In this installment of 'Making Babies', I go into the need for peace, rest, quiet and privacy as mother and baby get accustomed to their new lives.
There is a concept within baby culture that suggests there is a fourth trimester -- the first 3 months after the baby is born.
This trimester consists of baby becoming used to being a human outside a controlled warm environment. A time where they just need a lot of snuggles, sleep and attention as they get accustomed to their surroundings and learn how to do stuff like eat, and breath.
I propose that this fourth trimester extends to the mother as well (and extends further to her partner) as one becomes comfortable in the role of parent to this new being.
This is a very delicate time for both mother and child. Both require rest, nourishment and zero extra stress since the stress of adjusting is already omnipresent. New moms need to heal and rejuvenate their body and mind, free from any added pressures. It is time to really be present with each moment.
This is possibly the biggest life change one can experience and it is important to honour this transition and allow the time needed to really get into a new groove.
For this, I suggest a babymoon.
Not the trip with your partner while pregnant -- rather a time when new parents and their babies hibernate for a while following birth, without a slew of visitors. Some people may only want a few days, I'm personally requesting a couple of weeks -- some cultures and people extend this time to about 1 month. I will have my mom and maybe a couple of close friends pop by quickly to help me out if needed, but overall I'm going to just hibernate with my baby and his dad.
Unfortunately, this is not the most popular idea. I learned this firsthand when my in-laws reacted similarly to kids that had just been told there is no Santa Clause when I said I wanted 2 1/2 weeks before an out of town visit. They rallied and said they understood, but they are not super keen on the idea of waiting.
The friends I've told about my 2 week babymoon who are moms have been really supportive and said "Absolutely, you will NEED that, I wish I did that."
At first, I felt really bad for even requesting some down time, but have since decided it is simply what is best for me and mine.
Maybe you thrive off visitors, in which case this is a take what serves you situation ;)
It's normal for everyone to be excited and want to see baby, but you must keep in mind what is best and healthiest long term. It's OK to put your needs and wants ahead of others' at this time! You are looking out for your baby and your physical and mental health. People will get over it and the time you set out for yourself and your new family is precious and fleeting.
Schedules will be weird, you may not have slept for more than 1 hour at a time for days on end so you may be a bit weird, you might be learning to master breastfeeding, you might be weepy, irritable or giddy because of the sleep deprivation -- all things I, personally, would prefer to go through without an audience. Entertaining visitors is pretty much the exact last thing I want to do when I'm wearing pad-sicles with frozen aloe vera on them -- you know?
Having a bunch of different people around a newborn isn't all that great for baby either. It would be most comfortable for baby to spend the vast majority of their time in the arms of their parents. Theirs are the scents and sounds they are familiar with. Being bombarded with the smells and different voices and energies of your parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, neighbours and co-workers could be confusing and uncomfortable for a baby. Also, they have pretty weak immune systems and being exposed to that many different germs at once might lead to a sick baby!
As always, this is just what I think :) Some people may feel too isolated with this kind of thing - it totally depends on each individual family! Listen to your own intuition and needs. Do what you feel.
Up next in my Making Babies series of posts, I talk about postpartum care in Traditional Chinese Medicine.