Life with a newborn can be a pretty intense time, whether it is your first baby or your third, each baby and postpartum experience is different. This period can be described as a time of extremes: extreme love, extreme joy, extreme overwhelm, and extreme exhaustion. While adjusting to life with a baby has many unknowns, building your resiliency can help you cope. Your postpartum plan should be as important as your birth plan. In cultures all around the world, new mothers are encouraged to do little else but rest and recover while caring for their new baby. Recreating the “laying in” period for postpartum healing and bonding can make a big impact on a mother’s well-being. In our fast paced lives we often don’t honor this time as we should.
Create a list of what types of support you think you may need and line up your team members, while making peace with accepting help. For some families this may be your parents, in-laws, good friends or a doula you can enlist to help with household tasks such a laundry, meal prep, running errands or helping out with older siblings. Give them specific tasks. Build a community of like minded people who are going through similar experiences who you can turn to for support and advice, such as neighbors, friends, or local and on-line parenting groups.
During pregnancy, find resources for medical providers and support people who have experience working with postpartum families: a trusted pediatrician, lactation consultant, massage therapists or chiropractors who do home visits. Doulas are a reliable way to ensure that you get the hands on, emotional, and informational support you need. If you have experienced depression or anxiety in the past, find a therapist who is experienced with postpartum mood disorders.
Make a plan for how you will feed yourself and your family. Fill your freezer with pre-made meals before baby arrives. Be sure to include bite sized, protein packed snacks and food you can eat with one hand. Having a reliable friend help you set up a meal train can help you feel cared for and nourished.
New parents may experience a discrepancy between what they think having a baby is going to be like versus actuality, but with prenatal education, the learning curve will be shorter. Take childbirth, breastfeeding and newborn care classes. Purchase must-have items pre-baby. Having a wrap or baby carrier that both parents can use isn’t a must-have, but can be great for baby soothing. Preparing for everything a baby will bring is impossible, so take care of the things that can be accomplished ahead of time. Having tools to help with day to day demands, exhaustion and emotions in the fourth trimester can allow new families to feel more prepared for a better future outcome.
Image Credit: Janice Fransisco