Being an ex-pat can be lonely and overwhelming. Throw a new baby into the mix and those feelings are magnified 100 fold. I would have been lost without the BCT when we arrived in Belgium with a 3 month old baby and a stroppy teenager. For my family it provided a space to build a 'family' of friends who have shared our ex-pat journey through thick and thin over the last 16 years. It is a fabulous organization.
It is my pleasure to offer my KG Hypnobirthing Group Courses through the BCT. It means new mum's and their partners are immediately linked into a network of kind and supportive fellow ex-pats as they settle into family life away from their family and friends back home.
If you would like to get a sneaky peak of the Brussels Childbirth Trust's new home 'The Clubhouse' in Ixelles, Brussels then check out their website and watch the new video from BRUZZ
Giving yourself permission to relax and nurture yourself and your baby is not a luxury!
Sharing hints and tips to manage the postnatal period
What are your pyjamas like, a bit tatty, out of shape, grey from the wash with elastic showing the strain? Uhm time to buy a new pair I think...........
We all have days when if we listened to what our bodies were telling us and we went along with how we truly felt we would end up spending a quiet day on the sofa in our pyjamas (PJ's) nibbling on treats, dozing and taking time out to recharge our batteries and who would want to do that in tatty PJ’s? But, we don’t listen to our inner voice and take a pyjama day, do we? We battle on regardless and often pay the price with illness maybe physical or mental and for new mum's that means postnatal depression.
Never are PJ days more important than in the weeks after your baby’s born, a time to nurture and be nurtured as you bond with your baby, adjust to motherhood and establish breastfeeding. It is a time for your body to heal, a time to wear your PJ’s as a uniform that gives a subliminal message to others - you are not ready to engage in the real world. You are absorbed in caring for your baby and need to be looked after. In the Western world we seem to have lost sight of this and there is enormous pressure to get back into our skinny jeans, look like a film star at the Oscars and behave like a superhero as soon as possible after birth - setting us up to struggle. In many areas of the world this concept of rest and nurturing a woman after childbirth is written into their customs and rituals but this is certainly not the case everywhere!
Taking time out for PJ days and just being with your baby has important benefits for you with your baby, by not being distracted by outside stimuli or exposed to too many germs and benefits for you that include protection against postpartum depression and easier physical recovery.
According to Karen Kleiman the period after birth is a time when you are most vulnerable to emotional illness. Failure to take care of yourself adequately can create the perfect opportunity for a serious depression to set in. No one likes to think about that. But the truth is mothers don't spend enough time thinking about how they feel. Understandably, most of your spare energy goes toward caring for your baby. But, the facts are clear, if you take care of yourself, you will strengthen the resources that will enable you to take better care of your baby.
The benefits for breastfeeding of having a prolonged period of PJ days after birth are tangible with enhanced breast milk production. Nancy Mohrbacher, an international board – certified lactation consultant, says it is very intense to care for a newborn in the first forty days. Your baby is feeding around 8-12 times a day with feeds taking as long 40 minutes and those are not evenly spread over a 24 hour period but in clusters, when you are literally routed to the spot feeding your baby for what seems like hours. There’s not much time for anything else. Giving in to this process and feeding on demand in a relaxed and nurturing environment is essential as it helps establish your milk supply. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. The amount of new milk created depends on how much has been taken out. It takes about 6 weeks for Mum and baby to get the hang of breastfeeding, slowly feeling more co-ordinated and getting easier and faster.
Ok, so in the crazy, mixed up world we live in, often away from our close family forty days in pyjamas recuperating and resting confined to the house is for most of us unrealistic, more's the pity. But, with planning and organisation before your baby is born and working as team with your partner you can manage to create that vital breathing space as you adjust to motherhood. So, here are a few things to bear in mind:
1. Visitors (and in ex-pat land they come and stay for weeks being both a blessing and a curse) should be kept to a minimum. The permitted few should bring a cool bag full of meals for the family – or, even better, take any older children out for a few hours. When someone asks what they can do to help — tell them. This is no time to be a martyr or to suffer in silence. If someone in your family or a friend has offered to assist you in some way, don't be afraid to tell them exactly what you would like them to do. Remember: NO ONE comes to visit without leaving you in a better state than when they arrived, at the very least, bringing cake and making the tea
2. Nurture yourself It's really true. It can feel wonderful if you pamper yourself a little. Whatever it takes, manicure, pizza, long-distance phone call, hair-cut, a good book..... You will never find a better excuse to indulge in self-absorbed and perhaps, frivolous projects. (Remember, if you feel guilty about this, you will be defeating the purpose.) So, enjoy and go for it!
3. Sleep If your baby is getting you up at night, it is especially important for you to find time to rest during the day. That means, when your baby naps, you do not do the laundry or clean the floor. It means, you rest! If you can't sleep, then lie down on the couch, close your eyes and try to relax. Your body needs time to recharge.
4. Eat nutritiously Eating well is one of the best ways to fortify your resources. Skinny jeans can wait. This is especially important if you are breastfeeding. Don't forget to watch out for excessive amounts of high-sugar snacks and caffeine. Both can cause you to feel jittery and anxious.
5. Exercise moderately Try to get out and walk if you are not interested in regular aerobic activity. The fresh air will feel wonderful and the exercise will help keep you in shape and feeling good.
6. Stay in touch with friends Spend time with family and friends that you feel most comfortable with. Try to maximize the time you spend with people who will support you and help you out, if necessary. Isolation can increase feelings of loneliness and depression — try to stay connected with important relationships.
