The post was originally published on thelabormama.com
As most of us near new motherhood, it’s not uncommon for childbirth (and what we hope it looks like) to be a priority. There are so many dreams for us: skin to skin, vaginal birth, midwife, doulas, music, water birth, caesarean section, PDA, surgery, the smell of a newborn covered in vernix finally outside. The list is long, big and overwhelming – and then we blink, the birth has happened and we are suddenly in a postpartum period that, it turns out, is the rest of our lives.
So how can we prepare? How can we really do some “good things” to be ready – both for the brevity and incredibleness of birth and for the true ups and downs after birth?
I want to make a few suggestions that may seem a little less mainstream. I’m assuming you know some basics about childbirth and postpartum preparation, things like nipple cream and pads, lipstick, birth packing lists, books to read. And I hope you’ve found a provider you trust and maybe (hopefully) a friend or two, or a social media account or group that you encourage too. But what else? Here are a few lesser-known or discussed suggestions that we hope will make these times of the year a little easier for you.
Suggestions for childbirth and postpartum preparation
Podcasts are nothing new today. But did you know that there are so many who have to do with childbirth and the puerperium? You may already be listening, but if you are not I encourage you to start. With informed advice and information from a caregiver, childbirth and puerperium podcasts can be an incredible way to learn about the things you may encounter and be encouraged by the stories of other women who have gone through good, beautiful, and hard to become things, and survived everything. Some of my favorites are The Birth Hour, Motherhood meets Medicine, Evidence Based Birth, The Pregnancy Podcast, and The Push Revolution.
I want you to ask what you need. I want you to let people help you. Meals can be dropped off on your porch, and gift cards for Uber Eats and GrubHub are available in minutes. I’m not sure if there is anything more valuable than a hot meal that you don’t have to prepare, especially in the immediate postpartum period. It may seem bold or presumptuous to ask a friend to set up a MealTrain (or something similar) for you – but do it (before it’s due). Many churches also help new mothers in this way. People want to help you – please let them.
While it’s one of the most “natural” things in the world – breastfeeding your little one (and expressing) can actually feel like one of the hardest, most confusing, and frustrating things you have ever done. How can you prepare for this when you are at home and no longer a RN or IBCLC helps with every feed? Find a lactation consultant now (before you deliver). Keep the number on your refrigerator. When you need help, you want help right away – and I don’t want you to find someone exhausted, cluttered, and exhausted with a crying baby on your lap. (Do you love to bake mom? Try this lactation cookie recipe! Bake and Freeze in packs of 6-12 that you can pull out as needed)!
Most of us know that almost every insurance company offers pregnant women a free breast pump after giving birth. Keep track of this. Find out what is available to you BEFORE the baby arrives. Even if you only want to breastfeed, I think it’s good to be prepared with a pump – there is no guarantee that you won’t want or need it for even one season. If you can get yours before birth, sterilize it and keep it handy. If you have no idea how to use it, you can also take yours to the hospital and let the nurse or lactation consultant show you how to do it!
It feels silly to record, but can I tell you something? This may be the most important thing you can do to help manage the days after the birth with your partner. I want to encourage you to have a VERY clear and specific conversation about how each of you is taking care of the little one. If the baby wakes up at 2 a.m. and doesn’t go back to sleep, who will rock him? Will your partner change diapers in the middle of the night before you breastfeed them? Who goes to your older kids when they wake up in the middle of the night? What do you expect from them when you are home on maternity leave and they return to work? You will absolutely face things that you haven’t talked about. But the more you talk now, when it’s not three in the morning and you’re all in dire need of sleep, the better some of those potentially bad conversations are going to go.
Postpartum Anxiety and Depression
I encourage you to read up on this at the moment. For many women in the United States, there is no nursing service to examine you until 6 weeks after giving birth. The symptoms of PPA and PPD may well appear before (or even during pregnancy) – and you may be the only one standing up for yourself before that follow-up appointment. Can you get someone on board with you? Can you teach your partner, mother, or dear friend the signs and symptoms of these symptoms – and then allow them to speak into your life if they think you are experiencing any of them? The exhaustion of adding a new baby to the family can easily hide PPA or PPD, and I don’t want you to prepare for that possibility on your own. Get someone into this training and then give them the freedom to go with you.
Mom, you have a million things to think about.
I suspect the list is getting longer every day – and maybe you feel a little overwhelmed. Neither of us can tell you exactly what will make your birth and childbed “perfect” (pssst … I think that’s impossible anyway). But I hope you can be encouraged by these suggestions, and that maybe it feels really good to cross one of them off the list.
About the author
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