Meeting my babies for the first time was magical. My initial sighs of relief were always followed with an intense need to snuggle them close. I was also bombarded with so many thoughts, including, "Are they OK?" and, "It's all right, baby" and, "Hello, I'm your mommy." It was an incredible and intense experience, so during the golden hour all I wanted was some privacy so I could get to know my babies and enjoy those happy love hormones. In fact, there are things a new mom shouldn't have to ask for during the golden hour, privacy included, because after the work she's put in to bring a new human being into the world, she shouldn't have to do much of anything at all.
After each one of my babies were born, my needs were pretty simple. Once it was established that my baby was OK, the placenta was delivered, and my stitches were placed, all I really wanted was some privacy, some snuggles, and a damn snack. I didn't, however, appreciate being told I needed to vacate the room (which totally happened after my first baby was born), which meant that I needed to get up and walk rather than spend time with my baby. I also didn't appreciate visitors wanting to get their baby fix before my baby and I had a chance to get acquainted. In my opinion, the baby should be held by mom first, then her partner, and then mom again and until she is ready to let someone else have a turn (so, you know, check back in a few months).
Childbirth is an overwhelming experience, but once the main event is over it's possible to help ease new moms into postpartum life by offering comfort, support, and some damn peace and quiet, especially during the golden hour. Sadly, and usually, that's not what actually happens. No one asked me what I wanted or needed during that first hour of each of my babies' lives, and I wasn't really capable of adequately expressing my needs. I was so hungry, tired, and vulnerable, not ready for visitors, and I desperately needed to rest with my baby after my challenging pregnancy and long labor. In other words, new moms are exhausted. So if you want to continue to care for their wellbeing while they bond with their babies, give them the following things without them having to ask for them:
Yeah, I know that after birth all eyes and focus are on the baby, but I could have used someone to care about me, too. Especially considering that I had high-risk pregnancies and wasn't fully out of the woods once my babies left my body. While some of the nursing staff was great, others made me feel like a burden or an unpleasant part of their jobs. I felt so alone and unheard.
I was freaking hungry after birth, especially considering the fact that I had just done the physical equivalent of running a marathon on no food or drinks (other than ice chips, which absolutely does not count don't fight me on this). Not only did no one tell me I could order food, but by the time I asked the kitchen was closed, so my husband had to run out and get something. Not cool.
I know it might seem a bit silly, since most of the people in the room had just seen parts of me usually reserved for the third date, but I really wanted people to respect my privacy. Not everyone feels comfortable being topless in front of strangers and once the excitement of childbirth wore off, I really wanted to be left alone more than anything else.
The same goes for privacy on social media, too. I found out after the fact that my sister had posted a birth announcement on Facebook and before I could. It hurt.
Someone To Take A Picture
I wanted to capture these first moments with my babies, but each time I asked someone to take our picture, they acted as if it was a strange and unreasonable request. WTF?
To Hold Her Baby
When my oldest son was born, he needed to go to the NICU to be checked out. My now ex-husband got to hold him while they measured and weighed him, and then they walked out of the room without letting me even touch him. I found out later that I could have gone with him, but no one told me what was and wasn't OK. I was pissed.
To Lower The Lights
The birthing suite can be really bright and intense during delivery. Afterwards, I just wanted someone to dim the lights so I could ease my baby and myself back into the world.
Someone To Run Interference With Visitors
The last time I gave birth I didn't have a single visitor post-delivery. It was so freaking awesome. I wish that the first two times someone had run interference so I could just have a moment or two alone with my baby, and then put myself back together before hosting a party in the delivery room.
A Break From Medical Tests
When possible, it's nice to have a break from being poked, prodded, and touched by strangers, especially during the golden hour. I mean, I get that nurses have a check items off their list, but maybe give us new moms a moment?
When my older son was born, no one told me anything. They took him from me, weighed and measured him, and then left the room with him before I even delivered the placenta, as if I wasn't there. It was so frustrating and nerve-wracking. I am certain I would have done better with just a little bit of information about how he was doing.
Then a new nurse came in and started demanding that I get up, use the bathroom, and fill out paperwork. I kept asking if it could wait, but apparently I was on a clock.
To Feed Her Baby How She Chooses
As a mom with insufficient glandular tissue and undersupply, I knew that I would need to supplement with formula when my youngest two babies were born. It was so frustrating and hurtful to have my feeding plan questioned by everyone who walked in the room. I wish I was exaggerating. I mean, why bother asking me how I plan to feed my baby if you are going to question and challenge that decision? It was so invalidating and condescending, and at a time when I deserved support.