I’m a member of a Yahoo group for HAND (Homebirth Association of North Dallas), which provides me with all kinds of useful information about birth photographers, pediatrician recommendations, and how people have dealt with having children present at their home birth, among other things. When I received a notice that the January meeting was happening this week, and that the topic would be on preparing for the first few weeks after baby was born, I decided to go. It was a bit hard, as I didn’t know anyone there and it’s never very fun to be in a situation where you have to put yourself out there to meet people, but I was glad I went because it was wonderful to be in a room surrounded by women who had experienced not just one, but two, three, sometimes four out-of-hospital births. There really are other people doing this!
We spent about an hour talking and eating, and then one of the members, a postpartum doula, took the floor to talk about different ways to best plan for the postpartum period. Pregnancy affords us months and months to plan for birth, a momentous event, but entirely too many women talk about getting home from the hospital (and all of the pampering that came from the nursing staff) and realizing they have no idea how to handle life with this new little person. I’m writing this rather late at night, and I have many other things I should be doing right now, so I’m just going to paste in the notes I took on my iPhone with a few comments added in parantheses for clarification. I’ll eventually be writing up a postpartum plan for myself (as well as some birth plans), and I’ll share what I came up with here on That Wife. This meeting was a great way to jump start the process!
One of the biggest things we are working to do is trying to find a way to coordinate visits from family to make sure everyone doesn’t come at once, leaving me overwhelmed at the end of two weeks because I’ve had people cooking and cleaning for me and then week 3 comes and I’m all alone. That Husband gets two weeks of paternity leave, my mom is going to come, and my sister is going to come down. Finding a way to effectively manage all of those visits has been quite a challenge! Right now I’m thinking Week 1 will be just husband and I, week 2 will be TH and mom, week 3 will be just mom, week 4 sister will come and mom will leave, and at the end of week 5 sister will leave. We’ll see if we can make it all work.
Suggestions from a postpartum doula:
-plan for post partum the way you plan for your birth (research! talk to other moms! gather resources!)
-challenges other moms in the room have faced: breastfeeding, not having food brought over, no help from family, preparing ahead of time for breastfeeding issues, relieving gas, dealing with multiple kids at a time
-line up a lactation consultant before the birth
-the doula visited HEB breastfeeding center when she was struggling
-find the right lactation consultant for you
– have contact information for lactation consultant, pediatrician, take out menus, emergency contacts, and other contact information all ready and readily available
-“lying in” is a time in other cultures when new mom doesn’t have to do everything, create your own lying in environment
-stay in and around your bed for 7 days to recover if possible
-no housework for the first 2 weeks if you can help it
-stock pantry with finger food and freezer with frozen meals
-make friends with another new mom who has recently been through the same thing, find a breastfeeding or new mom support group
-decide ahead of time what dad can do an set certain tasks that are his. Taking baby for a walk, bathing baby, 30-60 mins of alone time with baby. Give dad a “thing” to do with baby.
-let go of the idea that the house needs to be clean
-develop a post partum plan the same way you would develop a birth plan
-enjoy newborn time
-set up changing and feeding stations around the house (baskets with burp cloths, snacks, book, water, diapers, wipes, changing pad)
-get a really good breastfeeding support pillow (The Boppy is talked about a lot, but almost all lactation consultants like the My Breast Friend pillow much better)
-eat well for better breastfeeding
-write down how the laundry is done, where cleaning supplies are, where kitchen supplies are, how and when the dog is walked or fed, and other things that are part of your daily routine so that guests who come to help own’t constantly be asking you questions
-think about using paper and plastic utensils for a week right after baby is born to cut down on dishes (and the stress of a messy sink!)
And a few of the books she recommends to all her moms:
A friend commented on Facebook with her top three suggestions:
1. Have the number and name of an IBLCE who will come to your house 2. Have your husband stay home from work (and not bring any home!) 3. Have someone cook your meals for you