Colic SOS Part 2-Acceptance
This is part 2 of of five strategies you can use to cope with colic. In part one we talked about mindset and how important it is to not blame yourself if your baby has colic. It’s not your fault and you are doing the best you can. Positive thinking and taking time for yourself are crucial to help you find the space and energy to be able to support yourself and your baby in this challenging time.
Accepting big changes
Another key strategy to help you cope with colic is the concept of acceptance. Before you have a baby there is a lot of information given to you about pregnancy and birth, but not so much about what it is like to have a new baby, and even less about colic. Ante natal classes can gloss over the fact that many women are out of hospital after having a baby within 48 hours. This does not give you much of a chance to adjust to this huge life changing event. When a baby is born, so is a mother and this change of identity can be a struggle for many women and bring up issues of who you are, where you now are, what you think you should be and what it means to have responsibility for another life. Personally I believe that these significant changes cannot even begin to be processed in 48 hours. My children are now almost all teenagers and I still have days where I question my identity as a mother. To expect yourself to embrace this role within a few days when you are often tired puts an unfair expectation on yourself and can affect how you bond with your baby.
Mothering the mother
In 97% of cultures in the world, women have at least 7 days confinement to enable them to rest and recover. In many societies it is even longer, with the community supporting you practically and emotionally. Becoming a mother is an incredible event but one which makes you question many aspects of your life, challenges your own experience of being parented and requires you to trust in your own abilities. Acceptance of change enables you to move through more challenging periods of your life with less resistance and more ease and flow. Having a baby means a new life and a new phase of your life. You may have less freedom than before, you may feel emotions that you were not expecting or understand. The key is to listen to these emotions whether you perceive them as “good” or “bad” and embrace them, love them and learn from them. Whatever the experience you are having, it is there to teach you something, to grow from and expand into new ways of thinking or behaving.
Letting Go Of Resistance
So when dealing with a colicky baby, acceptance is a powerful strategy to help you feel more at peace. The first thing to be aware of is that even if this period seems incredibly hard right now, it will pass. It is unusual for a baby to have colic after six months and it normally subsides after 3 months. By accepting that this is simply a period in your life and that will pass with time, you can let go of the feelings of trying to control what is happening. Letting go of trying to control things is a key strategy in happy parenting. By letting go, you can get to a place of acceptance and enjoyment of the current moment and experience. If you feel a negative emotion, don’t be afraid of it, acknowledge it and then let it go. Cry, shout, laugh, whatever you experience let it come and don’t be afraid of what it might mean. Begin to understand what triggers certain feelings and sensations and know that as quickly as one emotion is here, it leaves and another comes. For example the frustration you may have when your baby is unsettled, melts away when he finally sleeps. If your baby is in your arms crying, rather than focusing on getting him to sleep or be settled, try and accept that your baby is just talking to you and telling you what he needs., Focus on the feelings of having him in your arms rather than holding an “end goal” of getting him into bed or to stop crying. Acceptance of emotions is key. Resistance can drain your energy and make you negative.
Acceptance that time may no longer be your own or governed by you is also very important. No one can control time and your baby will definately have his own pace which may not fit with your schedule. Obviously there will be times when you need to be at certain places at certain times but other than that you may have to accept that you can no longer do some of the things you want to do at the times you want to do them. It does not mean that you won’t ever be able to do them in the future, but right now letting those things go means you can focus on being present with your baby. Resistance to change can create emotional and physical blocks creating a sensation of feeling “stuck”. If you let go of the expectation and accept, suddenly life can seem more simple and you feel more positive.
Acceptance and avoiding stress
Acceptance is also important to reduce stress and anxiety, Stress responses in the body originate from the mind. Our sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight” system is triggered when we perceive a threat. This system is crucial to help us avoid danger but can be over activated when we hold a negative mindset. Your baby crying for example, may cause a stress response in your body, particularly if he has been crying a lot because on a instinctive level you perceive this as your baby being in danger, or pain or stress. A simple exercise to try to change your mindset when your baby is crying is;
To accept that this is happening;
To accept that this is just your baby talking to you
To accept it will pass
To accept that the emotion you feel when your baby is crying is showing you what you need to let go of, be that resistance, control, anger or frustration.
Tuning into your baby and meeting his needs by picking him up and offering a cuddle can help to activate the relaxation systems in both your bodies. It is an easy way for you both to feel less anxiety and stress.
Be fearless with your emotions
It is important to acknowledge all emotions. People tend to share happy experiences but shy away from negative or sad ones. All emotions are valid and you should feel free to experience them and share them without fear of judgement. Being vulnerable enables you to be free of the pain of holding in emotions. Holding your baby, getting a cuddle from a friend or meeting up with other mums at a baby massage class can help you to change your perception of a situation from a threat to an experience.When you change your mindset on what is a threatening situation, the stress response in your body will be less sensitive to that event, reframe it and you can reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of stress. Maybe it sounds too easy but that is how our stress system works. Remove the perception of a threat and avoid stress responses in the body. To cultivate this mindset, meditation, self care and connection are crucial. Accept help from others, accept that you are doing an amazing job as a mother and accept that having a baby will have highs and lows but all experiences teach us something.
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