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Lying In

All of our clients have the opportunity and expectation that they will spend the first week after the birth at home and in bed with their baby. While this is a challenge in our busy world, mothers come back to me with joy to share how valuable this time was in their relationship with their baby - and in their life!

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“I could never stay in bed for a whole week!” said one of my friends. “That sounds dreadful.”


To me, a week in bed didn’t sound so bad. I remembered the days following the birth of my first child, who had been born in a hospital. The day after his birth, I spent my time up and about the hospital room in a successful attempt to prove I was well enough to go home. When we were finally released, exhausted, at 8 pm, we had only a little time to acclimatize ourselves to the fact that we now had a small child to care for. The next morning the doctor’s orders were to make the twenty-minute drive to his office for a checkup. Not long afterwards was the one-week checkup. Meanwhile, our sleep was being interrupted many times each night. Life seemed hectic, sleepless, miserable. It was no surprise that breastfeeding was difficult; I never seemed to have the restful leisure to work sufficiently on our latch. Over the next two months, I spent perhaps seven or more days in bed at various times because of plugged ducts. If only I had simply taken the seven days following the birth of the baby, perhaps that could have been avoided.


Now, as I expected my second child, I was looking forward to “lying in.” I was not entirely free from concerns, though. How would my husband handle the coordination of watching our two-year-old, making meals, catching up with laundry, and keeping the house from turning into a disaster zone? Would I really have the freedom to stay in bed? Would my family and friends condemn me as a lazy bum?


To complicate matters, our baby was born just a week before Christmas. My husband spent the week as Dad, Mom, nurse, and Santa Claus. It looked to me to be one of the more exhausting times of his life.


I spent my days working on breastfeeding, enjoying my tiny new baby girl, and catching up on sleep. My baby needed lots of training in how to breastfeed, but I had lots of time to give her. We napped together. Sometimes I would shower or take an herbal bath while my husband or my mom gave the baby a sunbath. My nights included the interruptions normal to some newborns, but that did not matter to me – I could count on a good nap the next day. My baby and I quickly learned to nurse lying down, which made our nights even easier.


Friends who brought me dinner were amazed at my midwife’s “strictness”. How could any woman be expected to deal with a forced week in bed, particularly a woman with a 2-year-old? I just smiled peacefully and insisted, “I have nowhere to go and nothing to do. I get to sit around all day and enjoy my baby. This is the best part of giving birth at home.”


I basked in the knowledge that I had no appointments to keep. Sena and Rebekah came to me, and did all the newborn checkups right there on my bed. My mom, two sisters, and several friends helped us with meals. Everything tasted so healthy and delicious.


When I realized that my 2-year-old son needed some time with me, I read him stories in bed and let him nap with us.


I had one dilemma: although not allowed to leave my bed, I still had Christmas shopping to do. I had not expected my baby to come so early. My husband took care of most of my shopping, but I did not want to send him on errands to get his own presents from me! Instead, I enlisted the help of each of my siblings to get me the various items I needed. Then my youngest sister brought me wrapping paper, tape, and scissors, and we sat there on the bed together and wrapped presents.


Finally Christmas arrived. I arose from my bed, refreshed, relaxed, and cheerful. Nursing was going well and I felt ready to conquer the world.


I knew my lying-in week had been an exhausting one for my husband. I was surprised, then, to hear him tell family and friends, “That lying-in week was the best!”


He explained to me, “Last time you gave birth, you were up and around right away. For the next month and a half, you were sleep deprived, crying a lot, struggling to breastfeed, and just barely functioning. This time was quite the opposite. You stayed in bed for a week, and then got up and were normal and cheerful.”


Next time I give birth, I am committed to that week in bed!

- Kate F

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