Tips for Your Postpartum Transition

Tips for Postpartum transitionYesterday, you were pregnant. Yesterday, your doctor/nurse/midwife saw you at least once a week (or, if you were like me and had a pregnancy concern, every other day). Yesterday, everyone wanted you off your feet, wanted to make sure you didn’t lift that heavy box, wanted to make sure you didn’t eat that sushi you so desperately craved.

Today? Today, your baby is here. Your doctor won’t see you for another 6 weeks, your best friend is already calling for a coffee date, and you’re supposed to automatically know how to do it all without guidance or support. Basically, today you’re on your own.

Recently a number of my friends and I were discussing this article about the sad state of postpartum life that is reality for many women in the United States. Personally, this rings true for my own experience. After being seen every other day for the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy and basically surround by people and instructions, I suddenly found myself clueless with a new infant and unsure where to turn or who to turn to. My daughter was seen 3 times by her pediatrician and once by a drop in home nurse in the 6 weeks that I waited for my own checkup. I found well-meaning family overwhelming and stressful, rather than helpful. Breastfeeding was hard and I had no idea where to turn. I even had to ask my husband to watch for the signs of postpartum depression, since I realized that no one else was.

So, what can a woman do to lessen this postpartum isolation? Here are a few great ways that you can help ensure a smooth transition after baby arrives.

  • Establish reliable help. For me, that would have been my husband, who took some time off of work. For you, that may be a mother, sister, family member, or good friend. Whoever it is, be sure that they understand that you’re looking for more than someone to hold the baby while you keep house. Choose someone who will really help keep the house running while you recover and bond with your baby.
  • No guests for a week, at least. Of course, everyone is eager to meet baby, so explain that you will be more than happy to see them all in a week or two. If you do receive guests early on, try to limit the length of those visits and establish clear hours when visitors are allowed to come by.
  • Find your community. At the time I had no idea that a community full of women who were ready and wanting to help me was literally at my fingertips. The internet, and more specifically Facebook, is a wonderful resource for the new mom. Your local La Leche League, postpartum support groups, mommy meet ups and any number of others forms of assistance can often be found with a simple search.
  • Be your own advocate. Your doctor or nurse will typically be happy to take a phone call to answer questions and many even offer email as a method of communicating with patients. Call, ask questions, and trust your gut. If something seems off, call for an appointment earlier than that 6 week checkup.
  • Look into hiring a postpartum doula. When I was pregnant I was well aware of what a doula does, but had no clue that postpartum doulas exist. I wish I had. According to Dona International, “the role of a postpartum doula is to help a woman through her postpartum period and to nurture the family.” While what each doula will do will vary, the additional help could definitely ease the transition after baby arrives.

What was life like for you when you brought baby home? What tips would you give new moms on surviving, and hopefully, thriving in those first few weeks?

Kate Cunha is a mostly stay-at-home mom of a 2.5 year old little girl. Living in the Pacific Northwest, she’s always on the hunt for good friends and good coffee.

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