by Ingrid Clark
It’s an all too common scenario on the Central Coast. New parents are inundated with family and friends visiting for the first 2-3 weeks after the birth. Their ‘great sleeper’ of a newborn is passed around, and people even bring food! Then Dad goes back to work. The steady stream of visitors dwindles to a trickle, and then dries up. Mum is on her own… and that sleepy little newborn wakes up.
The Coast is a brilliant place to live, but once you’ve been here for a while, you’ll notice there are a lot of people who have no extended family close by. This familial isolation is usually easy enough to deal with, but after the birth of a baby, the isolation can feel like a giant chasm. Trying to adjust to life with a newborn in an environment where you have little or no support can be like living on a knife-edge, teetering between coping and not coping. Getting the right support is crucial at this time, and providing the right support is our passion.
Many mums have never really had a lot to do with babies, so suddenly being left alone with theirs isn’t as ‘natural’ as some would have hoped. The constant roundabout of questions & second-guessing the choices already made can be maddening. How do I know if I have enough milk? Is it ok to rock my baby to sleep? How do I stop using nipple shields? Is this the right formula for my baby? Is it wind? Is it colic? Is this Mum thing really for me?!?!
When we first set up The Nurtury, our aim was to ‘fill the gap’ for new parents by going to their home and offering whatever support they needed, and leaving them feeling empowered, confident in their ability to nurture their new little one. Just being that extra set of hands, that listening ear, that voice of wisdom, fount of knowledge...this is what we feel called to do. This is still our primary mode of care, however, something unforeseen by us has since evolved.
The beautiful Deb, from NurtureMe Massage in Berkeley Vale, has collaborated with us so that we can offer her baby massage graduates the opportunity to continue meeting together by attending our Early Parenting Classes. Deb has always had a passion for supporting new parents, and after bonding with her clients and their babies over 5 weeks in the ‘First Touch’ Infant Massage program, she always lamented the fact that they wanted to keep coming and meeting together in her lovely massage room, but she had nothing further to offer them.
Now, they (and any new parents from the Central Coast community) have the opportunity to continue for another 5 weeks, further developing their burgeoning friendships whilst discussing a different topic each week. It’s a safe space to ask questions, share concerns or brainstorm strategies for dealing with some of the challenges a newborn can bring to the fore, and it can make an enormous difference.
A recent client, a third-time mum, summed it up beautifully. “Let’s be real, I didn’t need to come here; I chose to come. What you’re doing is really special. You’ve created community, and that’s rare.” And isn’t that what we all need? Community? Support? A tribe? We think the answer to that is a universal ‘yes’, and perhaps never more so than after the birth of a baby. Being able to offer a service that can facilitate you finding your tribe, as well as the option of in-home support is really important to us because, after all, it takes a village…
by Jen Milligan
I do need to repent of my midwifery sins of long ago. Taking a photo of a dad when he had fainted during his wife’s labour before running to his aid probably wasn’t my finest hour of compassion. His wife found it highly entertaining though! Once that epidural is in, the cheeky personality of mum (and midwife) can really come out!
I actually do have a real desire to help dads feel valued and useful during labour, as their role really is pivotal in the birthing experience.
Often dad can feel apprehensive about what is lying ahead as he prepares for the birth of his baby. Most dads are wanting to support their partner, but are not sure of the best way to go about it. So many dads comment on the fact that they “felt useless”, “powerless to take the pain away”, or “didn’t have a role” during labour.
Here are my 9 top tips for dads during labour:
Jen is a midwife with almost 20 years experience in a Sydney birthing unit. She now lives & works on the Central Coast, supporting new mothers as they transition into motherhood.
Ingrid is a birth & postpartum doula, living and working on the beautiful NSW Central Coast.