Who hibernates from the world after giving birth? I do… I’ve been on a baby moon for the last 4 weeks. It simply involves making sure we all get as much rest as possible and staying away from the majority of the population. Yes, it does sound drastic, but I highly recommend it. I’ve read a lot recently about baby moons before the baby is born but this one takes place after. Giving birth is tiring enough without the constant flow of visitors and trying to keep up with daily life. You need to adjust to life with a newborn.
Whilst everyone adapts to a newborn differently a baby moon gives you the opportunity to just “be” with your baby and closest family (as tempting as it is sometimes to exclude everyone, it’s also nice to have their help, especially when you have a toddler!). It gives you the time to learn all about your baby and create that special bond. Your body needs to recover from birth and breastfeeding in the early days takes time to establish. It isn’t always easy to be so discrete and you’ll often find milk flowing right to the floor. That’s fine if your husband and children are around, but not so cool when your father in law is watching!
It also helps to keep your baby away from all that passing around which can sometimes be too stimulating for them (don’t even get me started about the germs!). I am a keen supporter of Dr Karps work and in particular his book and DVD “The Happiest Baby on Block”. He suggests that there is a “fourth trimester” and has some great tips on how to help your baby through the first few months. The baby moon gives you the time to try these out and adapt and adjust them to the needs of your baby.
So I really have spent the past four weeks just thriving on watching and holding my newborn and toddler and devoting as much time as possible to them. We haven’t ventured out much, unless we really needed to. I’ve kept visitors to a minimum and I have accepted help from family (especially for my toddler) when I have needed it. I have watched more Grey’s Anatomy that my husband can possibly handle. Beware, with hormones at all time high, you will cry a lot! It is official though, Derek is my McDreamy too! There is something wonderful about staring at Derek… I mean…taking the time out just to relax and watch TV. Your body is recovering and you need to recouperate. If this is your first baby it is easier to adopt the baby moon, although there is that temptation to get out and show the world what you have made. Hey, with Facebook now – who needs to leave the house to show people! Benefits of social media…right?
With a toddler or older child in tow it might be harder to implement. We have managed, I spent the first three days in bed, I let my toddler get in with me. We read books, watched some Thomas and played snap. Just dedicating that special time to my toddler helped. When baby was crying I popped her in the sling and still managed to get on the floor and play. Although, I have to admit getting down on the floor in the first week was a no go, those stitches HURT!
Don’t get me wrong, we have ventured out every now and again, adapting this baby moon to suit the needs of our active toddler. But we have kept it simple. One day we intended to go to town, half way there with a screaming toddler and newborn in tow, we realised we were better off at home. So accept that there will be days when it doesn’t work, we benefitted from the walk in the fresh air but didn’t push ourselves. I remember walking home horrified I hadn’t even made it to town, but pleased I was going home to put my toddler to sleep! Most importantly, don’t take everything on yourself, if you have a partner or close family let them help out with the children too. Sometimes its very tempting to do everything ourselves, but as you adapt from life with no children to being a parent of one or two or even three, it’s all a shock to the system and you soon realise that using those extra hands is very helpful. If you don’t have family close by, nursery or school can also be some excellent support in the early days. The nursery our son goes to was wonderful and supported our little boy through the transition.
If you can fit in a baby moon, I guarantee you will feel more relaxed, more in control and more refreshed. I’m writing this post a month later feeling all of the above!
Top tips for a baby moon – including “must have items”
- If you can prepare some meals before the baby comes along and put them in the freezer. If you have a toddler, sometimes just preparing some meals for them makes the world of difference.
- Invest in some comfy clothing (and a few pairs…you will stay in them for a while). I brought some excellent pyjamas from Peacocks. They were affordable and perfect. They were loose fitting (which helped to tuck the excess belly away) and the matching cami tops made easy access for breastfeeding. They also wash well and dry very quickly. You’ll no doubt get through a few pairs in the first few days, that milk, spit up, pooh and wee gets everywhere! By pooh and wee i mean the babies…although we have all been there when it happens to ourselves. Damn not doing those pelvic floor exercises! The breastfeeding bras from Mothercare, also come highly recommended. They are comfortable. So much so, that I even began wearing them out during the day. They don’t dig in like some and allow some room for growth. Breastfeeding means I have that chest I’ve been after since I was a teenager.
- Keep visitors at bay. That is sometimes easier said than done, but I have found that just being honest and telling them you will let them know a time that is suitable.. really works. You have the rest of the baby’s life to show them off, and trust me, you will feel more comfortable passing them around once you have spent some good quality time with them. It’s not easy handing the baby over when they are so little!
- Watch your baby. You can learn their cues just by watching them. Read about the Dustan Baby language. I highly recommend it. It helps just to get you started. Soon enough you will become a pro, but in the meantime download the app and take the time to listen to your baby’s cries. Also read and watch Dr Karps happiest baby on the block book/DVD. I found it helpful to do these ahead of the birth!
- Rest and relax as much as you can. Rather than rush out to town, or to the shops, just stay put in your pyjamas. Turn on the TV and enjoy the time inside. There will come a time when being inside isn’t so easy!.
- Download a series and get cracking. This is a great time to catch up on those soaps you have missed or to watch a series you haven’t had time for before.
- Don’t set your self any expectations and take each day as it comes. If you are tired, try to rest when the baby rests. I used to hate that saying first time around, but second time around I have taken it quite literally. If you are emotional, cry. If you are sore, rest and recuperate. Make sure you have nutritious food in the house and spend the time caring for your body. It has been through a lot.
- Get a good water bottle. Keep it filled with water during the day and night. Keep it next to you at all times. You need to keep rehydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding. I recommend the CamelBak Podium Chill. Perfect for keeping your water cool, nothing worse than drinking warm water!
- Cherish this time. I once read a saying that has always got me through late nights, feeding and screaming episodes…there will be a time when your baby doesn’t need you in the night, when she doesn’t want to be held or hugged and nurtured, so make the most of these special moments. Capture them!
- Invest in a good camera phone, these days we all have our phone to hand, make sure it has a good camera so you can capture every moment. You won’t believe how much they change in the first few months!
If you have toddlers or children the baby moon can be a challenging time for them. If you can try to settle down and play with them for a bit. You don’t have to do much, you will most likely be tired, but just helping them with a painting one on one, or in my case playing trains, will really help you to bond with them again. It’s a difficult time for children to adjust and giving them some one on one attention really helps see them through the first few weeks. If you don’t get a chance to spend much time with them in the beginning don’t beat yourself up. My toddler adored the one on one time with his father and he was flavour of the month for a while, but in all honesty it worked out ok in the end! So let your partner take them to the park for a little bit if they need fresh air and don’t say no to help if family are offering.
Most importantly, despite the sleepless nights and craziness, this time will pass so quickly. Keep positive and take each day as it comes!