10 Steps to Postpartum Prep: Part 2
This is the 2nd part of our “10 Steps to Postpartum Prep” post! We’re giving five more ways you can better prepare for your post-birth experience. You can read the first five steps in the previous post. The average expectant mother spends 20 times more preparing for her birth than her postpartum experience. While birth certainly necessitates preparation, the postpartum experience is much longer than birth and in many ways more complex, too. More intentional preparation for what happens after giving birth and being sent home with baby is well worth the time and effort. While you might have a few of these already on your list of preparations, let’s consider these five additional steps to ensure you’re as ready as you can be for a better postpartum at home.
6. Consider hiring a lactation consultant
Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to most new mommas. Since breastfeeding is so healthy for both momma and baby, it’s worth hiring 1:1 help with it. A lactation consultant may be available to you at the hospital, but only a few interactions with her might not be enough. Your feeding journey will most certainly evolve over time, so a lactation consultant can help you along the way. Looking into hiring a certified lactation consultant as a part of your “postpartum team” will be worth the investment and save you hours of unanswered struggle. She can help identify any reasons why breastfeeding might be a challenge, including abnormalities with baby’s mouth or digestion and direct you accordingly for further help, if necessary. It can be overwhelming trying to learn a new skill while being responsible for feeding a newborn. A lactation consultant brings calm to the turbulent times as you learn what your body is capable of. Find one!
7. Consider hiring a postpartum doula
There’s a lot to manage when you get home with baby - and you don’t have to do it all! When you have a postpartum doula ready to receive you, you can rest assured that you’re in both caring and capable hands. For some, it may seem like a dream to have extra hands to help and care for you, while for others it may seem strange to have a stranger helping you in an already unfamiliar time in your life. She is seriously a dream come true for new mommas (and fathers!) A postpartum doula will help prepare nourishing meals, handle laundry, keep your place tidy all while providing emotional support, answering your questions, helping momma and baby adjust to breastfeeding and more. You don’t have to do it all! If you don’t have family nearby, or you prefer to leave family out of your recovery care, hire a postpartum doula. Find one!
8. Consider hiring a maternal mental health professional
One in five new mommas experience a maternal mental health disorder. That is anything more severe than “baby blues”, which only last up to ten days, post-birth. This statistic is true for a myriad of reasons from drastic hormonal changes to overwhelm and exhaustion. A psychologist or psychiatrist with expertise in maternal mental health disorders is a critical part of your postpartum team. Even if you don’t think you’ll go a little crazy as a new momma, the benefits of talking to a professional about your birth experience, and how you’re transitioning into motherhood can be life-saving. Find one!
9. Consider hiring a pelvic floor physical therapist
As many as 20% of new moms experience postpartum pelvic floor dysfunction. This causes a ripple effect of issues for new mommas - from incontinence and lower back pain to decreased self-esteem. While this is a disheartening fact, there are physical therapists and programs that specialize in pelvic floor recovery. It’s not just kegels you need to do, either, so consider finding a well-respected online or in-person program and/or a physical therapist before you’re cleared for exercise and resume your routine. You can actually cause further damage if you neglect re-training your pelvic floor following birth. While your 6-week postpartum check-up can reveal pelvic floor dysfunction, your OBGYN can (and should) recommend a physical therapist to you for further evaluation and/or treatment for optimal recovery from birth. Find one!
10. Clearly communicate your visitation boundaries
Don’t let your friends and family’s excitement supersede your boundaries. While it’s exciting to meet a new member of the family and adore the beauty of a newborn, you’re the one who just gave birth and that’s a big deal. Consider what you’re comfortable with and then tell them. If you’re not comfortable with random drop-ins - tell them! If you prefer visitors to remain virtual, tell them. If you can only handle an in-person visitor for 10 minutes, set a timer and tell them. Keep hand sanitizer at the door/near the baby if you’re comfortable with others holding baby. It’s not rude and you won’t lose your hostess-with-the-mostess designation - it’s clearly communicating boundaries during a sensitive time with your village. As you get stronger and baby grows more, there will be plenty of opportunities for visiting and getting to know the outer circles of your friendships and family members. Here’s a free download to guide your thinking on your visitation boundaries.
You might be wondering how much all of this will cost. It’s true it isn’t cheap to hire all of these professionals. But preparing for postpartum can make all the difference as you live into your motherhood journey. Ask friends to contribute to a postpartum registry instead of buying you onesies and shoes. Build these investments into your baby budget - it could cost more than money later. Just as intentionally preparing for birth has its immense benefits, so does preparing for postpartum. We can’t possibly expect that a beautiful nursery, adorable onesies, and a glitzy stroller will prepare us for the challenges of early motherhood. It’s necessary, yes, to have a safe place for your baby to grow, to be clothed and fed, but it’s also essential that we provide ourselves with the same! Underestimating our own needs after giving birth is a sure way to struggle. It’s certainly more fun to shop for onesies than researching and hiring a postpartum team, but in the end it will make the early days and nights of motherhood easier and healthier.
This was the last five of the ten steps to prepare for postpartum. How do you feel about your post-birth experience? #babyboldly