7. Try not to pressure yourself thinking that everything has to be done right now. Unfortunately, if you are used to getting things accomplished and prefer to be in control at all times (and who doesn't!), then this may prove to be particularly difficult for you. If procrastinating is just not your style, you may have to learn to let go a little bit and realize that some of the things that you want to take care of NOW, are just going to have to wait.
8. Learn how to say "no" Setting limits is not an easy thing to do. But this is not the time to do favours for other people or for others to take advantage of how accommodating you may be. You may find it necessary to say, "I would love to help you out, but today is not a good day for that” or “Yes I would love you to come over and see the baby but I'm really tired today. Maybe we can make plans for another time."
9. Simplify everything Laundry can wait. Your bed doesn't have to be made every day. Take-out dinner is fine. Everything doesn't have to be 100% perfect right now. Try to let go of your expectations that everything be exactly the way it was before the baby. It's not.
Giving yourself permission to relax and nurture yourself and your baby is not a luxury. It is vital to your well-being and you may be surprised at how wonderful it feels! So, go on treat yourself buy a new pair of PJ’s, make them the most beautiful you can afford and wear them with pride as you undertake the most important job in the world, nurturing a new life, everything else can wait.
“What should I expect in the first 40 days of breastfeeding?” Nancy Mohrbacher: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pDRJ-29EGQ
Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett (2010) "Breastfeeding Made Simple Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers" New Harbinger Publications Inc
“Taking Care of Mom after the Baby Comes” Karen Kleiman www.firstbabymall.com/expecting/parenting/mothercare.htm
Mother, Wife, Hypnobirthing Teacher, First Aid Instructor and so much more...
Maybe yes, maybe no. It's about being in control and making decisions that are right for you. Couple that with a toolkit of skills you can draw on to support you and help you stay calm and relaxed a whole new world of inner confidence opens up. Skills to use whether you are birthing your baby or riding the worlds fasted zipline....
"you've got more guts than me"
"wow that looks scary"
Those were some of the comments made by friends when I posted on Facebook pics of me riding Velocity 2, the worlds fasted zip line. (www.zipworld.co.uk/adventure/velocity)
When the man harnessing me onto the line asked "are you scared?" I was able to say with complete honesty - absolutely not, why would I be?
And do you know why I wasn't scared about hurtling down a zipline at 100 miles an hour? - because I put in the work and used all the techniques I teach in my hypnobirthing courses to help me stay calm and relaxed. Because I knew if I was calm and relaxed rather than scared and anxious I would have more fun.
The Velocity 2 experience is eye wateringly expensive, the ride takes just 45 seconds. A once in a life time. So, I wanted to enjoy and fully embrace every single precious second. Had I been scared and fearful I would have missed the exhilarating feeling of flying, seeing the world from a birds perspective, cheering on my daughter as she overtook me on the other line, the feeling of the air rushing past my ears. It was extraordinary.
So what did I do to put me in a state of calm confidence?
In hypnobirthing classes talk about making informed decisions that are right for you and your baby. We use our BRAINS! So I used my BRAIN
Benefits: What were the benefits? - it was a once in a life time experience that I will remember for the rest of my days and one I can share with my daughter.
Repercussions or Risks: What were the risks? - the risk of something bad happening during the ride was negligible. It was not in the company's best interest to set me up to have an accident on their attraction. So, they put in place numerous safety measures to absolutely minimize their risk. I could see this in practice at every step from putting on the harness, to being attached to the line. Everything was double checked by 2 people and they kept a close eye on the weather conditions. If I didn't do it I would forever regret it: yet another thing to be added to my list of "if only's".
There are benefits and risks to everything we do. We need to know them and that includes the benefits and risks of not doing something. Only then can we make an informed decision.
Risk is individual, what I see as risky you may not.
Alternatives: What are the alternatives? for me the only alternative was not doing the ride....
There are always alternatives, to every suggestion. You need to find out what they are so you can work out what is best for you.
Information/Instincts: I had the information from the company website about how they would keep me safe and I trusted my instincts....
Listen to your instincts, they will more often than not lead you in the direction that is right for you
Nothing: is doing nothing an option to consider? for me doing nothing was not an option, today was the day! I had been wanting to do the zipline since it opened but I couldn't justify the cost, family stuff got in the way. I put it off and off and off....
Doing nothing does not mean DOING NOTHING, EVER! It's about taking time. Pausing and being patient is often the best course of action.........
Smile: smiling releases oxytocin that makes you feel good - who doesn't want a drop of that! So I smiled!
But, I didn't stop at using my BRAINS. After using my BRAINS and making the decision to go ahead I used 3 of the techniques I teach in my hypnobirthing classes: breathing, positive affirmations and visualisations......
Breathing: Having said smiling releases oxytocin the hormone of calmness and feeling happy so does breathing. Before I stepped forward to be attached to the zipline I took 3 deep, slow breaths - in through my nose and out through my mouth and then again as I was hanging waiting to be released.
Positive Affirmations Then to add an extra level of calmness I used positive affirmations during my breaths - I am confident , I am awesome.
Visualisation And finally (just to be sure) I ran the experience through in my mind visualising myself on the zipline laughing and having fun.
So, I put in the work, did my preparation and set myself up to have a fabulous time and guess what I DID!
In a KG Hypnobirthing course we explore how you can apply all these techniques to the birth of your baby, setting you up to feel empowered and to birth your baby in calm confidence or skydive from 10000 feet...skills for life not just for birth.
Mother, Wife, Hypnobirthing Teacher, First Aid Instructor and so much more...