from Valerie Lynn McDonough
Author of the Book “The Mommy Plan”
It is not a sign of strength to be able to “do it alone.” New mothers were not meant to be alone during the postpartum weeks. It is a sign of wisdom to gather support for this most significant period in a mother’s life so that a new child can be welcomed into an environment where the mother is calm, rested and supported.
1) Have a Mommy Plan, or Post-Pregnancy Plan, for your recovery in place by the seventh month of pregnancy
Don’t wait until you’ve had your baby to begin planning your recovery, because this is too late. Create plan for the first 4-6 weeks after delivery detailing the activities you will need help with and the people that have agreed to help out. Also during this time, there is gentle recuperation and proactive steps a mommy can take surrounding her diet, activities and personal care that can put her on the path to a strong healthy and balanced recovery. There is a lot a mommy can do before her first six week check up with her doctor that will accelerate her recovery.
2) Unstable Emotions Can Be Expected
Eighty percent of all mothers experience temporary, postpartum emotions, (Baby Blues) so odds are you will experience them too. Such emotions are part of the healing process the body goes. These emotions will not inhibit your ability to take care of your baby or yourself. What you need to be able to recognize is if such postpartum emotions are felt for an extended time (5-7 consecutive days) or if they develop into more serious depressive feelings which can be debilitating. Do not let such emotions go on for an extended time before any action is taken.
3) Taking Care of Mom = Take Care of Baby
Plan to spend most of the first 4-6 weeks at home. Maximize this downtime by devoting it to two things: recuperating and bonding with your baby. All other responsibilities should be secondary. Make arrangements for the daddy, family and friends to help out with household chores, meals and anything else important to you. It’s OK, and expected, to need and ask for help during this time. The well-being and healthy recovery of a woman after childbirth should be just as important a priority as taking care of the newborn child.
4) Doulas Do A Lot
A Postpartum (or Post-pregnancy) Doula, “mothers the mother,” by providing non-medical support to women and their families in the immediate period after childbirth and up to eight weeks or more afterwards. If you are unfamiliar with postpartum doulas, I’d strongly recommend that you find out about the valuable services they provide – such as new born education and assistance, breast feeding support, nursery management, house hold assistance and much more. Services are provided days or nights. Doulas aren’t a luxury service and being hired by all types of mommies as many insurance plans will cover part or all of postpartum doula services.
5) Remember the Daddy
Have the Daddy arrange flexible vacation time (2-3 weeks) with his employer starting the day you deliver. Don’t assume the Daddy will automatically know what you or the baby will need. Dad’s can be a valuable post-pregnancy care giver but they need some direction or instruction. Men view the birth experience and postpartum weeks different than women. Antenatal classes for Dads, taught by Dads, are becoming increasingly popular as instruction is from a male perspective that Daddies relate better with. Send your Daddy to such a class so he can best support you and feel part of the first initial weeks when you are doing most of the care taking for the baby.
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Valerie Lynn (McDonough) is a mother, wife, daughter, sister and a friend to many. She moved away from the United States in 1994 and has lived in Japan, England, Australia, Indonesia and most recently Malaysia, where she has settled down in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, since 2000. She is married to Scott McDonough, an Australian, and they have one son named Jordan, who is five years old at this time. She now divides her time between the United States, Malaysia, and Australia.