Today’s women are doing amazing jobs of preparing for childbirth. They are educating themselves on all of their options; Studying, preparing, practicing. However, even these women can be taken by surprise when it comes to the postpartum period. It can be very overwhelming, but like birth, it can also be prepared for. In America, postpartum support is grossly undervalued. Women leave the hospital after 48 hours. They are expected to return to work after 6 weeks, if not sooner.There are NO home visits. New moms are expected to figure out motherhood on their own, to cope with motherhood. Why cope when you can THRIVE?
Nearly 80% of women experience postpartum blues,which is a milder, short lived form of postpartum depression. Despite being short lived, it is emotionally draining to deal with. Studies show that women with good support (doulas, midwives, nurses, lactation consultants) rarely report postpartum blues or depression. In cultures where support from extended family is available and where spousal support is encouraged the rates of postpartum depression are lower.
Baby-moon – Choose a period of time for your baby-moon; one week would be great, two would be even better. Make it clear that you will not be entertaining visitors during this time (no, not even Grandma). Visitors are allowed to come for brief visits if they understand that they are there to help you, not just to ooh and aah over the baby. Visitors can bring meals – feel free to leave them by the door, thank you. Come on in and do a load of laundry, thank you. Yes, there are dishes piled in the sink, we’d really appreciate a hand with those, thank you.
Attachment Parenting – Practicing Attachment Parenting (AP) not only helps the postpartum period go more smoothly, it will help make parenting easier overall. Attachment parenting means responding to your baby’s cues instead of trying to fit the baby into your routine and schedule. Newborns can not manipulate their parents; they can only communicate their needs. Responding to those needs will make baby happier, it will reduce your stress, and it will build your confidence as a mother and caregiver. Wear your baby – holding baby close is comforting to you both, and there are numerous health benefits for the baby as well.
Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding is not only the best nutrition for your baby, but it also releases “happy hormones” during the nursing process. It makes mama feel good, it makes baby feel good. Providing for your baby’s nutritional needs with milk that is made perfectly for them by your own body helps build confidence in yourself, and your ability to care for your baby. The close physical connection during nursing, eye contact and skin contact all help with bonding. If you are worried about being unable to nurse your baby, there are many lactation professionals in your community that would be happy to help you when the baby is born. Don’t be afraid to reach out, we all needed help!
Rest – Sleep deprivation is a fact of life after the baby is born. If you are used to getting a solid eight hours of sleep, adjusting to life with less can be difficult. But it can be harmful to just accept a total lack of sleep. Fatigue is the leading indicator for the development of postpartum depression later down the road. Adequate rest is an absolute necessity.
Nutrition – Just because your baby has arrived does not mean that your physical needs disappear, even though they may be pushed onto a different schedule. Make time to eat. Plan on your baby waking up as soon as you sit down to a meal, so make sure your microwave is working. Wearing your baby can make meal times easier – come to the table with your baby in the sling. They will stay happier for longer, allowing you to finish eating. Plan in advance, and have meals stored up in the freezer.
Encapsulate your placenta! Encapsulating your placenta can provide many benefits including: Balance your hormones, increase your energy, enhance milk supply, increase iron levels and replace lost vitamins, minerals and protein postpartum, give a quicker recovery from birth, shorten postpartum bleeding, assist the uterus to return to size, prevent the “baby blues” or eliminate or lessen Postpartum Depression or other postpartum mood disorders, be helpful during menopause (If you have any capsules left, you may freeze them indefinitely)
- Help the mother recover from birth and process her emotions about becoming a mother, or about balancing the needs of all of her children
- Assist the family with the basics of infant care and help them learn tips and tricks for caring for and soothing their baby
- Support each member of the family emotionally, including the partner, any older children, and even grandparents or other close family members in the home, as they each figure out their new roles
- Do light housework and home organization related to the care of the baby, and help to prepare nourishing meals and snacks
- Refer the family to community resources hand-picked for their needs, such as counselors, mom/baby groups, lactation consultants, pediatricians and other medical professionals, and support groups
Postpartum doulas keep themselves up-to-date on the latest evidence-based information so they can also help you to sort through conflicting advice and suggestions that you may be getting from well-meaning family and friends. Her role as an objective listener is different than your parent or other relative who may help you after your birth, because a doula is there to meet your needs and does not have an agenda beyond your recovery and encouraging you as you grow into your role with this baby or babies.