“Congratulations it’s a baby girl/boy!”
“Oh look how pretty her eyes are!”
“I think the baby is gone on her father, no the mother!”
“The baby is underweight, need to take care of it !”
“Baby ko aise pakdo”!(Hold the baby like this)
“Yeh mat karo, baby ko, aise karo, vaise karo, baby ke liye accha hota hai!”(Don’t do like this, do like this, its good for the baby)
The statements above commonly resonate the celebrations around the birth of a baby in a household. If a child is facing any complications, they need special care. Generally, the overwhelming pieces of advice and suggestions one has to offer in the caretaking of the new-born.
In this whole fiasco, people generally tend to miss out on the health, i.e. the mental health of the most important person and there are no prizes for guessing….IT IS THE MOTHER.
The moment the woman conceives, it is a momentous time for her as well as the family. She is the one carrying the baby taking generations forward. “Beta yeh kha lo”, “aise mat chalo”, “sambhaalke”, “kapde aise pehno” and what more. She almost feels like a princess as the treatment meted out in the 9 months is extra special and why not should be. However, it is not only the baby that the woman is carrying but also what she is going through in her body which needs to be cared for.
MOTHER IS BORN TOO
I am henceforth going to focus on something very critical that is period post birth. With the birth of a baby, A MOTHER IS BORN TOO! In our Eastern cultures, that dwells on collectivism, the family is very important. Indeed, it is a prized possession to have a loving and compassionate family but here I am, mother of an endearing toddler and loved a member of a very loving family. My mother in law has been very supportive throughout, my husband is very affectionate, sensitive and my biological family is very reassuring. Yet I faced my set of challenges post the birth of my little one.
It was the first time I was becoming a mother and had just read about postpartum depression before but it holds true! It is something the family needs to be sensitised and made understood equally. The demands of new-born yearning for maternal love and touch takes a toll not only on the body of the mother but also psychologically. She has to tend to her newborn’s needs yet cope with her body both physically and psychologically. I knew I was going through mild symptoms of postpartum depression.
Some of them were irritability, bouts of crying and wanting silence to just sleep, but NO this was not understood. My irritability was taken as the sudden shift in my attitude as being short-tempered without any “visible” reason. Sadly, the number of visitors at different timings added to this irritation and flared up the symptoms. The mother needs time to come to terms with her hormones post-delivery. I wish the alluring packages at various fancy hospitals includes family counselling, as it is a very critical part to make them aware.
Secondly, I feel the physical changes irrespective of the baby was a caesarean or a normal is equal and Enormous. Let me be loud and clear, I have had a normal delivery and yes it took me time to feel normal and healthy, say about a six month. You read it right. Even though it was a normal delivery, I felt normal only after six months.
The mother is very weak internally. This is due to a lot that she has gone through her pregnancy as well as post-delivery demands out of her body including breastfeeding. The traditional recipes like “hareera”, “Gaund ke ladoo”, “panjiri”, ajwain water and other energy and calorie-rich food should be an absolute must-have. Families should particularly give these to the mother. The foods repair the wear and tear her body has gone internally during delivery and strengthens her body with the medicinal qualities these herbs have. These are equally critical to be taken as the medicines.
It is a researched fact that woman tends to be forgetful post-delivery. Mumnesia is, in fact, a medical condition. Researchers have documented it scientifically and found the key factors which cause the memory failures. This includes hormonal changes, tiredness, and the stress of having to look after a new child. Hence it is of utmost importance that someone in the family definitely keeps a tab on the above-mentioned things to be fed to the mother without fail. Expectations from the new mother to remember such trivial things should be low.
Isolation is really important.
The mother and the father of the child need to have some time to themselves with the baby. Though it doesn’t make a difference to the baby in the initial period as such but for the mother, it gives a communication platform to share her feelings. The father also bonds with the baby and this is critical. Time spent with the baby in the early weeks and months should provide a positive foundation for the developing relationship as the child grows, making fatherhood more rewarding and enjoyable.
But what I am focussing on here is the male partner here needs to be more patient, understanding and sensitive to her wife. The woman needs an open channel to communicate. In midst of the in-laws, visitors, she is putting up a pleasant disposition expected out of her. The man at the end of the day should definitely lend an ear to her woes without being judgemental. I also so wish that the hospitals are strict about having the husband to stay back as compulsory attendant over the first-night post-delivery. This increases the sensitivity and relatability of the father to what the mother goes through. Many women might choose to disagree on this, but I believe it’s absolutely essential.
Preparation for the Mother
Fourth, it’s a good idea to do all the preparations beforehand, but there needs to be an equal preparation for the mother once she delivers. The list includes:
- post pregnancy sanitary napkins,
- maternity wear,
- maternity panties and feeding bras,
- nursing balm,
- feeding pillow
- plenty of good humour books.
The mother has very less time left for herself once the baby arrives and a pre-preparation of all of these not only equips the mother but also comforts her completely.
Physically a delivery takes a toll on the mother as there is no adequate time for recovery as the baby needs to be catered immediately. The family members need to have someone assigned specifically to focus on the mother’s needs and facilitate her.
The above is some of the personally experienced and wished things that I could have had post the birth of my baby. I would once again emphasise that even the loveliest of the families, miss out on the very important points that need to be focused with respect to the new mother. As a Child Psychologist, I always believe in the best of the child, and the best that can happen to the baby is a HEALTHY MOTHER, both physically and psychologically. She is the one who is the constant source of security, warmth, comfort that the child looks up to, thus she should be the one cared for most delicately and diligently.
Disclaimer: Mother is the caregiver but there should always be one to take care of the mother solely! After all, it’s a journey of a lifetime and it’s all about the mother.