First time mama- Omg, how on earth am I going to push a baby out!?
Second time mama- Help, I’ve done it before, but I still feel unprepared!
Whether you’re pregnant for the first or second (or umpteenth!) time, have just delivered, or are currently breastfeeding, there are always answers we would like to get from an expert!
And that’s where Ms. Namrita Bendapudi comes in! We had a great Ask The Expert session with this psychologist, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Counsellor with Childbirth International, trained Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counsellor, and former HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator and Parenting Mentor with training by Hand in Hand Parenting (phew – that’s a pretty impressive list of credentials!).
Here’s the summary of all the answers to our #makchicmumsquad’s questions on parenting, prenatal, birth and postnatal concerns.
All about Labour
From the moment those two life-changing lines appear on the stick, our countdown begins to D-Day (aka Delivery Day)! We know it’s going to be a miraculous moment (and admittedly, nerve-wrecking too), with lots of decisions to be made beforehand. Read on for Namrita’s advice on all things labour-related.
I’m pregnant and preparing for my first birth. What can I do now to help with an easier delivery?
- Gather your resources and have a birth team (your partner or birth companion, as well as other holistic practitioners in pregnancy) to support you.
- Find a supportive OBGYN and hospital that feels aligned and supportive to the kind of experience you are hoping for.
- Carry out some in-depth birth mindset work to really tap into you (and your birth companion’s) strength. Identify fears and concerns, and work to resolve them in pregnancy.
- Attend a comprehensive birthing class to give you a well-rounded, balanced perspective of birth and to help you feel confident and ready.
Hear more from Namrita, below:
The Birthing Process
What is your take on epidurals during delivery? Why are some people against this?
Epidurals can be a useful tool in your labour toolkit. They definitely have their place in the pain-coping and management plan of labouring women, but it is important for you to take all things into consideration while deciding whether you need one or not. As with everything else, they are not right for everyone and for every labor. Epidurals work differently for different people. Some people find a lot of relief with epidurals, while it doesn’t have a helpful effect for others.
Epidurals can offer rest in long or intense labours, and can help mothers relax and catch a break. But they are also known to slow down labor and prolong the pushing stage. They may increase the chances of an assisted birth via forceps or vacuum, which in turn is accompanied by a need for an episiotomy.
What are some ways to aid recovery after labour (specifically, after a C-section)?
Ask for help! Focus on yourself and your baby, and let others handle the rest. A Caesarean is a major surgical procedure – and after no other surgery of that nature, are we expected to immediately start caring for another little human. So remember to get plenty of rest and support.
At the bare minimum, it takes about 6 weeks (to recover), but the timeline varies depending on your body and pace of recovery. The most important rule is not to do any heavy lifting (except for carrying your baby), during the first 6 to 8 weeks.
Next, always keep your scar clean and dry (you can use a hair dryer on low heat to gently blow-dry your scar after a shower). Avoid strenuous physical activity, but incorporate gentle movements (such as walking) from Day 1, to keep circulation going and to avoid blood clots. Remember as well to focus on good nutrition.
If your Caesarean was unexpected, or if you experienced trauma around this, get help and support early on, as it will help with your emotional well being. Know when to call your OBGYN if you notice anything out of the ordinary, and be sure to discuss this with your doctor before being discharged.
It goes without saying that the whole journey of growing a baby, going through labour and caring for a newborn, can take a toll on our emotional and mental health. Be aware of postpartum depression rearing its ugly head.
How do I know if what I’m experiencing is more than just “the baby blues”? What are some ways to fight postpartum depression?
The time after birth is highly emotionally charged, and it is common to experience emotional highs and lows. Typically, one experiences baby blues in the days and up to 2 weeks following the birth. It often appears as feelings of irritability, moodiness, sadness, and overwhelming feelings from caring for the baby with a lack of sleep.
