Tag Archives: new baby

New Motherhood: 5 Ways to Thrive in the Postpartum Period

Vanessa's Sunshine!!! Emilía.

By Zoe Etkin

In America we desperately need to let go of “super mom” syndrome. The expectation that women should be back to work, back in shape, and somehow managing everything else, in 6 weeks or less is just not a realistic portrait of new motherhood. I propose a new way, well, an old way, really, of viewing the postpartum period. One that honors the mother just as she is in her unique journey. The number one issue is the length of maternity leave in this country—6 weeks doesn’t cut it. But I won’t go down that rabbit hole, as government reform is what is required to make that change possible. There are, however, things we can do, as new mothers, and as those who support new mothers, to make the postpartum period less stressful and more enjoyable.

  1. Enlist family and friends for support, but set clear boundaries. Moms: give your friends (family too) specific hours that they should visit. Make it brief—2 hours tops—enough time for them to throw in some laundry, grab you a snack, and hold the baby while you shower. Friends/family: When you visit a new mom, focus your attention on her. Often people get wrapped up in the excitement of the new baby (totally understandable—babies are amazing), but at the exclusion of the mother. Let her know what a good job she is doing, then moon over the baby when she’s taking a little “me time.”
  2. Part of recovering from your birth, and producing milk to feed your baby, is maintaining good nutrition. Sitting down to eat a full meal is often not possible for new moms, so it’s important to have healthy snacks and water available at all times. Simple snacks I recommend are avocadoes, almonds, eggs, trail mix, fruit, and smoothies. Preparing meals before the baby comes is a great idea too. Prep a few homemade veggie lasagnas, soups, and other easily reheated meals for the first weeks home with baby. You’ll probably be offered meals from friends and family as well. Streamline that process by choosing someone to set up a Meal Train for you. This website allows you to state food preferences, times you’d like food delivered, and if they are to just drop it off (rather than come in). Fresh meals at your doorstep are such a blessing to families with newborns.
  3. Diapering/Nursing Stations: If you have a larger home, particularly multi-level, you don’t want to be trekking up and down the stairs to change baby’s diaper, or feel tethered to one spot for nursing. Purchase a few small baskets and stock them with water, nuts, diapers, nursing pads, burp cloths, a clean onesie, wipes and nipple/butt cream. Place one basket by your bed, one in baby’s room, and one in the living room/where ever else you’ll be nursing. I highly recommend these to women who’ve had surgical births, as stairs can be uncomfortable to navigate during recovery.
  4. Hire a postpartum doula. No really, I’m not just plugging my own work! What we do as postpartum doulas is focus on the mother’s needs, emotional and physical, assist with breastfeeding, give newborn care instruction, watch siblings, perform light household maintenance, and provide resources and referrals, among other things. With many new mothers’ partners away at work, the doula can provide relief, support, and encouragement. Our hearts are so open as doulas, we absolutely love watching our clients grow into confident, amazing parents. We’re there to support the partners as well, and the siblings, making sure the household is running smoothly, but our number one and two priorities are mother and baby.
  5. This is for you, mama: make time to take care of yourself. I know it seems impossible with a newborn, but schedule it into your day. When your friend, relative, postpartum doula comes over, make sure one thing they do is hold baby while you nap, exercise, eat, shower, meditate, or whatever else feels good to you. You’re not super woman, and we need to stop making our mamas feel like they need to be. It’s okay to be exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed. It’s also okay to accept help when it’s offered, and ask for it when you need it. We’re a society of hard workers, but we must balance that work with self-care.

Finally, set up your postpartum support system prenatally, making the transition into new motherhood more easeful. Take the journey one day at a time. It will get easier. Your baby is only this small for a short part of her entire life. You are doing an amazing job, right where you are in this moment.

