Nikki from Earthway Parenting is writing for us today about that oh so exciting and oh so scary 4th trimester when your baby is finally earthside!! She’s discussing all the things that come with bonding with your newborn baby. Let’s find out more. Over to Nikki…
Did you bond straight away with your newborn baby?
When our first-born daughter was finally earth side, I didn’t ‘feel’ a lot of anything.
I was numb from the epidural and the twenty-six-hour labour.
I was numb to the trauma of watching my newborn baby resuscitated and having her stomach pumped out.
I was numb with the thought of what to do now?
I was numb to the intensity of it all.
It took me many, many weeks to ‘feel’ anything toward her… to finally feel a connection.
My experience of Postpartum depression wasn’t swift it was slow
Due to insane sleep deprivation in the weeks after her delivery (she was later diagnosed with severe oesophageal reflux) as well as very little support at home due to my husband working two hours away, leaving very early and home awfully late.
I was also the first of my friends to have a baby, so their understanding were very little. My family nearby but worked full time, their expectation of me was that I would ‘ask’ for help if I needed it because they didn’t want to ‘intrude.’
There were many, many factors that contributed to my spiral into postpartum depression.
I literally felt like my world was spinning around and falling apart as I knew it.
I had no idea about the ins and outs of taking care of a baby let alone taking care of myself.
I didn’t know how to ask for ‘help’ I honestly thought that my friends and family would just ‘offer’ support.
I cried so much most days.
I couldn’t stand to be home because she would scream and vomit all day long.
I was a flood of hormones.
I felt like I was literally fighting for her and my survival on a daily basis.
I did eventually ask for help
But in hindsight I needed good medical help because her vomiting continuously after EVERY feed was not normal… The doctor I was seeing at the time thought that it was my breastmilk and that’s why she wasn’t putting on weight (Since then I’ve gone onto feed two other babies, my second I breastfed until she was over one year old and my third until she was two years old).
In the end though I knew I needed sleep so that’s the help I seeked first. Little did I know that it wasn’t the kind of ‘help’ that my heart resonated with.
Yes my sleep deprivation was intense, sleeping no more than two hours both day and night, but after trying everything under the sun, including having a midwife come into our home, spending an entire day at Tresillian crying due to the trauma that I felt my baby was experiencing AND then coming home and realising that I had to actually do ‘crying it out’ if I wanted my baby to sleep (which is what I was led to believe) that for me was where I drew the line.
Don’t get me wrong I did try it, I did it, I had our baby at eleven weeks old cry for timed intervals until she fell asleep. It worked. But it broke me. I just couldn’t do it.
Despite my maternal child and family nursing qualification that I have acquired now, nine years ago I was an oncology nurse I had nothing to do with babies. I knew though instinctively that babies are simply too young, and developmentally unable to self soothe, that they shouldn’t have to, AND we shouldn’t have to also go through the trauma of it. They need us, and we need them.
Infancy can be and IS challenging
We will all experience it differently and it is not up to us to compare, yet I do feel we need to start to share. Once I started to share my experience I quickly realised that I was not alone.
Many parents had babies that had oesophageal reflux, many parents had experienced not ‘feeling’ connected or bonded to their baby straight away, many parents had felt their highest highs and their lowest low. Many parents attempted ‘sleep training’ and were now co-sleeping like myself. I learnt that once we start to open up, piece by piece we learn that we are not alone when we share our story.
This brings me back to the post-partum period, or beautifully known as the fourth trimester.
The fourth trimester
A time of intimacy, connection and nurture, both for mum and their new baby.
Why do we as a society question the importance of this crucial stage in our lives?
Why do we question parents that wish to go to their baby when they are crying?
Why do we feel that babies are developmentally able to self soothe?
Our babies have been rocked constantly in utero. They have never had to ask for anything, not for food, and certainly not for sleep it is all given to them with great love from the vessel that they are growing in, our bodies.
So why once they are earth side do we decide to create walls, literal walls such as having them sleep in their own room?
Co-sleeping in a bassinet or co sleeper in your room is SO important. It is the most effective way to sense their needs such as feeding, comfort and even SIDS.
As stated by a most recent article by ‘The Red Nose’ it states,
“Red Nose recommends sleeping a baby in a cot next to the parents’ bed for the first six to twelve months of life as this has been shown to lower the risk of SUDI.”
We also tend to use a pram for our newborn baby when they have known nothing but the warmth within. By wearing your baby in a carrier or sling it can be the most beautiful way to create comfort for your infant with the soothing beat of your heart, not only that, but it’s a perfect way for your partner to bond too.
Your babies’ needs are very simple, and need not be overcomplicated, all that they seek is nurturing, security and love.
After my experience with our first daughter and then the unique, healthy births that followed with our last two, I realised that the connection I missed with our first daughter may have contributed to the lack of feelings I felt for her (other than the trauma of her birth).
The bonding that I missed right after her birth made it difficult for me to also establish breastfeeding, unfortunately, we chose not to educate ourselves on anything that would take place once we brought our new baby home.
Upon reflection and with my most recent education I know now that birth can be completely out of your control no matter how deep you’ve delved into it. Post-Partum though, you do have control over it, you can have a say in how you’d like it to be.
You can choose the thread of which you’d like your new parenting journey to begin.
Tips to strengthen and deepen bonds
With the knowledge that I have gained both personally as well as within my professional experience as a maternal child & family nurse I have acquired a deep passion and respect for the post-partum period. I wanted to share with you a few tips to help strengthen and deepen those foundational bonds between you and your infant in the initial hours after your birth:
Connection is key
Eye contact with your new baby, so simple yet so poignant. Imagine for a moment that aliens have abducted you and you are entirely dependent on two of these strangers in this strange world with a strange language.
