“Breastmilk is the bio-available, species-specific food which is perfectly crafted for human babies. It is delivered by the elegant and nurturing act of breastfeeding. Literally organic, it is made by the mother’s body, and delivered to her baby via her breasts. In contrast to artificial baby milk, human milk is a raw food that does not require processing and distribution. It does not use valuable resources nor does it pollute the environment.”—Máire Clements RN IBCLC (via http://bit.ly/1hc8Jsw)
“Breastfeeding is a mother’s gift to herself, her baby, and the earth.” —Pamela K. Wiggins
via Breastfeeding USA.
New babies are on my mind as I prepare to attend the birth of my nephew and as I continue to tie up loose ends in preparation for my own new baby in a couple of months. I know I’m only 24 weeks pregnant, but I feel a powerful and almost obsessive drive to get organized/squared away in order to make the space for him that he’ll need from me and that I’ll need for myself. I’m in serious “planning mode” right now and I’m pretty sure I can be exhausting/frustrating for people around me when I do that, but I have to do it. I know what I’m like, I know what postpartum can be like for me, I know what having three kids is like, I know that the new school session starts on my due date (and I’m still planning to teach my online class like usual. Not in-seat. I’m not that crazy!), I know that I push and push and rev and rev and speed myself up to get it all done. So, Planning Mode On. I WILL be resting in November, no matter what, but for me that means making smart, mindful choices now. I’ve retired from a couple of writing commitments, finished several projects and followed through on some obligations that have been on my mind. Mark and I are working hard on preparing and building our business to carry us through the reduced income we’ll have when I’m not teaching.
So, anyway, I read this article and it touched my heart with its sweet, bittersweetness! I look forward to being a temporarily perfect mother one more time…
I was looking at you today and thinking about how right now, today, the day you turn 3 weeks old, I’m a damn near perfect mother to you. I think this is why I love, crave, the newborn stage. Maybe it’s just biology, evolution. But for me, I think it’s more, because for me, it’s the only time I truly feel like a 100% capable mama. Like I’ve got this shit IN THE BAG. I’m a knock-it-out-of-the-damn-park newborn mama.
My job is defined. My role, clear. I nurse, clothe, bathe and hold you. I give you the breast to comfort you, whenever you want. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to wonder. I don’t believe it can be done “too much.” In fact I think that’s the biggest crock ever. I wrap you up and carry you against my chest. For hours. Sometimes I lay you on your back so you can kick and look around and I can watch you and coo at you and smell your head. This is what we do, round and round, I know it and love it and own it completely because you’re my 4th!. I’m tired, oh, so tired, but I know how to mother you now.
I know just what you need. I know what to try.
And this, I know, will fade…
Reading this also reminded of why parenting the first baby can be so particularly hard—because with that one, you don’t necessarily know what they need or what to try. The learning curve is steep and you’re a one day old mother with a one day old baby. For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself with the first to love and cherish the newborn experience all the time because I knew how important and precious and brief the newborn time is. But, I severely underestimated the “trauma” involved with becoming a parent for the first time:
…Several weeks ago my husband was bouncing our screaming daughter in his arms as we half smiled to each other about how it is almost endearing that infants get so worked up for seemingly no reason. Over her screams we reminisced about what was hard with each of our children when they were this age–our firstborn not latching; our second with an undiagnosed dairy allergy.
This playful, patient banter was so different than the days and weeks after our first son was born. I remember sobbing tears of inadequacy as my husband looked at me through bleary eyes and said, “Why didn’t anyone warn us about THIS PART?”
The part where you think you are supposed to have all of the answers. The part where you take home a helpless human with no instruction booklet. The part where you have to go back to work after six weeks and restaurant owners ask you to feed your baby in a bathroom. The part where you forget how connected you and your husband once were as you fight over bath temperatures and take turns waking each other up with irrational nightmares that your baby is buried amongst the pillows in your bed…
The post above is a response to one on the New York Times:
Given the ideology of parenting, it’s not surprising that we typically blame biology for the experience of postpartum depression. But the circumstances parents face are often demonstrably miserable. The fact that postpartum depression rates are much higher among the poor than among the wealthy, who can purchase peace of mind through hired child care, supports the idea that the phenomenon is, in most cases, more circumstantial than biological.
As a recent parent myself, I urge you to consider this the next time someone you know greets the transition to parenthood with hopelessness or even despair. Pursue kindness over ideology. For a person whose suffering has been met with judgment, a sympathetic ear can make all the difference…
I also thought about the information feeding frenzy of pregnancy and early parenthood when I read this article from Lamaze:
There comes a point when a trickle of helpful information becomes a flood. The process of teasing the facts from the fiction can you leave you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and frustrated. So what’s an information-hungry pregnant person to do?
Find a tour guide. Would you travel to the Amazon without a guide? And yes, I AM comparing pregnancy information with the rain forest — it’s dense, sometimes scary, and incredibly difficult at times to see the forest for the trees. A “tour guide” in pregnancy comes in the form of a childbirth educator, doula, and respectful care provider. These trained professionals can help you make sense of the information and opinions you uncover, and while their job is not to make decisions for you, they can provide evidence based information to help you determine the best path for your pregnancy and birth…
Which then reminded me of my favorite article on the subject from Pam England:
However, a pregnant woman, with only months or weeks before giving birth, does not have time to gather, learn, and assimilate all the information out there. Many women are conditioned to believe that if they have lots of information, then they will “pass the test” or be able to control their birth outcome. Gathering birth information sometimes becomes a kind of addiction; parents can feel the adrenalin and endorphin surges as they learn, learn, learn by surfing the net and reading. There is often an extra surge when their eyes are glued to the medicalized birth shows on TV.
I was contacted today by a jewelry artist in Australia wanting to pair some of our goddess pendants with her own work making breastmilk and placenta jewelry. I’m so incredibly excited about this idea and can’t wait to have a co-created piece once my new baby is born!
I had my placenta encapsulated with my last baby and I’ll be having the placenta encapsulated with my new baby as well. I wrote about my past experience here: Placenta Encapsulation—Three Days Postpartum Comparison…
You can read a recent e-newsletter from Midwifery Today about placentophagy here: E-News 16:13 – Placentophagy.