* * *

76773_582146197395_8154608_nZoe Etkin is an LA-based CAPPA trained birth and postpartum doula, poet, and teacher. She earned her MFA in Writing from CalArts, where she earned the Beutner Award for Excellence in the Arts. She is the editor of Red Sky: A Literary Journal, and her own poetry can be found in many print and web publications. She is committed to educating and empowering women, supporting families, and promoting good writing.

 

Photo credit: David Terrazas

“How Can I Get My Mother-in-Law to Back Off?”

Question:

I have a small and maybe silly question but nevertheless it’s a nagging thought that’s always on my mind.I am expecting my first baby who is due to arrive in a couple of months.

My mother in law who is staying with us is good to me except occasional differences which I think happens in almost every relationship. Sometimes however, she becomes too interfering and always tells me what to do and how things should be done.

Also, very rarely can I go out for maybe a quiet dinner with my husband alone. But I have accepted that too and don’t take it too seriously always as I know that she is elder to me and it’s probably more difficult for her to adapt and change at her age than it is for me. I try to think positively about her always and think of her good qualities rather than what’s not so good coz everyone (including me) has good and bad qualities.

However, nowadays I feel very sad and somewhat irritated at times when she continuously hammers into my head how much she is waiting for the baby to arrive so that she will leave everything else and just be glued to the baby all day. I accept and know that she has every right on my baby and she is after all going to be a grandmother so its natural for her to be happy and excited however, her behaviour portrays as if I have no right over my baby and will have to follow whatever she decides is good for the baby.

Even for small things like buying things for the baby, I have to always consult her and follow all her advice which I don’t always accept. She is also extremely superstitious and I follow her superstitions only to keep harmony in the relationship even though I don’t believe in the superstitions.

I have also tried explaining to her that these are only superstitions but in vain so I have now stopped trying to change this aspect in her and just accept what she says superficially. I realize that my baby will be very fortunate to have a grandmother who will look after and care for him/her however, I too have dreams and wishes towards my baby and would like to bring up my child as per my wishes too.

I sometimes feel guilty for thinking like this because she is maybe only trying to help and her feelings are natural too. Maybe I am just thinking too much about the future and should just take one day at a time. She’s always looking at negative aspects and how the children of today are spoilt and keeps hammering into my head how to bring up my child so that he/she doesn’t go the wrong way when in fact her sons are all SPOILT BRATS! this includes my husband who was a spoilt brat but has now changed a lot and realizes whatever he did wrong earlier.

Request your advise Deepak on this matter. I know it’s a very small thing but I’d like to know if I am wrong in my thinking & how can I change this situation for the best.

Answer:

It sounds as if your idea of keeping harmony with your mother-in-law is just to remain silent and not tell her what you want and how you feel. It is important to make yourself heard now, or it will only become more difficult in the future.

The other major factor here is that your husband should be involved here in setting clear boundaries about his mother’s excessive interference.This shouldn’t just be put on your shoulders to tell her that her overarching involvement is unhealthy and unwelcome.

Begin by getting clear in your mind what kind of help and involvement from her you would like. Imagine how that would look to you. Talk with you husband about how he envisions her involvement with your family that would be harmonious with you. Come to a mutual understanding on this and then sit down and talk with her.

Convey to her all the ways in which you two are looking forward to involving her with the baby and talk to her about how much her love and support means to you. Find areas of concern that you can agree with her about the baby as well.

Then in a kind voice tell her that you will be looking forward to her helping with the baby, but that it is not going to require that she be there all the time. Say that you and your husband are committed to raising the baby based on your dreams and values, and that will sometimes be different from hers.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love her or respect her views, but that this is important for you and your husband to take this responsibility as parents, just as all good parents must do. Make sure you make it clear to her how you two see her helping and being involved, but at the same time let her know that this is your decision, not hers.

She has already played the role of a mother in raising her children, and the role of a grandmother is not the same thing. If you remain passive while she pushes herself into your role, she will assume it is okay and keep pushing in deeper. It won’t get better on it’s own.

Take action now and hopefully you can set up boundaries so the relationship can be healthy and happy for all involved.

Love,

Deepak

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