Starring: Papa J, Baby Joash & me with the help from family members!
‘’Fourth trimester”? Yes, the first 3 months after birth is known as the fourth trimester. I like this term way better than what we usually call, “confinement”.
I mean seriously, confined? Like house arrest? That sure doesn’t sound like what anyone would look forward to at all!
You've heard of first, second and third trimester. So what's the fourth trimester all about? When I was pregnant, Papa J and I were discussing if we should engage a confinement nanny for the first month. Being a first time parents-to-be, many questions were running through our minds. Such as, ‘what exactly does a confinement nanny do? Will we be able to cope during the first month? Will having family members around in the house be sufficient? Is it tough to cook post-natal recovery food?’
So, did we survive without a confinement nanny? And if so, how did we?
LET THE "GAMES" BEGIN!
Everybody's fourth trimester story varies. I will now share mine! During the first month, Papa J and I were readjusting to a whole new lifestyle with an addition to the family... BABY JOASH CHIA! *kisses* :D
Many new skills we had to learn. I am very thankful to have a hands-on daddy on board! A little on Papa J's background: He is a self-employed and even when he is entitled 2 weeks of paid leave by the government, he was still working from 3pm to 10pm. With the help I can get from him whenever he was around, we team-worked together on diaper changing, cord cleaning, baby bath and 2-3 hourly newborn feeding schedule.
I'd studied nursing a few years back so those skills sure came in handy. As a student nurse, I was attached to the labour ward and nursery room. While the labour ward presented anxious yet heart-warming moments, I'd certainly enjoyed working in the nursery...the best times! However, the main difference between those nursing days and caring for your own child? it’s a 24/7 instead! No 8hours shifts, just a BIG LONG one. You're 'working on call' everyday. You might start to ask yourself, "is it weekday or weekend, daytime or night time"? It doesn't matter after all because its all on one shift! Naps has never been so crucial. Whenever baby sleeps, it'll be best to rest too. Of course, with a nanny or family member, they’ll be able to help relieve some motherly duties.
NEW MOM'S NEEDS & BEING TAKEN CARE OF-
I am so blessed to have my mother-in-law (whom I call as Ma) and nanny as my caregivers during the first month (for those who doesn't know: she was with me since I was born! Yup, for 25 years!). Ma took the first 10 days to be with me and Joash, and she was the head chef! We learned about purchasing a 28-31 days of readily packed herbs specially made for mommies during post-natal. You can get it from any traditional Chinese herbal shop. How convenient! We are aware of the Tingkat-Confinement meals that are made convenient and available for moms. However, I had Ma's specially prepared nutritious meals for me. She'd also taught my nanny to prepare new dishes! My nanny helped me from day 11 to the end of the month. The diet and daily intake during this period is very crucial as the body is recovering from birth. This whole month, They had it all covered for me! From grocery shopping, preparing of dishes, washing and cleaning after meals, housework and laundry... I am indeed very blessed and grateful for them. The support during this time is crucial as it not only aids a speedier recovery for the mother both physically and mentally, it allows me to bond with my newborn baby.
NEW MOM CHALLENGES? I'VE GOT IT!
Speaking of 24 hours shift, what seemed to be a continuous cycle was the diaper changing and breastfeeding around the clock. We can now say we are pros at it! Papa J and I helped each other out as we took turns. Joash was feeding about 2-3hourly and whenever he slept, I would take the opportunity to catch up on sleep. Pretty much haphazard timing if you think about it! That's what maternity leave is for isn't it! Overall, though at times it may have been an exhausting experience, these moments are enjoyable and definitely irreplaceable. Till today, my heart is overwhelmed with love and all I want do is to spend time with him, reminding myself to be mindful and treasure every moment. They grow out of the newborn phase very quickly! There’s new changes every week, not to mention growth spurts and different milestones! All these changes meant a different behaviour of a child. So technically, moms are really learning to deal with something different through out the maternity leave. No kidding!
IN THE HEART OF IT ALL, WHAT DOES THE CONFINEMENT PERIOD REALLY MEAN?
