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New Moms and Dads - the “Postpartum Recovery” Period

Posted on January 25th, 2013 by | 5 views
by Christine Goldman, CD(DONA), CPD, CBE

Everyone almost expects new moms to be tired, cranky and hormonal. “Poor mom, she is up every two hours feeding her baby, changing, rocking and putting baby back to sleep.” Taking care of other children, running a household, keeping on top of everything…it can be exhausting. All moms and dads know...

Dad possibly stays home for a few short weeks if he can. Grandmas come and go…neighbors bring occasional meals. But what happens AFTER that crowd of anxious-to-hold/see-baby friends and relatives leave???

For the expectant mother, the best thing she can do before she gives birth, is to prepare and plan for her postpartum recovery period.

  • List five ways that you think your life will change after the baby is born. As you see them on paper, evaluate each one of them to see where you personally may need support (i.e. if you have worked outside the home all of your life, and are not used to being home, you may feel that you need emotional or organizational support…versus someone who is used to being home and may need more household help).
  • List five of your characteristics/strengths that will help you with these changes. List five of your partner’s characteristics/strengths that you think will help with these changes. The identification of your strengths is a good way to evaluate positively and to validate your skills and ability to weather postpartum turbulence.
  • Make a list of people that are willing to help, family that will be visiting to help, seasoned moms that you can count on for just about anything, and outside paid help.
  • Concentrating on your list of “five life changes” above, plan a time table for at least six weeks after your baby is due when help will be provided from these sources to help aid in the very changes that concern you the most.
  • If you are a single mother, SEEK out local resources in your community for support. Statistically, the more support you have for the first six months of your baby’s life, the better adjusted you will feel. This comes full circle when you parent your child alone…a feeling of being “taken care of” and supported will aid you in parenting your child...

Feeling tired after delivery, broken sleep patterns and not enough rest often keeps a new mother from regaining her full strength for weeks. Feeling overwhelmed with a new, or another baby to take care of, feeling stress from changes in work and home routines, feeling a loss of control and/or feeling they need to be “super mom”, which is unrealistic, can add stress—all contributing possibly to the baby blues, postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. (see below for support info on PPD) These feelings could even begin months later as well.

As a mother of four with a newborn, I was sure I could do it “on my own”. I had done it before, right? It was then, 12 years at being a wife and mother, that I finally realized that “it was okay” to ask for help! At the insistence of my mother-in-law, I hired outside help to come in for a couple hours a week to do the things that I felt would help me the most. It was the best thing I have ever done for myself!

Fathers often encounter unexpected physical and emotional adjustments for them when having a baby. Although the man's body has not undergone the physical strain of pregnancy and birth, he may experience his own form of exhaustion from the changes in household schedules, interrupted sleep, increased financial responsibilities, and concern for his partner's emotional and physical needs. Fathers are encouraged to share their feelings with their spouse and to seek professional assistance if necessary. Both mothers and fathers can feel guilty and disappointed if they are unable to fully enjoy this time. Additionally, fathers are often an important resource in assessing the mother's need for professional help.

The good news is that there are things you can do to take care of yourself. Allow yourself time to adjust and let all of the new emotions find some sort of expression. Get good old-fashioned rest. If this means hiring a Postpartum Doula to come in a few hours a day, you will never regret the sleep you caught up on!

STOP putting pressure on yourself to do everything. Do as much as you feel you can and leave the rest. Get help for times when you need naps, household errands, sibling care and nighttime feedings. Recent studies have shown that when women that utilize a Postpartum Doula, a family is better able to adjust during this postpartum period. Talk to your husband, partner, family and friends about how you are feeling. Join a support group in your area to get to know other new mothers.

For more information, you can contact the National Women’s Health Information Center (NHWIC) at 1-800-994-0662; Depression After Delivery, Inc at 1-800-944-4773/www.depressionafterdelivery.com; orLOCAL Postpartum Support at Doulas of CNY- (315) 455-6MOM, Professional, experienced Certified Postpartum Doulas/www.doulasofcny.com. Also offering mom support for PPD.

Christine Goldman, CD, CPD, CBE
Mother of five and co-owner of Doulas of CNY,

‘Offering unique birth and postpartum support for Moms and their families.’

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