Natural Baby

The first six weeks

In other cultures, after a woman has birthed an olive branch is put on her door to let villagers know of the new arrival. Mother and baby stay inside for six weeks. Visitors call by and leave food on the doorstep until this period is over. Like many things in tribal communities, this is a very wise practice. For the mother, pregnancy and birth is a huge journey and rejuvenation is required now as well as sacred bonding time with her baby. Newborn babies require time to adjust to the world slowly and sensitively from their life in the womb. They need to feel the love and connectedness of their parents. The baby is still in a very sleep-conscious state. All they need at this time is peace and love to feed and sleep. Keep the TV and radio off and just let there be peace. Nurture their senses in this deep, sleep stage by keeping them in the warmth, love and peacefulness of their own home.

They need your smell, touch, breastmilk on demand (remember they have just come from the womb, where nourishment came constantly from the placenta) and good quality sleep. Furthermore, respond to their needs; give them your awareness, your warmth, softness, closeness, milk and loving bonding. If you do need to go to the shops, can they be left at home in the peace and quiet with daddy? If not, in a snug baby carrier they are protected from the world and against your body and heartbeat.

Can you car pool for a while with older siblings to school, or friends or relatives take the older child to activities or outings (if they are happy to go), just for the first month or so? This stage is so short, really enjoy the slowed down pace, quietness and loving welcome. You only get it once!

The importance of human touch

Babies need to be touched, it is now scientifically proven! In her article “Cuddling Premature Babies is Good for Their Health”[1] Laura Mappas refers to the study by scientists from McGill University in Canada. It was concluded that premature babies have less stress hormones, (as shown by their lower heart rates and blood oxygen levels) when cuddled and touched, while they were having a painful prick heel test. This highlights the benefits and importance of touch for premature babies. It reminds us to touch all babies, children and adults who are special in our lives. Touch is free and it is precious, try to use it often!

Human touch, stroking, massaging, kissing and cuddling, all communicate soul qualities of love and safety. Carla Hannaford states;

Touch right after birth stimulates growth of the body’s sensory nerve endings involved in motor movements, spatial orientation and visual perception. [2]

This correlates with the importance of touch explained by Chilton Pearce, pioneer of the Kangaroo Project where premature babies were carried around in a sling (pouch) next to the mother’s skin. It was found that the babies that had skin to skin contact grew at a much faster rate.

Remember to touch, stroke, and massage your young baby. You may like to enroll in a baby massage class, read a baby massage book (or just use your intuition as to what your baby prefers). Also, wear your baby in a sling, kiss and cuddle and bath together. Make touch a common occurrence everyday; it is a precious gift.

Soft veils

To block out bright lights and to soften a baby’s sense impressions for deep beautiful sleep, silk or muslin veils can be draped over the bassinet and pram. Colours could include; rose, pink or light purple in soft shades as they create a hue – like the inside of the womb – and cocoons the baby in gentle colour for sleep (see Recommeded Goods suppliers). 

Veils can protect the baby from the harshness of lights and the world in this six week transition stage. By placing a veil over a pram can assist the baby to sleep.Placing cloths on the pram for sleep helps even up to the toddler phase, because taking away the distractions and light teaches a little one to go and stay asleep when out and about in a pram.

Some babies wake often in the day and are tired or niggling. To help your baby go to sleep and stay asleep for longer:

  • Wrap them; swaddle them snugly so their body does not startle. Without this they may wake with the flight or fright reflex from household noises.
  • Rock them in a rocking chair gently singing to them softly. Rocking back and forth can be much less tiring than carrying them around and patting them, which in turn can become more stimulating.
  • Try a baby hammock to cocoon and sway them to sleep (choose a lovely coloured material which is soft and sleep enhancing).
  • Wear them against your body and move around with your heartbeat close to them.
  • Put them in a veiled pram and rock them back and forth (whilst wrapped tightly)
  • Breastfeed baby in a dark and quiet place (with no eye contact or stimulation).
  • Keep your home quiet and peaceful and limit outside noise and stimulation.
  • Be relaxed yourself.

We need to make a lovely bridge for baby to cross over to the land of dreams. Think about this as you settle your baby to sleep. It is wonderful to watch a baby go to sleep – a real gift – seek to enjoy these sacred moments in life. In the first six weeks of life, sleeping and feeding are the two most important things your baby should be learning to do well. This is the sleep stage so breastfeed and rock your baby to sleep. Trying to fit your baby into your routine and previous lifestyle, without taking their needs into consideration, could be a recipe for disaster. The young baby has to be made a priority at all times, and then when they are happy, asleep and settled, you can do your thing.

