The 2020 edition of the European Babywearing Week touches a very sensitive topic, a life-changing one, and luckily, it now has a name. It`s the period right after the baby is born when a whole carousel of new feelings and experiences overwhelm not only the baby but the parents as well: it`s the 4th trimester.
The newborn baby
Coming out to the world after it had been sheltered in mom`s womb for 9 months, comes as a shock to all babies: the lights, the noises, the smells, the cold, the heat, all these are being felt by the little one with maximum intensity. It`s no wonder they cry a lot and they can only soothe when the mom gets to hold them in her arms. They feel safe when they`re held, when they hear her voice and when they can smell the familiar scent.
Though they`ve been carried for 9 months in the belly, the carrying journey continues for the little ones beyond that period of time.
The new mom
Both the mother and the child are experiencing the same feelings after birth. It`s a tandem of stress and crying, mixed with periods of calmness, that go round and round in a cycle for a while. When you`re a first-time mom, all the changes that come along with the arrival of the baby can trigger so many emotions: the need to protect the newborn, the feeling that you`re the only one who could understand their crying and who could provide them with anything they might need. And of course, they can only be comforted when held by you, by their mother.
Though you`ve carried them for 9 months in your belly, the carrying journey continues for you beyond that period of time.
It takes a village to raise a child
These are the words of an African proverb and I now think it`s a very wise one.
I didn`t think so the first time I heard it. But this happened when I was having my first baby, I was living in a different city than my family, just me and my husband. In the first few weeks after the baby was born, my mother came to stay with us for a week, to help me around the house and with the little one. I love my mom, but I somehow wished that it was just the three of us to deal with this new life. After she left and my husband returned to work I found myself alone with a demanding, breastfed baby boy and though it was hard sometimes, we got used to solving the problems by ourselves, asking very rarely for help.
But when my second child was born, I was already living again close to my family. And while with the first one I didn`t request much assistance on anyone`s behalf, now my mother and my sisters insisted that they`d be involved. Either that it was to drop off or pick up my elder from school, cook a meal for us, clean the house or any other thing that could have been done by them, left me with some time for myself to sleep, or to catch up with other things I had to do. And I count myself a lucky person for that.
But I`m sure that there are many mothers who wish that someone would offer them some attention, time, help, or comforting and encouraging words. Family and friends should be prepared to offer all these to the new mother. She might already feel like she can`t do anything by herself. It`s just one step from depression and anxiety but with communication and reassurance that she`s doing a great job, a positive mood can be transferred to the mother. It`s the little things like washing the dishes or cleaning the house or even taking her out for a walk that would improve a sensitive state.
Whether it`s the husband, the parents, and sisters, an aunt, the group of friends, they all can be involved in this beautiful experience of raising a child. No one should be alone in this parenting thing, everyone should have a village!
Because even if you carried them for 9 months and beyond, at some point, all children will find their independence.