A new Mother is on the phone. She says, “My baby is a week old and I don’t think she’s feeding right!” My heart beats a little faster immediately but I calmly ask her what’s been happening. She may say, “He takes so long to get on and then falls asleep!” or she might say, “She latches on but falls off and I have to keep re-latching” and “my nipples are so sore, last night they were cracked and this morning they’re bleeding!”
There are many other things the Mother of a one week old can say over the phone and it’s only once I’m with her and her baby, that I can “see” what issues there may be. Sometimes when I hear the Mum telling her story so quickly, I feel that she has been containing all of the words for far too long; that no one has been listening. Time is money when you work in Private Practice but I never have the heart nor the desire to cut the Mum off. Waiting until she has said what she wants to before asking if she would like to make an appointment is the first, best thing I can do for her at that moment. I then let her know when I can see her, which is usually pretty quickly. One day is an eternity in the life of a Mother with a poorly feeding baby and bleeding nipples!!
An email address is great to have as well, so I can send the Mum a confirmation letter and some information relating to what we have briefly spoken about. This isn’t going to solve the issues but I think the contact is reassuring and I invite the Mum to tell me her story in greater detail if she wants to. As previously stated, I will probably help her a lot when I see her and her baby but until then, I feel very strongly that the connection cannot be broken. A phone call or an email can really let the Mum know she is not on her own with this any longer. By emailing me her story, she has told someone that there is something not right and for a Mum that is huge.
I love to have a chat with new Mums. One thing I don’t ask is, “Is he a good baby?” I like to find out how they are experiencing Motherhood. I like to hear all of the positives as well as the negatives. I love to share Mother-stories (no names of course) so they know they are not on their own. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and to ask for help. It’s also ok to have none of the issues your friends talk about. As human women, some Mothers, some not, we need to make sure we are mindful of the art of listening. New Mothers need to talk, ask questions and express their joys and fears. They should never feel alone but sadly many are.
Next time you see a young Mother in a plane struggling with her baby, her nappy bag, her carry-on and her handbag – offer to help. If her baby screams during the entire flight try to think of the possibility that his little ears feel like they’re about to burst – don’t huff and puff and tsk tsk tsk. Babies crying in a crowded shopping centre is common place but do you really want that poor Mum to walk from one end to the other trying to find a Mother’s room or will you be tolerant when you see her feeding her little one discreetly in a coffee shop or on a bench? Be Mindful please!!!