Lying InPosted by: Christina Gabbard | Filed Under Uncategorized | 6 comments
In many cultures, mothers and babies have had a ‘lying-in’ period. Women from the community came to the home to provide education, physical support, and emotional support essential for a smooth transition for the entire family. During the lying-in period, mom had the opportunity to rest, recuperate, learn how to breastfeed, and get to know her baby. She also had someone there to answer her questions and guide her through motherhood.
Be a QUEEN for at least two weeks! Stay in your pj’s and stay in bed as much as you can. Enjoy your “Baby Moon!”
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. (1)
Trust your instincts
It is important to follow and trust your instincts in this situation and to be aware that if you ask, friends and relatives can, and will, wait to meet the new baby. This might be something that you want to discuss before the birth so that you don’t have to field well-meaning phone calls after. Keeping the first weeks, and even months as relaxed, calm and stress-free as possible will allow you to get to know your baby and will ensure a calmer child.
Breastfeeding and Nesting
Mothers will find this time even more vital as daytime rest allows your body time for recuperation. A calm, quiet environment encourages a smoother start to getting feeding established.
Nesting with your newborn is a wonderful sensory experience and gives you plenty of time to get to know him.
Val Clarke, author of Instinctive Birthing says, “Creating an environment that helps your baby feel safe and secure is very important.” She believes that enabling as much close skin-to-skin contact as possible in those early days will have manifold benefits in later life. “If you nurture your newborn intensively from day one, you will dramatically influence the adult that he will become and thus the contribution he is able to make to society throughout his lifetime.”
For many who choose attachment parenting the nesting period is an instinctive ritual. Australian GP and author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, Sarah Buckley refers to this as ‘stone-age parenting’; it works because it is what babies and their mothers are adapted to, hormonally, physiologically and developmentally. She explains, “We are not a ‘caching’ species, designed for long absences from our mothers, in nests and burrows.” The milk of these animals is extremely high in protein and fat in order to sustain the young for prolonged periods. We are biologically closer in nature to continuous feeding, carrying mammals. Our babies are reminding us of this when they cry to be carried, fed frequently and when they crave skin-to-skin contact at night. Author of The Continuum Concept, Jean Liedloff expands, “His newly exposed skin craves the expected embrace, all of his being leads to his being held in arms. For millions of years newborn babies have been held close to their mothers from the moment of birth. The state of consciousness of an infant changes enormously during the in arms phase.”
Make the most of it!
- Get yourself a few pairs of comfy pajamas and stay in them!
- Ask for help. Think about ways in which friends and family can really support you (meals, errands…)
- Guard your privacy and do not allow outside demands on your time and energy to get in the way of forming an attachment with your new baby.
- When feeling under pressure, try not to give in due to guilt and instead celebrate your choices as those that are most nurturing for your new family.
- Ask someone else to manage household chores.
- Ask someone to prepare simple nourishing food and ensure that you have plenty to drink.
Lying-in is an old childbirth practice involving a woman resting in bed for a period of time before giving birth. Though the term is now usually defined as “the condition of a woman in the process of giving birth,” it previously referred to a period of bed rest required even if there was no medical complications.
A 1932 publication refers to lying-in as ranging from 2 weeks to 2 months. It also does not suggest “Getting Up” (getting out of bed post-birth) for at least nine days and ideally for 20 days. This prolonged time of staying in bed after birth may also be called “lying-in”.
(1) Lynch B. “Postpartum Culture: The Loss of the Lying-in Time,” Speech Given at DONA 10th International Conference, New Orleans, July 22-25, 2004.
Christina Gabbard, CPES a.k.a Carolina Placenta Lady, is a Certified Placenta Encapsulation Specialist & Mentor serving natural mommies; health minded women who have an interest in the TCM properties of encapsulated placenta for alleviation or prevention of post-natal depression, “baby-blues”. She also enjoys empowering moms through birth related challenges and transitions; helping them to conceive, carry, and confidently birth through hypnotherapy, healthy living, and mindfulness. She resides in Charlotte NC with her family and fur-fam.