There was a lot of excitement surrounding the births of my children, and my recovery room in the hospital was often filled with visitors. Relatives and friends didn’t just stop by: they set up camp. As a new mom I was thrilled to have them — after all, I wanted to show off my baby and witness the love that overflowed.
With these visits came a lot of noise. My baby was constantly being held and cuddled by one grandparent or another, wrapped and unwrapped, patted and talked to. When the lactation consultant stopped by for our appointment and our visitors filed out, the first thing I noticed was the silence.
She sat at the edge of my hospital bed and spoke calmly and softly, her gentle nature evident from the moment she walked in the room. During my time with her that day, she gave me the best newborn advice I’ve ever heard.
Newborns need stimulation and physical contact, but they also need space. Quiet. They need stretches of time away from the sights, sounds, and textures of the busy “outside” world.
“Just think of where they came from,” she told me as she helped us learn to nurse. I imagined the comfort of my muffled voice and the beating of my heart. The variations in light and darkness. The flavors of the food I ate. As we talked, I imagined what an assault on the senses those first few days must be for newborns.
I hadn’t realized how important it was to give my baby breaks from all that stimulation. Each time my newborn was passed from one set of arms to the next, he was required to adjust, to settle in. To take in the scent, the feel of the embrace he clung to.
And while I didn’t put a halt to those precious visits from loved ones, I did try to make our alone time serene. I focused on the moment. I didn’t ask my baby to adjust to anything, other than the solitude.
It was a lesson in quiet, and one I’m so glad I learned.
What’s your best newborn advice? Share it in the comments!
Mary Lauren Weimer is a social worker turned mother turned writer. Her blog, My 3 Little Birds, encourages moms to put down the baby books for a moment and tell their own stories. She writes about all things toddler at Babble’s Toddler Times. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.