Listen to Ina May speak at TEDXSacramento on Reducing Fear of Birth in U.S. Culture.
I stumbled upon this wonderful piece by Gloria Lemay Birth Blog on the things families should ask for in the postpartum period. Too often, new parents are expected to say that "new parenthood is wonderful." And it is most of the time, but there are moments when you need a little help. I always encourage families to ask for help when its needed - from cooking and cleaning up the house to simply holding the baby so that you can pee. When someone says, "let me know if I can lend you a hand" they really mean it because a. they want to see this new bundle of joy and b. they care about you. So, when your next friend or family asks, "How can I help?" tell them:
1. Buy us toilet paper, milk and beautiful whole grain bread.
2. Buy us a new garbage can with a swing top lid and 6 pairs of black cotton underpants (women’s size____).
3. Make us a big supper salad with feta cheese, black Kalamata olives, toasted almonds, organic green crispy things and a nice homemade dressing on the side. Drop it off and leave right away. Or, buy us frozen lasagna, garlic bread, a bag of salad, a big jug of juice, and maybe some cookies to have for dessert. Drop it off and leave right away.
4. Come over about 2 in the afternoon, hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then fold all the piles of laundry that have been dumped on the couch, beds or in the room corners. If there’s no laundry to fold yet, do some.
5. Come over at l0 a.m., make me eggs, toast and a 1/2 grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw out everything you are in doubt about. Don’t ask me about anything; just use your best judgment.
6. Put a sign on my door saying “Dear Friends and Family, Mom and baby need extra rest right now. Please come back in 7 days but phone first. All donations of casserole dinners would be most welcome. Thank you for caring about this family.”
7. Come over in your work clothes and vacuum and dust my house and then leave quietly. It’s tiring for me to chat and have tea with visitors but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to clean, organized space.
8. Take my older kids for a really fun-filled afternoon to a park, zoo or Science World and feed them healthy food.
9. Come over and give my husband a two hour break so he can go to a coffee shop, pub, hockey rink or some other r & r that will delight him. Fold more laundry.
10. Make me a giant pot of vegetable soup and clean the kitchen completely afterwards. Take a big garbage bag and empty every trash basket in the house and reline with fresh bags.
These are the kindnesses that new families remember and appreciate forever. It’s easy to spend money on gifts but the things that really make a difference are the services for the body and soul described above. Most of your friends and family members don’t know what they can do that won’t be an intrusion. They also can’t devote 40 hours to supporting you but they would be thrilled to devote 4 hours. If you let 10 people help you out for 4 hours, you will have the 40 hours of rested, adult support you really need with a newborn in the house. There’s magic in the little prayer “I need help.”
Source: Gloria Lemay Birth Blog
Finding the right baby carrier is so important, especially in a place like NYC where few people have space to store large strollers and walking is the way of life.
Dancey Pants Disco has a new amazing blog post detailing her journey with baby carriers.
For our baby shower, we were gifted an Ergo and a Moby wrap. When Odin was three months, we were given a Maya Wrap ring sling. When Odin was a year, we were chosen to be a part of the Sling Diaries and were able to get a few ring slings from Sakura Bloom. At a year and a half we invested in a toddler Tula. Along the way we have played around with a few woven wraps, but most of it has happened recently and I feel with my experience, that we will most definitely use the woven wraps more with the next one. Wrapping a toddler who is more than half my height and a fourth my weight has proven difficult, but still very comfortable once finished! I only wish we had invested in a woven from the beginning so that my experience would be much more thorough. We've also recently been able to try a Mei Tai and I feel very much the same about it, although the Mei Tai is a little easier and quicker for wiggly toddlers. I'll include a photo of Odin in the Mei Tai and one in a woven at the end of this post!
For reviews of more carriers, visit: http://bit.ly/19nBLOH
One of my expectant mamas sent me this beautiful picture of her henna belly. Not only is she stunning, the design she selected to honor her body and baby is incredible.
Henna art was traditionally done to protect the child. As the Henna Caravan website states:
Lawsonia Inermis or henna is a small bush that produces a red dye that has been used cosmetically and medicinally for over 9,000 years. Many countries including Morocco and India have traditions of applying henna during the third trimester of pregnancy. Henna is believed to protect and bless the mother and child from any evil or malicious spirits that may be near during delivery. The red coloring of the dye and protective images used in the patterns guard against the evil eye and are thought to protect the pair during the child's difficult passage into this world.
Thank you to Stephanie for sharing these amazing photos!
Whether as a young adult, or during pregnancy, most women hear the stories of how their friends "instantly became mothers" the moment their child was born. We are taught to believe that there is an immediate connection and understanding between mother and baby. No one, or at least very few, discuss the feeling of a 'lose of self' that new parents might face, during pregnancy or after birth, out of fear they will be viewed as 'bad parents.'
While giving birth is natural, motherhood or 'becoming a mother' doesn't always appear magically. It is a learning process - discovering who your new baby is, her personality, figuring out how to navigate shifting relationships with your partner, and learning how to find the balance between your independent, autonomous self, and being the constant for your child.
So, what do you do? How to you manage the transformations and, what resources are available? You may think about hiring a postpartum doula who can provide physical, emotional and informational support for both you and your partner through the transitions into parenthood. Journaling is another great way for putting together your thoughts in a safe place. Perhaps most importantly, I encourage new moms to share their birth and postpartum experiences with friends, family, and doula's, for I promise you are not alone.
Here are some resources additional resources that I recommend:
Misconceptions: Truth, Lies and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood by Naomi Wolf
Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Kaper
Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
The Year After Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
If you would like information on a topic or reach out to me and I will share the knowledge. Or, if you have any resources that you liked, please share them with us!