the most unique Yoda hat I’ve found thus far in my search for awesome infant headwear. Made by MamaJody54, this hat is crafted from two types of yarn and is just seriously adorable. This would be the perfect accessory for your baby if attending Hollywood Studios during Star Wars Weekends!

MamaJody54 makes some really cute infant gear- check them all out at her Etsy page.

 

 

This was an accidental find- I believe I was trying to find a Mr. Toad-inspired outfit and came across this instead, by Stitched by My Hand! It’s made from soft acrylic yarn, comes in a variety of colors and in any size you need, which means you can get one for yourself, too.

Check out this hat (and many others, including one of a moose head) at Stitched by My Hand’s Etsy shop.

 

 

So, okay. This is so much more than just a hat. This is an entire outfit including hat, sweater, and Freddy razor glove. If you’re a horror fan, this is a must-have. I literally gasped when I saw it… I couldn’t believe that anyone was so clever as to craft this. Hats off (ha! see what I did there?) to Have Needle Will Travel for this creation. It’s a bit pricey for one “outfit” but it’s hand-made from American wool and bamboo yarn, and I can pretty much guarantee that your baby will be the only one around sporting a teeny tiny Freddy Krueger costume.

Check out the many creations of Have Needle Will Travel at her Etsy store!

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I Support Infant Feeding

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I find the I Support You movement to be the best thing to happen to the parenting community in a long time. There is a sometimes unspoken, sometimes loud war against both breastfeeding and formula feeding mothers, and division, resentment, guilt, judgement, and cruelty exist on both sides.

Author Suzanne Barston sums up the I Support You message perfectly:

…We also feel that the best way to support breastfeeding is to ensure that every woman feels empowered and equipped to feed her baby in the best way possible. That may not always mean breastfeeding; this doesn’t mean that we are ignoring the science, but rather performing our own risk/benefit assessment and making a highly personalized decision. This may not be your choice, and it may not be the best choice on paper, but parenting is not a standardized test. It’s more like an open-ended essay question.

By listening to each other’s stories, as long-winded, convoluted, and complex as they so often are, we can start fresh. This can wash away the negativity, judgment and defensiveness, so that we can more adequately address the real reasons women are not meeting breastfeeding recommendations. And we can do all of this without ruining a mother’s sense of self or well-being. I think that’s a pretty clear win-win.

I love how many women have come forward in the past couple of weeks to share their stories of the infant feeding choices they have made, and watching friendships form over social media due to their incredible honesty and open minds. This movement is about support in its purest form- compassionate, non-judgemental, understanding- support. Motherhood and parenting are not competitive activities, but it seems it’s easy to make them so.

It is vitally important to remember that infant feeding choices may encompass a myriad factors besides the type of food an infant receives. When we explore a mother’s choice of infant feeding method, we may be delving deep into her history, ideologies, and life circumstances:

  • How does she feel about her body?
  • How does she feel about her breasts?
  • About sex and her sexuality?
  • About mothering and parenting?
  • How was she parented?
  • How was she mothered?
  • What type of dynamics are at play in her significant relationship?
  • Does she have to go back to work? When?
  • Finances.
  • How supportive is her partner/parents/siblings/employer/family/friends/care provider/nursing staff?
  • Does she have reliable transportation? Safe housing?
  • How does she feel about touch?
  • How does she react to stress, sadness, anxiety, anger?
  • What feeding method is “normal” to her? What feels right to her?
  • What is her living situation like? Who else lives with her?
  • Are there language barriers existing between support people and the mother/family?
  • Did/does she have support prenatally and during the postpartum?
  • What was her birth experience like? Did she feel it was safe and satisfying?
  • Is her culture/religion/community supportive of her choices?
  • Does she have access to positive emotional and physical support during her pregnancy and postpartum?
  • Did/does she have access to resources and education so that she is armed with the information she needs to make informed decisions for herself and her family?
  • How did/does she feel about pregnancy?
  • Did she have access to lactation consultants or IBCLCs before and after birth?
  • Was/is her health care providers and staff properly educated and trained, compassionate, patient, available when needed and affordable?

When it comes to infant feeding, a woman’s choice may have everything, nothing, or something to do with the handful of possible factors listed above (or countless others). Either way, it is important to remember that there are 1,000 ways to be a “good” mother, and the choice to breast or formula feed is one that does not tip the scales negatively.

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Primal Newborn: The Magical Hour

Touch is the ultimate positive communication. The sensitive mother’s hands, fingers, and arms are warm, calm, and receptive, her whole body conveying that her infant is endearing, desirable, adorable, precious.  With loving, tender touch more or less a constant, her infant feels loved, lovable, and accepted.
Sharon Heller, PhD ~ The Vital Touch

The first hour of a baby’s life is known as The Magical Hour. During this hour, your baby will go through 9 distinct stages when she is placed upon Mom’s chest directly after birth- 9 stages that we all, as infants, are primally wired to experience.

When infants and mothers experience skin to skin right after birth, bonding occurs naturally. Back in the day, we thought that babies had to immediately be placed in warming beds after birth, but now we know that mothers have thermal synchrony with their infants! This means that when a baby is placed on your chest, your breasts will change temperature, and warm your baby by up to 2 degrees Celsius, or cool her by 1 degree, depending on what she needs in that moment. Our bodies know just what is right for ourselves and our new baby, and immediate skin to skin and touch has lasting benefits for all involved.

