I'm a fan of the "Best for Babes" foundation on Facebook. One of their latest status updates is, "When I first started breastfeeding, what I needed most was _____?"
After only three hours 94 women responded with several different needs. The two that seemed to appear most (although I didn't take a formal tally) were WATER! and Support.
Add that to a conversation about early parenthood at a family graduation party.
The After Baby Lady says, "I'm a postpartum doula, which is basically someone who supports and helps new families after they have a baby. Doesn't everyone want more support when they bring a new baby home?"
Family Friend responds, "HA! Support! When I came home from the hospital no one had done much housework while I was gone and I ended up scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees."
I've heard these stories a lot from women who delivered in the 1970's and 1980's. Some seem to wear their lack of support like a badge saying things like, "young women today have it so easy! When I came home from the hospital I ..."
Then these amazing women go on to discuss the LACK of support they had and how they soldiered on through the hard times. Most mothers know that if no one else does it (whatever it may be) then we have to.
My goal in educating people about what postpartum doulas do is to gently suggest (or scream from the rooftops depending on my audience) that women don't NEED to do everything. Women can be taken care of by doulas, friends, family, partners, and still be amazing mothers. I want to give women permission to ask for and receive help knowing that they will enjoy and be better mothers for doing so.
Who ever is your partner in life - please remember to appreciate what they do.
Fathers have the tough job of supporting new mothers in a time when our hormones do the most major shift they will ever do. Pregnant women have very high levels of hormones and after the baby is delivered hormones plummet. Throw in a little sleep deprivation and voila! You have a recipe for a very moody mommy!
Mothers oftentimes are the primary caregivers. It is hard to put into words the awesome task of caring for a baby 24/7. Our society often expects moms to be experts right from the start and that puts a lot of pressure on us! When you have that pressure it is easy to feel isolated. To feel like no one understands or appreciates what you are going through.
Here are a few tips I have found very useful...
#1 In our house, we have a rule that the first six weeks after a baby is born if someone snaps or an argument occurs we brush it off. We acknowledge the feeling, "I did not really mean to get so upset about (insert silly reason here that seemed REALLY important at the time)."
#2 Another great piece to remember is that you are on the same team! No one said parenting would be easy and it starts off with a bang. Most families are unprepared for how difficult it actually is to have a newborn. No book can really prepare you for being awake for 4 hours trying to soothe a crying baby. Being on the same team means that you work together and try not to keep score.
#3 Use your manners. Say please. Say thank you. Say you are welcome. Mean what you say! My husband is my water boy. I somehow manage to forget every time I nurse a baby that I will feel thirsty. Although he jokes he still gets me the water. He is an amazing man.
#4 Love each other. Kiss for 10 seconds at least once every day. Snuggle on the couch, with or without baby. Keep touching and keep close to each other. This does not have to mean sex. But let's face it ladies our husbands need to have sex. Don't be afraid to have a quickie. Our relationships are what will keep us going in the long run. Be good to the relationship and remember it is your number one priority. Kids will come and grow but your mate is your constant.
#5 No one is perfect and no one knows everything. And that is okay!
I would love comments about other tips you have found helpful.
Jill Reiter CPD, Author
A mother, wife and Postpartum Doula's blog.
The After Baby Lady
Shelby Township MIPhone: 586-604-1446