Before I had my daughter, I wasn’t particularly interested in mother’s milk. Now I’m literally awake at night thinking about it.
To produce breast milk, mothers melt their own body fat. Are you with me? We literally dissolve parts of ourselves, starting with gluteal-femoral fat, aka our butts, and turn it into liquid to feed our babies.
Before and after giving birth to my daughter 10 months ago, I was inundated with urgent directives from well-meaning, very insistent health practitioners, parenting book authors, mommy bloggers, journalists, and opinionated strangers that “breast is best.” The message was clear: In order to be a good mom, I had to breast-feed.
But breast-feeding is more than being a good mom. And breast milk is much more than food: It’s potent medicine and, simultaneously, a powerful medium of communication between mothers and their babies. It’s astonishing. And it should be—the recipe for mother’s milk is one that female bodies have been developing for 300 million years
(Click link above to read this great article by Angela Garbes)
“She’s been wailing so much and it breaks my heart to see her like this” I recently complained to my mother, choking back my own tears.She laughed and said, “Well, she’s a baby.You’re a mom now.And your heart will break over and over again every time she’s in pain.”
I suppose that sums up motherhood for me right now.
A little over seven weeks ago I birthed a daughter and nothing has been the same since.Well, I still live in the same house and still enjoy rich coffee, dark chocolate and yoga and I have the same partner—yet everything seems so different now.
I sobbed when my husband, daughter, and I came home after a lovely stay at the hospital.Perhaps it was hormone-induced, as my milk was coming in, or perhaps it waspure exhaustion from birthand the cumulative effect of a difficult pregnancy with unrelenting nausea.Or maybe it was simply the fact that I had entered a new phase of my life and I realized how terribly overwhelmed I was.
As an anthropologist who studies human fatherhood at the University of Oxford, I’ve run up against a widespread and deeply ingrained belief among fathers: that because their bodies haven’t undergone the myriad biological changes associated with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding, they’re not as biologically and psychologically “primed” for caretaking as women are.
As a result, they feel less confident and question their abilities to parent: Will they be “good” parents? Will they bond with their babies? How will they know what to do?
As my own personal and professional experiences dictate, the idea that fathers are biologically “less prepared” for parenthood is unlikely to be true. Much of the role of parenting is not instinctual for anyone. (I remember the steep learning curve of those first days of motherhood — learning what each of my baby’s cries meant, mastering the quick diaper change and juggling the enormous amount of equipment necessary just to make it out the door.)
And while the biological changes fathers undergo are not as well understood (nor as outwardly dramatic) as those of mothers, scientists are just beginning to find that both men and women undergo hormonal and brain changes that herald this key transition in a parent’s life.
In essence, being a dad is as biological a phenomenon as being a mom.
(click link above to read the entire post on wellroundedny.com)
A mom of twins explains why she said yes to every offer.
I was 40 years old when I got pregnant with my twins. Because of my age, I would have been happy to have one baby. Having two was icing on the cake. I was really excited to be a mom. I would daydream about all the fun I was going to have with my babies — what we would do, where we would go. Only joyful thoughts. It never occurred to me to be nervous or that having twins was going to be incredibly hard. I just assumed that I was going to be able to do it. The plan was for my husband to go to work while I stayed home (alone) with the babies and took care of them. Naive? Crazy? Maybe. I like to think I was blissfully unaware.
When I came home from the hospital with my babies (my little guy came home the same day as me, my little girl spent a few days in the NICU and then came home) I was so happy to take care of them. I was happy to feed them, bathe them, hold them and so on. I was running on pure adrenaline.
Within a few days, the adrenaline wore off. I was tired. I was doing all of the feedings (both day and night) and taking care of them for the most part by myself. I thought I could do it all and actually believed that it was my job to do so. I was wrong.
“My husband’s grandmother left a message saying she was coming over. Right. Now.
I’d been putting her visit off. I wanted the first week with our newborn to be a closed circle made up only of new mother, new father, and new baby. Benjamin was a wonder to us with eyes that hinted (I swear) of ancient wisdom. This time was our initiation into family life. It felt sacred to me in the way that life-changing experiences can. I didn’t want it muddied with polite conversation or awful clichés like “you look great.” (click link to read entire post)
I often see or hear of women pushing themselves to return to normal as quickly as possible after birth. In a hurry to get their life and body back they jump into a myriad of activities at warp speed, often just days after giving birth. Riding on the birth and baby high, pumped full of adrenaline yet restless from the last few weeks of pregnancy, particularly if they felt like a watched pot, these women fill their schedule, attack their house, and find new projects determined to not be slowed down, impatiently trying to control and master this new version of normal. These women are often viewed with admiration and awe and the media highlights celebrities that are back to their prepregnant weight by 6 weeks or were spotted out jogging at 3 weeks or were back on the set of their TV show at 10 days. This is held up as the epitome of a strong woman, give birth, bounce back, conquer world. After all, women in China squat in a rice field, push their baby out and throw them on their back then return to work, right? It’s as though we’ve forgotten to celebrate. We’ve forgotten how important it is to rest after a hard work and enjoy the fruit of our labors. We’ve forgotten that while pregnancy and childbirth may not be an illness our bodies still need to recover from the taxing physical and emotional demands of the endeavor. Pregnancy, labor and childbirth may be a normal part of life but it is anything but easy. The change a woman’s body goes through are massive to say nothing of the emotional journey as well. Ignoring this reality can have serious consequences for our bodies, our emotional health, our breastfeeding relationship with our baby, our mothering, and our families. Do not underestimate the potential for damage if we neglect our postpartum healing. (click link above to read a fantastic blog about postpartum recovery)
More about Postpartum Recovery in the Postpartum section.