Saturday, March 31, 2012

Before the Big Day

Recently, I assisted a new family at their baby's birthday. I love to help prepare families for the birth of their little ones, but I am often discouraged at the lack of resources for families after the birth. I truly encourage families to use a doula for birth, to help during times of needed comfort emotionally, physically, as well as being full of great additional knowledge, but what do you do after baby comes home? Who will help with meals, sleep arrangements, feedings? Who will help when parents are at their wits end with the new routine? Where do you seek breastfeeding support in the middle of the night? Who will help mom when dad is back to work? It is such a blessing to have your little one home, but to save you from much unneeded stresses, plan ahead for this time as well.

'Planning for birth begins before baby arrives. Planning for the first 6 weeks of postpartum care should begin early too.'

Here are some helpful tips to plan for:
1) To Do List: Make a list of To-Dos for dad or your helpers. Remember that they cannot read your mind and will probably not be able to do it as well as you, but at least those items will be listed and they can
help get your needs met. You could hire a housekeeper or postpartum doula to come over and help with other chores.
2) HELP!: If anyone asks how they can help, don't hesitate to ask! Can they cook for you, run errands, or watch your older children for a while? Let them help. I recommend a great website It is a great way for friends and family to join in by bringing in meals. Remember, you will be so busy tending to the needs of your baby, that you may not have time to prepare meals for you or your family.
3) Visitors: Limit visitors. Everyone will want to come and spend time with you afterwards. This may seem like a wonderful idea, but it can be very stressful for the family to create a bonding time and a routine with baby. Ask everyone to call before arriving. They cannot come empty handed
and expect you to host them. Ask them to limit to 1 hour on the first week and maybe longer the second or third
week. You will need your sleep-I promise. If they have been ill in the last 24 hours, have them wait. Skype them and visit, rather than introducing them in person. Have all wash their hands as soon as they enter the home.

'Your family may not be the best resources for specific concerns such as breastfeeding.'

4) Breastfeeding: Contact a breastfeeding counselor or lactation consultant before you need them. Keep their number on your refrigerator. Ask them if they do house calls or if they are available 24 hours for phone call support.
Find out their office hours. Ask if there is a separate entrance for well babies than sick entrances, if they are located at a medical office or hospital. Chances are, you will most-likely talk to them several times after giving birth. Create a relationship first and get a feel for what support they offer. Often times, doctors are not the best resource for breastfeeding; they will often refer you to a lactation specialist for more one-on-one support. Although they intend
well also, your family may not be the best resources for specific concerns such as breastfeeding.
5) Time Out: Yes, it is okay to get a sitter in the first 6 weeks postpartum.
Just one hour away will help. Go for a walk, go for lunch with a friend, go on a quick date with your spouse, get a pedicure, or just get an errand done. You are not a bad mom if you need a break. The first 6 weeks are the hardest. It is common for moms to get the baby blues or have some form of postpartum depression. Taking a breather will help ease the pressure for both mom, dad, and siblings. Sometimes siblings have a hard time adjusting as well. They may feel left out or stressed also. Arrange a play date for them or send them with a friend or family member, where they can be the center of attention for a while. I have often recommended a date night at least 1 time per month for couples. Whether it is for 1 hour or 3-4 hours, it will help secure the relationship and keep burdens lighter.

These are only a few important notes that I think are important to set before baby comes. Sit down with your spouse and write down some other ideas or concerns that you may have about your postpartum period. If your spouse’s idea is to have his whole family over within the first 2-3 days at home and your idea is to space it out, there could be some added stresses. Work it out and keep on the same page. Your little one will be your priority, but little issues like this could hinder your first few weeks of bonding. Talk about routines, bills to be paid, groceries to be purchased, visitors, arrangements for other children or pets, meals, etc. Get a plan and enjoy your new family!

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