Tuesday’s Top Tip: Prepare for Postpartum
So here are my top ten items to prepare for postpartum.
- Hire a Postpartum Doula
Okay, so this may be stating the obvious, being that I am a Postpartum Doula myself. Bias aside, I truly believe that a Postpartum Doula is the bees knees. A PP Doula will have trained to be able to assist you settle in and adjust to your new role. She will no doubt come with a list of professional referrals and she should at the very least be able to make a good cup of coffee/tea and hold baby while you have a shower. The most important part is that a Postpartum Doula is not there for the money, she is there to serve YOU, she is passionate about what she does and she has the heart and love for caring for new moms. So you can bet your last Rand, she will do her very best to help you! To find your closest Doula check out WOMBS http://www.wombs.org.za/
- Invest a Baby Carrier
My stretchy wrap I was gifted was literally a game changer for me – all of a sudden I had TWO free hands and I could help myself! My little darling was so happy and content being close and snug to her mom, it positively affected our relationship (skin to skin for the win), I could walk the mall for hours, do household chores, study for exams, keep her close when she was sick in the middle of the night and my arms felt like they were going to fall off from rocking and even her dad wore it and he ROCKED it! And it is definitely an investment – the resale value on the quality carriers is close to new prices because the demand is there – people know the value of a good carrier. I would go so far as saying forget about those ‘fancy-schmancy’ prams and go straight for a carrier! For more information on baby wearing check out NINO on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/ninosa/
- Cook & Freeze Meals beforehand
Pinterest has loads of freezer-friendly meal ideas and don’t just limit yourself to supper, think about lunch too, or some awesome muffins to snack on or you could just eat peanut butter and banana on toast for lunch like I did! To freshen up the freezer meals you could add salad or…ice cream, ice cream always works! If your budget affords it, you could try out one of the many new companies that are cooking and delivery healthy meals to your door. I have heard great things about ‘We Are Food’ https://wearefood.co.za/
- Find a Breastfeeding Consultant
Find someone you trust to give you sound advice. Most Postpartum Doula’s are able to assist with the first latch and give you some great ideas but I would still highly recommend find a Breastfeeding Consultant. It takes 12 weeks for your supply to establish itself and it is during this time that many women will give up breastfeeding due to difficulties that could be resolved easily, such as incorrect latch, ties or understanding cluster feeds for example. Having someone you can lean on for sound advice is your best chance at ensuring a healthy and long term breastfeeding relationship. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding to continue up to two years and beyond due to the many health benefits for mother and baby (read them here https://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-prep/bf-benefits/#lists). To find a local La Leche League leader, you can pop on over to their site https://www.lllsa.org/ or advice and support can be found on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/lalecheleaguesouthafrica/. I can also highly recommend the book ‘The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding’ by La Leche League International. Your Doula will also be able to refer you other local Lactation Consultants if need be.
- Call in ALL the favours
You know all those friends and family that were so excited that you were having a baby and offered their help? Put them on speed dial and call in those favours!!! As technology has progressed it would seem that our deep connections and closeness that we once had in our communities is disappearing and this makes it so much harder for a mom transitioning to either a first time mom, or a mom with a toddler and baby and so on. So these favours can include be babysitting older kids so you can focus on your littlest, frozen meals, someone to come wash the dishes, someone to drive you to appointments, or someone just to come and talk adult with you over a good cup of tea! Just having another person physically there can do wonders for you and your soul!
- Set Boundaries
So while it is amazing to have people around to support you, it is also crucial you establish boundaries from the beginning. You are the parents, you get to decide what works for you and what doesn’t. The Saturday after we arrived home from the hospital we had so many people pop in to meet our little darling, we thought it was a great idea to just get it over and done with…WRONG! We were left exhausted from entertaining, making coffee and an overstimulated baby. Space out visits – some cultures only allow visitors after the 2nd week has passed. If you don’t want people holding and kissing your baby, that is your right to choose! A great way to avoid that is keeping bub in a carrier – safe, sound and snug with mom or dad!
- Rest, rest and rest
The saying ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ is getting a lot of negative criticism of late with people saying that it is not realistic. And yes, I agree, it isn’t always realistic but somewhere along the line we also created unrealistic expectations on mothers – that husbands would come home to a perfectly clean house, mom looking fresh and clean, baby happy and content and a delicious and healthy home-made meal in the oven. That is impossible!!!! So firstly, lower your standards – you do not need to be superwoman – your sole purpose is to keep yourself and baby alive for the first few weeks J slowly as you start to establish some sort of normalcy and adjust to your new role, and your body has time to recoup from 9 months of pregnancy as well as the labour and birth, you will find it easier to accomplish day to day chores. Secondly, call in those favours, if you can afford it, order freezer meals, arrange for a cleaning company to come and do the cleaning, or hire a Postpartum Doula. Thirdly, be open with your partner, see where he can help with the load. My husband took over the cooking and that helped more than he will ever know! That being said, I had a friend who couldn’t bear the thought of lying in bed all day, so she set herself an obtainable target – make the bed and have a shower, by being able to do those two things for herself, it gave her some sense of normalcy and increased her confidence and wellbeing. So again, each mother’s needs are going to be unique – do as much or as little as YOU can or want!
- Find a new mommy & me class
Being able to talk to someone about how many times baby spat up or how exhausted you are and having them say “preach, sister” is like a breath of fresh of hair. There are going to be numerous times that you feel that you that you are the only person awake or dealing with a crying baby so having someone echo your feelings and experiences makes you not feel so alone and isolated! Finding a mommy & me class is not so much about baby learning how to reach their milestones but more so about finding other mothers you can connect with, reach out to for advice and support, go on play dates and have a good laugh about the latest poonani (poo explosion).
- Prepare a Nursing Station
For the first few weeks you are going to feel like all you are doing is feeding, feeding and feeding. You are also likely to get stuck under a sleeping baby and loathe to disturb that sleeping angel to go get a snack or a book for example. So a popular idea has to create a feeding station – you can use a basket or a big box of sorts and fill it up with things you may need whilst feeding. The box then can be moved from room to room as you move around, or if you are in a double story building, you can keep one downstairs to avoid having to go up and down to baby’s nursery. Now, what to put in your box? Here are some ideas: a flask filled with hot coffee/tea (a pure luxury), healthy snacks (fruit, granola bars and nuts etc.), sucking sweets a delectable treat for yourself (go on, you deserve it), burp cloths (white terry nappies are perfect for this), change of baby clothes, nappies, wipes, hand sanitizer, breast pads, cream for yourself, lip balm, phone charger, Kindle, magazines, notebook & pen for any brain farts, breast pads and breast balm, a muslin blanket and a BIG water bottle or two (pop some in the freezer the night before for cool water during the day).
- Be kind to yourself
The most important advice I can give you is to be kind to yourself. I am not going to lie and pretend that motherhood is easy, it comes with its challenges and it is so easy to get so deeply entrenched in it you feel as if you are going to drown. Reach out for help if you need it, don’t be ashamed to ask for help – so many of us have been there and would love nothing more than to help someone make their journey easier! Take walks in nature with bub in the carrier, or get dad to watch bub while you have a looong, hot, candle-lit bath while eating a whole chocolate to yourself! Go for a massage, meet a friend for coffee and a play date. Watch a movie that makes you laugh. Look after your body, go for your postpartum check-up, continue with your prenatal vitamins and drink lots of water! That all being said, motherhood is also one of the most amazing journeys you will ever be on, so also take a moment to breathe in the beauty of the moment with that little angel of yours.