It's a hard truth that most moms will find it impossible to put themselves first after baby is born. But you need TLC too! Guest authors Sarah Schwartz and Lynn Anne Linahan from Our Baby Class share with us some great ways to plan ahead so that everyone gets the rest and recovery time they need postpartum. ~Katie
We are here to let you in on a little secret: baby isn’t the only one who needs some TLC after they are born – mamas do too! New parents, relatives, and friends often get consumed by the adorableness (and neediness) of a newborn, but it’s so important to remember that women are going through lots of physical, emotional, and hormonal changes after birth and also need some extra love and attention!
Here are a few tips for new moms (and their partners/family/friends) to consider before baby is born.
Physically, A LOT goes on with your body. After birth, rest and go easy on yourself.
Your body goes through so much in 10 months. You grow and nourish a baby! That’s a lot of work! And then, in just a few hours (or days) you birth that baby! Even more work.
In the days after your baby is born, rest as much as possible. Ideally, you and baby stay in bed for 3-4 days, and then move to the couch for the 3-4 days or more after that. This time is called the lying in period, which is practiced in many cultures around the world. By taking things slowly your first week postpartum, you give your body a chance to heal and rest, and you are able to focus on establishing a great nursing relationship and strong bond with your baby.
You might be thinking, “yeah right!” There’s no way I’ll stay in bed for several days. There will be visitors to see, laundry to do, meals to eat, etc. We get that, we really do. But this will be the first time of many (as a new parent) that you’ll practice letting go! If you focus on resting and bonding and not much else, it’ll pay off!
Protect your family time, and accept and ask for help from family and friends.
Before your baby is born, chat with your partner about visitors. Often, friends and family want to come over right away and see your precious baby! It’s a very exciting time for all. Sometimes entertaining visitors can be overwhelming for new parents. New moms will need lots of extra time to care for her healing body (nothing like having a room full of guests wondering why you’ve been in the bathroom for 45 minutes and not being able to call in your partner to “come see if this is normal”) and, if breastfeeding, entertaining guests could interfere with establishing the nursing relationship as quickly, depending on mom’s level of modesty.
You and your partner may decide that you don’t want visitors for a number of days after baby is born, or that you’ll only have a select few people (who you think will be helpful to you). Don’t be afraid to accept help when people offer, and ask for specific help when you need it! Most people are happy to help and appreciate knowing specifically what to do. Things like bringing a pizza from your favorite take out place, doing a load of dishes, or folding a basket (or 2) of laundry while you chitchat are simple options that people will feel good about doing. If you do accept visitors during the first few weeks, staying in your pajamas on the couch or in bed and keeping the house calm and quiet are easy ways to clue them in that you are not up for extended visits.
Many couples designate the non-birthing parent as the person who communicates with family and friends about visiting and other things. Talking about these things pre-baby helps ensure that you and your partner are on the same page. And sometimes feelings and plans change after the baby arrives so don’t worry about offending people. Do what’s best for your family!
Embrace your postpartum body, be patient, and focus on feeling good!
Your body goes through lots of physical changes after pregnancy. Your uterus will shrink back to its normal size, your organs will return to their proper places, and hormones are finding their new balance. Things may be unfamiliar and different from your pre-baby body even after you are back to your original weight. You may feel anxious to get that ‘pre-baby body’ back. Remember that all women are different: some lose weight quickly, while others hold onto extra pounds for longer.
Focus on eating healthy, hearty foods that fuel your body (did you know nursing moms need about an additional 500 calories?), setting realistic and safe workout goals, and being patient and embracing your body. We talk to many women who are anxious to get back into their pre-baby clothes, and if that works out, then great. We often recommend that if women are feeling down because they are ready to ditch maternity clothes but a lot of their clothing doesn’t fit well, it’s well worth it to treat yourself to some new items that you feel good in! It can make a huge difference in how you feel day-to-day.
And here’s the last thing, mamas.
Having a baby is amazing. It’s also a huge change and can be really tough at times. You’ll be tired, your hormones will be adjusting, and it’s completely normal to feel a wide range of emotions (from joy and love to sadness and anxiety). Talk about this with your partner before the baby is born, and share and discuss ways he/she can help support you and stay in tune to your emotional health. If your feelings are overwhelming or they don’t level out around 2 weeks after birth, it’s important to speak to your doctor.
Getting out and meeting other moms can make a big difference in your emotional health and sanity! You will rediscover yourself and your partner as parents and sometimes the process can be challenging. It’s so nice to know that you are not alone in what you are going through. Once you settle in at home and rest up, get out there and find other mamas to share and connect with – create your village!
Lynn and her husband have 3 children with their 4th on the way! Lynn has worked over the past 12 years as a photographer and designer in various full time and freelance positions. In 2012, Lynn becoming certified as a teacher and mentor to new families in the Philadelphia are. Her classes cover how to have healthy pregnancies, births, what to expect those first few months as a new family, and babywearing consultation and classes. Connect with Lynn on Facebook
I am the mama of three little ones, ages 4, 2, and 6 months. I am a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom and I love spending my days with my little crew. When I became pregnant five years ago, I quickly realized how essential the support from other parents was, so I became an OBC educator to help parents connect with each other and feel confident in their new role. I am very excited to be offering OBC classes at Ali's Wagon in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia, and I'm looking forward to connecting with lots of new families. Check out my full schedule here.
Connect with Sarah on Facebook