Written by Linda Hamilton – Director of NewEarth Institute’s Birth & Dying Faculty
Now that you know that you’re pregnant, it’s so very normal to want to put all your energy in preparing for “the big day”. We’re excited, we fully see that our lives are getting ready to change forever – and the thought of a new baby who will grow up to be their own person, with their own lives – is a big responsibility! We want so badly to do it all “right”.
So today, as a mother of 7 – BirthKeeper for many years, I want to share with you what I’ve learned over the years of what best to focus on during this time. It’s not really the birth so much, believe it or not. I know, I find it hard to believe that I would even say that. There was a time that I would have said that the birth is everything. But over the years, that’s changed. I’ve seen so many birth plans go by the wayside in the heat of the moment – so many unforeseen “changes” at the last minute. Truly, birth is something we can TRY to plan for, but the experience tends to take on a life of its own (I remember this clearly as I gave birth to my 6th baby surrounded by boxes ready for our move into a new house that next day).
There are really important things that don’t get as much attention, though, that we have so much control over, that literally shape the development of our babies. And it is these things that I want to talk about today.
We have so much influence over what our babies “learn” while we are pregnant. The deepest imprints on a persons life occurs during conception throughout pregnancy. The growing baby literally feels everything its mother feels – and develops and grows within this primal environment – its mother. She is the babies “world” during a crucial lifelong developmental period.
Within this world, the baby learns important elements that it will need for its life, such as love and trust, or fear and detachment. Once you become pregnant, you begin parenting your new baby. It’s not something that happens later. It’s right now! In fact, you have almost more influence over your babies lifelong development now, while pregnant, than you will during the rest of its life.
So, what is the best way to treat your baby now?
Give it all the things you want to “teach”it – through you.
If you want your baby to feel love, surround yourself with and feel love. If you want to teach your baby to trust, trust others. If you want your baby to feel safe and secure in life, ensure that you feel safe in your environment. The more love, bliss and feeling cared for that we focus on during our pregnancy, the greater these important elements will be passed on to our children.
And when the birth time comes…be prepared with the birth plan that you want, but also be open to adapt to whatever else may occur. Go with the flow. Be at peace as much as possible, welcoming your baby with love and gentleness. And then, have an awesome space prepared for after the birth. Again, you have so much control over this very important postpartum time.
I have a few other posts about the “Nest” that I will include at the bottom of this one that go into detail about it – and one where I tell my own story about the amazing transforming power that I felt while in mine.
Many times, we get so caught up preparing for the birth experience that afterwards, we’re kind of left holding our babies, sore everywhere, exhausted mentally and physically – wondering “what now?”.
We KIND OF have an idea of how it will go, but I’d like to suggest that during all the pre-birth time (pregnancy), when you want so bad to get everything organized and together – that you focus all of that energy on being at peace during the pregnancy, while physically preparing for the Nest. It’s a great way to spend that energy – creating a beautiful sanctuary for the first 42 days following birth.
Postpartum depression is a very real thing – that occurs so much these days especially. I really feel so strongly that one of the big reasons for that is that we DON’T prepare our nests. And as the days go by, not really having a “plan” – we find ourselves falling emotionally, feeling the physical pain of our experiences. Add in there our milk coming in which carries with it so much emotional, physical and mental stuff too. It can be a very difficult time. And knowing that our babies are developing so much during that time, it’s important that we insure a protected environment for them.
I’ve seen new mothers need more help during this time than any other. And it really does take 42 days – there’s something about that number of days…it’s like magic.
By taking the first few days after the birth to truly recover, knowing that you will spend the next month just nurturing yourself and your baby, can make a huge difference, and understanding that babies form 700 neural connections per second during this time – the impact on your baby of what YOU are feeling, is critical to its development.
I’m going to make it easy by putting my recommendations for after the birth in a bullet form list …(keep in mind, that more exhaustive resources will be in the links below, this is just a brief overview)
- stay put. In your bed, or nest space, wherever you feel the most comfortable – stay there, sleep, rest and breastfeed your baby whenever it wants it (yes, it will feel like it’s ALL the time, which it is, which is good…) – only getting up to go to the bathroom or take a shower. You are NOT going to the mall or meeting friends for lunch. You have no other responsibility except to recover your own body, while caring for your new little baby (which is still a LOT).
- have food brought to you – be clear about what you want!
- make preparations so that you are doing no housework or laundry for 42 days – make that very clear with your family prior to the birth.
- have beautiful music playing all the time, low lighting during the night so you can see to get up, or to change a diaper
- have a candle lit near you all the time.
- accept all the support that you can, but be clear on managing that support. Ask friends to just leave meals in the kitchen if you’re sleeping, or to hold your baby while you take a shower. This is for sure one time in your life that you have every right to be clear about your needs!
- Eat! Eat! Eat! Your body needs to heal, and is making milk at the same time! That’s huge. And the best way to assist your body in that process is to eat and rest and to be as happy as possible.
- wear comfortable clothes, or be naked (better) with your baby naked on you. Skin to skin contact is so important for your babies optimal development.
- stay as horizontal as possible. By being upright before your stretched muscles have a chance to repair, your organs have a greater chance of falling into places that you may not want them to, making it more difficult for your body’s memory to go back to your pre-pregnant state (again, a miraculous thing – to see your body go back in such a short time – within 42 days if you stay horizontal and eat as much as you want).
- keep outside influences to a minimum. I enjoyed just listening to music and looking out my bedroom window after I had my last baby (although I lived on a river in the jungle so it was a beautiful view) – watching movies, too many people, too much noise – seemed to just create an unidentifiable stress. Keep the environment calm and peaceful. Again, your baby’s brain is going through an incredible life long development during this time – even when it’s asleep.
So, to summarize – keep your nest space calm, stay put and focused on your healing and your baby’s need to be held ALL the time. Yes, all the time! You will not “spoil” your baby, like my mother in law once accused me of doing (she believed it because she was taught it) – but I knew instinctively that it was the best thing to do with my new baby. Not only will you not spoil your baby – you will teach it that it is cared for and loved. (another blog post here) EAT. Eat. Eat. Feed. Feed. Feed. All while resting and staying peaceful.
If you can manage this, you’ll find the postpartum time much more manageable, and even sacred and so beautiful. I know I did.
Please take the time to read my other posts on the nest here and here and here. And then there is this one on co-sleeping (very important for everyone’s sanity!)
I’m also available for online consultations during your pregnancy, birth or postpartum time – go here for more information…
Congratulations again! Enjoy your pregnancy knowing that you are growing a person the best way that you can by consciously understanding their critical development during this time, and by creating a sacred space for after the birth to show them that the world, this life – is loving and peaceful and that their mother loves them very much.
There are not many things you can do in this lifetime that will have as great an impact as this.
Originally posted @ Birth Without Boundaries