By Lesley Gilchrist, Founder of My Expert Midwife
Fact: Women have been conceiving and giving birth forever. In fact, it’s such a common occurrence that we often forget just what an amazing and miraculous achievement this is. The superpowers women and their babies have: from the menstrual cycle, surging hormones and female fertility right through to conception, growing, and birthing an entire human being. Our bodies are truly phenomenal.
These superpowers are particularly noticeable throughout the first six weeks of a baby’s life, where Mum is quite simply Superwoman! This starts the second that baby is born, and lactation begins – the fuel and sustenance for this brand-new life.
When your baby is born, a new you is also born; you go through a transformation called Matrescence which has physical, emotional and hormonal impacts. In this article, I’ll share all about those superpowers possessed by women and babies; from baby’s microbiome which is an invisible living shield protecting them from birth, their super-shallow sleeping power which reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and the original superfood – breastmilk – the most powerful, personalised medicine. And let’s not forget the mother of all superpowers…maternal instinct, safely guiding you throughout this incredible new chapter.
The incredible living shield (the microbiome)
At birth, your baby’s skin is a blank canvas. Once they’re out in the world they need their skin and gut to be protected by their own incredible living shield comprising trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. This is their microbiome, as unique as their fingerprint, which they get from Mum’s skin, the air around them and even during birth. The microbiome acts a protective mechanism which adapts throughout their life to help them fight infections and diseases.
The original super food
Breastmilk is living tissue that not only provides nutrition but also important antibodies, stem cells, gut sealants, hormones and prebiotics. Just one teaspoon has over 3 million germ killing cells in it providing an abundance of beneficial bacteria. Your milk is the perfect fuel to power your baby’s health and development. In essence it is the most powerful, personalised medicine tailor-made to meet the needs of your baby.
Super natural skincare
Recent research conducted by My Expert Midwife to 1,000 new parents – with children under one – shows that 58% prioritise clean, natural ingredients and this is extremely important. Babies are born coated in a protective layer of vernix, an amazing thick, white, protective substance made up of fats and proteins which are slowly absorbed by their skin. A full-term baby’s skin is 30% thinner than that of an adult (premature and unwell babies have even thinner skin) making it more vulnerable and therefore more prone to irritation, damage and dryness, so it needs our support and care to thrive. One of my favourite moisturising products is the Mega Mild Moisturising Milk which contains softening grape, argan and rosehip oils, and soothing oat kernel to be gentle and hydrating to baby’s skin.
Sensational sleep synchrony
Ever wondered why your baby wakes up several times during the night? Babies have a clever built-in mechanism that helps to protect them from SIDS so frequent waking functions act as a circuit breaker in the brain. Frequent waking is most common in the first six months, after which most babies tend to sleep for longer stretches. So, embrace those waking hours and marvel at how incredible your baby is.
Recharge to unleash
The shine on new parenthood can quickly become tarnished when you have a newborn baby to care for whilst recovering from the physical and mental toll of pregnancy, labour and birth. Don’t be scared to harness the support of those around you – it really does take a village and often the speed of recovery depends on not being afraid to ask for help!
The supreme superpower: maternal instinct
Maternal instincts are widely acknowledged in mammals but have been relegated to myth by parenting coaches and consultants. Don’t be fooled, maternal instincts really are incredible. Humans are mammals and feel an almost gravitational pull towards our babies, helping to keep them safe. We’re not talking about ‘learned behaviours’ such as breastfeeding or knowing what’s causing your baby to cry, we’re talking about the instincts that wake you in the night to check on your baby, the instinct to know that the ‘shush’ noise is the same sound baby heard in the womb – how did we know this before scans showed us?
All parents have instincts, but the foetal stem cells circulating in mum’s body are a true testament that the ‘maternal instinct’ is the supreme superpower. Those cells that we share with our unborn babies connect us intrinsically and intuitively so that we can communicate our emotions. So, a massive shout out to women everywhere and the superpowers that midwives like us marvel at every day, powering them to achieve what would be impossible for mere mortals.
To celebrate the launch of their new baby range, My Expert Midwife is on a mission to address the inaccurate and often conflicting information out there, set the record straight and celebrate the real superpowers of parents. To find out more visit www.myexpertmidwife.com