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The Journey to Parenthood – Care Beyond Birth

From the desk top of our Friends at the Bozeman Birth Center.  A blog on Parenthood.

The anticipated arrival of a new little one and Parenthood can be very exciting and consuming. A mother and her family become consumed by all special events such as the gestational age of the baby, what the baby may be growing or developing for it’s week in pregnancy, maybe how much it weighs, all the many movements- kicks- hiccups, the number that the scale says, how the heart beat sounds… This entire time of growing a baby is very exciting and amazing- so amazing in fact that we forget that this is just the beginning of the amazing journey into parenthood.

There is usually quite a bit of planning for the arrival of the baby but not much planning is done for care beyond birth. However, this is the most important part of the journey- the beginning – the foundation of your development into parenthood. A mother and partner are fast forwarded from free willed independent adults into exhausted, uncharted territories with this little bundle of joy dictating all things post pregnancy.

There are many areas of support a new mother and her partner will encounter. For example, the emotional support needed to stabilize the hormone shifts for both parents after birth, when they have totally exhausted themselves and given 150% effort toward the birth of their child. There are a lot of emotions that surround the arrival of a baby and a mother needs to focus on meeting her own needs so that she can meet the needs of others- in specific the needs of her baby. It does come as quite a surprise for most mothers that even though we are given the ability to produce milk and feed our babies from our bodies, it takes practice and patience- sometimes a lot of it. It is simple to acknowledge but when a mother has a lack of sleep, calories, and water it is hard to remember to prioritize by putting herself first. A new mother needs to sleep when she can(no need for a clock), eat similarly to how you ate in pregnancy(you are still growing a baby), and increase her hydration by making sure you have water bottles where ever you may rest and nurse your baby(a nice snack is lovely too).

Setting a high standard for self-care can seem selfish but remember, if you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of others? After all, you did just have a little human descend your birth canal, open your body to a minimum of 10 cm(aka big enough to fit through), and exit your vagina(If all went as planned), so it is only right to expect to need time to heal your body as well. To put a visual with it, along with your body opening to let your baby out, there is also a large wound on the inside of your uterus that needs to heal.

The more time you give yourself to heal, which means light exercise and possibly chiropractic adjustments to realign the pelvis/vertebrae; the sooner you can get back to normal exercise routines and minimize the aches and pains of childbirth. If you return to exercise too early, your body will let you know by increased bleeding or muscle soreness- our body is very wise- listen to it! Furthermore, getting adjustments postpartum help your joints realign and breastfeeding muscles relax as well as supporting the immune system and boosting the endocrine system offering space to healthy milk production and a relaxed body. The key is taking time to meet your needs which reduces stress levels.

Therefore, take it easy, rest, hydrate, and reflect on all the wonderful(yes- overwhelming) changes you and your family are going through- body changes, hormone changes, relationship changes, friendship changes, sleep pattern changes, activity level changes, maybe furry friend interaction changes, so many changes. Don’t be in a hurry to rush them…It took 10 months for all these changes to slowly take place, little by little the new changes will slowly find their new spot, too. Just in time for your next journey into Parenthood.

Lisa Blank, Director and Child Birth Educator; Kayla Wright, Nurse Midwife; Professional Midwife

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