Postpartum depression is more severe and lasts for weeks or may show up later (anytime in the first year after birth), and may continue to affect the mother. Typically, postpartum depression affects the quality of life and the ability to function – it may be characterised by withdrawal, feelings of detachment from baby, rage, sadness, guilt, worthlessness, extreme sadness and/or anxiety.
The first step in coping is to seek help and support, Talk to a trusted friend or your partner. Find a therapist qualified in dealing with postpartum depression and get support.
It’s amazing how our bodies are able to produce enough to sustain the first six months of life. Every breastfeeding journey has its own challenges, highs and lows. Namrita shares about how breastfeeding is a two-way relationship, and needs to be something that works for both you and your little one.
Breastfeeding is a pain! I’m experiencing mastitis, a low milk supply, and am struggling to breastfeed. What should I do?
That sounds so hard! I don’t know the details of your particular situation but it could indicate an issue with baby’s latch – either an improper latch, shallow latch or a tongue tie. I would highly recommend seeing a consultant from an International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBCLC), or a board-certified lactation consultant.
Check out Namrita’s video for more:
How do I stop breastfeeding my almost 4-year-old son?
Breastfeeding is a two-way relationship and needs to keep working for you and your little one. Firstly, it’s awesome that you have breastfed until 4! If you are ready to stop, I would suggest to do it gradually and in stages, rather than going cold turkey.
It’s easiest to drop daytime feeds first, and then do the night feeds. For daytime feeds, you can start by slowly increasing the time between feeds, so that the feeds merge into the next, over a few days or weeks.
Since your child is 4, you can try talking to him and explaining what you plan to do. My child never asked at that age (to breastfeed) if we were out or she was distracted with her play or activities. You can try and plan for daytime activities til the asking begins.
Lots of empathy around big feelings are bound to come up when you first start the process as it’s a huge transition for your son. Replace the breast with lots of cuddles, hugs and soothing words. You can also involve him (which I highly recommend) in problem-solving and coming up with a suitable solution together (as he is at the age where he is able to do so).
Caring for Babies
I don’t know how to take care of a newborn! Is there anything I can do beforehand to prepare for this?
Depending on how best you learn – i.e. reading a book, attending a class, or watching videos – familiarise yourself with typical newborn behaviour. To be honest, the “care” of a newborn (bathing, diapering, swaddling etc. ) can be learnt more easily than parenting a newborn.
When you understand what a newborn needs and why they behave the way they do, and how you can build a secure attachment system from Day 1 to support their emotional and mental wellbeing, you are laying a strong foundation for life. You are also less likely to feel anxious and doubtful and have more confidence in your own abilities when you realise that your baby is simply doing what babies do, and you know how to respond to it.
What activities can we do with babies between the ages of 3 to 9 months (aside from playing peekaboo)?
Babies thrive in the warmth and attention of a responsive, trusting adult. Contrary to what is marketed heavily to new parents, you don’t have to “do” as much as you have to allow babies to “be”. By that, I mean that babies are natural explorers, and they are fascinated by the world around them.
Provide them with lots of opportunities for safe exploration and sensory stimulation. Lots of textures to touch, sounds, smells.
Reading to them is also an excellent way to bond – lots of expressions and different sounds are enjoyable to babies. Talking to them and making a “real” conversation, singing to time and having lots of time for free movement also helps.
Try laying your little one on a flat surface that is safe to move around in, and letting them be, watching and observing what they do naturally. At 3 to 6 months, you can provide things for hand-eye coordination and motor skills (namely, things to grasp and hold), and at 6 to 9 months, you can provide treasure baskets, simple stackers, teethers, taste- safe paint on a tray, putting a ball into a hole, soft blocks and so on for stimulation.
[*The contents above have been edited slightly for clarity and brevity.]
Whatever stage you are at right now, #makchicmumsquad, we wish you all the very best- have a safe pregnancy and a smooth labour, a speedy recovery, and a wonderful parenting journey ahead!