Newborn help is the difference between post-natal depression and happy motherhood

Published: 22/11/2017

A mum of two boys (12 and 9), Leilah was brought up in a large family with four siblings, and many more cousins. She’s always had so much love for children that she needed to channel her excess love outside of the family.

She started out as a social worker, hoping to make a positive difference. And she did. But then someone introduced her to maternity nursing and that was just the perfect fit for her: working with babies + helping mothers = making one big positive difference, for one family at a time!

Having gone through two c-sections herself, she knows very well what it means to need help. Her husband has always worked a lot, and most of her family is in her native Uganda. She was left to her own devices when her babies were born.

Leilah, how do you feel about helping other mothers when you didn’t have the help yourself?

I know too well how important newborn help is, and now I can make the early days experience better for someone else. Newborn help is so important, it can mean the difference between PND (post-natal depression) and happy motherhood. The lack of sleep in mothers is grossly underestimated. Lack of sleep quickly leads to some form of depression, and low milk supply, which in turn upsets mothers even more. I get my joy through a positive impact on one mother at a time. I share my love, I reassure them, and ultimate I help build their confidence. That’s my reward.

Do you see much difference between first-time mums and experienced mums?

Yes, and no. The second-time mums are surely more confident, but they too are exhausted – and sometimes more so because of the older sibling – and they too need all the help they can get.

What do mums need the most in the early days?

Mums need rest, first and foremost. They need time to heal, to regain their energy. The next step is to get their baby into a good routine that works for both mum and baby.

What are the most common “sin” parents commit with their babies?

They hold their baby for too long. I know, I know… When, if not when they are babies, parents are supposed to hold their children?! I’m not crazy; it really is in the best interest of both parents and their babies to teach them good sleeping habits from the very beginning. Like adults, babies need their own space too and should learn how to self-soothe and self-settle as early as possible. You see, if they always need to be held and rocked to fall asleep (and stay asleep!), that’s simply too exhausting for parents, and also not good for the babies. If babies are being help they rarely get to sleep deeply, which is so important for their immune system and overall development. But don’t get me wrong – I’m all for an occasional snuggle!

What is your position on breastfeeding v. formula feeding?

We need to respect the mother’s choice. As long as a baby is full, settled, and growing normally there is no need for formula milk. Formula is thicker and takes longer to digest though, hence can “stretch” baby feeds a bit further apart.

What is your typical working schedule?

I mostly do nights, up to six nights a week. I like to take Sundays off to go to church, but I sometimes make an exception when parents are in a really dire situation, or around the holiday period when a lot of nurses go away or have their own family plans. But parents still need help!

At what time in the baby’s life would you suggest parents get help from a night nanny or maternity nurse?

Ideally, as soon as the baby is born. It’s best to invest early on so that parents enjoy the benefits of help from the get-go, and before any bad habits develop (e.g. having to hold a baby to sleep). If bad habits do form, that’s not a problem, it just takes longer to break them.

But a lot of people have family visiting early on. Aren’t grandparents enough of a help?

Yes, but… [smile]. I’m all for family help. But let’s face it, at the end of the day, most grandparents are visitors who make parents, especially mothers even more tired. (There are exceptions though, and those grandparents should be beyond celebrated!!)

Which are your favourite baby products?

I swear by the large muslin squares from Aden+Anais. They are so soft and versatile. Just make sure you get the large ones. I also love coconut oil from Nutiva. It’s great for nappy rash, baby massage and cradle cap.

What do you like doing in your free time?

I love spending time at home, with my family and my two boys who are growing up too fast. I like going out for dinners – Chinese, Mexican and Indian (but not too spicy) are my favourite.

What are your hopes for the future?

Happy mothers and happy babies! And as much as I’d love to help all of them, I hope to have the opportunity to help at least a few of them.

For more information on the newborn support we offer, check out our blog on Expert advice for new mums and mums-to-be.

Tamarins are monkeys who parent in family groups – like a village – helping each other while children are small.

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