04 Apr Blissed Out Postpartum: A Planning Guide
It is common knowledge that the first few weeks (and often months and years) of parenthood can be difficult. The challenges and changes that come along with the growth of a family and the addition of a new member (or members!) are vast, complex, and ever-changing. We want you to have a blissed-out postpartum experience with your new baby and your family! Read on to learn more.
Often times as expectant parents, we focus our energy on learning about all the changes that happen in pregnancy and birth and we focus less on preparing for newborn care. We read up on what new milestones our little one has reached each week of pregnancy. A lot of our time is spent planning for and curating a beautiful birth experience. Books, blogs, and Pinterest consume many of our waking hours. And we take the time to mindfully choose a care provider we connect with. A design theme for the nursery is chosen, and tiny newborn clothes get purchased, laundered, and lovingly folded. Baby has a name all picked out after much debate. Everything is ready for our new little person.
Or is it?
Of course, all of these things are important considerations to make, but have we thought of ourselves at all? Have we thought of our own complex needs? After all, mothering is constant pouring from our own cups, and we need to make sure that our cup gets refilled, too. Therefore, the postpartum period (however long it is) must be continuous replenishing of the cup.
- Physically, our bodies will be different. Breasts swell with milk to nourish a new little one. Our tummies that have grown a whole person might be stretch marked, soft and a new shape. Hair might start to fall out due to hormonal changes. The physical changes can be a lot to process.
- Emotionally, we experience ups and downs. The life of another human is in our hands, and the “bigness” of this love and responsibility can be overwhelming. A lack of sleep and hormonal shifts can make these ups and downs more pronounced, and if we have a history of depression and/or anxiety, we are at greater risk of postpartum mood disorders.
- Spiritually, we can either feel strengthened and closer to the source of our faith or perhaps we are questioning what has been the norm up until now. This may be a time of feeling distant, disconnected and lacking in
- Connection with our partners, emotionally, sexually, and intellectually will shift with the addition of a newborn. The relationship changes into a new way of being together, with new roles and responsibilities.
- Parenting older siblings may be an additional challenge. As that older child feels the shift in the family s/he may processes it with often challenging
behaviors,or regression into old habits.
Bringing up these challenges is not meant to scare folds, but to help expectant families to prepare for what’s ahead
We must be gentle with ourselves! Knowing that we are the cup that pours into every other cup, we must be prepared with ways to replenish ourselves. Drawing from cultures who honor this sacred time of much change, we can look to four areas to help do just that–replenish our cup.
Parenting babies is a task that occurs around the clock. Sleep is crucial to our health and well-being, and it’s wise to plan ahead for how to manage everyone’s sleep needs.
- Enlist helpers for household tasks, so that you can feel good about resting when the baby does. Have a trusted friend, family member, or postpartum doula do some light housework for you.
- Consider bedsharing. Head here to check out safe bedsharing guidelines and get more information on how cosleeping could benefit your family. Many families who bedshare find that they get more sleep and that their sleep is more restful than when they try to put the baby into a separate sleep space.
- Conserving your energy by limiting visitors and staying in. After birth, it’s best to avoid work, school, and volunteering obligations, and plan to stick close to home. Set expectations with visitors to stay for short periods of time. Keep your bathrobe on so that visitors don’t forget that you are recovering from your big work of birthing, and aren’t their host. If you are tired, just say so, and head to bed with your baby.
Our bodies need nutrient dense foods after birth, and if we’re breastfeeding, we need plenty of food and water. You are continuing to grow this little human all on your own, so pay attention to your food and hydration needs. Get creative now before your baby is born about ways to make sure you are always nourished.
- Be sure to eat when you’re hungry. Make the best of these bites of food and try to include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and nut butter. Limit dairy and keep caffeine intake low.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is the best thing to drink, but hot or iced herbal teas can also be nourishing as well as hydrating. Add lemon, lime, or honey to make your beverage tasty.
- Meal prepping can save you a lot of time and energy when both things are in short supply postpartum. Spend some time before the baby comes making your favorite familiar meals to freeze, or create kits you can easily put in a crockpot or toss into the oven.
- Add your favorite take-out restaurant gift cards to your baby shower registry, for those times when everyone just needs to get fed. Scope out some healthy and delicious options ahead of the birth.
- Have a friend or family member create a meal train for your family. Here is a site that makes it really easy. Another great crowd-sourced option is to have people bring pre-made casseroles while you’re still
pregnancy. Then you can pop them into your freezer, and use them in the postpartum when you need something easy.
The postpartum time can often feel isolating and lonely. Traditionally, new parents were rarely alone during this time, and for most of our evolutionary history, we parented in groups with extended families and friends helping and supporting us. Sadly, our society is lacking in basic support structures that are common in other developed nations that help a family to make the big transition to a new person in the family.
Finding others to support you and offer solidarity is so valuable. Being able to be vulnerable to someone, vent without judgment, and have conversations with other adults is priceless in a time that is so flooded with “baby talk”. Honor your friendships and welcome people into your space who fill your cup by just being around them! If your friends are not yet parenting babies, you may need to seek out new friends who are.
Carve out some quality time with your partner. Even an hour here or there is important and can support your relationship. Cuddle, say kind things to each other, and be respectful of each person’s emotional journey. Suggest people they can connect with who are also parents. Be honest with each other about struggles and needs. You need each other now more than ever!
If you are solo parenting, make some time and space for you to connect with friends and family for even an hour without the responsibilities of parenting.
Don’t hesitate to lean on trusted people in your life
Reach out to your own parents, your siblings, your in-laws, your cousins, your friends, and be honest about your needs. Maybe you need someone to hold your baby while you shower, tell someone! If you need someone to take an hour of their time to hold your baby while you sleep, call up a friend and ask! Does your dog need walking? Ask a neighbor or other family member! Let people know by your words and deeds that you will be there for them when they need help, too.
We are a part of nature and just being outside, feeling the sunshine, and smelling the wind can be very healing. It is free therapy! Look up local parks and trails now so you can be familiar with some beautiful locations to explore with your baby when you start to venture out. Nature time doesn’t have to be a big production. Even a walk around the block is often sufficient to change your mood. A simple google search on the health benefits of outdoor time, and you’ll be wanting to get out there immediately. Taking time to reconnect to nature is healing to your soul and fosters the habit of outdoor play for your baby! Go soak up some sunshine!
Paying attention to rest, nourishment, connection and getting out in nature can help your postpartum time be happier and healthier
Honoring these four areas of life will help your postpartum period be a little smoother, but give yourself time. Be gentle. Forgive yourself, and honor the challenges. Know that you will look back and be amazed at the personal growth that occurred and the lessons that you learned through parenthood. Remember that babies don’t keep, and never forget your intrinsic importance in your baby’s life. Ask yourself this daily, “Have I been replenished?” If the answer is no, do something JUST FOR YOU. You are worth it!
This blog post was inspired by my own blissed out experiences postpartum, my experiences as a doula, as well as the book the Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson (I’d highly recommend it!)
Are you looking for connection and support for your postpartum journey? Do you live near Oshkosh, Sheboygan, or Appleton, Wisconsin? Check out our Postpartum Circles and register today!