Here are some more ways to delve deeper into the transition of the heart and soul of mothering. The hyperlinked book titles will take you into Amazon in case you want to check out some of these wonderful books for yourself.
3. Investigate how you and your partner may handle such things as increased errands due to the baby, increased financial costs with possibly a loss of one salary, household chores and really talk about these things. It is hard to pinpoint everything before your baby arrives – babies come with their own unique personalities and temperaments, but these things are worth thinking about and attempting to plan a bit! Many mothers who are transitioning to staying at home from a full-time career have a thought that their home will be perfectly clean, that they will have time to exercise and greet their husband with a warm dinner every night, and are shocked when they find it difficult to find the time to take a shower. Talking about things ahead of time can at least get you thinking.
4. Cultivate optimism , humor, and flexibility in yourself. These are essential tools in parenting. Look within yourself and see what areas you would like to work on as you will be modeling human emotion and interaction for your child as they learn about their world for the very first time. How do you handle stress or boredom? Do you have difficulty sitting still or difficulty getting outside and moving around? The height of imitative behavior is in the early years, so concentrate on having worthy things to show your child to imitate.
5. Learn all you can about breastfeeding and infant massage. The baby’s first well-developed senses include sensation through the skin and the use of the olfactory system. Rahima Baldwin Dancy writes in her book You Are Your Child’s First Teacher:
“Compared with other cultures, Americans are touch-deprived. Cross-cultural studies have shown that the United States has one of the lowest rates of casual touch in the world – about two times an hour- compared with Puerto Ricans who have one of the highest rates, about 180 times an hour. Studies showed that French parents touch their children three times more often than American parents.”
Sobering but true facts in our society that so value independence instead of interdependence.
The benefits of breastfeeding are too long to list in this post! However, in general, breastfeeding offers protection from disease, promotes a sense of safety and security in the baby with bonding between mother and baby, promotes optimal facial and jaw development, provides neuro-protection and promotes optimal intelligence. Breastfeeding is also a natural part of a woman’s passage from menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause with health benefits for the mother. To learn more about breastfeeding, please see La Leche League at www.llli.org and view all the wonderful resources there. Attend a meeting of your local La Leche League group to learn more.
My favorite books about breastfeeding include The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, Jack Newman’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, and the book Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett. Law Number Two of the Seven Natural Laws is “Mother’s Body is Baby’s Natural Habitat.” Chapter 2 of this book and the explanation of the animal studies, effects of skin –to- skin contact after birth, how skin –to- skin contact works, and the long-term effects of touch are just riveting. Every new mother should read this book!
A wonderful read on the importance of infant massage and how to do it is Vimala McClure’s book Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents. She talks about how the first language for a baby is done through the baby’s skin. She also discusses the debate regarding “infant stimulation” – such as the use of recorded noise, black and white images and other stimulation.
She writes in one thought-provoking passage, “Our great concern about our children’s ability to compete on intelligence tests can drive us to accept programs that may or may not be valuable and that may in fact be detrimental to a child’s long-range emotional and spiritual development.”
While graded developmental stimulation may be of use with children who are not developing normally, the healthy, full term baby is well-supported by giving him or her your touch, your face for them to look at, your singing voice, a calm, peaceful environment and your body as their habitat in which to grow.