Have you ever thought about planning for AFTER your baby is here?
This post covers that all important period in time where YOU'VE DONE IT! (Labour that is!) The huge, massive and important task which is growing and giving birth to a WHOLE HUMAN BEING. . .
But then the heady highs of those initial couple of days are replaced by a new reality, the reality that this human is yours and you now have to look after them for at least 18 years!
Planning for your baby's birth is talked about all the time and it's positive effects are well known, but planning for the postnatal period is very often overlooked and the significant impact that having a good, solid plan in place in those first few weeks and months can have. I speak from experience as someone who planned meticulously for my baby's birth, went to all the classes, read all the books etc. but I completely ignored what would happen after (and wished I'd hadn't!)
Some women breeze through the postnatal period (or so social media have you believing maybe!) And others find it a really tough time. Remember that your body has done a hell of a lot of work and your hormones are just on some jolly joy ride of craziness right after your baby has been born. It takes time for everything to settle back down. Add to that the fact that you now have a new job role with a tiny, adorable, but demanding boss who needs you working 24 hours a day and you can see why you may feel like you need some extra support during such a massive adjustment to your life.
Well what do you put in a postnatal plan?
Who do you want around in those first few days? You'll know that everyone from family and friends to well meaning neighbours will be desperate to visit your beautiful baby whilst they're still in that freshly squeezed newborn stage. But if you're on day 6 of dry shampoo, still trying to get to know your baby yourself and are running on limited sleep, you may not wish for their company quite so much! So think through who you want around and why and set limits- only 30 min visits at a time for example or visitors must make their own cups of tea!
Second would be WHAT?
What kind of help will you want? Have you got older children who could really do with being taken out for a run around at the park? A dog who needs walking? Mouths which could really do with being fed something other than take away?
If you live a long way from friends and family and don't have anyone close by who you would feel comfortable asking for help from, you could consider hiring a postnatal doula. Doulas are well known for supporting during births but they can play a fantastic role postnatally too. They can help with practical tasks around the house and are also there as emotional support.
Another thing you might want to think about adding to your plan is support groups and helplines. Find out where your local mum and baby groups are in advance so you can pop down one afternoon if you have cabin fever and want to talk to people who are in exactly the same stage of life as you. Feeding support groups and 24 hour helplines are available too and scoping out these beforehand can make a task that much easier if you need any help.
Researching the fourth trimester will really open your eyes to what your newborn baby will need in the first few months of their life. It will help you to understand why your baby may not want to be put down, why there are some days they just want milk, milk and more milk and why, despite you spending a small fortune on all those comfortable bedding accessories and beautifully patterned fitted sheets, they only want to sleep on you.
Finally, be kind to yourself, don't expect too much from you or your baby and don't feel bad for not keeping up with those Instagram Mummies who seem to all have it figured out (they probably don't). Did you know that in lots of cultures there is a practice called 'Sitting the month' where women are required to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for 30-40 days after the birth of their baby but feed them and rest and recuperate. These cultures treat the month after birth as a very sacred time for bonding between a mother and their baby and feel that day to day life should not get in the way of this precious time. They also honour the fact that women's bodies have done an incredible thing and need time to heal well.
So I'm not suggesting that you don't leave your bed for a month, but take it easy and don't push yourself to do more than you are comfortable with.
Emma Batt, Hypnobirthing Mother of one and KG Hypnobirthing teacher.