It is nice to sing lullabies to your baby. Your singing voice is so beautiful to your baby, even if you think you cannot sing. Sing to them as babies as they go to sleep and this can later become a rhythm that is part of their sleeping routine. If you do not know any songs, buy a lullaby CD, (only to play to yourself so you can remember the words) then sing from your heart with your baby. Your natural voice and love is a million times better than any recorded music.

Responding to baby’s cries

Babies always cry for a reason: their sense of life has been disturbed. This distress to the sense of life may be caused by physical hunger, over tiredness or stimulation, or a sense of separation from a loved one. It is important to respond immediately. Within the baby’s brain the first area to fully develop is the reptilian brain or brain stem. This development occurs from conception to fifteen months of age.  The work of the brain is self preservation: monitoring the outer world through sensory input and then activating the body to physically respond. At this age crying is the main form of communication. This explains why it is important to respond to a crying baby immediately and try to work out their sensory need; hunger, tiredness, a cold and wet nappy, or need for emotional bonding or quieter rhythms?

If babies’ cries are responded to straight away, they are much easier to settle. If let to cry without comfort – even for a short period – they often become wound-up – sometimes frantic – and it will take much longer to settle.

All tears are a way of communicating an unmet need in baby. If babies are crying check if they are hungry, tired, wet, over stimulated, physically uncomfortable or in need of emotional bonding.  You can respond to cries by:

  • Picking up and cuddling (Need for connection)
  • Offering the breast or bottle (Hungry)
  • Wrapping and rocking in a quiet room (Need for sleep)
  • Check the nappy (Uncomfortable)
  • Placing over your shoulder, whilst gently tapping the back (Wind)
  • Place in a sling and take a walk (Need for emotional contact and memories of the womb)
  • Take into a dark, quiet room to rock and/or feed (Over-stimulated)
  • Check your business, is life too stimulating for baby?
  • Check in with babies’ natural rhythms for sleeping and feeding, are you enforcing an unsuccessful pre-planned rhythm on them?

Monitor the times when baby cries, do they not like to be passed around, being out and about in the busy world, or undressed?

Unexplained crying – colic

Colic which is a general term for unexplained crying usually starts in week three or four and clears up by three to four months of age. It is identified when they cry for three hours a day, three times a week, for three weeks or more. I would be crying too!

If you do have a colicky baby here are some tips from parents who dealt with colic to help you:

  • breastfeed on demand as usual;
  • avoid foods that produce gas yourself, such as broccoli, cauliflower and eliminate foods that could be causing stomach aches;
  • hold upright after a feed and burp;
  • carry around in a sling;
  • make sure life is simple and not over-stimulating (see the above);
  • minimise visitors and stay at home where possible;
  • keep your home quiet with lights dimmed, try candle light in the evenings;
  • take into a quiet, dark room and rock quietly, feed when settled;
  • walk around with them, rocking and singing;
  • have a warm bath together;
  • massage their tummy;
  • warm their tummy with a wheat bag (wrapped in cloth to protect against burns);
  • wrap up tightly and rock in a rocking chair;
  • let them suck on your little finger or try a non-toxic dummy if crying is extreme and frequent;
  • give Rescue Remedy or Emergency Remedy on their head and for yourself;
  • check with your maternal childcare nurse for advice;
  • see a cranial osteopath – they have been known to successfully help with colicky babies and unexplained crying;
  • see a homeopath for colic remedies and unexplained crying. A naturopath or other qualified practitioner to test for food intolerances.
  • It is important to remember empathy towards your baby at all times. Step into your baby’s body to see how the world is for them. Imagine being a very young baby and getting used to being in a body, in this world. Imagine being helpless and dependable. How and who would you like your new home and parents to be? How a baby was birthed, greeted into the world and cared for as a baby has a profound effect on their deep emotional well being. The most important thing is to be as loving and connected to your baby as possible.

Crying is a baby’s only means of communication. It is their way of asking for help. It may mean hunger, discomfort, a soiled nappy, tension, missing the womb, food intolerances in your breastmilk, over-stimulation or tiredness. Try to make your baby as peaceful and loved as possible and respond immediately to their crying to settle back down. Try to relax as the baby picks up on your stress.

  • ask others to hold the baby and soothe if exhausted;
  • create a womb like atmosphere; breastfeeding, rocking, baby wearing and  sacred sleeping places at home.

Try the above and seek support from your maternal childcare nurse, natural heath practitioners and a cranial osteopath. Check baby for reflux, crying is the only symptom to say they are in pain.

 


[1] Mappas, Laura; “Cuddling Premature Babies is Good for Their Health, Study Says” on May 27, 2008 health.ninemsn.com.au

[2] Hannaford, Carla; Smart Moves, Why Learning Is Not All Your Head, Great Ocean Publishers, Virginia, pg 40.