This story might be familiar to some of you, and a cautionary tale to others. My daughter had colic. For several weeks, between the hours of 4 pm and 1 am, she was either crying uncontrollably, breast feeding, or stunned into brief silence by the sound of the vacuum cleaner (we had super clean floors during this time).
One evening, J (my kids’ awesome dad) and I were invited to a happy hour. We decided he should go, as I tended to have an easier time soothing her as the parent with the milk supply, and she would definitely not have been a “happy” addition to the hour if we tried to take her along. When he walked back into the house, he smelled like outside and red wine. I stood close to him and inhaled deeply several times in a row, like an addict huffing paint fumes from a paper sack. I was floored at how amazing a scent other than our sweet baby girl, breast milk and spit-up could be.
When you are in the throws of life with a new baby, you are hyper-focused on making them comfortable: warm, fed, held, diapered, bathed, etc…and this is good and instinctual. The only draw back is how easily you can forget to do many of these things for yourself. Feeding your own needs gives you the endurance to feed your baby’s needs. This goes for partners too – we are in this together, and we all need sweet soothing to keep our sanity in tact. Doing something nurturing for each of your five senses, every day, is a great way to keep yourself fueled.
Here are some of my favorite examples:
Smell: Stock up on some of your favorite scented candles. Take a few seconds to light one in whatever room you’re spending the most time in. The smell of a few drops of essential lavender oil on a pillow near where you breastfeed can help relax you.
Touch: Treat yourself to some new lounge pants and super soft t-shirts. You’ll spend a ton of time at home in the first few months, so having cute, comfortable clothes you feel good in can help cheer you up. Hot baths soothe your body and your spirit. Back rubs and hugs for and from your partner feel great and help you stay close and connected.
Sight: Surround yourself with photos of friends, family and artwork that either makes you feel calm or cracks you up. No Edvard Munch in the nursery, okay? If you can change the scenery when you breastfeed, try different spots in the house, or near a window where you can see outside.
Hearing: Music. Take the extra five seconds to turn it on. Whatever helps you transcend, feel happy, upbeat, relaxed… identify the feeling you crave and choose the music to best elicit it. And don’t pressure yourself to play kid-friendly music only – chances are good your baby will love hearing whatever you listened to while he or she rocked out in your belly.
Taste: Make sure to eat and drink. It is so easy to forget this when you’re trying to keep up with the voracious appetite of a newborn. Go with suggestions from your OB or midwife on what’s best if you’re breast-feeding, find some things you love and savor them every day. I used to say “good morning” out loud and smile at my cup of decaf before taking the first sip. It was that delicious.
BPP Sanity Savers:
- Taking care of yourself is imperative to the endurance needed for caring for a newborn.
- Think about what your senses love the most, and stock up on supplies for feeding them in advance. Attend to all 5, every day.
- Talk with your partner in advance about ways you can help each other nurture yourselves – you both need and deserve TLC!
Here’s to strength and sanity,