In The Primal Connection, Mark Sisson explains that
Newborns who have abundant contact with their caregivers, particularly the mother, each day tend to be calmer and less fussy. The tend to sleep better and fall into a regulated schedule more easily than those who receive less touch. They gain weight and grow more. On the other hand, babies who experience touch deprivation show markedly suppressed levels of growth hormone, oxytocin and vasopressin (another bonding-related hormone), and higher levels of cortisol (the primary neurochemical associated with stress).

Once your baby is Earthbound, he will experience the the following 9 stages- all which can occur if he is simply placed upon Mom’s belly or chest (depending on the length of the umbilical cord!) right after birth:

1. Cry
Your baby will shout her birth cry as her lungs fully expand. If the baby was born vaginally, her lungs will have been ‘squeezed’ while being pressed through the birth canal, and most fluid will be “coughed” out immediately after her upper half is born.

While in utero, your baby did not have to use her lungs, because oxygen was passed through the placenta and umbilical cord. Now that she is out in the world, she will use her lungs for the very first time ~ one of many exciting “firsts” you will have the honor of experiencing with her.

2. Relaxation
After he cries, your baby will fall into a state of deep relaxation. Eye and body movements will be minimal, and he can relax on your bare chest, warmed by your thermosynthesis and a blanket over him. Warm, safe and secure, there is no better place to relax than right on his mother. The birth cry and relaxation stages all occur within the first few minutes of life.

3. Awakening
Your baby may begin to awaken from her relaxation stage. She might begin to move her shoulders, head, mouth, eyes, arms and legs.

4. Activity
Around 8 minutes after birth, your baby will begin to make more pronounced movements and may begin to make sucking motions and other early feeding cues, such as displaying her Rooting Reflex. You may notice her focusing her eyes- she may be able to see as far as 7-12 inches!

5. Crawling
This is, to me, one of the most amazing things that we do as human beings in an entire lifetime. Your baby comes equipped with an incredible primal reflex called the Walking or Stepping Reflex, and will literally crawl from your stomach or chest, to your breasts. Yes, really. Not only can your newborn baby crawl/step from your stomach to your chest, but in the process also massages your uterus, which may help to expel the placenta and reduce uterine bleeding. (Klaus and Kennel, 2001). The stage is also known as The Breast Crawl. Interestingly, the Stepping Reflex disappears at approximately 6 weeks after birth.

6. Rest
Your baby may rest for long or short periods during this first hour.

7. Familiarization
Once the baby crawls to the breasts, she will begin to explore. Using her hands and mouth she will begin to touch and massage the breast. Just as cats do, the baby will “make biscuits” in her own way. Her sense of smell is highly developed; most babies respond to scents as early as 7 months gestation! (Schaal, Orgeur, Rognon 1995). She’ll use this incredible sense to find her way around your breast.

Amniotic fluid may also have a role in helping infants locate the mother’s nipple (Porter & Winberg, 1999; Varendi et al., 1994). There is considerable overlap in the odors contained in amniotic fluid and the secretion of odors surrounding the nipple and areola and newborn infants will crawl on the mother’s belly to reach her nipple…
A Sense of Smell Institute White Paper, Review: Olfaction in the Human Infant

8. Suckling
After she has found the nipple through touch, smell and taste, your baby can self-latch and begin to feed herself!

9. Sleep
Labor is hard work, and your baby will be tired after his spiral dance down into your life. The sleep stage is a wonderful opportunity for Mom, baby and Mom’s support team to get some rest.
From research by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC and the International Breastfeeding Centre, immediate skin to skin for the first hour of life has incredible benefits for your baby:

  • baby is more likely to latch and latch on well
  • maintains body temperature normal better than an incubator
  • is less likely to cry
  • will indicate to Mom when ready to feed
  • is more likely to breastfeed exclusively and breastfeed longer
  • has higher blood sugar
  • maintains her normal heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate

We also know that consistency and quality of touch as an infant can affect the child’s social and emotional development later in life:

There is a clear relation between a lack of touching in infancy and childhood and the awkwardness and roughness in “play” that characterizes such individuals in childhood and in later life- individuals who are unable to establish contact without colliding.  – Ashley Montagu, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin

Especially if your parenting practices reflect the same values of infant massage, your child will be more likely to respond to others with empathy and warmth, to respond to social problems with compassion and altruism, and to experience life as a joyful adventure in which he has the opportunity to love and be loved- to help others and extend himself in genuine service to humanity.  -Vimala McClure, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents

Skin to skin does not have to end after The Magical Hour- Kangaroo Care is an amazing way to bond and encourage your infant’s intuition and trust in you. It’s also a great way for dads and partners to relax and bond with baby, too! Infants want to feel your warmth, hear your heartbeat and inhale your smell; there’s no safer or more comfortable place to be than snug against their parent’s chest, not only right after birth but throughout infancy.

Resources:
Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, Vimala McClure
The Primal Connection, Mark Sisson
Boba Family
Breast Crawl
Sense of Smell Institute
The Vital Touch: How Intimate Contact with Your Baby Leads to Happier, Healthier Development, Sharon Heller, PhD
International Breastfeeding Centre
Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
The Magical Hour
Touching; The Human Significance of the Skin, Ashley Montagu
From Birth to Breast
Midwifery Today

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