Research shows that babies are born at the perfect time, although still very tiny and helpless, because they are social creatures that need skin on skin time and social interaction to develop the emotional part of their brain. Now you probably all know the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”, but sadly we lost our villages. We know what a baby needs, but we tend to expect mothers to fulfill all these needs, alone.
Mothering in a highly social environment is important but it’s also very difficult to meet all the social needs of a baby just for one mother on her own. It’s pretty much impossible. No wonder they feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
Unfortunately we forgot how to take care of newborn mothers in our nowadays-Western society. Even if you have family and friends around that are very willing to help, they might not know how to. They give lovingly advice, but sometimes this causes an information overload. And how many mothers think they can learn mothering skills from books?
I believe the best way to care for newborn mothers is to nurture their baby brain. This baby brain is fed by oxytocin, the love hormone that we can’t use enough during birth, but also in the first weeks after. It makes a mother compassionate and hyper empathetic and therefor perfectly capable of caring for her baby. Whenever oxytocin levels and baby brain is low, a mother might feel stressed, bored or anxious. But when we increase the levels, newborn mothers are more tolerant of monotony and boredom, express emotions freely and breastfeed more easily.
So instead of stress and thinking we need to let that oxytocin flow in her body and let her trust on the more feminine ways of knowing: feeling, seeing and touching. Ways to increase this process are with 1) relaxation, 2) food and 3) touch.
The most important ancient postnatal traditions, that are real oxytocin boosters are:
1) Falling in love and learning to breastfeed. Newborn mothers shouldn’t be cooking, doing groceries and cleaning.
2) Delicious nourishing comfort food. Think of soups, stews, puddings and that sort of things, all cooked for the mother and not by her.
3) Touch. Not only skin-on-skin contact with the baby, because the mother should also be receiving touch. Things like massage, closing the bones rituals and belly binding are wonderful ways to do so!
And why exactly we need this support for 40/42 days? Because this is physically the time our body needs to recover from pregnancy and birth: for our uterus to shrink back to normal pre-pregnancy size and the bleeding to stop. But also the time that is needed for a mothers breast milk supply to regulate. In many cultures the extensive care in the first weeks after birth is very normal, in the Western world we tend to think it’s luxurious, but we actually need it most because we miss our village to raise our children.
Make sure you won’t suffer from ‘postpartum depletion’ still years after the birth of your babies. Take a look at the packages that I offer for support during the first weeks after birth and make these the best weeks of your life!