So you’ve birthed your baby. Whether or not it was the dream birth you had, let’s face the fact that the euphoria or otherwise should be over by now once you realise that there’s more to parenting than gloating or moaning over the childbirth.
The “fourth trimester” is the period of the most and major adjustments compared to the last three trimesters. It’s funny how so much attention is given to the first three trimesters that the word ‘trimester’ itself forgets to include the fourth part that is the most important. This is the moment where you recover from childbirth. It is a crucial period for bonding and breastfeeding establishment where a mother needs the most support from everyone.
Here are three areas of support a new mother should consider:
Whatever you’ve learned about breastfeeding during antenatal classes might just fly out of window as soon as your baby starts shrieking. Having a support team that’s ready to answer any breastfeeding-related questions you have will be of much help to you as you learn and discover this new being who’s now depending on you for nourishment.
In Malaysia, there’s a growing network of breastfeeding mothers who are certified by a non-profit organization called the Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. The peer counselors, as what these mothers are called, are meant to provide pro bono (you may need to pay for their petrol, at the very least) support for new mothers on their breastfeeding journey. Check out their website and Facebook page and get in touch with a peer counselor near you. Apart from that, find breastfeeding support groups on Facebook. There are many out there, and many new ones are formed everyday. Find one that makes you feel comfortable.
2. Understanding Your Newborn’s Language
A newborn baby can be crying for various reasons and during the early days, so it’s easy to interpret any sound your baby makes as a cue of hunger. HUG Your Baby is a program that helps parents understand what their baby is communicating.
I can’t stress the importance of understanding these cues because as a breastfeeding advocate of four years, I’ve seen many mothers who beat themselves senseless with guilt when they mistake all their babies’ cries as a sign of their bodies failing to produce milk. When you know why your baby is crying, you’ll learn that you’re actually an adequate provider without needing to resort to supplements or special diet.
Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby or child in a sling or in another form of carrier. It’s one of the techniques I highly recommend for new parents to learn in order to bond and understand their babies’ cues. Babywearing also helps a newborn adjust to his new surroundings. When a newborn baby is placed close to his mother’s chest, hearing his mother’s heartbeat calms the baby.
The nearness of mother and baby also triggers hormones that are needed for the production of breast milk. A baby can in fact be breastfed while being worn by the mother. As the newborn gets older, he can continue to be kept close to the mother in different babywearing styles. Mama gets to do her work, while baby feels secure. Oh, have I mentioned that babywearing while you’re doing housework is a way to lose the pregnancy weight?
Birthing, breastfeeding and bonding are a continuum. I believe that besides childbirth preparation courses – such as HypnoBirthing – mothers should seek services in the following areas: breastfeeding preparation classes, understanding newborn language using methods such as HUG Your Baby, postpartum breastfeeding home visit and support, and babywearing.
Mother of two, Ayuni Zainuddin, is a gentle birthing and breastfeeding advocate. She has been active in both scenes since 2010. She teaches HypnoBirthing to expectant parents and also helps them with breastfeeding. When she’s not working, she’s busy surfing Damn You Auto Correct!. Get in touch with her at Birth With Ayuni.
Image Credit: Flickr user David Terrazas