By Lisa Britt, RN, SNM~
A New Beginning During the Postpartum Period
There is a lot of time spent preparing for labor and birth during pregnancy, but the weeks following birth are also a critical period for a woman and her infant. The time following the delivery of your baby is called the postpartum period. Caring for a new baby while feeling sore, tired, and stressed can be a lot to handle. You are a unique person developing a new normal. Your body, role, responsibilities, and priorities will be different. It can be hard to think beyond the birth to plan for your postpartum journey, so a great time to start prepping for your postpartum experience is after taking our Early Home Care class at Del Mar Birth Center. Whether this is your first baby or not, the information gained from the class will teach you how to prepare for your newborn and help you identify your anticipated needs. It is also essential to have your partner actively involved in preparing for your postpartum experience, because it will empower both of you to determine the support needed during your recovery.
After Birth, Now What?
For a mother, one of the most precious achievements is having a child to embrace. Your postpartum period begins immediately after the birth of your child. It is a transitioning period for you, both emotionally and physically, while learning how to care for your newborn. Birth is humbling. You are thrilled over your tiny miracle and enamored by the beautiful bundle of joy is in your arms!
However, don’t neglect yourself! It is easy to overlook yourself once your baby arrives. Take the time before your baby arrives to discuss and prepare with your partner your anticipated needs you identified after the class. Physical Preparation means having the supplies at home.
Some things you will need are:
For your bottom/belly: Pads (some women suggested Depends work well), witch hazel padsicles, Sitz baths/herbs, Tucks/cream for hemorrhoids if needed, Ibuprofen, Arnica homeopathic, heating pad, Postpartum recovery belt (if desired)
For your breasts: Nursing pads, Nipple cream, Nursing pillow, Breastfeeding basket
For healing: healthy snacks and meals, lots of hydration, prenatal vitamins, any additional supplements (ex. Iron)
You need to take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest, proper nutrition, adequate hydration, and asking for help. So, please try not to neglect yourself!
Emotional Preparation starts by embracing your new normal. Things you assume before having a child may turn upside down. Social media creates unrealistic images of postpartum. Every woman’s postpartum period is unique, even with common discomforts. Tell yourself now, “IT IS OK!” Having a baby is truly the most incredible, beautiful, wonderful thing in the world, but it can be challenging. It is okay to feel frustrated, feel sad, feel anxious, feel mad, and even to ask why or how. The critical thing for emotional well-being is to honor your feelings by being honest and by accepting your periods of strength and vulnerability.
Remember: “It takes a village to raise a child,” so it is okay to ask for help. Postpartum life is not easy. It can be hard and overwhelming, but it is also filled with beauty and love. You can do this! Embrace it, cherish the littlest moments, and take pride in the daily accomplishments like taking a shower, drinking enough water each hour, getting enough sleep, and baby latching. Know you are not alone. The midwives at Del Mar Birth Center will provide you with support and contact you regularly during your first weeks to answer any questions and address concerns that arises.
Setting Boundaries: Please No Drama!
Setting boundaries can be a struggle because everyone wants to see the baby. After birth, it is critical for you to set boundaries. You should have sufficient resting periods and avoid engaging in challenging tasks. Although it is lovely to allow other members of the family to bond with the newborn baby, you should prioritize your own bonding, resting, and recovery. It is not easy to tell the family and friends “NO, not today”, so informing everyone before the birth to call and coordinate their visits is one way to avoid the unwelcome visitor.
Some helpful tips for setting boundaries:
- Select time frames for visits.
- Don’t schedule visits on days of appointments
- Don’t make promises. Don’t commit to go anywhere. Say, “I’ll wait and see.” Helps to avoid disappointing anyone.
- You love the company, but you are not the host. (Don’t be shy to let them help.)
- Stay in charge. Don’t change your parenting style. You are the parent now. You welcome advice, but do what you feel is best.
- Your needs will change. Be honest and communicate these changes.
- You can’t make everyone happy. Keep it simply by prioritizing your needs and the needs of your family.