12 Feb 2015
February 12, 2015

A Doula’s Advice for New Parents

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There seem to be a lot of mothers on blog sites struggling with exhaustion and trying to get little ones to sleep. As a mother of three (even though it was a while ago!), I remember well my body feeling like lead from lack of sleep and my brain feeling numb from exhaustion and everything feeling overwhelming and that my life was out of control. I think it is common to ALL mother at different stages with little babies. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Everyone you talk to, every book or blog that you read will tell you different solutions. Here are some thoughts from my experience as a doula / kangaroula and mum:

Ultimately EVERY BABY IS UNIQUE, every mother, every family is different so “experts” that glibly offer a “one size fits all” advice may work for some people but not for others.

Hear their ideas, try them if they sit comfortably with your vision of parenting and see if they work for you and your baby, and for you as parents. Even what works for your one child may not work for your next. As I often work with premature babies I am fascinated by how INDIVIDUAL the babies are even at 29 weeks gestational age and how differently they respond to light and sounds and smells and being held. They are different personalities. WATCH YOUR OWN BABY and respond to his or her own cues. ONLY YOU ARE THE EXPERT ON YOUR OWN BABY.

Often advice given to mothers is what the MUM needs to hear, and not what the BABY is needing. Be careful of any advice that tells you how to CONTROL your baby. A base of a trusting relationship is a far firmer foundation on which to build a life, than control. Some of what you hear in parenting is pitched at what YOU need. Ask yourself is this is what I need or what WE as a mother-baby unit need.

Western society has fed us a lie that we can “have it all”: the beautiful body six weeks after baby is born, the perfect baby who sleeps through the night, that I can have my baby and then go out and still be a hugely successful business woman, that my life will still be exactly the same after having a baby. Life will never be the same, it will be better, it will be different, it will be richer (not in money values!), it will be a new normal.

Remember those days when the man or woman of your dreams came to share your home? Life changed! You didn’t try to tell your man to go and sleep on his own in another room at a time that suited you. Don’t expect that of your baby!

Maybe we can take ideas from other cultures that are much kinder and more supportive, they live in closer communities, they have others around to support a new mum, or to help with the toddler so a mum can breastfeed, to have a mum or friend around to comfort the baby when the mum is trying to wean him. So, collect some friends and build a supportive “phone me when you are desperate” network. Maybe we need to just learn to ask for help and not try to be so self-sufficient. Parenting is a time for community.

Part of what we at NINO are trying to provide is the basic neuroscience starting point from your baby’s basic needs and reconcile this with sensitive, yes and sustainable parenting!

Jill Bergman

Doula / Kangaroula