Having a baby is one of those pivotal moments in your life – all of a sudden your world spins on its axis and you see everything in a new light.
You may find that your priorities shift and that previously important things suddenly drop down your to do list, making way for the demands of motherhood and family life.
Having a baby will change your life forever; this is true whether it’s your first or fifth baby.
And that monumental shift takes time to get used to, so it’s important to allow yourself time to adjust.
Each new baby brings new responsibilities, fresh challenges and more demands on your time. After birth, you will need time to heal and rest. You and your baby need time to get to know one another and bond without distraction.
Many women feel a pressure to have it all and be everything to everyone, and these pressures don’t simply disappear when you have a baby. Some women feel so concerned about losing their strong business reputation that they take work into the delivery room with them. Other women feel pressure to keep their homes beautiful, and so skip much-needed naps in favour of cleaning. Other women feel it is important for their bodies to shrink back as soon as possible, and so immediately start dieting and working out as soon as they can walk again, rather than resting.
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where new mothers were encouraged to slow down, instead of being reminded about how quickly celebrities shift their baby weight? Where new mothers were complimented for how great they were at meeting their babies’ needs, instead of the focus being on how they look?
In East Asia, a number of cultures encourage new mothers to rest for a full month. In India and Greece, this hibernation period is extended to 40 days. These cultures place great importance on this time by encouraging and supporting mothers to heal from birth and ease into new motherhood. Family members gather round to help out around the home, cook meals, clean and help with baby while mum takes necessary breaks. This hibernation period is a great way of nurturing new mothers as well as newborn babies. It may seem like an impossible feat, but you can carve out a chunk of time to spend bonding with your baby.
Why You Should Hibernate After Having A Baby
There are plenty of reasons why you should take some time after having a baby, including:
#1: You Need Rest
No matter how smooth-going your pregnancy was, how perfect your birth was, or how great your baby sleeps, you will still need rest. Even the easiest pregnancies contain their fair share of sleepless nights and aches and pains. And no matter how ‘to plan’ your birth went, your body still achieved something monumental and now needs the time to recover.
Giving birth and becoming a mother are not small everyday tasks, so there’s no need to rush back to your everyday routine. Having a baby is a big deal and should be treated as such. Forcing yourself to carry on as normal the very next day could actually slow down how long it takes you to recover. It’s not just your body that needs time to heal – having a baby is a peak emotional and psychological experience, too.
#2: You Need To Bond With Your Baby
For these few precious weeks, it really doesn’t matter when you last hoovered your stairs, or how recently you washed your hair. What matters is that you and your new baby have the time to bond. This is the start of a lifelong love, so give yourself the chance to get to know your baby in the beginning. Remove distractions, slow down and spend some time soaking up your baby.
#3: You Deserve It
Growing a baby is hard work! It could be argued that giving birth is even more work. After all of that, you deserve a break. You were amazing during labour and birth, and now it’s your opportunity to reap the rewards. So snuggle up on the sofa with your baby in your arms and don’t move until you want to or really have to.
Being a mother isn’t an easy job. It is physically demanding, can be emotionally draining and allows for very little sleep. Giving yourself this time to rest in the beginning will help you to replenish your own resources so you can be the best mother you can be.
#4: You Can
What better reason to take a break than because you can? The beauty of new motherhood is that you don’t need an excuse to fob off the world. Nobody is going to judge you for spending all day every day in your pyjamas, so make the most of this period in your life.
How To Hibernate After Having A Baby
Ok, now that you’re convinced about the importance of hibernation with your new baby, you just need to know how to go about it. Here are a few pointers to help you shut out the world and focus on your beautiful new family:
- Fill up your freezer in advance – there’s no need to eat for two during pregnancy, but you should be cooking to feed the five thousand. By the time the baby arrives, you should be struggling to close your freezer thanks to all the home-cooked meals in there. When the baby arrives, all you’ll need to do is spend a couple of minutes with the microwave and you’ll be able to have a nutritious and delicious meal. You won’t need to slave away in the kitchen or spend hours at the supermarket, and will instead be able to spend that time with your baby.
- Stock up on non-perishables – having to pop to the supermarket isn’t really in-keeping with hibernation, so make sure your cupboards are stocked with all of the essentials. If you do run out of something, ask a guest to pick it up on the way over and save you a trip.
- Accept help – friends and family want to help when you have a new baby, especially those who remember how exhausting those first few weeks are. Accept all offers of help, it may not feel natural but it will free up so much time for you to spend with your baby. Let people do you washing up, pick up your shopping, and take your older kids out for the day.
- Get your partner on board – your partner can help you in two very important ways. Firstly, he can join you in the hibernation and enjoy spending his free time bonding with the new baby too. While he may have to return to work sooner than he might like, he can create a shorter period of hibernation for you all to enjoy as a family. And secondly, by understanding the importance of you doing nothing during this time, he can help out by not creating jobs for you to do around the home and play a role in carrying the load to support your rest and recovery.
- Find company – hibernating doesn’t mean you have to hide from friends and family. Invite your loved ones round to visit you and the baby. This can help you to feel connected to the outside world, whilst allowing you to enjoy your break from it.
Another important reason to hibernate is to minimise the chances your newborn baby will be exposed to whooping cough (currently in an outbreak year) and other germs. Babies have immature immune systems, and even if they are vaccinated, it can take time to provide any immunity. Find out more here.