Bonding prenatally and after delivery creates a foundation for the parent-child relationship.
Here are some bonding tips:
Place your baby on your chest after birth and put a warm blanket over both of you. Hold, touch, and talk to your baby. Your body releases hormones that encourage bonding and attachment to your baby. You and baby do not need to be separated during the first hour after delivery unless there is a medical concern.
Have dad take off his shirt and hold baby skin to skin.
Massage your baby.
Sing to your baby. Sing whatever you want, it doesn’t have to be kids music.
Read to your baby. Read prenatally and post-delivery to your baby. Babies can hear in the womb and respond to your voice.
Talk to your baby.
Tell your baby “I love you.”
Soak in the smell of your newborn. Who doesn’t like the smell of a newly washed baby?
Your breastmilk is composed of the things you eat, so it tastes different at each feeding. Eat a variety of foods to treat yourself and your baby.
Smile! Babies love faces and newborns can see from their mother’s breast to her face.
Use a wrap, sling or carrier and keep your baby close to you.
Play with your baby during diaper changes. Peek-a-boo and This Little Piggy are fun games.
Jamie Bodily is founder and director of ParentsCount. Jamie offers private and group “Happiest Baby on the Block” classes encouraging gentle baby calming for fussy babies. For more-www.parentscount.com.
Here are some additional thoughts on how to renew ourselves and release old, worn thoughts and habits. Spring cleaning from the inside out.
Discover what’s nourishing. Just as plants need water and sunshine to grow, we need physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance. Start with eating healthy foods, getting regular physical activity, sleeping 8-9 hours, and taking breaks for your mind and body. Do one thing you enjoy daily, whether it’s phoning a friend, listening to music or walking your dog. Nurture your spirit through prayer, meditation, or communing with nature.
Let go of un-nourishing relationships. Being honest about admitting and detaching from relationships which aren’t good anymore can still hurt especially ones involving family and long-term friends. If we’ve spoken to them about what needs to be different and things haven’t changed over time, release them with love. Clearing space for nourishing relationships to enter.
Cultivate optimism. Looking more on the “sunny” side of life can be learned by shifting attention away from negative thoughts to more positive ones. There are few situations which are all good or all bad. Our great job may sour when we get a new boss. An untimely move lead to a wonderful neighborhood with friends with love. Prune your mind of unnecessary negativity.
When we feel grateful, our souls are nourished and restored. We have a more positive attitude toward today and what lies ahead. We feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Supported in the deepest sense. Abundant and alive.
I became disconnected from my thoughts, feelings and desires. With two little people depending on me, I spent my time on their needs and wants. When I wasn’t taking care of them, I shifted my attention to my work, husband and home life. Then, back to the kids.
Gone were the childfree days of college and young professional life, when I would spend hours alone, contemplating my place in the world, journaling (oh, the journals I have filled!), taking long walks in the woods, imagining life’s possibilities and going after them one by one.
As a mom, my only times alone with my thoughts have been 10 minutes in the shower or commuting to work. And guess what I was thinking? “Man, this shower feels good” or “I really hate this $#&@ing traffic.” Deep stuff.
Perhaps because my almost-5-year-old is more independent and my 19-month-old is no longer a baby, I’m now emerging from the mom-cocoon. It also helps that I work for myself, from home, with child care. As I poke my head (antennae?) out, I’m looking around saying, “What about me? What do I want?”
I’m allowing myself to move up my priority list. How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to experience or accomplish? It’s exciting to ponder these questions. I’m still a mom, with all the responsibilities and joys that come with it. But I’m also a person — who’s enjoying getting reacquainted with herself again.
The media creates images of perfect mothers such as June Cleaver and Claire Huxtabel. TV moms look perfect, have spotless homes, and great relationships. Magazine covers portray moms holding beautiful babies, breastpumps and briefcases who are perfectly made up. From such images women define their “shoulds” and “musts”creating unattainable standards of perfection and judging themselves for not keeping up.
The truth is that motherhood is hard work. As women become mothers and face the accompanying stressors and challenges, they often internalize their inability to cope flawlessly as personal failings. Add sleepless nights and fussy babies and it’s not hard to see why mothers lose confidence. When the idealized view of one’s self and motherhood collides with reality, they criticize themselves rather than recognizing how well they are doing given the endless expenditure of physical, emotional and mental energy that goes into caring for children. Pretty amazing!
Nuclear families encourage isolation, especially in the early days postpartum. Experienced mothers rarely discuss hardships inherent in mothering. No one wants to admit they felt less than adequate, irritable, anxious or depressed maneuvering new motherhood while this is true. Although the internet provides some connection, many moms lack the face-to-face support needed to see that everyone faces challenges and make mistakes. Supporting themselves and each other by acknowledging that motherhood is hard work and that perfection must be tempered by reality is what’s needed.
So, starting today cut yourself and the moms around you some slack. You’ve earned it. You deserve it!
Jamie Bodily is founder and director of ParentsCount which provides birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth education and counseling
Spring is in the air. As the days get longer and the weather warms, we feel a growing urge to refresh and renew our lives. The blossoming season brings with it the opportunity to release what we’ve held on to mentally or emotionally, which no longer fits. Spring cleaning indeed.
Clearing away old beliefs. Just like our physical space, our minds are often cluttered with wornout beliefs and ideas. In cognitive therapy, clients learn to monitor their negative beliefs and refute them. If someone grew up being criticized, they may have the belief “I’m no good”. As an adult however, they may have a successful career or be a caring parent, evidence that this belief is not true. Changing automatic assumptions is empowering and liberating.
Sow the seeds of intention: Step One. Along with releasing negative thoughts, we must clarify what we want. Why is this challenging? First, our minds chatter constantly over urgent but not important matters. Like what we said that offended someone we hardly know or putting the laundry away. Instead, we need to quiet our “monkey mind” through prayer, meditation and relaxation. Stillness allows connection with our deeper selves.
Sow the seeds of intention: Step Two. When our mind is still, we see more clearly how we want to live. Then during our daily meditation/prayer, we can set our intentions for serenity, peaceful relationships, health, etc., allowing our intention and energy to flow in the direction we desire. Creating the life we want one day at a time.
As soon as a woman announces that she has a positive pregnancy test, everyone has their advice and questions on choices she must make. Will you have an epidural or not? Will you use cloth or disposable? and the list goes on. This myriad of opinions can feel overwhelming, confusing, and even irritating as a woman begins her journey towards motherhood.
Because women have been conditioned to nurture and please others, we agonize over choices, worrying we are going to hurt someone’s feelings by not doing it their way or that we will make a “wrong” decision and harm our children. Society exerts considerable pressure to conform and attain a level of perfection in mothering that is impossible.
But parenting is more of an art than a science. Intuition is as important as what experts say. Learning to be ourselves and accept our choices, whether they conform or differ from others, is an important part of the journey of becoming a mom. The ability to transcend the opinions of others and make our own best choices enables us to become the mothers our children need instead of anxious, guilt-ridden mothers subject to the popular opinions of the media or others.
Following our intuition means we must take time to know ourselves, to nourish ourselves and to trust ourselves; it means we must take time for self-care or the voices around us will drown our own.
Jamie Bodily is founder and director of ParentsCount which provides birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth education and counseling.