At the end of it all, the confinement period means more than just herbs, food cooked with ginger, engaging a specific nanny or strange myths of rules. A confinement period is a time to nourish a mom, allowing her to recover and rest. Its reinstating her new identity, to be confident and gain strength physically, emotionally and mentally. To have support and love, instead of being frazzled and stressed by unnecessary household tasks or curt nonsensical comments. Most of all, its to allow the new mom to embrace this new beginning at her own pace, to indulge in the moment of bonding with her baby.
And so, if you're thinking to engage a nanny (be it specifically for the confinement period or babysitting) or have a family member to help you, it’s a personal choice to suit you and there ain't one right decision. Most importantly, this help has to be supportive and understanding. Hence, be it help from a nanny, family member, in-laws or husband, with all the positive vibes and support coming through, receive with open arms, love and thankfulness!
“Haiyo baby, don't cry don't cry, I'll carry you. Your mummy's milk not enough, right? She don't know how to take care la! ", shared by a friend of mine, whom received a comment from a family member after she had delivered her second baby. Sadly, I know that she's not alone. Many mothers have to deal with such remarks, and this doesn't help when we are trying to cope the best we can for our babies and for ourselves.
Instead, we have to protect new moms! Alike a mosquito patch that wards off pesky mosquitoes, we are the “patch’ that reminds awareness , as well as protect mommies from the nasty bites of insensitive remarks and the deadly “postpartum depression’ bug!
Any individual can be fearful and anxious about changes or new environment. Kids feel that way about school, and men feel fear and anxiety from work life, family responsibilities that leads to depression (even men get depression from being a stay-at-home dad. Yes, you hear that right!). If any individual can be very much overwhelmed by new tasks/changes/projects, much more a new mom who faces mind-boggling task juggling while recovering physically from giving birth? THAT is a heck load.
In the joy of welcoming a new member to the family, the mother disappears into the shadows of her role. She tends to forget that she is integral to the entire process from conception to birth and neglect oneself. Result? POSTNATAL DEPLETION.
Postnatal Depletion? How does that happen?
Once the baby is born, huge amounts of oxytocin in both the mother and the baby, literally creates this love fest they call the “baby bubble.” This needs to be encouraged and respected, and caregivers and fathers need to be aware of the importance of this time post-birth, when the bond between mother and baby is established. While the mom was pregnant, part of the job of the placenta is to reprogram the mother. As though a “software upgrade,” her brain is being modified to acquire skills to become a mother- intuitively aware of her child’s needs (cold/ hungry/ crying). This hyper vigilance is obviously vital for the survival of the child but if she is unsupported, it leads to sleep problems, self doubt, insecurity, and feelings of unworthiness. Moreover, there is a perceived notion that the mother has to be “everything,” and as result many mothers suffer in silence and are not receiving education, information, or support. This type of depletion is directly linked to POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION and effects - energy levels, supply of breastmilk, ability to care for your newborn, patience, thought-pattern, decision-making and general ability to function on a daily basis.
You know how important a compassionate and supportive gesture is, and how it got you going! It is time for an awakening, to protect a mom from a society that can be insensitive and curt. And how better it is to start from the very core- family.
Allow a mom to feel like a woman in tune with herself and her baby, (than an exhausted person), to slow down and embrace changes, to be present in the moment, to snuggle with her newborn, to have the time that she will never get back.
Food, glorious food! If one is a preggie or a mom of an infant/toddler/both (just-delivered, a nursing mom.. the list goes on, we've got all sorts of power moms!) , we know how food has been categorized under "whack it all", "healthy", "sinful", "avoid at all cost", "eat at your own risk". Now, that's just crazy isn't it? Nevertheless, the many questions of "What to eat" for all stages of motherhood never ceases. Throw in a schedule that involves much juggling tasks, rushing from place to place, weight gain, weightloss, self exhaustion, the search of breastmilk supply stimulants and nutrients for babies, food becomes a mind boggling topic.
Being amongst different circles of friends, with them in their different stages of motherhood, I've been fortunate to experiment, experience and share my personal journey, food choices and its outcomes, on many occasions. At present, after the birth of my second baby, I'm revisiting food choices that worked for me, and also tried new ones. With friends being in similar stages, the conversations seem to hold the very same questions and concerns.
So, let's get going with this new sharing- Fuel for moms! Whilst I prepare, consume, devour, (whateveryoumaycallit), I'll snap those pics along as I go and let you in on the goodness of the food that doesn't have to be all that fancy, but works like a charm!
