Your family is growing. Chances are you are planning out the nursery, taking a Childbirth Education class, maybe making a birth plan. You’re challenging yourself to look at your relationship as it is and to imagine how you can best make the transition into parenthood together amidst the many changes. What about the details of day-to-day life after your baby is here? Where do you even begin?
You’ll need help during those first weeks and months. You can do it alone, but it is definitely harder and slower going. You might have family or friends that you plan to enlist.
Some important questions to ask yourself during this time are: Who are the helpers? When your parents and friends come over, what do they do? Are they helpers or visitors?
If you have more than a few people to choose from, enlist helpers first for those early days and weeks. During this time you are healing and acclimating to life with this incredible new baby. You’re bonding and adjusting. If you are breastfeeding, you are building your milk supply. Make sure you have ample support from family and professionals who respect the process and attend to your needs.
Visitors are best put to work starting when your baby is around two months old. By then, you will most likely be at a point in the bonding process where you do not need to be as consistently physically close with your baby. Baby is also likely crying much more than they used to. By this time, visitors who want to hold your baby are a strong choice. At this stage, parents are happy to hand their bundle over to an enthusiastic admirer. You may need understanding and encouragement during this frequently stressful time, and a cherished moment to utilize both hands!
Often, family and friends are not enough to fill in the gaps. This is why more and more families are hiring postpartum doulas. A postpartum doula is an unbiased professional who is an expert in all things baby and early parenting. Having a professional who is up to date on all current recommendations for infant care and is familiar with a variety of parenting philosophies can make all the difference in gaining confidence and skills to match your goals.
If your family is there to help during the day, but you need help getting sleep at night, a postpartum doula is there to help with the tasks, while working with your preferred feeding method and sleeping arrangements. If you need help finding your daily routine, a postpartum doula can help with household tasks, make sure you get necessary self-care, and help put systems into place to make your life as a new parent easier. If you need around the clock support, this option is available to you as well.
When planning for your life after baby, keep in mind that it will be important to ask for help when you need it. This will be a time that it is okay to allow yourself some grace, and to take extra care of yourself so that you are not trying to pour from an empty cup. By evaluating the strengths of those around you, determining when they may be most suitable depending on the developmental stages of your baby, and by hiring professional help, you will be ahead of the game!
Arielle Fears is a Postpartum Doula, Newborn Care Specialist, Labor Doula, Childbirth Educator, Postpartum Placenta Specialist, Prenatal Yoga Instructor, and owner of Music City Doulas in Nashville, Tennessee.