2020 certainly has been a year when we've shifted focus. The important things in life came rushing in, square and centre and less time being human doings and more time being Human beings has forced many of us to confront or change aspects of life that we don't wish to take forward with us into this new decade. We are buying less needless stuff and appreciating the important things in life. So what if there is new life on the horizon for your family? What useful gifts could we buy that will bring comfort as well as the excitement that a bit of Christmas shopping can bring?
Here are my top 5 recommendations for things the expectant parents in your life may not know they'd like, but these are things they'll thank you for later.
1. A Cranio-sacral therapy session: When babies are born, whether a natural birth or caesarian, it is an experience that involves a physical squeeze! Sometimes this can impact how in alignment our bodies are. After a while this can lead to other niggles as our bodies naturally try to compensate. Check yours for a moment. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Are your shoulders level? If not a session with a cranio sacral therapist might help. For mums and babies who have just gone through the birthing process, my experience and those of the people who take my advice, is that cranio can dramatically improve sleep patterns for babies. Sometimes after only one session (but expect to go for 3 or 4). In Bristol I use Mala at the Chandos Road Clinic.
2. Amby Baby Hammock: Its been a while since my babies were born, but having one with reflux meant there was very little sleep in the early weeks. This special baby hammock allows babies to sleep curled up like they did in the womb, and the gentle bouncing motion helps to match the environment that they are used to so it eases them back to sleep. Mine was a god send after 12 weeks of next to no sleep AND it fits conveniently next to your bed, so you can easily bring your baby into your bed if he wakes up and needs to be fed or snuggled back to sleep. Brand new, they are definitely an investment, but you can usually pick one up from eBay for under £100.
3. Baby Sling: Baby wearing is all the rage, but be warned, it takes a bit of practice. You can buy new or think about paying for the hire of a great slings from the local Sling Library. The favourite among my friends was the Ergo Wrap (you can get it from John Lewis). The thing to watch out for with a sling is how the baby is positioned when they are in it. Some slings have poor support for baby's pelvis, so its akin to an adult sitting on a bar stool for hours on end with no foot rest. This means certain slings are NOT very comfortable and won't give you a contented baby while you try to get on with your day. People who run sling libraries are trained to help you find a sling that fits you as well as teach you how to handle yours when you get it home.
4. Postnatal Angels: Having a new baby brings highs and lows for new parents. It's a time when some extra emotional or practical help can help smooth the path in the early weeks and months. I know firsthand what its like if there's no family nearby who could provide help. What I didn't realise was that a postnatal doula can do that. So if the new parents in your life are facing the prospect of some long days on their own or they don't yet realise how big a challenge tidying up, cooking dinner and feeding themselves can seem like when a new baby arrives, how about getting them a gift voucher with a doula. £40 should cover the cost of a couple of hours that might facilitate the best gift ever if they use it to have a proper relaxing nap.
5. Lavender: A drop of lavender essential oil added to the bath can help you relax and aromatherapists tell me its antiseptic too.And if the new mum is a bit swollen down below, try taking a bath a bit cooler than your normal can help give some relief too. (taken from page 110 of my book 'The Smart Woman's Guide to Giving Birth' - on amazon here).
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