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Lying In

Posted Apr 05 2013 8:30am

What a perfectly quaint term that is,  Lying In... But, in actuality, that is what a woman and her family should do immediately after baby is born. There are many health benefits to lying in, including quicker recovery, lower incidence of breastfeeding issues, and less incidence of postpartum blues/depression.

The term, ” lying in ” is prevalent in other cultures and refers to the time when new mom doesn’t have to do everything, but simply takes care of herself and baby.

"The lying-in period allowed the baby time to settle in and acclimate to his or her new environment. Babies come into this world ready to bond; their central nervous systems are open and ready for new experiences. With too much activity, babies become over-stimulated and do not have the ability to calm themselves. The social demands of entertaining well-meaning visitors deprive both mother and baby of much needed rest. Babies sense their mothers' fatigue and anxiety. They become increasingly irritable and difficult to console. However, babies of mothers who observe a lying-in period have a lower incidence of colic. The mother's familiar presence, adequate rest, and limited stimuli allow the baby time to integrate into his or her new environment."
- Lynch B. “Postpartum Culture: The Loss of the Lying-in Time,” SpeechGiven at DONA 10th International Conference, New Orleans, July 22-25,2004

Suggestions for postpartum:

  • let others take care of you (i.e. family and friends, hire a mother's helper or a postpartum doula, etc..)
  • treat yourself to a maid service twice in the first 3 weeks. Ask for it for a shower gift.
  • Interview/find a lactation consultant or visit your area La Leche League before the birth
  • Interview and find a pediatrician that coincides with your parenting choices
  • Make a small 'cheat sheet' with relevant information, emergency contact numbers, and help on it (relatives, friends, LLL leaders, etc..)
  • stay in your bed for the first 3 days (except for bathroom breaks)
  • stay on your bed for a few days after that
  • stay near your bed for a few days after that
  • stock your freezer with frozen meals and your fridge with easy snacks (yogurt, dried fruit, veggie sticks)
  • make an 'in case of' phone list of friends who have had children and whom you can call and ask questions of whenever you need!
  • Give partner a Daddy-do list (taking baby for a walk, bathing baby, baby massage, diaper duty, etc..)
  • Throw your perfect parent list out the window!
  • Call on friends and family members to bring you meals for the first few days
  • Have feeding stations throughout the house (bottled water, breastpads, burp clothes, baggie snacks, books)
  • Have changing stations throughout the house (diapers, wipes, changing pads, spare onsies)
  • EAT HEALTHY and DRINK LOTS OF WATER - this will help you recover faster and ensure good breastmilk for baby
Don't forget that your main concern during this time is not a clean house, couture clothing, or entertaining guests.. it is about taking care of you and baby, period!

Take time for just you - Call a friend and chit chat, even when you don't feel like talking to anyone. This can sometimes help you or your loved ones to assess if you are healing emotionally or if you are experiencing either baby blues or postpartum depression. Take a warm relaxing herbal bath, go for a walk in the sunshine or lay a blanket out and read a good book that is purely entertainment.

Take time for just family - give your baby a massage, snuggle a sleeping newborn and breathe deeply the scent that is uniquely his/hers. Take pictures of mommy, daddy, and baby (and siblings), breastfeed often and on demand. Take your baby for a walk or take a nap outside in the shade with him/her.

Words of Caution
Some women feel like a million bucks immediately after birth or a few days afterward, but don't overdo it - your body will thank you later. Signs you are overdoing it physically
  • bright red bleeding when it had previously started looking like 'old blood'
  • decreased milk supply
  • clogged milk ducts and/or mastitis
  • insomnia/hard time sleeping
  • anxiety or panicky feeling
  • increase in 'blue' feeling
  • your doula, midwife, friend, or husband telling you to sit down 
Many many women experience a 'let down' feeling after birth. It is very common and can range from simple and mild disappointment or moodiness, to more intense 'blues', to something called postpartum depression. Signs that you might be experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression vary and either can sneak up on you without warning . The best odds of avoiding postpartum depression and baby blues include
  • considering placental encapsulation or consumption
  • talk to other mommies, reach out to the outside world even when you are lying in
  • be honest with those around you about your emotions and private thoughts - there is no condemnation
  • get rid of your idea of the perfect parent. The perfect parent for your child is YOU, that is why you were given him/her
  • breastfeed
  • eat and drink well
  • don't overdo it
Sometimes, though, no matter what we do or how we prepare, ppd or baby blues simply happen. For those reasons, family and friends should  be on the look out and understanding of new moms and their emotional health.

In Closing
Being a parent is an amazing adventure, this is just the beginning. Savor these first few moments, breaths, days, weeks.. they are gone too quickly and forever wished to be reclaimed. This new life, your newborn, and this new person, you, a parent, are both discovering each other and the world through fresh, newborn eyes. Congratulations!

Additional Resources Help Guide for PPD and Baby Blues
Assessment Scale for PPD and Baby Blues - personal form to fill out
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