There is a meme going around facebook right now that seems to be supportive of new families; however, it has raised a few concerns for us.
In this meme, the caption first reminds moms that "babies bring visitors so use them wisely.” Then the image says:
"We have a new baby and we know you would like to hold our baby. Snuggle time will be offered on a first come, first to serve basis. Ideas to get to the front of the line:
Many have liked and shared this meme, probably appreciating the often forgotten concept that visitors to the home of a newly postpartum family should expect to help, not to simply hold the baby and be entertained while the mother - who has just gone through the arduous process of birthing a baby - cooks, cleans, and spends her already diminished energy being social. This is a great thing to point out to newly expanded families and their guests. However, the idea of visitors doing some sort of service and being "paid" in time holding the new baby is quite troubling.
To New parents:
You deserve support! You just went through the monumental task of bringing a new human into your arms. It was physically, mentally, and emotionally amazing and wonderful - as well as draining. Adjusting to life with a newborn is a gift and a challenge. This is a major life event, and it comes with some ups and downs.
Unfortunately, our society doesn't seem to think that you need much help. Most partners have minimal time off work, if any. Many of us don't have extended family nearby to lend a hand. We act as if birth and babies are just no big deal. Please don't fall for that.
It's OK to ask for help. It's OK to receive help.
And it's OK to hold your baby.
"Baby ONLY needs mother and to be in proximity of her heart, her breath, her face, her smell. NO. ONE. ELSE. for WEEKS.” ~Janel Mirendah
Your baby needs you. Your baby does not need to be held by friends, extended family, or anyone you feel uncomfortable allowing to hold your baby. You do not owe anyone time with your baby - no matter how much they did for you. Your child is not a commodity to trade for support. Those first weeks are a special time to build and strengthen your bonds as a new family unit. Your baby is counting on this attachment to keep her safe. You are not being greedy by holding your baby; you are protecting and nurturing your child, and that is a mother's ultimate job.
If you need a break from the constant stimulation of parenthood, please make sure baby is safe with someone else whom you trust. You simply aren't obligated to hand your child over to everyone who stops by. It is up to you and your baby.
Thank you so much for being willing to assist during this time of transition and joy and recovery! New families truly appreciate the time and energy you offer so they can do the important work of processing and integrating their birth experience, connecting with their baby, and settling into their "new normal.”
Please respect the baby. Babies are such amazing creatures who bring a tremendous amount of joy into the world. We are drawn to them, to see that pure innocence and potential. To witness fresh life. Those sweet eyes and round cheeks. They really are irresistible. Please resist.
Here is a wonderful article on how to meet a baby with respect to them as a person.
Babies need their mothers. They have been protected by her womb for 40 weeks, give or take; now they need her arms. This is a newborn's primary need.
"...[P]hysiologically, emotionally and spiritually the baby does NOT NEED to be held by anyone else and does NOT WANT to be held by anyone else. It is critical MAMA-BABY BONDING AND ATTACHMENT TIME. And the biggie is that most people that don't respect that and don't know that are just fulfilling their own need by glomming on to a baby, sucking up some sweet energy.” ~Janel Mirandah
You are needed too! New parents are nearly abandoned by our society when they need help the most. Please, support the parents. This is how you can best love the baby. Do those chores listed; but do them without expectation of payment in any form. Respect the new family as a unit. Lift them up. You are helping build a better world by doing this - that is reward enough.
To Birth Professionals:
Moms can be very vulnerable. Our society doesn't protect them; they were treated as public property during their pregnancy, and now their babies continue to be treated as such. Please, remind mothers of their rights. Encourage them to use their strength to stand up for their infants. Help them find their voice. This is our job as guides and doulas.
"If someone who [the] sign is meant to educate sees it, like a mother-in-law who is overbearing, she is still not going to get it. She's going to be just as needy and overbearing and believe she earned more by doing some housework.” ~Janel Mirendah
* Janel Mirendah is the creator of "The Other Side of the Glass.” She is a baby keeper, and a personal hero. We are grateful for her time talking with us and her willingness to share her wisdom here.
Melissa and Ellen are birth doulas, childbirth educators, placenta encapsulation specialists, and Parent Effectiveness Training instructors serving the Denver, CO area. They are passionate about pregnancy, birth, baby care, and parenting. They bring over twenty years of combined experience to their premium childbirth classes, doula support, parenting classes, and placenta encapsulation services in the metro Denver area.