I love new moms. There I said it.
Moms who breastfeed their babies, moms who exclusively formula feed…moms who are on baby number four and moms who have actually just taken on the role.The creation of a family, however that looks, is beautifully profound. Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, community members, cousins…and there, at the center of it, is a beautiful new mom and baby-child.
That dynamic duo…they’ve just been through a lot! Even the smoothest of deliveries (and even adoptions) come with a certain amount of stress.
That long, slow-moving pregnancy, full of anticipation and maybe a little fear; the burst of energy right before delivery that many women experience; the delivery (dear God, the delivery).
In the immediate weeks postpartum, women and their babies (and to an extent their partners) need a particular brand of support that few seem to actually receive – but is very, very simple…
The postpartum period is defined as about 6 weeks post- (or immediately after) delivering your baby. Rather than focus solely on getting the nursery just so, or putting the toys together that baby wont be interested in for many months, let’s focus on making mom, baby, and partner’s lives as easy as possible during this time. And you know why? So everyone can focus on the two most important things right away which are…
SLEEPING. And EATING.
Sleeping and eating get the short shrift in our culture. Sleeping and eating take place around all the other activities we’re expected to do (work, chores, caretaking, social stuff, charity, more work…) Sleeping and eating are what we do “when we have time”. Unsurprisingly rest and food are also what we end up craving when our bodies and brains (and sometimes hearts) are tired or exhausted. Sometimes it gets unhealthy.
As long as we take some time to prepare for the postpartum phase, and to maybe even meditate on the way we want to have our tender babies experience this world for that first while…we can do better. For them and for ourselves.
A great way to start, usually during pregnancy but whenever is good, is to use a little integrative health method called visualization. Athletes use this method to imagine, in detail, what winning will look, feel, sound, even taste like. It’s a tool available to anyone and everyone, and can be useful to envision your ideal postpartum period.
Now there are MANY resources on the Internet on sleeping with a new baby in the house (duh.) I really found solace (and some laughter) in Alexis DuBief’s book, Precious Little Sleep, in case you’re looking. Here’s the more important part to come to terms with though: your sleep will be disrupted no matter what. It doesn’t matter how good your baby is or how prepared with a certain method you are.
My main goal with this post is to tell you: sleep when baby sleeps. Maybe you are a lucky one that has an infant that sleeps all night, or wakes up only once. Maybe you will have a little one that wakes up on the hour at night to eat and sleeps all day. Either way, when that baby shuts his or her beautiful little eyes (and please trust me, that moment will in fact come!) I want you to be a mama mirror and do the same.
It can be hard, but it is so, so crucial that for at least a while you take those moments to rest, whether they are long or short. Leave the dishes and bottles for hubs to do. Let someone else do the laundry. For sure don’t get caught up in hosting family or friends unless you are okay with them seeing things less than tip-top shape at home. Everyone means well, but there aren’t many people that can truly give the kind of care that moms and babies need during this important time.
And finally: EATING – YAY! Eating healthful food regularly is important in all life stages and even more so during the postpartum period. It is especially so if you’re nursing your infant but still is even if you’re not.
For nursing moms, consider yourself a food source. Put good stuff in, get good stuff out in the form of extra-nutritious colostrum and milk for your babe. For moms that have chosen to formula feed, you are still recovering from a major, physical undertaking and getting all of your nutrients and calories will only help your body get back to it’s pre-pregnancy state.
Notice I didn’t write out “pre-pregnancy weight“! While there will be a time when your thoughts will of course turn to losing the bloat and extra poundage that came with creating a happy and healthy home for your little during pregnancy, that time is not the 6 weeks out from delivery. Enjoy sleeping on your stomach again, accept the offers from friends and family to bring meals over, and if you can revel in the miraculous wonder that is your beautiful, female form. You made a human which is as close to magic as it comes, in this Mom Scout’s book. Huzzah!
Do you have any particular practices or comfort strategies that you use in the postpartum period? Please share if so and rock on, MomScouts!
-Alex, head MomScout