Mothering the new mom

In all the hullaballoo surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, the collection of baby necessities and the study of baby care, moms-to-be tend to overlook what might happen in the hospital after a baby is born. At St.Vincent Women’s Hospital, Monogram Maternity Nurses Sharon Johns and Kathy Ryan focus on making that time as soothing as possible so that moms leave the hospital feeling calm, confident and ready to take on their new role.

“It’s palpable when you walk into a room and see a mom who’s really anxious about how she’s going to do this — to be a mother, to handle all of the decisions ahead of her and to be responsible for this life,” Kathy said. “If a mom leaves here feeling stressed, that starts the baby’s life in one direction. It’s very different from what happens with a mom who’s been mothered herself.

“That care changes everything.”

Part of the “mothering” that goes into helping get a new mom into a calm, confident frame of mind is plain old talk, preparation and support. Other successful elements have been aromatherapy and massage. Kathy and Sharon have found that a little essential oil and a few moments of hand massage in a quiet, darkened room have done wonders for making new moms feel ready to overcome anxiety and get started confidently on their new family life.

“How you leave the hospital really sets the tone,” Kathy said. “If you’re not ready to meet the challenge, you’re going to have a more difficult time, and what we do here can help take off a lot of the stress that new moms might feel.”

Sharon makes sure new moms consider their “unspoken suitcases” — the fears and anxieties they have about what happens after childbirth.

“When I close childbirth classes,” Sharon said, “I always share, ‘You’re going to make mistakes. It’s part of the process. But children are really resilient. And they don’t know you’ve made mistakes.’

“There’s a lot of grace in that.”

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