10 Tips for a Better Postpartum: Tip #5
This post is part of the series, 10 Tips for a Better Postpartum. This is Tip #5 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 #5: Manage Expectations with Your Family and Friends Bringing a brand-new human into the world is exciting, and those who love you will share in that excitement – they will want to see you and meet the adorable bundle of sweetness you just brought into the world! How do you share in this special time with loved ones, while also caring for yourself and your new family in this early time of transition?
First, determine with your partner what makes sense for visits, then make a plan – who will communicate with each friend or family member? Can some of this communication happen ahead of baby’s arrival? Commit to positive communication that affirms your desire to share this special time with them while also clearly outlining your needs. Here are some questions to consider:
When Will You Be Ready for Visitors?
Are you comfortable having visitors at your birth place (if that is allowed) while you are in labor? After baby is born? If so, who are you comfortable having? Or would you rather they wait until you are home?
HINT: You control the spread of information here. No one has to know that labor has started. And no one has to know when baby has arrived until you are ready to share it. It is up to you if you want to wait a few hours, a couple days, or whatever time you feel is right for you, that is YOUR choice.
What Kind of Visits You Are Ready For?
How long is an appropriate amount of time for a visit? Do you prefer a shorter visit – perhaps an hour or less? Are there things you could use help with while visitors are there? Perhaps you and your
partner choose a signal that will let your partner know when a visit needs to wrap up so they can kindly communicate that to your loved ones. Using phrases like, “It was so nice seeing you, but it’s about time for another feeding!”, or “I’m so glad we could visit for awhile, but we’re expecting a visit from our postpartum doula/lactation consultant soon,” or “Thank you so much for coming by! Baby’s looking sleepy now – I think we’re going to try and grab a nap” can be signals.
HINT: Wear your robe or pajamas for early visits. Help visitors remember that you JUST had a baby, helping them remember to keep those early visits short.
What Precautions Do You Expect Visitors to Take to Protect Baby?
Baby has a brand new immune system, so it makes sense that you may have concerns about visitors bringing germs into your home. Of course you’d like to avoid those first sniffles for awhile, but there are also illnesses that may be no big deal for adults and older children that can be very dangerous for newborns – things like RSV which can present as just a regular cold for adults, or cold sores that can again seem like no big deal for adults, but either of these illnesses be very serious and even life-threatening for newborns. What precautions do you want visitors to take? Asking them to stay home if sick, remove shoes, wash hands, avoid kissing the baby or touching baby’s face & hands, wear a mask, whatever it is that helps you feel comfortable. You can communicate these expectations verbally, put a sign on your door, and have visual cues present (ex. A basket of masks, antibacterial gel sitting in view in several places throughout your home, etc.).
HINT: If you are not ready for visitors to hold your baby, you don’t have to offer it. You can also babywear and/or nurse during their visit. And remember: You are the parent. You set the rules.
How Will You Protect Feeding Times?
This was a struggle for me with my first baby. I was not yet confident enough to nurse in front of others in the early days and weeks. Baby and I were both on the STEEP part of the learning curve – During each feeding I was figuring out positioning, she was figuring out her latch, she was sometimes crying, I was sometimes crying. I needed to pump after most feedings due to supply issues. It just was NOT something I could do yet in front of others. In hindsight, I think we were not ready for visitors yet. I needed more time with my baby to learn her cues and to work together on a good latch. Visits impacted her feeding intervals, thus impacting my milk supply – not to mention the stress. If you are breastfeeding, consider delaying visits until you are comfortable nursing at anytime and in front of anyone who you are inviting in for a visit. Communicate with any visitors that baby is nursing frequently and on-demand.
HINT: Prioritize feeding the baby. Do what you need to do to get this done – feed in front of visitors, feed in another room, end the visit so you can feed, whatever you need to do to feed the baby when the baby wants to feed – which is likely all the time in the early days!
Managing expectations of friends and family allows you to share this special time with those you love while avoiding some common stressors. Make a plan to communicate with your loved ones how they can best support you when meeting your baby. Connect with us to learn more about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum and ways you can prepare and be supported throughout!