by Missy Jaramillo and Julie Snyder
Remember all those great books during pregnancy such as "What to Expect While You're Expecting?" Well now that baby is here what can you expect? For most new parents those first 24-48 hours after childbirth are mostly a blur. Once you are home again, you find that there is a whole new routine to learn -- with no set schedule and certainly no real script to follow!
It can be very easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the onslaught of well meaning friends and family. They have everything to offer from unwanted advice to a true invasion of your personal space! You may find that some of the expectations you had for your first weeks with new baby are far from the reality. Below you will find some of our favorite mom-to-mom tips for helping you through this initial honeymoon period with your new baby:
1. Enlist help! Now is not the time to be shy! You have family and friends that truly do mean well. It is best that you serve in the role of director and be honest about what you need/would like to have done. Make a list of chores that must be accomplished over the next few weeks and match these up with the skills of your volunteers. (This is a much better option than allowing some well meaning relative to take charge and actually create more work than they resolve!) Whether it is folding clothes, picking up groceries, entertaining the two-year-old, running thank you cards to the post office -- ASK! This frees you up to relax and better enjoy your baby. It also grants those that care about you the opportunity to feel as if they are contributing something useful...and they are!
2. Keep meals simple. We know -- it sounds easy. You believe that you are home now on maternity leave and have all this "free time" that whipping up a gourmet meal to celebrate would be simple enough.
HA! Now is not the time to feel trapped to the kitchen. Besides, you would feel horrible if you had spent hours preparing a meal and then passed out and missed the oven timer going off after missing yet another night's sleep!
Remember that idea above about asking for help? This is a perfect plan for many that are looking for something to do. If someone asks. "Is there anything that I could do?" be honest! Even having someone supply the main course and all you would have to do is toss a salad or heat veggies is perfect! Save your energy for enjoying that new little one!
3. Rest with the baby! This is one of those rules that we cannot stress enough! Yes, we're aware that there is laundry to be done, dishes that should be washed, and dusting to do. Guess what? It can wait. The whole household will be much better off with some temporary clutter and a well rested parent!
4. Keep visitors at a minimum. This can be extremely important for those first few weeks at home and is also often in the best interest of your baby's health. Certainly you are anxious to show off your new little one, but there will be time. Don't be afraid to place limits and disregard those that would like to insist that it is ok for THEM to come by. A good game plan is to let everyone know a date after which you will feel up to having visitors meet your newest family member. It is ok if they disagree. This time if for YOU!
5. Hold your baby if you want to hold her. Try using a sling thus giving mom two free hands! Don't worry about "spoiling." If you are nursing and you feel your baby is hungrier than every two hours, feel free to increase feedings. Some children initially are what could be deemed as "grazers" -- a nibble now, a nibble then... You are in the best position to learn and determine what your baby wants and needs. When unwanted advice comes your way nod or respond politely but remember this is YOUR baby. Take what you want from the advice given, discard the rest.
6. Some spoiling of mom can be in order! For example, request your partner to bring you a sandwich or a glass of water while you are resting with baby. This isn't meant to be abused, but having some respite from the "norm" can result in a much more relaxed mom, and in turn relaxed babe.
7. Dealing with heavy bleeding? This is one of those icky topics, but reality after childbirth. You may want to try incontinence pads such as Depends for those first postpartum days. Be sure to discuss with your caregiver what to expect as normal and the point of concern! Do NOT ignore heavy bleeding that soaks more than a pad an hour as hemorrhaging could prove dangerous to mom's long term health!
8. Do something special for yourself! Some days you may be feeling blue. Everyone around you seems to be going on with their life while you struggle to find time to go to the bathroom! Who knew that such a tiny creature would throw you for a loop? Try that enlisting help trick again and take a bath. Amazing what a few minutes soaking in a hot tub and later actually getting dressed can do for your mood!
9. You thought those pregnancy hormones were bad? Expect another roller coaster ride this 6 weeks as your progesterone levels pummel. Note that it is normal to still find yourself weepy or even with rather mixed emotions over your new baby. You may find your mood swings go from ecstatic to an almost mourning over freedoms lost.
If these feelings do not tend to taper off within a few weeks postpartum or you do become concerned at anytime, please do contact your personal caregiver. It is never normal to wish harm for yourself or your baby. Don't be ashamed to discuss your feelings. There is always support available!
10. There is such a thing as a sex life after you have a baby. Most doctors advise that you wait at least 6 weeks. We advise you wait 'til you are ready. For some that may be sooner...some later. Take your time and enjoy romancing your partner (and vice versa!) You have just experienced THE most intimate bond ever! Trust that when you are ready it will happen.
Remember, you are now the parent and the one in charge of your new family along with your partner. Granted, you may wish to be polite to others, but remain firm in your choices. You won't want to miss a minute by dealing with grudges and regrets. Congratulations! Your adventure in parenthood is just beginning! Enjoy!
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