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When I was preparing for the birth of my first child I attended all the classes my hospital had to offer, the newborn care class, the Lamaze class, the partner class, and the breastfeeding class. I felt as prepared as I could be to tackle the crazy unknown of childbirth and my postpartum care. Boy, was I wrong. I was completely unprepared for the postpartum period. I cannot begin to express how isolated and alone I felt as I navigated breastfeeding, exhaustion, and physical recovery.
When I had my second, I was more confident in my mothering skills, and knew where to turn if I needed help. When my third came, the initial postpartum period was much like the second until my 6-week postpartum check up at by OBGYN. Due to medical complications discovered at this appointment, I was unable to produce enough breastmilk for my baby. I was crushed. It was after my third that I decided the postpartum periods that I experienced should not be “normal”. Moms should be supported throughout their whole pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. I have since become a postpartum doula. I work with moms to create their postpartum network, which includes professionals and peers they can reach out to, as well as practical measures that can be taken to promote postpartum care.
Postpartum Care: 6 Simple Steps for a Healthy Self-Care Mentality
1. Identify individuals that you can count on for unconditional support. These are individuals that you know will never ask for anything in return, you don’t have to clean your house for, or even shower for. They are also people that will do chores or watch the baby while you rest. These are the only people that you should allow to visit for the first couple weeks postpartum. They can be:
- Family members
2. Identify chores, errands, tasks that visitors can do while they are there. Write these down and post on the fridge, this way visitors don’t have to ask you what they can do. These may include:
- Switching laundry
- Bringing a meal/food or setting up a Meal Train for you
- Walking the dog
- Taking older siblings to the park
3. Identify the professionals in your area. Even if you don’t plan on needing these professionals, know their phone numbers, emails, and office locations:
- Birth professional (OBGYN, Midwife, etc)
- Lactation Consultant/IBCLC for breastfeeding moms
- Doula (birth or postpartum)
- Perinatal Mood Disorder Therapist/Counselor
4. Identify peer groups in your area. These are great places to find other moms that may be going through similar stages as you and can offer advice, insight, and encouragement.
- Breastfeeding/Lactation support groups
- New Mom Support Groups
- Mommy & Me Classes
- Facebook groups
5. Identify tasks that you can outsource.
- Get groceries delivered.
- Diaper delivery
- Dog walking
- Babysitting older siblings
6. Identify what self-care you will take during the initial postpartum. Maybe you meditate, set time to make a healthy meal (have someone else be on baby duty), a light walk outside, get your nails done, or take a shower. It doesn’t matter what you do, but figure out a way to take time for yourself for a couple minutes each day.
Wrapping Up Postpartum Care: 6 Simple Steps for a Healthy Self-Care Mentality
The postpartum period is an important transition for both you and your baby. Honor it. Recognize that by “doing it all” does not make you a better or happier mom.
Do what feels right to you, let the rest go.
This piece was written by Kate Turza. Kate is a postpartum doula and mom of three with a passion for normalizing the postpartum period and motherhood. She has also created a supportive online community for new parents in her area at www.eastendparentsupport.com. You can find her at www.ktpostpartumdoula.com. You can also connect with her here: Facebook or Instagram
P.S. If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like Post Pregnancy Workout: How to Exercise After Having a Baby. Giving birth is a empowering experience. It’s also an extremely challenging ordeal and it leaves behind long-term effects you will need to deal with. Getting back into a healthy exercise routine is often tricky once you have become a mom. Use these three steps for your post pregnancy workout as you ease your way back into a good fitness regimen.