Pretend with me for a moment? Let’s say that you were suddenly given an opportunity to go live in a country that you’ve always wanted to visit. You’ve got some advance notice, but it’s a totally different culture over there. So, for the months ahead of moving, you look at the climate, make sure you have the right clothes, take care of any medical issues before going, learn some of the language, learn the traffic laws, and get some housing arranged before you hop on that plane.
Still, even with preparation, you know you’re going to have a period of adjustment once you actually GET there. You would probably be advised to give yourself a decent buffer of time to get over jet lag and get to know your way around this new country before you try to roll with normal living….and besides, it’ll be a completely different normal. Life as you’ve lived in your birth country isn’t going to be replicated in the new place! It’ll take a good bit of time to adjust, and that’s perfectly normal and healthy.
You know where I’m going with this, right? Having a baby…it’s just like moving to a new country. Planning and preparing ahead of time are so good and helpful, but really, the transition to having a new person in your family starts when you birth that little person, not before. This is a huge transition, and it is worthy of time and space to just get used to the new way life is going to be, and get your feet under you. My current reading, Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin, talks about this time of transition, learning, and bonding during the Fourth Trimester. These three months or so after your baby is born are “characterized by intense learning and need for nurturing…a time of drawing together and uniting the family unit.” (p. 12)
This early postpartum period, during the first two or three months of a baby’s life–are a time that I am becoming increasingly passionate about. Sally Placksin recommends that “the best time to prepare a postpartum support network is prenatally” (p. 30), and this can take so many different forms. I have a few suggestions:
- Sign up for my class. I know, it’s a shameless plug, but I’m going to give you a road map and vocabulary book and some hands-on practice caring for a baby. I’ve got a lot of that information on preparing for your postpartum support network all set for you.
- Seriously clear your schedule for weeks. Give yourself the bandwidth to just deal with the transition of adding a family member, and not anything else.
- Stay in a comfy nightgown for a few weeks….part of this transition is learning your baby, learning how to breastfeed, and all while healing and dealing with sleep deprivation. Staying in a nightgown signals to yourself AND others that you aren’t running at 100% and shouldn’t be expected to just jump back in to normal life.
- Get some numbers for lactation consultants handy; how successful you feel in breastfeeding is influenced up to 90% by the support you have available.
- Also find numbers for support and counseling for Postpartum emotions…they can swing wildly as your hormones shift, and you will want resources to help you feel strong. If those emotions take you for too much of a ride, getting some help early will drastically minimize how long that ride lasts