Touch, teach, learn, Trust

Touch is one of the first sensation a baby learns when it comes to the world. The midwife, OB, birth worker who delivers the baby is the first person to touch the baby and at that time the baby is still in transition. The mother’s touch should be the first touch that a baby experiences. In our modern world, complicated healthcare systems have managed to make this quite difficult to attain. How can we give our babies this wonderful touch after all the interventions that happened before ? The answer to that is MASSAGE. You do not need to be a massage therapist to touch your baby and massage your baby.

Infant massage classes are vital for parents who want to learn it from professionals. For the parents who are committed to doing infant massage regularly, these classes are taken before the baby’s arrival. For parents who have already come home with a new baby, you won’t have the time to go to a class. But it is never too late because giving the baby the gift of touch is the second best gift to breastfeeding. Did you know that you get to talk to your baby when you give them a massage ? A baby relaxes and this will relax mama and papa or whoever the caregiver is. Your baby looks at you directly and learns that this is what a safe touch feels like. You get better at reading your baby’s cues. You don’t feel overwhelmed when your baby cries because you will know why he or she is crying.

Touch is invaluable to any mother and baby dyad. Dads should try it too. Dads, if you feel left out because you cannot breastfeed or if you feel that the baby responds to mama better. Trust me. Incorporate a daily massage, it does not have to be a big charade, just gentle massage before bed. You will see that your baby responds to you as well. There is so much research done by people in the field of massage and its effects and you can find the literature in books, journals, articles, online as well but the one thing I know for sure as a mother, aunt and postpartum doula is I am yet to meet a baby who does not like infant massage. The trick is to do it early and often just like breastfeeding.

To Do list

A mother’s desire to rest after birth is not just a want but a need by her body to revitalize itself from the birth. No mother can and should do it on her own. If a mother does manage to go through the postnatal period on her own it comes with a huge cost. Mothers have an innate desire to care for their newborns and family. Mothers put their needs last and the time after birth is the time for the family to put the mother’s need first. How can a family help this new mother ? If you have a new mom in the family, a new mom who is a friend think of three main things in regards to helping her. Three basic needs to be met are food, water and rest. Rest is undervalued so much in our culture. Postpartum rest is totally overlooked. You can cook a few meals and deliver it to the new mom without knocking on their door or waking the new parents up to receive the food. You can go to visit at a time when a mom can take a shower while you hold her baby, or you can throw in a load or two of laundry for the new parents. The point is to CARE and how you show it does not matter but what you DO for that new mom matters.

Family members often try to get excited about the new baby and want to hold the baby. Instead of expectations as family member what you can do is, go into the home with the pure intention to help. After all, if you are a grandma, grandpa or an aunt or uncle you can love the baby by caring for the mom. The new mom will always remember what you did for her not what you said to her, even the kindest words cannot replace kind actions. You have to walk the walk when you are family. Grandmas have a lot of wisdom they want to share but to have the comfort of talking to your daughter or daughter-in-law does not come easy. Grandmas are there to provide support to the mother and that is how they should be showing love for the baby. Can you load and unload the dishwasher ? Can you sweep the floor ? Can you make the bed or change the sheets while mom is taking a shower ? The answer is YES to all the questions. If you do little things to show the mom you care, it gives her ample time to care for herself and her baby. Let us all be a part of the new mother’s life by being a village around her and always make her feel cared for. Spouse, sister, brother all of us can help a new mom. Postpartum doulas are skilled professionals who help for a few hours during the day or an overnight but ultimately it is the family that makes a huge impact on how a new mother sees the world around her.

Hey partners, have you checked that all the areas where your partner will be nursing your baby have water and snacks near her nursing nest ? Hey Grandma, have you checked that all the pump parts are put together for her next pumping session ? Hey sister, have you checked that your sister (the new mom) has fresh fruits cut and put in ready to eat bowls ? Hey Grandpa, did you check if the new mom needs help watching her older child ? Hey brother, can you run a few errands for the new parents ? Hey friend, can you be a bouncing board for this new mom who wants someone to listen to her without judging her ? Hey neighbor, can you make sure the recycling bin is taken to the curb and put away after trash and recycling day ? Hey postpartum doula, can you make sure mom is taken care of and mama and baby are having fun getting to know each other ? So much more to do and so much more to learn.