A holiday wish list (especially for new moms)

 

I love sitting with expectant and newly delivered mothers.

Birth often steals the limelight, but the season before and especially the season after are oh-so-sacred, perhaps even more so than that fleeting moment.

How similar is Christmas Day! Like birth, it woos our attention but represents a mere day in a significant, hope-filled season.

Advent began a few weeks ago and with it this sacred time of waiting. Our hearts resonate with this season, don’t they?

I’m waiting. We’re waiting.

Many of you are also waiting—and even longing.

  • for birth
  • for conception
  • for a soul mate
  • for personal or vocational fulfillment
  • for Christmas break
  • for a new year of new possibility…

But what happens when the yearned-for arrives? Is it an end in itself? Or perhaps a gateway in a grander narrative?

Like the days after Christmas, the postpartum period may feel like a letdown (pun intended). But for anyone with the privilege of bearing a child, this may be the most pivotal passage of your life. Below are a few hopes I wish I could share with every new mom.

Even if you’re not a new mom (or a mother at all), there’s something universal about my wish list. You might find that these points resonate with you this season, too.

These 12 points are my (very tangential) ode to the 12 days of Christmas, which like the postpartum days emerge on the heels of a pivotal day yet give rise to a richly imbued time of reflection, joy, and awe for this miraculous, life-giving season.

What I long to tell every new mom

  1. Hold your baby. From meal time to naptime, a kid kept close provides infinite comfort for both mother and newborn. Babies, whether awake or asleep, belong in arms, especially in those precious first few weeks! And it’s much easier to do if you…
  2. Do you really need to go anywhere? Eliminate all non-essential travel, recruit help whenever possible, and savor this season of solitude. That sets you up for success to…
  3. Nourish your baby well. Breast milk is best. Prioritize natures perfectly designed first food. If for some reason breast milk isn’t available to you in your situation, seek out donor milk or a high-end formula that is best for your baby’s needs. But most birth mothers can produce enough potentially if you…
  4. Nourish yourself well. Simple and soupy is the way to go. Favor ample fats, easily digested proteins, and slow-releasing carbs. The well-intentioned casseroles can wait until you’ve emerged from the sacred six-week window, and your digestion can stomach denser fare. And if you want more than just good food…
  5. Sip warm drinks. Teas and tonics (caffeine-free!) help with 3 and 4. Plus, a savored mug provides more than hydration—the ritual can nourish mind and soul, too. And it’s a great carrier to…
  6. Spice it up. From food and drink to aromatics and decorations, herbs and seasonings fortify your body and ward off the maladies of the season. Heating spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, garlic, and star anise also help you…
  7. Stay warm. Wrap up in a blanket, put on a hat, pull out the leggings, take a hot bath—dispel chills in any way you can. Ensconce yourself in not only external warmth but also the ethereal warmth provided when you…
  8. Cherish family. Babies bring generations together in ways that nothing else can. If you have healthy relationships with parents and grandparents, siblings and cousins, aunts and uncles, and whoever else makes up your extended family, let them help to the extent that you’re comfortable. If you don’t have access to family, then…
  9. Invite friends. It does indeed take a village to raise a child, and postpartum especially is not a time to go it alone. Find ways to re-create that village, perhaps even before birth, so you have helping hands when you need them most. Even with help, there may be times when life feels surreal, overwhelming, disorienting—and you just need to…
  10. New motherhood presents a time of great physical upheaval as your body reintegrates and returns to normal—and also presents unforeseen challenges. Talk through your birth story, confide in a friend, process your emotions now, and then let them go. But at the other end of the spectrum (or perhaps merely the other side of the same coin), take ample opportunity to…
  11. Especially at your baby. She sees little more than the hazy glimmer of your face in those early days, but she can’t get enough of it. You’re her world. Your expressions help her understand that all is alright. But also smile—and perhaps laugh—at yourself. Offer grace in this season. Give yourself space to…
  12. Savor each day. It’s far too easy to count the days. The days to Christmas. To another year. To your baby’s monthly milestones. To the time you can exercise again. To the end of your maternity leave. But this is a precious passage. Let go of expectations and destinations. Enjoy the journey through.

If you have a new baby around, how well are you taking these hopes to heart?

If you will have a baby around soon, how well are you preparing for the pivotal postpartum passage? (If you need help, feel free to connect with me personally.)

And if you don’t have any babies around, this still applies! Don’t merely dismiss this list and move on. Do you see how apropos these points are for so many of life’s transitions? We all thrive on wholesome foods, material and immaterial warmth, community support, and periods of introspection to ponder the miracle and solemnity of life born and sustained. This wish list, while penned with new mothers in mind, isn’t far from what I hope for each of you this season.

Happy Advent!

In this hope-filled season, the mission of Soap Hope rings loud and true: bringing hope to many by investing in women to end poverty. We invite you to support women around the globe—many of them mothers young and old—by gifting your loved ones with products that advance this powerful mission. Here are a few gift-worthy, family-friendly favorites.

Stacy Claxton is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner (FDN-P) and an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner (AHP) specializing in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum care. She offers a range of services that merge the laboratory investigation of her FDN training and her foundational background in Ayurveda and yoga. As an educator and a clinician, she believes strongly in the transformative power of diet and lifestyle and desires to inspire wise stewardship in the realm of holistic health. Stacy is one half of the dynamic duo behind Preparing to Parent (P2P), where she and her identical twin, Erin, are “growing families with purpose…on purpose.” To learn more about Stacy’s private practice and the mission of P2P, please visit www.preparingtoparent.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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