Reading an article in a parenting magazine recently, there were a couple of sentences that jumped out at me. It was basically telling new mothers that it’s okay to hold or nurse a newborn to sleep.
That’s right. It is perfectly fine to hold, rock, feed, and soothe a newborn to sleep. The article went on to say that many new mums are told to start teaching babies to fall asleep independently by putting them in their beds awake. Thankfully, she did stress that this is way too early, and not possible given a newborns frequent feeding demands and immature brain.
The author of the article pointed out that because babies know only their mothers womb and heartbeat, we cannot expect them to enjoy being left in a cold flat cot. It’s interesting to me that this article even needed to be written. This style of gentle, natural parenting has been the instinctive normal way of raising babies since the dawn of time. Babies have always been kept close to mother. Articles and expert opinions like these serve to point out how far from nature we have strayed with our own babies in these supposedly advanced and enlightened times.
Where once they were kept close to a mother who rested postpartum and had family help, we now celebrate the supermum who is back doing the school run and grocery shopping after three days. Also interestingly, there is a whole industry dedicated to toys and sleep aids which mimic the mothers heartbeat and womb sounds. So we pay for these things to free us up to be a better, busier modern mum.
I know we can’t just return to long gone days, and these are the times we live in. I too am certainly guilty of trying to be a superhero after having a baby. No, it’s okay, I don’t need any help, no thanks, I can clean the house, cook dinner, do the washing, school pick-up and drop-off, etc.
Of course I can do it all, there is nothing wrong with me, I ONLY had a baby. Yes, I have said all these things and more. But you know what? I WAS WRONG! Not that I couldn’t get it all done, but why couldn’t I just accept the help from my family and loved ones who truly wanted to encourage me as a new mother to rest and focus on my precious new baby?
If I could go back I would gladly accept all offers of help and focus all my attention on that tiny cherub who will grow up in fast forward. I would wear pyjama’s all day, hold the baby all day, sleep with him in my arms all night, and let all the critics and experts be damned.
Of course like so many of life’s lessons it’s all obvious in hindsight. I look upon my teenage children and I just can’t fathom where all the years have gone. I would give anything to have them back as their newborn selves for just a day.
My advice to new mothers is ACCEPT ALL OFFERS OF HELP, and focus on your baby. After all the months of waiting, stop and really soak it all up. The rest of the world really can wait. The housework and washing really CAN wait (especially if it’s your first). Wallow in their soft skin, milky breath, and lamb cries. Take them into your bed at night, stare at them all day, and forget about everything for just a little while.
You’re not even being selfish. Your baby will love it too.
P.S. That’s my sweet man Rocco in the above photo about two hours after being born. He was the one who changed me, for his first six weeks nothing existed to me but his sweet face and warm little body. I was very fortunate to have a lot of help, and I leaned on everyone to worry about everything else. Trust me, people don’t mind helping when they know you’re in love.