“ I feel like an old woman”
“My knees/lower back/feet/neck/all of the above are killing me”
“ I feel like I’m falling apart”
These are some of the comments that I hear in my mum and baby classes and so I’m writing this short blog on helping you on you road to post natal recovery.
That’ll do for now. Have a look at my Mother and Baby classes on my website www.babynomad.net if you fancy coming along.
We were doing tree pose in class this week. This particular class is called is called Peace Amongst the Chaos and balancing poses are really helpful to find just that- some stillness. Standing on 1 leg for a longer period of time may seem pointless but if you think about how important balance is and how easy it is to lose it then we’d use it a bit more. Try it now. This cute little image shows that your leg needs to be open- it’s a hip opener too, and resting on your other leg. It doesn’t matter how far up you can get your leg up or where your arms are, it’s the balance that’s important. Now, if you fix your gaze on something non-moving this is much easier. Root your foot down into the earth like a tree, reach up through the crown of your head (breathe). If you look around then it’s easy to fall over.
How easy it is to be distracted by external influences when you are trying to find your balance. The phone reminds you of a constant stream of noise from other’s lives; your baby needs your constant attention; your toddler also needs it; you need to do the washing up/load the dishwasher; nothing for tea. The never ending stream of thoughts chucking you from pillar to post. STOP. Stand on 1 leg and do nothing except breath and balance. The focus of this pose needs your full attention. Your gazing point doesn’t shift. You root down and you breathe- deeply.
It’s really common to lose your sense of balance after having a baby. I can no longer do roly polys down a hill without getting really dizzy. Even walking very slowly can send me off balance so it’s normal, don’t worry.
New parents, especially as a first time parent, the constant search for what is right for your baby or what is wrong with your baby takes up a lot of time and effort doesn’t it? There’s so much information and teachings out there especially from the Buddhist philosophy that if we stop reaching grasping for whatever it is you are looking for, you will have more of an acceptance of what is and not trying to make it what it should be.
Let’s look at that favourite subject of SLEEP. In all my classes this is probably the main topics of conversation. What if, just what if, you have no expectations of how long or where or when your baby sleeps. No information about baby sleep cycles, no comparisons with other babies. I wonder if this would free us as parent to accept that this is the way things are right now. However, when you are knackered beyond belief and your baby is crying in the middle of the night probably the last thing you want to do is practice acceptance. You want answers, solutions and you want them NOW. But all things pass, and a moment by moment practice of acceptance in everyday life can be the most useful and powerful tool.
Let’s take an explosive nappy situation. Just as you’re about to leave the house to get to your baby massage class on time, your baby does one. It’s fucking everywhere, even the white t-shirt that you picked out this morning. The new one that fits beautifully around your heaving, milky bosom. The one that will make you look like a capable mum, that this is just a breeze.
You have to strip not just yourself, but your baby off. The clock is ticking, your breath is getting shallow, you’re grinding your teeth (yes- very common) and your sense of humour has departed. WAIT. Surrender and accept what its is right now. By accepting, I don’t mean leaving your baby to wallow in his own shit and you walk out with it all down your t-shirt, I mean this. To stop, to wait, to breath deeply (not too near your baby’s bum eh?), then to give a wry smile, a easy going shrug and to start to move towards a solution without being caught up in the drama of it all.
5 minutes later you have a clean top on which is far too small for you, your baby is happy and your are only 10 minutes late for the baby massage class.
So, I was teaching my Tuesday morning baby massage class and talking to a new mum who’s baby is 4 weeks old. She was tentative, unsure and downright confused about what she was ‘allowed’ to do with her baby. This mum, let’s call her Sarah, had been told by a midwife that she must stop picking her baby up every time he cried. It started because I could see her reluctance when she went to pick him up. “He needs you” I said and she visibly softened and picked him up. The conversation then carried on and she told me what the midwife had said. Frankly I was pretty outraged. This glib comment (which could have come from anyone, it jut happened to be a midwife who, to a new mum is the fountain of all knowledge) caused such a confliction of feelings in Sarah. She wanted to pick him up, but trusting the advice of the midwife, thinking she was doing it ‘wrong’, she left him to cry until her natural instinct took over and she gave that much needed cuddle.
This is where I will be posting my blogs…