No, I’m not talking about the vacation a couple takes in their last days of being “Double Income-No Kids”; I’m referring to the period after a baby is born, the time we fall in love with our babies. The immediate days postpartum are an important time in the symbiosis of the maternal-child bond; this is when breastfeeding is established, it is when mom heals from childbirth, and it is when a mother gets to know their baby.
Cultures throughout the world have days of lying in after the birth of a new baby; this is where the mother and baby are isolated and doted upon to varying extents. In Latin American, new mothers bind their bellies and are bed-ridden for 40 days. New Jewish mothers are confined for the first 8 days, until the baby is presented with his or her Hebrew name. Asian mothers are kept warm and fed warm foods while female relatives attend to their household duties. These rituals all have a purpose, they are to help mom heal, help mom balance her hormones, and help to ease mom into her new role as a mother.
Balancing this need for the learning and healing period against that of the expectations of modern motherhood is tough! I remember being handed a 10 day postpartum plan from my midwives and thinking to myself, “yeah right!” after reading “Hurrah! You just had a baby! You get a 10 day vacation!” along with a questionnaire about who was going to do the laundry (that wasn’t dad) and who was going to cook? I was moving the week after having my new daughter, there was no rest for the weary.
A 40 day vacation would have been really nice, but unfortunately, impractical. There can however be a happy medium. As a culture we need to reintroduce the Babymoon and keep the postpartum sacred. These are important days for both bonding and healing. Whether you have a vaginal birth in the hospital or home, or a cesarean section, the first few days really are best spent lying around doing as little as possible. A lot can be done before birth to be prepared. Here is a list of a few things to get the preparation process started.
1) Make meals ahead of time. Pinterest is good for finding recipes that are easily frozen and popped in the oven or in the crock pot.
2) Keep a bunch of one handed snacks on hand. Nuts, protein bars, and fresh fruit are handy.
3) Gather up all of your favorite take-out and delivery menus, circling yours and your partner’s favorite meals
4) At your shower, ask that guests sign up with a service such as Mealtrain.com or Carecalendar.com. Some baby showers and blessing ways often include bringing a freezer meal to stock the new moms freezer with as well.
5) Keep guests limited during the first couple of weeks.
6) Hire a postpartum doula.
7) Figure out who really will be doing the laundry.
8) Create your inner sanctum; stock your bedroom with new books, movies, board games, a diaper changing station.
9) Make a phone list of all of your go-to baby contacts; your doula, midwife/obstetrician, a 24 hour IBCLC number, the local breastfeeding group leader, a good friend you can call for anything (preferably one who already has children).
While these simple tips may not guarantee a completely problem free transition, they should relieve some of the stress and bring ease to what can be a hectic time. I encourage you to also think about your postpartum experience just as you have about pregnancy and the birth experience. Add to this list for yourself so it is a completely personal and wonderful Babymoon for you and your growing family.