|Posted on May 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM|
On Tuesday I shared the things we have in our “Postpartum Kit”. Last night’s birth circle topic was about the postpartum period…specifically the six weeks after baby was born. Here are some gems from last night to share with you:
Breastfeeding: Some moms set up a “nursing station” in the nursery. They stock it with water, snacks, books or magazines to read while nursing, nursing pads and nipple cream. One of the mom/Bradley™ teacher/doula suggested to set up more than one station because in her experience mom’s get tired of nursing in the same spot. She said other common rooms where a mom would spend a lot of time; maybe the family room or kitchen would be other possible locations to have supplies.
The other idea was to make a portable nursing station. Fill a basket or tote with all of the same supplies, and even keep diapers, wipes and an extra change of clothes in there so that you don’t have to get up and move baby when they are settled if they need a change before or after nursing.
The third idea shared in relation to breastfeeding was to take a class before baby arrives. It helps to know what you can expect. In our Bradley Method® classes, we also suggest our students attend two La Leche League meetings before baby arrives. If you can’t make it to a class, at least you hear some information that pertains to breastfeeding. LLL runs meetings based on a 4-series cycle that they have identified as the four over-arching topics that pertain to breastfeeding.It helps to meet the local leaders for postpartum breastfeeding help. Leaders are available 24/7 by phone, and some will do home visits. Sometimes it makes it easier to make that late-night or early-morning call if you know there is a friendly face you have already met on the other side of the phone line.
Meals: Organizing meals has gotten a huge boost thanks to social networking. The site mentioned specifically was takethemameal.com. You can specify food preferences, set dates for delivery, and then post it on social networking sites or email a link to your friends and family so they can sign up. The site sends out a reminder email the day before someone is scheduled to remind them of their commitment and send them your address/contact info so it’s handy for the next day.
One of our friends was kind enough to organize this for us after Angelika was born – it was a God-send. We got to eat foods we don’t usually prepare and got a couple of new favorites. And, it made our babymoon sweeter since we didn’t have to worry about making food to feed the family for a few weeks.
Meconium: Baby’s first few bowel movements are a thick, tarry stool called meconium. It is the result of the amniotic fluid they ingested inutero. A tip we learned from our midwife, and also shared by the midwife in attendance last night, was to put olive oil on the baby’s bottom before putting on the first diaper. This keeps the meconium from sticking to baby’s bottom and makes it much easier to clean. Keep using olive oil on the diaper area until baby’s stools change to the yellow, runnier stools.
Partners: Mom’s husband-boyfriend-partner are a huge part of the team that can make or break the postpartum period. I have been blessed with a great Husband-Coach who makes every effort to make our postpartum period as smooth as possible. One mom shared that their uncomfortable and overwhelming postpartum period led her and her fiancé to split after the birth of their son.
Partners can also influence the breastfeeding relationship. Thanking your child’s mom for persisting through the learning curve, keeping her fed and hydrated, supporting her and helping her manage the first times nursing in public – all these things encourage us to persist through the learning curve. If you notice that mom is struggling, make the phone call to schedule a meeting with a LLL leader or a professional IBCLC lactation consultant. Go with her to a lactation consultation or to a support group meeting. Four ears are better than two for remembering the information that is shared. You will both be happy for the help that you receive, and these gals have years of experience to draw from to help you have the best breastfeeding relationship possible.
Postpartum Helpers: Some families have help that comes in after baby is born. Mothers, mothers-in-law, siblings...you can make the best of this help by being clear about what you need. Are there meals to be made? Other children to tend to? Housework that needs to be done? Housework done a certain way? Make a list - this even helps with visitors who offer to help. It's easier to ask them to pick a chore off of the list than to come up with something on the spot when you are tired.
Sometimes we are blessed with a helper that seems to read our mind and things are done before we even think of them. My mom was great about making me high protein, nutritious snacks - what a blessing that was! And if they can't read your mind, then be clear and be kind - no one wants to make you upset on purpose. (I learned this one the hard way - trust me, it's easier to take the time to make a list!)
And sometimes these helpers have different ideas than you and your partner do about how to care for baby. 1.) Get really good at saying, "This works for our family," or "We are going to try it our way first." 2.) Hire a postpartum doula - an "expert" to remind your helpers of all the way things have changed and the "new" information about babies that you are trying to implement. (See link below for one of our faves!)
A postpartum doula is also a great option if family or friends are not available to help you in the postpartum period. The best thing both parents can do is be well-rested for baby.
Sleep: I don’t think it can be said enough – sleep when the baby sleeps! Even if you feel like you are doing well after an uncomplicated birth, take it easy! There are internal wounds that are healing, and the body is healing from the stressors of pregnancy and labor. A couple of moms shared stories of over-doing it that landed them in bed for much longer than if they had rested and healed. It’s not forever…maybe the first week after the birth. Stay in bed, skin-to-skin with your baby to promote bonding and breastfeeding, and get out to get some indirect sunlight on a daily basis to help with postpartum issues….and then go back to resting.
After the first week, you can start with little walks if you are ready to exercise. The prevailing word to keep in mind: EASY. Take it easy with exercise, easy on housework, easy on yourself. Your body just did a wonderful thing – it made and birthed a baby! Give it time to heal so that you can recover and hit your stride again once you are physically ready (generally after your care provider clears you around 6-weeks postpartum).
Visitors: Be honest! Be brave! When someone calls to see if you need anything, don’t be the hero and answer with “That’s okay – we’re fine.” Learn to say, “Yes, I would be grateful if you could (insert chore here).” If people ask if they can come over and you are too tired or you are overwhelmed with the visitors that have already been over that day, be okay with saying, “We would love to see you. Today has been full and we need our rest. How about (date/time suggestion)?” Most people coming over are already parents, and they will understand where you are coming from – you probably don’t have to worry about offending them. And if they are offended…well, there are lots of sayings that cover that issue.
This is another area where partners can take the lead. Once people are at your home and you see mom getting sleepy, step up and say, “It looks like you are ready for bed – what can I do to help you get ready?” Maybe your visitor gets the hint and will volunteer to leave – make sure they do – soon! By attending immediately to mom, they will get the hint. And if not, then at least mom is in bed resting with baby and Coach can visit a little longer with your company.
Other ideas: Other topics that came up were placenta encapsulation and the benefits of wearing amber jewelry. Some moms also asked about cloth diapers versus disposables. I included links to previous posts for placenta encapsulation; and here are a couple of links to read more about amber jewelry and some local cloth diaper stores that run workshops, and a postpartum doula:
What is a postpartum tip you would share with a new mom?
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