Monday, May 21, 2012

That First Developmental Task

I tell my patients to go to sleep after they receive an epidural. For those of you who do not want medication, resting between contractions is very important. Why does this always come up in my sessions? Because labor is very hard work ( hence the name ) and you must reserve stores of energy for the rest of the labor and pushing, for sure. Obvious. It does no good to wait for the next contraction, anticipating the worst. So rest, or if you are able, sleep. Fearing what lies up the road is really a an exercise in a lot of wasted energy. No matter what we may be fearing.

Get ready for your baby's very important first developmental task. Your baby ( as all newborns since the beginning of time ) must be bright- eyed after birth, able to engage you and invested in convincing you to "keep" him. You will remember that animals abandon offspring that is flawed or weak or just plain funny looking.
So your precious baby is going to put on a show, right away, to not only insist that you "keep" him but also that you feed him!!

Just as your body was born to perform this miracle of procreation, your baby was born to survive. So take the few short hours after birth to remain in the labor and delivery and recovery room suite, just to allow that infant to show you his stuff. It's not the best time for other family members ( except siblings ) or friends to descend on the hospital and interrupt this special attachment time. I am all for calling everyone to visit after you have been moved, as a family, to the postpartum unit and then the party can begin. If you are exhausted, wait until after you have had a nap and ready to watch that swaddled kid passed like a football.

Remember to remind visitors that they should be fully inoculated for pertussis ( whooping cough ) and the flu. And to wash their hands or use the hand sanitizer found  outside the room or in the doorway. Dads, this is a good time to be present and aware of mom's energy level. If she is nodding off, it's permissible to ask for a shortened visit. Ask your visitors to stop at Costco to buy a pizza and a case of diapers, and to call before they come to visit you at home.