Like many things in life, hindsight is 20/20 when it comes to birth and parenting.
While the primary focus at Anointment is creating skin care products that support comfort in pregnancy, postpartum, menopause (and every day), I also strive to create community.
Community, in this case through our podcast, it is an opportunity to share the wisdom of an amazing network with those who are just now entering this intense phase of life. It is my hope that the wisdom of the community will empower everyone to take a proactive role in their health. It may mean you have the tools needed to prevent unnecssary interventions and birth trauma.
Here are some of the most important things I wish I had known as a new parent:
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
You will not be in a position to rationally think through decisions that need to be made in a medical setting while you are actively birthing. This is why having someone who can advocate on your behalf can reduce the outcomes of birth trauma.
In reality, we spend most of our pregnancy thinking about the “fun stuff” – decorating the nursery, picking out a stroller, and baby’s development milestones. We spend very little time learning about the physiology of birth. We learn too late about how hospitals “manage” the birth process and how that environment affects our stress levels. We aren’t always fully informed about what interventions are necessary.
While birth is an event that takes place over a span of a few days and parenting is a lifetime, the outcomes of a birth experience stay with us forever. Just recently I had a conversation with a buyer at a wholesale trade show. While talking about our products and her own birth story she made a connection between some of her behaviours and her own birth trauma – and her children are now grown. My 93-year-old gradmother gave birth for the first time as an unprepared 17 year old. She regularly tells me her birth story, even today. This is how profound our birth experience can be.
BABIES DON’T WATCH THE CLOCK
Day or night makes no difference to a new baby. Until about three months postpartum they have no sense of circadian rhythm. Their sleep patterns are unpredictable and will shift and change from one day and week to the next. It can be stressful, particularly while you are still so newly recovering from birth and why “sleep while the baby sleeps” is such a common saying. It is hard to do in our ultra-productive society, but it is ESSENTIAL you get the sleep you need. My doula gave me great advice: in the early postpartum days, you are allowed to do ONE thing other than meeting your basic needs. After you’ve had enough sleep and enough to eat pick one thing. Shower. Go for a walk. Read a little. ONE THING.
CONFIDENCE IN YOUR PARENTING DECISIONS TAKES TIME
An opinion is like a belly button: everyone has one. Every one has a different approach to parenting and there are usually some significant generational shifts. Building your confidence as a parent takes time as you get to know your new baby, their patterns, personality, and needs. You are building a new relationship, after all, and relationships are hard!
PRIORITIZE YOUR OWN CARE
We’ve all been that mom who is at the grocery store three days postpartum. After my second baby I couldn’t even feel my legs from the epidural and there I was shopping for groceries! It’s time to change that pattern. What is your optimal number of sleep hours? Don’t take on extra outings, tasks and responsibilities (to the best you are able) until you’ve met that number of hours in a 24 hour period. That may mean you don’t leave your house for a little while – and that’s okay.