10 Tips for a Better Postpartum: Tip #3
This post is part of the series, 10 Tips for a Better Postpartum. This is Tip #3 in a list of 10 things you can do in pregnancy to set yourself up for a more comfortable, peaceful, and enjoyable postpartum journey. Check back in the coming weeks as I share the next tips in the series! Tip #3: Accept and Ask for Help Let me just begin by saying that the fourth trimester is NOT the time to be a superhero. During this time, you are tasked with many jobs: physical healing after birth, emotional adjustments, learning how to feed and care for your baby, and navigating your transition as a new family - all this in addition to the normal tasks of life and likely running on not enough sleep! Taking a quality, independent birth class is an important step in preparing your partner to support you – doing so will set you up for teamwork in those early weeks. That being said, even if you are giving your 100% effort and your partner is giving their 100% effort, there is still a gap. It is an impossibility to handle it all, particularly in the first 8 weeks, and realistically for much longer than that. During this time, I encourage you to set societal norms aside. Lean on your friends and family more than you're used to doing. If you find there is still a gap (for many families – there is!) consider hiring help to fill it. If you are not accustomed to accepting help – now is the time to step outside of your comfort zone in doing so. In fact, I encourage you to leap outside of your comfort zone to not only accept help, but also to actively ask for it. Friends, family members, and neighbors often want to support you, but it can be difficult for them to know the kind of help you need. Even if they have been through their own fourth trimesters, the passage of time since then may have dulled their memory of what is most helpful. Additionally, the kind of help they needed at the time may not match the kind of help you need. I’ve listed some ideas below for ways in which others can support you during this time. With your partner, determine what might be most helpful to you and who you can reach out to for those tasks. Create this plan BEFORE baby arrives so you have a few less things to worry about in those precious early weeks.
Care for Older Children – Perhaps someone can handle school drop-offs or pick-ups. Maybe they could take your older children for a play day or sleepover – explore if they are willing to do this on a regular basis, perhaps weekly or a couple times a month in the early months. Benefits here are huge: time for you to focus on baby, time for these important people in your life to build a stronger bond with your children, and the opportunity for your older children to have the special attention they may be craving with a new little one in the house. Meals – If anyone offers to bring you a meal, say yes! Even if you can’t eat it that night, many meals can be put away as a freezer meal for the future. Communicate your preferences and speak up if you are not yet ready for visitors that it may need to be a drop-off, but you look forward to having them back in the future to meet babe! Consider setting up a meal train where anyone can sign up for a night to provide a meal. There are several websites you can use to organize, and they usually have a space to list any allergies, sensitivities, or preferences right where your family & friends can see it.
Grocery Pick-Up – Add items to your online shopping cart as you see that they are getting low. Then ask a friend, family member, or neighbor if they would mind picking up your grocery order the next time they go to grab theirs. Seasonal Tasks – Snow removal or mowing the grass are tasks that neighbors often don’t mind doing. They are likely already out doing their own and could easily take care of this task for you as well. Hire a Postpartum Doula – Did you know there are people out there who specialize in supporting families during the fourth trimester? Hiring a postpartum doula can help to fill in the gaps during your early weeks. Postpartum doulas are experienced in postpartum healing, newborn care, offering encouragement and troubleshooting for feeding baby, as well as in “mothering the mother” – nurturing the mother and offering support as she navigates her postpartum journey. Postpartum doulas may also assist with light housework, preparing meals, entertaining older children, running errands, and other tasks that allow the mother to “cocoon” in the early weeks and keep her focus on her own healing and transition with her growing family. Reach out to connect with postpartum doula services.
Find a Walking Companion– It can be SO healing to get outdoors! Ask someone whose company you enjoy to go on a walk with you daily or weekly. Wear the baby or use a stroller – the fresh air is wonderful for baby too! Scheduling this with another person can give you the needed nudge to make the trip outside, and trust me, it is amazing what a little fresh air and gentle activity can do for the body and spirit in those early weeks! Display Tasks for Visitors - Once you are comfortable having visitors, consider having a list visible that shows things they can do to help you while they are there.
· Switch laundry · Fold laundry · Wash dishes · Empty the dishwasher · Playing with an older child · Holding the baby while you shower or nap · Sweep or vacuum · Take out the garbage · Walk the dog
Seek Companionship with Other Moms – Being with other women who are in the same stage of life as you has a multitude of benefits. Connection can help you to feel less isolated, to normalize the feelings and experiences you may be having, to develop “mom friend” bonds and potential future playmates for baby, and to pick up on little tidbits of wisdom and “mom hacks” from other mothers. The fourth trimester is a great time to find this companionship through community support groups, events, and activities. I’ve listed some ideas of places you might explore in your area to find mom & baby-friendly groups or programming, as well as linking to a few specific to the Tri-States.
· Church Groups - MOPS Dubuque · Library Storytimes - Carnegie Stout Public Library, Dubuque County Library · Playgrounds · City Recreation & Leisure Programming - Dubuque Leisure Services · Baby & Me Yoga - Coming soon to Statera Integrated Health & Wellness! · Postpartum Classes - Healing Your Mommy Tummy · Babywearing Organizations · La Leche League · Perinatal or Postpartum Support Groups - Offered through MercyOne Hospital Dubuque · Virtual Support Groups - Riley Andrews of Life Connections Dubuque - Pregnancy in the Pandemic virtual group · Breastfeeding Support Groups - Offered virtually through MercyOne Hospital Dubuque, and in-person or virtually through Statera Integrated Health & Wellness at their free "Milk Parties" · Mom Groups on Facebook - reach out if you are looking for connection in these groups for the Dubuque area!
For a better birth and postpartum experience, please reach out and I can connect you with a class option that is right for you. Start making a plan for your fourth trimester to have the help & support you need!
Looking for more tips for a better postpartum? Check out Tip #4!