Three Tips to Help Moms Through the First Six Weeks After Birth
So much build up, so much excitement at the end of pregnancy about meeting your new baby! The nursery is decorated, the onesies are organized, and the car seat is installed. The anticipation is palpable.
Immediately after birth there is a sigh of relief…it may be a sigh of a mother’s heart being overwhelmed with love for her baby, or a sigh of gratitude that the labor is finally over. Either way, there is usually a certain light feeling in those first postpartum hours and days.
Until the hormone drop. At three days postpartum mom’s hormones take a big drop and she may feel overwhelmed with baby’s intense needs, unsure about breastfeeding, or tired from waking up with the baby several times overnight. 80% of moms will experience baby blues in the first few weeks…feeling weepy, anxious, or overwhelmed at times. So what can be done to ease the transition for everyone?
1) Allow yourself time to rest. In Mexico women practice the tradition of the “cuarentena”…40 days of rest where mom’s only jobs are to heal and care for the baby. Family members take care of the cooking, cleaning, and other chores while the mother has a chance to recover.
After birth there is a wound in your uterus the size of a dinner plate. Even if you feel good, allow your body time to heal itself. Nursing allows many opportunities to sit down and put your feet up. In fact, crawling into bed for some skin to skin time with your little one will be beneficial for you and your baby. Take advantage of any opportunities to catch up on sleep during the day. The laundry and dust bunnies can wait. Which bring me to my next point…
2) Accept help from others. Make a list of chores that regularly have to be completed in your family – laundry, dishes, sweeping, walking the dogs, taking older children to extracurricular activities, etc. Hang it up on your refrigerator so that visitors can choose an item from the list to help you with. This can help take some of the awkward feelings out of asking other people to do things for you.
Remember that oftentimes people WANT to help! Welcoming a new baby into a family is a very special time and friends and extended family love to be a part of that. It’s a favor to both of you to let them support you in these early days. You get an extra set of hands and they get the satisfaction of being a part of your family’s transition. If you don’t have friends or family around to help you, consider enlisting the services of a postpartum doula.
3) Adjust your standards of yourself and others. Don’t try to hit the gym two weeks postpartum or host Thanksgiving dinner days after giving birth. You don’t have to keep a spotless house or put everyone else’s needs first to be enough. Getting through your day with baby is all that you need to do. Set realistic goals and be gentle with yourself if getting back into the swing of things take longer than you expected.
While you are accepting help from others, keep in mind that your mother-in-law won’t load the dishwasher the same way you do and your husband won’t fold pants like you. Ask yourself, “Do I need this done the “right” way or do I need it done?” In most cases getting things done will be adequate, even if it’s not up to your usual standards.
Dear mother, know that you are deserving of rest, assistance, and relaxed expectations during this time. The postpartum period calls for COMPASSION above all else.
Nikki Shaheed CD(DONA) Certified Birthing from Within Mentor