We don't need to go overboard with all foods that are nutritious or with food that are great for breastmilk supply. And no, we don't need to have these ingredients for every meal. Come on, everyone loves a variety of food.. i’ll know, because I love my food! Moreover, too much of these specific food may either result in "burning out" cos you're just tired of it, or engorgement for a nursing mom- which brings on other problems. But one thing’s for sure, start eating a little of these food day after day and you’ll see your immunity and energy boosted, and cravings for the unnecessary lessen significantly.
Just keep in mind: Moderation and Consistency (MnCs). Incorporating these ingredients into a daily meal will help in our personal goals and need not compromise on the supply of breastmilk. Whoever doesn't want to lose the pregnancy weight gain and look fabulous? Isn't that a part that makes up one's confidence? However, that does not mean losing those pregnancy pounds at a cost: risking depleting energy for oneself- when you should be providing nutrition for yourself- and the baby if you are a nursing mom.
As we routinely eat foods that give us the energy and add in appropriate fitness exercises, we are 'self-caring' to be the power moms we can be. If you've got recipes or information, jump on in and share!
*This sharing is not meant to substitute medical advice- if you have any concerns, contact your physician or a lactation consultant immediately.
1. Smoked Salmon Salad
There are just days when the baby needs you more and thats just all right! Prep a delicious bowl of salad, filled with delish goodness for yourself and for the supply of breastmilk! Best part of it all.. you can savour it slowly whilst carrying or feeding the baby without worrying it getting "cold".
Ingredients: sweet potato, smoked salmon, avocado, salad leaves, tomatoes, cheese, apple, nuts.
Dressing: lemon, olive oil, pepper
2. Morning Goodness
Morning goodness! When the morning is one heck of a rush, that doesn't mean one compromises on breakfast. Pregnant? This is just the food for you and baby, and cranberries to prevent nasty UTI. SAHM? It takes just mins. Rushing to send baby to school then to work? Pack the milk separately. A breastfeeding mom? Oh, such nutrition in the breastmilk and what's more, oats will do the work for those milk machines! 😉Moreover, these berries will meet any necessary sugar craving that leads to less unnecessary sugar cravings!
Note: I'd consumed this with goat's milk. My little breastfed chick is a tad sensitive to cow's milk.
Blueberry morning great grains, multigrain muesli, granolas, cranberries, blueberries, mixed nuts e.g. walnuts, almonds, cashews, milk.
3. Toast with a Punch!
As a mom, being sick SUCKS. Pregnant or breastfeeding? BLEH! One worries about medications and quite honestly, you just feel like a bag of crap. So start boosting your immunity and fight off any bugs before you feeeeeeel it. This toast packs a punch and you won't believe till you try it. Its OH-SO-GOOD, ain't oily like you'd imagine. With such fragrance in this yummilicious treat, one toast just ain't enough!
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO) is not just good for the usual skin and hair care, it's SUPERB for breastfeeding! The antimicrobial fats, lauric acid and capric acid guard against infection from harmful viruses, bacteria, yeast and parasites, thus supporting the baby’s immune system. These rich fats in mother’s milk are vital for the continued growth and development of infants. Yet, if mommy wants to lose weight.. TADAAAA! This oil's fatty acids boost metabolism for energy. You don't compromise on your supply of breastmilk while managing your weight wisely 😉
- Manuka honey (fr NZ) makes it extremely effective in preventing and treating the common cold. You fight off infection and if you need to soothe your throat, this doesn't reduce milk supply like many over-the-counter- remedies or throat lozenges etc. do. (Sage, thyme, peppermint). Yes, a breastfeeding mom can take honey. You ingest the honey and *botulism is not transmitted in breastmilk. Please, DO NOT feed your baby honey.
So, whatcha waiting for? Go make yourself this heavenly toast. You're welcome 😊
With toasted bread, pour 1-2 teaspoons of EVCO evenly over the surface of bread , then spread manuka honey, covering entire surface of toast. DEVOUR.
*To read about breastfeeding and honey: http://www.breastfeedingplace.com/honey-and-breastfeeding-can-eat-honey-breastfeeding/
All 3 of us sisters will be sharing stories from our different perspectives. The good, the bad and the ugly, we're telling it as it is.