Mindful Nesting with a Newborn
If you are about to have a baby, I wish you a restful and nourishing time.
If it’s your first child, the chapter ahead may be more challenging than you expect. You might become angry at all the ethereal images you’ve seen of mothers in glowing, white rooms blissfully admiring their newborns and the utter lack of images that reflect your reality. There may be substantial physical pain as you learn to breastfeed and recover from the birth or surgery. With sleep deprivation, hormonal changes, and mostly unwarranted fears that you’ll do something dreadfully wrong, many new parents find it hard to be chill and sweet. If you don’t have enough support, a deep sense of sadness may taint your sense of what has just happened and what it all means.
In spite of all the challenges, nesting with a newborn is an opportunity to unplug from stuff and nonsense with which we normally fill our lives — to stop worrying, stop wishing and regretting, stop trying to be anything. This is a break that, like an after-death experience, can totally reset your life’s focus and modus operandi.
If you want a chapter that is intimate, deepening and sweet, here is some advice for your body and heart.
Say Yes to Food
When people ask if they can do anything to help, say yes: please drop off some homemade food. Notice that I said, “drop off.”
Invite Caretakers Only
When someone asks to visit within the first 2 months, say, “We’re not having visitors until the baby gets their two-month shots,” unless they are going to do your laundry, cook for you, wash dishes or hold the baby while you take a long shower. In other words, don’t invite anyone who needs attention. If there’s an unhelpful person whom you feel obligated to let in, allow yourself to feed the baby in a private room or return to bed whenever you need to, even if your visitor has recently arrived. To the chronic people-pleasers: this baby wants a strong parent who can self-assert without feeling guilty. If you haven’t yet had a good excuse to practice that, you have one now.
Forgive and Sleep
Be as forgiving as possible with everyone: your partner, yourself, your mother, polluters and politicians. When you register that you’re offended, try to let it go right away. Angry thoughts will rob you of joy and sleep. Do not tell yourself, “I’m just going to respond to this email” or “finish these dishes” or “make the house look nice for…” When the baby falls asleep, get your beautiful ass in bed.
End the Phone Affair
Texting and sending pictures to friends can be fun, but stay away from Instagram and Facebook completely. Catch up later, if you must. Studies have shown that the easiest and most effective way to increase well-being in your life is to get off social media. Stop playing enslaving, vapid games like Candy Crush. Don’t browse the Internet for stuff you don’t even need while you’re breastfeeding or ought to be sleeping. In sum, delete the games; uninstall Instagram. If you feel a constant itch for entertainment, it’s time to apply the balm of mindfulness. If you don’t know where to find it, read on.
Become a connoisseur of every moment’s sensory pleasure: the smell of your baby’s head, their tiny whisper of breath, their soft, soft skin and fat, rolly thighs, and the coziness you feel in your bed or chair. Most of the time, let your eyes be your camera instead of your camera.
You can also savor slow, non-digital pleasures. While nursing you could read a physical copy of a book or watch a wholesome film such as “The Secret of Roan Inish.”
Be a Lioness
You are a mammal. Feel your heart. Hear your breath. Like a lioness snuggled safely with her cubs, let go of the past and the future. Feel the weight of your body on the soft savannah. Let everything else be nothingness, for now.
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