I don't want to be a one trick pony. And I realize that recent posts have focused on my journey into parenthood, and that may continue for some time. I'm not sure. I apologize to those who have no interest in these momma posts and promise to return to regularly scheduled programming in the near future :)
I've confessed my (not always so pretty) emotions. I've reflected on the funny and intimate. And now, down to the practical.
If you are expecting a baby in the near future, consider the following suggestions for the postpartum period. You'll be glad you did!
Accept and ask for help. You will need it, especially in the first few weeks when all you really do is eat, feed, sleep, and diaper on the baby's schedule. Here are some ideas:
- Ask your mom or mother-in-law (or sister or aunt or friend) to stay with you the first week. We did, which meant we had help with errands, laundry, dishes, and even the "night shift."
- Consider hiring the services of a postparum doula. We were fortunate to have a good friend that is also a doula, and after our first week help left, our doula friend stepped in on a couple different nights, talking with me about baby blues, washing the dishes, throwing in a load of laundry, and allowing me to catch a few extra winks of sleep. To learn more about doulas, go to http://www.dona.org/.
- Make a plan for how you will eat. If you have tons of discretionary money, your plan may simply be to order takeout every night. But if this isn't an option, know that exhaustion will trump cooking/eating, so figure out how you can have meals already on hand. For example, take friends up on offers to bring you meals (we did and ended up with dinners brought to us for the first two weeks after coming home!) or even consider asking your best pal to coordinate a group of your friends to bring you food. We also stockpiled about a month's worth of meals in our freezer just before the baby was born (check out http://www.onceamonthmom.com/ for a great how-to), so now that dinners aren't being delivered by friends, all we have to do is visit our freezer.
- Call the experts. Our pediatrician quickly realized that our baby was not gaining the weight he needed, so she referred me to a lactation specialist who does in-home visits. Enlisting the help of this certified expert helped us establish a plan of action, relieved my anxieties about the baby's health, and expanded my support network by one more person. If you do have breastfeeding questions, check out http://www.feedyourbaby.com/. Your problem may not be breastfeeding, but whatever challenges you face, seek help immediately from professionals. You will not know how to solve every problem, and I promise that the expert care is worth every penny you may spend.
- Acknowledge and deal with your emotions -- good, bad and ugly. Your emotions are real (and sleep deprivation will likely exaggerate their impact on you) and they will not go away magically. Everyone processes emotions differently, so find what helps you, but you can consider journaling, blogging, or talking with someone you trust. Remind yourself that there is a world happening outside your house, so venture out when you feel up to it -- it helped me regain a small sense of normalcy (plus, you need the vitamin d!).