I remember showering shortly after my son was born and looking down at a fistful of hair in my hands. Not the average sized hair loss I was accustomed to but enough to at least start a wig! “What the heck?” My collection of hair kept growing. I told my sister in law about my accumulating hair collection in the drain, to which she replied “Oh ya that happens”, as though it were the most normal thing on the planet. “Oh ya know you just lose your hair after you have a baby!” WAIT, WHAT?! That's not all, there are so many other things people don't tell you after you have a baby. Hunger -- that little human wants to eat all the time! Long gone are the days when you could sit down to a hot meal, or find a moment to stuff a snack in your face. Frozen pads, sitz baths, I imagined myself curled up with my sweet baby peacefully. HA. It would take me 5 minutes just to figure out how to sit down comfortably. Someone should come up with a front door sign for mommas that indicates their current mood to warn anyone who approaches. Come back later momma and baby sleeping, only knock if you have food, come in and do my laundry we are resting, knock on this door and I will hurt you! As you embark on this new adventure there will be many ups and downs but the best start is being prepared – or as prepared as you can be as nothing can really prepare you for parenthood until you are there.
You need a postpartum plan
It is a good idea to do this with your partner before the baby comes. You will want to discuss things like meals. Who will cook, will you eat out, or order in, will you prepare meals before hand, or have people make meals for you?
As you create your postpartum plan here are just a few areas to cover.
1. Baby Stations
Setting up your home to be baby functional is key. Have baby changing stations on each level of your house, use a basket and put diapers, extra baby clothes, wipes and whatever else you may need so you aren't going up and down all time time.
2. Breastfeeding/feeding Places
When you sit down to feed your baby, use this as an opportunity to nourish yourself. Have a bottle of water, and some one handed snacks in the areas you are most likely going to feed in. Make sure you have everything you need so you can enjoy this bonding time with your baby and not be rushed because you are starving or thirsty.
Make a plan for how many people you want around those first few weeks. It's important that you and your partner are on the same page. Ask for help when visitors come, they can bring food, pick up diapers or throw a load of laundry in. As much as people want to meet and hold your baby, they want to help but just don't always know how. Don't be shy! And for those visitors you are comfortable with and trust, sleep while someone else gushes over your little tiny human! And don't be afraid to put that sign up on the front door!
Who will be a part of this team? Do you have family members or friends? Consider hiring a postpartum doula. Shameless plug -- a postpartum doula isn't your guest. They are there to support you and your family, not to visit and make more work for you.
5. Redefining Roles
Now that there is a newborn to take care of, some of the household responsiblities may need to shift. Talk to your partner about what will likely change, consider hiring a cleaning person for those first few weeks if having a clean space is something you are worried about. Who will do the laundry, who will look after the pets, who will run errands, or transport siblings?
6. Sleep and Rest
How many hours of sleep do you usually need a night to feel rested? Try to fit these hours of rest/sleep into the day by napping when your baby is sleeping, or taking turns with your partner so you can each rest. Reach out to a support person you trust to be with your baby while you both nap.
I highly reccommend you take a prenatal breastfeeding class, it can help give you the knowledge and tools to be successful. Have the numbers to local breastfeeding clinics and/or lactation consultants near by if you end up needing them. Ask your doula for support.
As with most things in life, the key to a successful birth and child rearing adventure is planning. Plan, plan, and when you are done that, make another plan. A huge part of my work as a birth doula is to make a plan with families, for birth and postpartum. Everything doesn't always go as planned, especially in the case of birth and babies but having a plan will help you be more successful and confident in making your first decisions as parents.