In Australia many women take a weekend break away before the baby arrives, they often refer to this as a baby moon, which of course is lovely, couples taking that time away together before the arrival of a new family member can be of tremendous value to strengthen a relationship. Never the less it has always confused me, I much prefer the interpretation of the baby moon from Charlottes perspective, a UK based, mother, birth worker and friend. I feel it offers a truer reflection of a MOON period, or as I like to call it ‘the 11th Moon’ following the ten moons of gestation.
Charlotte’s article is all about her own experience taking a post-birth Baby Moon, I was delighted to read that she had given herself, her newborn baby and family this precious gift. Sadly taking the eleventh moon is not the norm in our western culture, although once upon time it was expected that women would have had a period of confinement before regular life resumed. Confinement is a thoroughly old-fashion term that conjures the feeling of isolation, even imprisonment, that a woman is to endure some kind of punishment, rather than nourishment, bonding and healing.
The vast majority of mothers that I work with are totally shocked by the ordeal of birth and once the euphoria of meeting the baby and the cocktail of hormones begin to wane the enormity of the new life ahead can be thoroughly overwhelming. I must say this was my own experience, I personally felt that I just didn’t have enough hands, or enough of anything for that matter.
As a doula and prenatal yoga teacher I try and encourage my clients and students to set themselves up with the maximum amount of domestic support and care that their resources will allow. I sometimes talk about the traditional yoga practice of 40 day’s of rest and although there is a resurgence of baby moon’s in the western world, still there seems to be a reluctance to adopt this practice. I often say to my mum’s “you only have this newborn time once, it’s so brief and truly priceless”
This has got me wondering, and on a bit of a mission to explore this a little deeper. Why might it be that woman aren’t viewing this time as a serious investment in themselves and their babies wellbeing? How can I as a doula and prenatal yoga teacher help the mothers I serve to embrace this practice? I think there are many answers to this question, but I feel the glaringly obvious is social amnesia, we have somehow lost our way.
Perhaps first-time mum’s really do not understand the enormity of birth and recovery. Nuclear family life has stolen our village, the community and traditional practices it offered are almost lost, young women don’t grow up experiencing women supporting women, nursing one another’s babies, child minding was once a shared responsibility, a given. When a space is held for women by women magic happens, oxytocin the love hormone can be felt by all present, and who doesn’t want to experience that?
In contrast the nuclear family has created isolation, we encourage and praise our young women for being fiercely independent, so modern western woman no longer knows how to ask for help when she needs it. Women especially feel incredibly uncomfortable asking for their needs to be met, asking for help is mistakenly believed to be a sign of weakness, when in truth it is women’s business and an innate need for a woman to caretake others.
Our culture is fast, racy and sadly imbalanced, stopping or doing NOTHING is viewed as a waste of time, women feel guilty if they are not doing, or seen by others to be ‘doing nothing’.
But is bonding with baby doing nothing? Is feeding a baby 24/7 doing nothing? Is understanding a babies rhythms and continuous needs doing nothing?
The foundation of a healthy family life needs to start here with this ‘Doing of Nothing’ when a woman allows herself the gift of precious time, time to experience the exquisite sensation of baby, skin to skin, and breathe in the aroma of new life. Time for the father to be witness to his lover being born as a mother. Time to just be.
Now is the time to bring this practice of the ‘eleventh moon’ into vogue? Let’s encourage and support our new mothers so they can DO NOTHING other than take the time to find their new mother wings. Let her be in her nest so she can rest and recover from the ordeal of birth.
Let’s honor our newborn mothers by listening to her cries for help, often disguised in phrases such as “I’m fine, just tired” let’s support and cherish our newborn mothers with gifts of service, offering help with domestic chores, so that she may rest, be nourished, feel safe, loved and respected.
When we hold the space for new mothers, they can breathe a sigh of relief, relax and focus on the most important job there is, to nourish and love the next generation into the world consciously.
Let’s show our respect for motherhood, let’s acknowledge that it is one of the most challenging experiences and yet one of the most rewarding. Let’s swaddle our newborn mothers with the gift of the eleventh moon.
I’d love to know your thoughts on taking the gift of the eleventh moon and what you think the challenges might be in doing this?