I’m sharing this with you as an hour is nothing in the scale of things and before you know, you’re looking back 9 months, 4 years or 15 years later, going ‘Oh yeah, why didn’t I ….’. So I'm saving you the regret but also helping you to maximise the positive benefits of those birth hormones.
So the hour after birth for most people, emotions are filled with orgasmic, elated and positive vibes. There is just nothing like the feeling that-
A)- You have actually come to the end of your labour.
B) You have birthed a human being.
C) That you now have your body back (well- so you think)
D) Bloody well done me!
Add to this a mix of an enormous amount of oxytocin, that is released during and after birth and the affirmation of anyone in the room that you are a 'true warrior' and you really do warrant a pass card. What I mean by this, is that it’s perfectly understandable for you to kick back, allow midwives or birth partner to assist with the baby and zone out.
Why am I saying this? Well this was me 15 years ago. I make no secret of the fact that I just ‘rocked up’ to birth (definitely wouldn’t advise this). It was an Ok experience- so I thought at the time, but it was also an out of body experience, for all the wrong reasons. It was like someone was driving the car, but I was sitting in the driving seat and my body parts were being controlled.
Anyway, my birth was quite quick and when it was over (due to the lack of control and knowledge of what was really going on) I was so bloody relieved that I just ‘kicked back’. After the initial holding of my baby, he was taken for weighing and the usual stock check (I didn’t question this as I’d seen it on the telly). I then instructed my husband to change him and dress him, because quite frankly, I was slightly in shock and wanted to have a moment to come back to reality.
Looking back, birth had ‘happened’ to me- I wasn't really a part of it and I certainly wasn’t aware of the narrative as it unfolded. I wanted to feel like me again and pretend that I was still Louise. What I did miss out on was the bonding and enjoying the moment. I had midwives in the room- one of which felt the need to tell me I had previously taught her daughter (I mean if anytime was the wrong time to have this conversation it was now).
Excitement set in and we then proceeded to contact as many people as possible with the news. I totally get that you want to shout from the rooftops- but it actually makes no difference to other people’s lives the time your baby is born. Whenever they find out, they will be just as excited and happy for you.
I wish I had just allowed myself to be. Had held my boy tight, asked to be alone for that first hour. Soaked up all the emotions and given my brain, my body and my heart the time it needed to make that transition into motherhood.
So what would I tell that 27 year old first time mother?
Apart from seek out birth prep obvs! Don’t be quick for the time to go, don’t try to move forward to the next thing. Honour that important hour- it’s not called ‘The Golden Hour’ for no reason. Try your hardest to keep your baby on you with skin to skin (there has been evidence that breastfeeding is more likely to be successful when doing this).
Acknowledge that passage into parenthood. There will plenty of moments, days and opportunities for others to be involved in your journey, but this moment will not happen again. Ask to be left alone, delay the weighing and spend an hour soaking up the beauty in your arms. For this is the most important relationship you will ever have and it needs to be honoured.