© Anna Benesova | Dreamstime.com
I vividly remember the first time I walked into a baby supply store after learning I was pregnant. The flickering fluorescent lights, the aisles and aisles of “stuff” (most of which I had no idea about) — it was overwhelming. I stayed three minutes, then left. Thus began the weeks of online searches and product reviews to create the perfect registry so my postpartum experience would be, well, perfect.
Surely with the highest rated swaddle blanket, bouncy seat, and diaper cream, I would transition into successful parenthood without a wrinkle. Becoming a new mom would be a piece of cake. I got every item on my registry. There was no way we would struggle.
My gorgeous baby girl came home Christmas Day. I was exhausted. My husband was exhausted. And my brand-new baby screamed whenever I put her in that fancy swaddle blanket and wouldn’t even consider sleeping in her top-rated crib.
Our kitchen cabinets held a half package of fig cookies, some crackers, and a few cans of soup. I have no idea what we ate those first weeks. If it hadn’t been for our mothers staggering their visits (and being wonderful cooks), it’s likely we would have starved. The baby nursed around the clock and while I was in love, I was also overwhelmed.
With a little planning, your postpartum period can be smoother than mine was. Just follow these tips and your transition to parenthood will be easier and more fulfilling.
Create a postpartum plan.
Similar to a birth plan, this will help you really think about the needs of your household and identify ways to meet those needs. There are local workshops offered to guide you through a postpartum plan.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, identify where you can get help before baby arrives. Breast-feeding challenges make recovery more difficult and knowing in advance who to call will relieve some of that pressure. Lactation consultants are available through hospitals and some local lactation counselors offer in-home breastfeeding consultation and support.
Plan your meals.
In addition to some great local options for homemade frozen meals, there are many blogs and social media sites with suggestions for freezer to crockpot meal ideas. Establish an approximate number of meals for two to three weeks after birth. This will help you eat nutritious warm foods to help your body heal.
A postpartum doula is a trained professional who specializes in taking care of mothers after birth. Nannies can be enlisted to help with older children. There are even night nurses who will care for baby overnight while you sleep. Even if you can’t hire a professional, ask a friend or neighbor to help you. Arranging specific people to come at specific times to do specific tasks is a good idea.
Accept offers of help.
If neighbors, friends, or church members offer to bring a meal by, say “Yes.” Websites such as Take Them a Meal or Food Tidings provide a list of food allergies, preferences, and schedules so you don’t end up with duplicate meals or dishes you don’t like.
Consider the other children or pets in your life.
How will a new baby potentially impact them? Who can help you support other loved ones as you adjust to your newest addition? Arranging for a carpool to and from school or a dog-walker will help ease some pressure.
Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors.
Having a house full of people can overwhelm mom and be troublesome for a newborn, especially during flu season. It’s okay to ask someone who is ill to wait to visit baby. It’s also okay to ask that people not come over during certain times of the day to allow you adequate rest.
Homemade Meals for Pick-up
Curbsidecasseroles.com • 761-0287 Offers a variety of casserole & dinner options.
LisasLunchbox.com • 767-6465
Offers salads & sandwiches for pick-up Monday-Friday.
Postpartum Doula Services
Homecoming Postpartum Services • 412-1678 In-home professional postpartum doula services & postpartum planning workshops.
In-Home Breast-feeding Support
BirthMemphis • 454-6827 In-home breast-feeding support services plus breast-feeding & prepared childbirth classes.
Bluff City Breastfeeding • 606-8810
Breast-feeding classes & in-home breast-feeding support services.
Donna Ross • 749-5811 or 757-2672
In-home breast-feeding support. Bringitonout.org.
All Better Pediatrics • 761-1880 Pediatricians are also lactation consultants.
Pediatrics East • 757-3560
This group has a lactation consultant on staff for patients.
Shelby County Breastfeeding Coalition
• Great resource for parents & professionals. shelbycountybreastfeeding.org
NOTE: Area hospitals also have lactation consultants on staff.
Beth Shelton Hayes, LMSW, Postpartum Doula