Most parents plan meticulously for the birth of their baby. They take childbirth education classes, hire a birth doula, and write out a birth plan. But what happens after the baby arrives? Are you prepared for healing after childbirth and caring for a newborn?
Here's a few helpful tips for planning for a beautiful postpartum experience:
1. Don't be afraid to ask for help. New mothers need to be cared for as much as newborn babies.
Hire a postpartum doula.
Ask a friend, family member, or your doula to set up a Meal Train for you.
Arrange for occasional childcare for older children and light house cleaning for the first few weeks.
2. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Moms with other children at home.. don't roll your eyes at me. I know how hard it can be to rest with kids in the house, but for help with that see tip #1. Sleep deprivation is one of the contributing factors to postpartum mood disorders, so make it your goal to get at least 8 hours of sleep in a 24 hour window. Naps count!
3. Set up postpartum baskets around your house.
Bathroom: peri bottle, postpartum balm/spray, depends underwear, gigantic pads, extra underwear, etc.
Nursing station: breast pads, burp cloths, nipple cream, snacks with protein, a bottle of water, and a book to read.
Baby Changing Station: diapers, wipes, change of clothes, diaper cream, etc.
4. Rest! This is different from sleep. Rest means to reduce your activity level. Birth is one of the most strenuous events of your life. Your body needs time to heal, and rest is essential to healing. Many midwives that I have worked with recommend staying in your bed with your baby for the first 3 days after birth, then in and around your room for the next 3 days, and around your house for the next 3 days. If you prioritize rest and healing, you will have a much smoother postpartum experience.
5. Educate yourself on normal newborn behavior. In utero, your baby was been held and fed continuously for his or her entire existence. Once they are outside of the womb, we should expect the same. It is normal for the baby to want to nurse and be held 24/7. Plan on keeping your baby close and feeding often for the first several days and/or weeks.
Making a plan for your postpartum experience is just as important as planning for your birth.
Do your research, build your support team, and be prepared for your "4th Trimester."
Wishing you a healthy, healing, restful postpartum!