You realise quickly that you are completely dependent on them for all of your needs; hunger, thirst and comfort.
By giving your new baby a smooth and loving transition from womb to earth side, your baby will quickly realise that distress will lead to comfort. That their new world outside of the safety of the womb is both warm and comfortable a place of nurture and safety within arms.
“Don’t expect to ‘feel’ anything just ‘be’ there in that moment”
Skin to skin contact
An essential key to emotional development for you both, also allowing this space for skin to skin contact which will help to release a swell of oxytocin facilitating the hormonal work of bonding with your new baby.
The first snuggle is not just ‘good’ psychology it is the best type of ‘medicine,’ newborns easily become cold so skin to skin contact creates a natural warmth, your baby also gets to know your heartbeat on the ‘outside’ that sense of familiarity is always so comforting.
Encourage your little one to nestle into your chest, once he/she starts to suckle at your breast they will calm down and start to feel more and more secure within your arms.
Suckling at your breast will also stimulate the hormone oxytocin which will help to stimulate your uterus to contract minimizing a post-partum bleed.
Give you and your new baby time.
Time to get to know each other on the ‘outside,’ it’s absolutely ok for you to not feel ‘ok’ and in love straight away- time will facilitate that bond and loving feeling as you get to know each other on your new journey as MUM.
It’s important to request privacy once you’ve both been given the all clear, this will enable an intimacy to begin between the three of you this should not be interrupted by trivial routines!
With our third baby we had a lotus birth where we chose to keep her placenta attached for an extended period of time, this allowed for a spontaneous third stage (the birth of the placenta) but it also meant that she was not able to be weighed or measured until her placenta was cut away.
We chose to wait several hours. There was absolutely no reason to rush the ‘routine’ of measuring and weighing and our beautiful midwife agreed. Do not rush the intimacy of birth, you will never get that time again.
“Lastly, take the time to just look at your baby, hold your baby and touch them.”
Meeting your baby’s needs in the early moments of life makes for a solid and beautiful foundation for communication patterns to develop later.
Remember – all that your baby wants is you!
This can be a truly magical feeling, but also the most exhausting and I totally get that, having had three babies of my own!! BUT in the scheme of your life and your little ones, they are new babies for all of three months.
A whole new world of wonder, amazement & a deep, profound love that you never knew existed is opening up before your very eyes… Listen to your intuition, open up your heart space and take the time to connect to your little love. Open yourself up to their teachings because as they grow… so do you…
Earthway Parenting provides a safe place for parents to be. Nikki Smith is a Registered Nurse and a Qualified Child and Family Nurse. Nikki has created a distinctive space to begin your own unique journey as parents. Earthway Parenting is a space to come together and embrace the winds of change, to nourish your soul with education through partaking in workshops that have been developed with you in mind. Perhaps you are pregnant and would like more knowledge on the period AFTER birth? Or are you amidst the chaos of toddler-hood and would love some gentle parenting tools? Delving into further knowledge as a parent will create a newfound wisdom within. Welcome to Earthway Parenting, welcome to discovering conscious and intuitive parenting.
Nikki writes for us every month so be sure to keep your eye out for future posts. Previous articles include:
- Tantrums – an attempt to communicate – view here.
- Parenting Consciously – view here
- Gratitude Lists for a happier you – view here
- How to set positive boundaries for your children – view here
- Gentle approach to sleep and settling your baby – view here
- Infant care and connecting with your little one – view here
- They’re only young once – parenting with connection – view here
- Expectations of you and your baby with the cry it out technique – view here
- A letter to a new mum – view here
- 6 ways to gentle discipline & reconnection with your toddler – view here
- Tantrum – how to better handle them with emotional intelligence – view here
- Mama guilt, judging yourself and always being too busy – view here
eBooks & workshops
Nikki has eBooks, workshops & posters available. You can download them below
- Conscious Parenting eBook here (FREE).
- Or her Infant Connection eBook – here ($19.95)
- Tuning into your toddler here ($19.95)
- Affirmation posters here ($15.95 RRP or $5 each wholesale price)
- Postpartum Care workshop – sign up here
Nikki Smith is a Registered Nurse and a Qualified Child and Family Nurse. A mama of three beautiful daughters with a strong belief in raising our children consciously and intuitively. Nikki is the founder of Earthway Parenting and has developed and is facilitating Post Partum Care and Tuning into your Toddler Workshops on the Central Coast of NSW. Nikki also provides one on one consultations via skype according to the unique needs of your family focusing on gentle parenting for your infant and/or toddler. The Post Partum Care Workshop is available online as a comprehensive eCourse with videos and demonstrations as well as downloadable handouts according to each of the six unique modules and the infant care and connection ebook.
Are you pregnant or a family with a 0-12wk old infant?
*This workshop is for you if you are a family wanting to learn more about co-sleeping. And why it’s more than ok to do it.
*This workshop is for you if you are parents that want to set up long-term, successful breastfeeding habits.
*This workshop is for you if you want to learn about babywearing, wrapping your baby safely, & Gentle sleep routines. Nikki offers her Support with videos, audio & demonstrations. Let Nikki help you to gain confidence in this new journey as well as provide the education and information surrounding it.
*This workshop is for you if you value your OWN self-care and your relationship with each other.
Nikki writes for us here at the Baby Berry Collective and is a passionate mama of three strongly advocating the education surrounding intuitive and conscious parenting.
Together, let’s lead from an open heart space and create a magical journey into parenthood.
Location Online + on the Central Coast, NSW
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