“I’m a pregnant first-time mum and want to know any specific tips you have for supporting my daughter’s development in her first few weeks”.
Welcoming a new baby into the world, especially your first, is a monumental occasion.
The seven recommendations I make here are not only about supporting new life, they’re also about helping you to get the most out of this new phase of your life.
Gentle Entry to the World
Birth can be an empowering and beautiful experience and this is not only of benefit to you but also your daughter. The calmer you are in labour, the more likely you are to have an easy complication free experience. However, it isn’t likely to happen without preparation. In each of my births, I relied heavily on the tools I learned through hypnobirthing as well as the book Birth Skills by Juju Sundin and Sarah Murdoch. These techniques can be applied to any birth scenario that comes your way and also helps in forming a relaxed mindset towards the end of the pregnancy.
The First Gaze
When your baby first sees you, she’ll gaze at your face for a sustained period of time. Try not to break the hold by looking adoringly at your partner! Instead look into your daughter’s eyes until she looks away. This is all about seeing each other for the first time at a soul level- beautiful stuff!
Skin to Skin Contact
Fight for your right to skin to skin contact straight after birth. This is the best way for your daughter to regulate her body temperature, to bond, to seed her microbiome and to establish successful breastfeeding. Sometimes you have to make this preference known as depending upon how and where you birth, it isn’t always standard protocol.
Breastfeed if you can…
but not to your own peril! Breast is not best if you are running yourself into the ground for months on end with nipple shields and pumps in endless rotation.
Freedom to Move
Give your daughter lots of time to wriggle and squirm. Use the capsule and pram to get from place to place but when you arrive at your destination, take her out. If you still need your hands-free, consider babywearing. Carriers such as the Tula and Ergo, along with slings, are my preference (much gentler on baby’s hips).
In the first week of life, begin offering short frequent bursts of tummy time. This can be on your own tummy while you lay down together, or across your legs in a seated position. It doesn’t have to be solo time on a cold and lonely floor! For further ideas, check out my book, Tummy Time Tactics.
Talk to your baby about what you see, hear and are about to do from birth. Look at your baby and wait respectfully as though awaiting a response- one day it will come! Madga Gerber and Janet Lansbury are gurus when it comes to this respectful approach to baby care.
Get adequate support for yourself, so that you’re able to remain that all-important essence of who you are. I used to think that being a good Mum was about doing everything myself, doing everything to a high standard and keeping up appearances. I’ve since discovered that being a good Mum involves being raw and open with others, asking for help, maintaining a sense of identity and putting myself first with enough regularity to ensure that I’ve got love and patience to share.
Oh and one last thing…take a lot of photos!