Protecting Postpartum

 

Everybody loves a squishy new baby. It’s almost irresistible to keep from wishing for the privilege to cuddle a weeks, days, or hours old newborn, who’s only just experiencing the big, wide world for the very first time. These tiny, precious lives leave us in such awe and wonder.

No doubt, you want to show off your little one, too. After all, this baby is yours; it’s you – in miniature form! It’s a miracle that you and your partner have made and brought into the world; the pride you feel is unexplainable.

It’s a fairly common cultural practice to expect that people will ask (or not) to visit you at your home or hospital in the early hours or days after baby is born. Whether it’s your closest friends or family, co-workers, or the most distant relative, it’s almost ritualistic to have a small parade of eager visitors, waiting in line to get their first look at your precious, wee babe.  

But guess what? This is your time. This is your moment. These are your first hours and days of passage into parenthood. It’s brief, it’s intimate, and it’s yours, so allow yourself to consider what’s best for you!

Giving careful thought to when and who you welcome into your space in the early days is important for a few reasons:

                The first hour of your baby’s is the most critical time of bonding and nursing.

This isn’t to say that you can’t bond or breastfeeding well beyond this point, but there is significant evidence that this time matters.

If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a learning curve, and time for privacy, rooming in and having space to learn this dance can be critical to your success.

Having visitors and learning to latch a baby to the breast can be so challenging. If you want visitors in the early days, allow yourself to retreat to feed the baby if you need to, or keep your visits brief and don’t be afraid to ask people to leave when you need some space.

Entertaining can cause undue pressure.

Are you going to feel pressured to entertain, provide food, or act as ‘host’ to anyone who comes by? If you don’t feel like you can have people in your home without feeling like a hostess, either ask them to wait until you’re ready, or draw clear expectations so you aren’t feeling the pressure.

You’ve just completed a marathon, followed by the biggest learning curve you’ll likely encounter in your lifetime; you need to time and space to rest!

Some cultures encourage women to rest and room-in with baby (with the exception of using the washroom, and joining in for some family/meal times), for 6 weeks. SIX WEEKS! Friends and family members will stop to bring food, healing teas, and help care for the house or the other children. Protecting the rest and healing of the mothers is of highest importance, and it’s reflected in the way they care for one another. Our North American culture might have a bit of a hard time wrapping our heads around that one, but perhaps we can learn something from them.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family what you need most from them. If you feel uncomfortable, ask your spouse or a friend to relay your post-partum wishes and needs…

  • Request that your friends and family to text or call ahead; no surprises means you’re in charge of the who and when.
  • Ask for nourishing meals or snacks; food, food and more food!
  • Make a list of chores that can be done around the house or in the yard when visitors come by.
  • Be clear that you’d like visits kept short, that way, when you’re ready for a nap or need to nurse, you can excuse yourself without feeling guilty.

This time is short; these fleeting first days?  You’ll never get them back. You won’t regret creating healthy boundaries for yourself that protect this precious time, giving you the space you need for your new family.