Hold the Mother, Not the Baby
After a baby is born, everyone wants a chance to hold them. Newborns emanate that sweet smell and rest as a gentle weight against the chest. It is a cherished but fleeting time of being so small and new. But here’s the thing- it’s the mother who needs to be held, not the baby.
It actually isn’t good for newborns to be held by anyone but their close caregivers, at least not often. The early weeks of life are a sensitive period of time for bonding and attachment. The mother and baby are still effectively one being- the mother/baby dyad. Even if the baby seems calm, it is physiologically stressful for the mother and baby to be separated. Breastfeeding relies on the close contact of the mother and baby. As the baby rests skin-to-skin on the mother’s chest, her body is signaled to produce milk. The baby has free range to nurse on demand and is more likely to have its hunger cues met. Along with this, the baby’s microbiome is still developing. The microbiome of the skin in particular is vulnerable to each contact.
The mother’s chest is the natural habitat of the newborn. It provides everything the baby needs- comfort, warmth and nourishment. Why separate the baby from this place of security? Of course mothers sometimes need the baby to be held, but she will usually request it.
The baby won’t remember who held it, but the mother will remember who held her. The best way to hold the baby is by holding the mother.
Postpartum is intense on every level. Physically the mother is recovering from giving birth- the most challenging feat a human being can do. Emotionally her whole orientation to life is being restructured. Motherhood cracks open the heart, it creates the space for something bigger than one’s self. This experience is both beautiful and painful.
Mother’s need to be brought warm, nourishing meals. Mother’s need compassionate ears to listen. Mother’s need someone to fold the laundry and clean the bathroom. Mother’s usually don’t need someone to hold the baby. That’s her job. She spent 9 months with her little one tucked snug inside her womb waiting for these moments.
Hold the mother. She needs it now more than ever.
Sunshine Coast mamas, I’m here to witness your transformation and listen to your story. My role as a postpartum doula is to hold you, not the baby. Check out my Postpartum Care services to see how I can support your family during this special time