Saturday, June 11, 2011

Second Letter about Postpartum

Meeting our first baby, for the first time, the most amazing moment in our lives... The New Family

When I teach my classes, aside from Bed Rest, Your Rights and Responsibilities, and breastfeeding, I cover a few more things. One is The New Family and the other is Celebration. There are other things but I am going to focus on these final two for my second post on Postpartum Readiness.

The New Family
When a couple is about to welcome a new baby there is a lot of excitement, joy, things to get done, people to contact, baby showers, preparing the nursery, all the "things" babies need... so much energy goes into preparing for the new member who is about to join the family. But there are a few things that often get left out. And once again most OB's don't suggest what I am about to suggest so take notes.

Your Marriage
Its time to get the dirt out from under the rug, clean out the closets and go out for a movie. What I mean is this is a good time (pregnancy) to do marriage care. Or just spend some time together talking about becoming parents together, saying I'm sorry for hurt feelings, and listening to one another. The best cared for baby is not the baby with the Pottery Barn crib (not that there is anything wrong with that brand) or the most high tec monitor, name brand clothing and best strollers. The best cared for baby is the baby who knows his mommy and daddy love each other and together love him.

Your Family
This is the beginning of your new family. You are adding a member and you need to protect this time together. Because mom is on bed rest anyways dad its time for your rest too. While you might need to help around the house more, pick up a few extra tasks while mom is recovering, you do get some rest. But its a specific kind of rest. It is very important that the new family spends time together laying in bed. This is a great time for baby to be skin to skin with daddy (as baby is skin to skin with mama all day when nursing). Some people call this time a Baby-moon, like a honeymoon. Its the time when you lay together looking at your baby, smelling your baby, laughing together when he gets the hiccups, counting his toes, sleeping together, listening to your favorite music, being quiet, watching baby sleep and his eyes flutter and his chest rise with each breath. And all this time baby is breathing in your smells, laying on your chest and learning the rhythm of your heartbeat, and listening to the familiar sound of your voices. This is called falling in love. Many people don't know that's what its called, but its falling in love.

One of the wonderful things about having a baby is seeing your community of friends come in and surround you with meals and gifts, running errands or staying with mom if dad needs to leave for something. Having family around meeting your new little person and kissing and hugging your baby. This is all really great. BUT don't let it take over the time you need as a family to be together. Visitors are VERY draining on mom. I have a friend who has had several kids. With each kid she hangs a sign on the front door that says, "We love visitors thanks for stopping by to meet our new baby. If you plan on staying longer than 15 minutes know you will be asked to help with laundry, dishes or cooking." I love this because it lets people know, we are glad you came by, but please either be helping or understand that mama and baby might leave to be in bed. I think that a lot of new mamas and daddies think that when visitors come by they need to entertain them, be hospitable you know that sort of nice thing. Nope you do not. In fact if someone calls just as mama and baby are about to take a nap and says, "Hey we are in the neighborhood can we stop by and see baby?" you can say, "Mom is about to lay down can you come by in 2 hours we would love to see you." In those first few days baby is not on a schedule, everyone is on baby's schedule. If baby needs to nurse and mom wants privacy and needs to be in her room to calm herself and baby she has every right to do that. She does not need to feel like she is disappointing her visitors because she is protecting herself and meeting the needs of her baby. This is her job and only job, not being a good host.

You family might come to help. This is great think of jobs they can to ahead of time, and don't be afraid to ask them to do specific things. Here are ways family can help out.
*Cleaning (I asked my mom to detail my bathrooms after both babies were born--Awesome!)
*Laundry (get all those work shirts ironed! My grandma is really really good at this I saved this job for her)
*Organize that closet you never got to before baby was born
*Run Errands (this give you baby-moon time)
*Hold baby so mom can shower
*Hold baby so mom and dad can sit on the porch alone before the next feeding
(grandmas and grandpas don't see holding baby as a job really)
*Grocery Shopping

These are all things you can ask for help with. My grandma took me to get sized for nursing bras. It was a huge gift and help to have someone with me to hold baby, and drive and know I needed to move slow and nurse (note I did this at 8 weeks postpartum so don't you go rushing out to get bras at the mall... the mall is the worst place to take a baby under a month... under 4 months... ever really).

Now this is another area you need to be able to stand up for yourself. This is the beginning of your family. Its okay if the new family needs time alone in bed away from grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles. Its okay to take baby to bed and have alone time with your baby. In fact many babies NEED this because its too over stimulating. Imagine, you are new to the world, your senses are having all their "firsts", first smells, first shades of lights, first sounds, and its all so bright and loud its not muffled by the fluid and belly. This is very exhausting for baby and baby needs a break.

and finally...


Happy Birthday little Owen Thomas!

This is my favorite part. You need to find a way to celebrate the birth of your baby. This is your baby's first birthday. So... celebrate it! This makes the whole thing fun and exciting. We did birthday cakes for both babies. I also made a special meal for Marin's birth (I froze it a few weeks before her due date) and we took our cake and meal to the birth center and after she got pushed out we had a party. I was of course laying in bed but eating my own food was so very comforting (if you are going to the hospital its likely you will not get to eat during labor and so you are going to be FAMISHED after labor). This can be something you ask grandma to do, "can you bring us dinner/breakfast/lunch we just had our baby?" This is one of my favorite birth stories ever. While there is some heartbreak in it (that is overcome with joy later, but its still a tear jerker of a story), I love seeing how this family was so prepared to celebrate their daughters birth. I love the room full of friends toasting her arrival, I love that amidst the shock of what is going on, there are friends and family there after the birth to celebrate and drink Champagne together. I have been to births where the older siblings come running in wearing birthday hats and sing to the new baby. There are so many things you can do to celebrate the birth of your baby. DO IT, THINK ABOUT IT. How will you celebrate the birth of your baby?

Here is another video, its a knock off of the Reflections of Motherhood from the last post.

Hope you all have a good Sunday, get some rest!

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