Caring for yourself and a newborn: the importance of touch

Postpartum | Wellbeing | | Louise Broadbridge

By Louise, The Honest Midwife

“My mother was my first country, the first place I ever lived”

This beautiful quote by poet Nayyirah Waheed truly encompasses the magnitude of birth – both for the newly born baby, who has moved on to another land, and for the mother whose child has left its first home. No wonder that these two beautiful people need time to adjust to their new and wonderful life.

Imagine being transported to a new country, where you must learn a new language, meet new people, hear new sounds and experience a new way of dressing in an instant. The
once muffled sounds of the world outside are now loud and clear and need interpretation. After giving birth, you are now the host of this tiny new soul in its new land.

Take a breath! The amazing thing about this situation is that you are both exactly where you are supposed to be – with each other. For new Mums, it is to be expected that 3 or 4 days following the arrival of your baby, you feel a little emotional and overwhelmed. This is totally normal – you have just brought a new person into the world and it is good to let all the emotions flow. If you are finding however, that within a couple of weeks you are still feeling low in mood and very tearful, make sure you speak to your midwife who will be able to arrange additional support.

Partners are often forgotten when a new baby comes along but the same goes for them too – keep checking in with each other.

One of the best ways to help your baby learn all about their new home and everything that goes on within it is through touch – your baby’s first language. It has long been known that Inuit and African babies cry far less than their Western counterparts – one of the main differences is that these babies are very rarely separated from human touch.

The benefits of skin-to-skin for both parents and babies are vast. This beautiful close contact promotes the release of our love hormone, Oxytocin, essential for early child development. During their time in the womb, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy, babies become pretty squished and can often feel a little stiff. Enjoying regular baby massage sessions can really help to relieve any little tensions your baby may have picked up and can also help to ease things like trapped wind and colic. Over at Let’s Talk Birth and Baby there are a whole host of baby massage classes that you can take before baby arrives, so that you are good to go in those first few days. We also run a weekly virtual coffee morning where you can connect with other new and expectant parents and hear how everyone else’s babies are adapting to life in their new country! Sign up here - it’s free!

Having a baby is one of the most amazing things we do in our lives but it is OK to feel a little wobble now and then. Keep chatting to friends and family and remember that stopping for a while to enjoy some lovely cuddles with your baby may just wash a few of those wobbles away.