Although having a baby is typically viewed as a magical time, it is also true that life as a new parent can be isolating and exhausting. Add in to the mix the fact that you may be making the transition to parenthood away from the support of your family and the familiarity of your home country and the early months of being a new parent can seem a bit bewildering.
Kate Ensor, who works with the Well Baby Clinic of Luxembourg asbl and Passage Parent Support Group, is at hand to show you where to go for any support you might need in your baby’s first year, from breastfeeding, to beating the baby blues and getting back in shape.
Support with Feeding
For some mums and babies breastfeeding comes naturally. For many more of us it is a skill that both mum and baby have to master and it can take practice and plenty of patience. Breastfeeding is encouraged here and there are excellent midwives in your hospital who can offer you support in getting breastfeeding established, if that is what you would like.
Once you are home you can go to one of the regular drop in sessions at the Well Baby Clinic for breastfeeding support and advice or contact La Leche League who offer group meetings and telephone support. You can also request continued help from one of the specialist breastfeeding midwives at your hospital or contact a Sage-Femme Liberale, a midwife who can visit you in your own home. Depending on your baby’s age and your personal circumstances a visit/s from a Sage-Femme may be reimbursable. Speak with your Doctor or contact les Sages-femmes direct for more information.
Support for new parents is also offered by the Ligue-Medico Sociale who hold regular drop in sessions in all communes where you can get advice from a medical professional on your baby’s feeding and weight. You don’t need to make an appointment, but do take along your baby’s vaccination card and Carnet de Santé (health record book) along.
Initiativ Liewensfrank are a Luxembourg organisation who also offer breastfeeding support to parents in Luxembourgish, French, and German and, on request, English.
Post-natal Support Groups
Becoming a family also inevitably has an effect on your key relationships, with partner, friends and family. Building a new parent support network here in Luxembourg can really help to make the transition to parenthood easier.
Once you know where to look there are lots of friendly groups and fun activities to get involved with as a new parent here in Luxembourg. In fact, many new mums find that having a baby creates an ideal opportunity to meet a new group of friends.
You may have already met a group of new mum friends during your pre-natal classes. There are also plenty of post natal groups where you and your baby can go to socialise. The Well Baby Clinic of Luxembourg is a not-for-profit organisation which offers a range of services for new mums including regular Wednesday morning coffee mornings. Mums, Bumps and Babies Group is probably Luxembourg’s original mummy get-together and has been established for around 20 years. It still meets once a fortnight offering new mums an opportunity to enjoy coffee and conversation with each other as well as the chance to weigh their baby or ask the advice of a qualified Health Professional.
Mum-to-Mum is a mum and baby group which provides a relaxed environment to talk about the ups and downs of being a parent and share the latest information and ideas about topics of interest to new parents. If you are looking for a group that supports you and your baby to bond and have fun together then Baby Massage is perfect for younger babies whilst Fit and Fun for Baby and Mum incorporates gentle postnatal exercise and play.
Initiativ Liewensufrank are a Luxembourg organisation who exist to support parents through pregnancy, birth and the early years of life as a parent. They offer parenting courses, activities to do with your baby and counselling services in Luxembourgish, French, German and, on request, English.
Expat groups like the British Ladies Club and the American Women’s Club also organise English speaking groups and activities for parents and babies, and members of any nationality are welcome. Luxmama club is also a popular resource for new mums and organises regular social and learning events for new mums. Social networking is another option to explore with sites such as Meetup Luxembourg providing valuable forums where Luxembourg parents and parents to be can plan and organise get togethers.
The Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression
It is very common to feel sad and tearful in the first week or so after your baby is born, but these feelings usually pass. However, postnatal depression (PND) is thought to affect around 1 in 10 new mums (dads can also suffer). It can start within one or two months of having your baby but symptoms may take longer to appear. It can affect mums from any social group and can also affect second, third or fourth time mums even if you haven’t subsequently suffered. PND can also affect dads. Research in to the causes of PND is on-going but factors such as the strain of becoming a parent, anxiety, a difficult birth, feeling isolated or unsupported or a previous episode of depression can all contribute. For parents suffering from PND, common symptoms could include some or many of the symptoms listed below:
- Feeling very low, or despondent
- Having difficulty in concentrating or making decisions.
- Feeling very lethargic and not want to do anything or take an interest in the outside world.
- Feeing a sense of inadequacy and not able to cope and perhaps feeling guilty about not coping, or about not loving their baby enough.
- Being unusually irritable
- Crying a lot or even constantly.
- Having obsessive and irrational thoughts which can be very scary.
- Losing their appetite and having difficulty sleeping
- Feeling hostile or indifferent to their partner and/or baby.
- Having panic attacks
- Experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches.
- Having disturbing thoughts about harming themselves or their baby.
If you suspect you may have PND it is important to ask for support. You can talk to your Doctor or visit one of the postnatal support groups run by the Well Baby Clinic of Luxembourg. Group support, counselling, exercise and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy have all been shown to be helpful in treatment of PND and a potential alternative or complement to medication. Please ask for support if you think you may be affected.
Day Care Options
It is also reassuring to know that there are lots of high quality crèches and nurseries here in the Grand Duchy. However, demand can be high, so it is a good idea to start investigating your options and visiting potential crèches well in advance of when you would actually like a place. Many crèches operate in French and there are also a number of international crèches. The Government publishes Le Premier Guide Officiel des Crèches du Grande Duchy de Luxembourg which lists all the crèche facilities in Luxembourg by area. Helpfully, Paediatric Doctors are also listed in this guidebook which can be accessed or ordered online.
For more information on childcare related benefits, watch out for our new article on Family Family Allowances and Benefits. Coming soon!
Getting Back into Shape
As a new mum, your body has performed the miracle of growing and nurturing your baby as well as giving birth. Gentle exercise focussing on the postnatal body can help your body recover and regain strength. As well as being an excellent preparation for birth, Yoga is a perfect exercise to aid the recovery of your body once the baby is born. For more information on where you can do yoga see the City Savvy Guide to Yoga in Luxembourg. Pilates is another excellent choice in terms of postnatal exercise, focussing on developing core stability. If you would like to enjoy yoga and pilates based exercises with your baby, Well Baby Clinic’s Fit and Fun for Baby and Mum offer the opportunity to have fun with your baby while you focus on your own physical fitness and psychological wellbeing.
Walking is also an excellent postnatal exercise and has been shown to have a positive impact on cases of mild Postnatal Depression. Luxembourg has plenty of breath-taking scenery and many picturesque parks and gardens to explore and taking your baby out for a walk in buggy or sling is not only great exercise for you, the fresh air and daylight can also help to aid your baby’s sleep.
If fitness classes aren’t really your thing, why not make the most of the fantastic facilities at Luxembourg’s swimming pools and take your baby swimming? Many local pools also offer special courses to help teach you baby to swim. See City Savvy’s top 10 indoor pools list here.
Feature photo: Mindy Olson P/Unsplash