6 Tips to Make Your First Days Home with Baby Better
In the 1980s, the average hospital stay for a new mom after childbirth was 5 days. That's five times more than the average mom receives in hospitals today.
That's 5 times more one-on-one, professional help than moms are receiving now during those early days of new mommy-hood.
That's 5 times more care than moms are receiving today while they recover and rest from the epic body-stressor that is childbirth.
That's 5 times more emotional, physical, and educational support than moms today are getting on those first days learning to navigate their new roles as a parents.
It's no wonder, that many parents today share in that universal feeling of "are you serious!" as they leave the hospital.
While the first moments home with your new baby can be overwhelming, they can also be unbelievably joyous and special too. Here are our top 6 tips for helping make the transition home from the hospital go just a little bit smoother.
1. Ignore it all and just snuggle up!
That moment you open the door back home, you may be overwhelmed with the "next steps" of getting things organized and set up for baby. But do yourself a favor and just let it go for a while.
We recommend that the first thing EVERYBODY does when they first get home, baby included, is simply ignore it all and snuggle up on the couch or bed for a good hour or so at least. Put that baby on your chest and just breathe.
Take it all in. You just had a baby! You are now a family.
Maybe you have an older child, a pet, or another significant someone who didn't get to be there for the birth. This moment of realizing and soaking it all in is a special way to honor the new addition to your family and helps put all the other "stuff" into perspective.
2. Prepare ahead for massive hunger
Whoever said "pregnant ladies sure do eat a lot" had it SO wrong. If you are breastfeeding you know what I'm talking about. Hell hath no fury like a breastfeeding mom without food!
Postpartum should be a time of restoration and nourishment, and if you're breastfeeding especially, you will need to provide your body with as many nutritious calories as possible. In fact, the average breastfeeding mom requires an extra 200 calories per day. But preparing good, healthy, nutritious meals while juggling diapers, burping, and feedings can be downright impossible.
So plan ahead.
Organize a meal train, plan for lots of take-out in your budget, prepare frozen meals ahead of time during pregnancy, and hire a professional doula to help you with food prep in those early months so that you get all the nourishment you need during this special time.
Also, never leave home without a good snack bar or two in your purse and make sure your house is well stocked with easy to access snacks wherever you spend the most time with baby.
3. Don't rush your goals
Parents today often set themselves to a very high standard when it comes to their children..Sleep training, food schedulles, ABC's, pre-pregnancy weight goals, Baby Einstein, bilingual training, cloth diapering, elimination communication, and on, and on, and on.
It's great to have goals, but honestly, forget about them for a good while. Right now, don't worry about when your little one will start crawling, or supporting their own neck, or be able to sleep through the night. None of that matters right now. Quite frankly, none of that matters for longer than you would think.
So let it go and just enjoy the moment you're in. Or if you're like most early postpartum parents...just survive for now. One day at a time.
4. Avoid playing hostess (and easy ways to do that without being rude)
When baby arrives it seems like everyone in the world wants to visit. Which is great! Sure, you love people. Bring it on! Or not...but in either case, lots of visitors in the early days/weeks of parenthood can be exhausting and stressful.
While visitors can sometimes intuitively know how to be helpful or when it's time to go, others do not. Here's some great tips for lowering the chaos of "the neverending visitor parade."
Always answer the door in pajamas. This sends an instant (yet non-pushy) signal that it is not the time for you to be playing hostess. Answer the door in PJ's and often times people automatically ask if there is anything they can do to help. If you answer in full clothes and makeup, more often or not they'll ask for some tea and gossip.
Consider having one big "meet baby day" for about 4 hours the first week or two that baby is home. That way you get a lot of the visitors out of the way early on and at once. Have a friend or doula help you plan, prep, and clean up for it.
Change your voicemail greeting to include baby's name, birth weight, birth date, and a brief "everyone is healthy and doing well, but are resting and recovering so may be slow to answer your calls. Thanks for understanding! We'll get back to the real world soon and touch base then."
5. Be Super-Mom, not Super-Woman
Your only job during the early days of parenthood are to be the best mom you can be. That means holding and bonding with yoru baby. Feeding and taking care of their basic needs. Responding to their cues and comforting needs and building trust.
Part of your "Super-Mom" duties also include taking care of yourself and yoru body. Feeding yourself nourishing foods and keeping yoru stress levels low.
Your job is NOT to be Super-Woman. Your job is NOT to keep the house miraculously spotless, 5 course meals for all of your visitors, and keep the laundry machine constantly humming. Your job is NOT to make the nursery look like a Martha Stewart catalogue, or turn your baby's cord stump into a gold-plated Christmas ornament.
Your job is to be Super-Mom, not Super-Woman. So let perfection go, and take care of yourself. You've earned it.
6. Understand the Baby Blues vs. Postpartum Depression
Finally, understand the difference between the 'Baby Blues" and Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) – commonly called Postpartum Depression (PPD).
Baby Blues is extreamly common and normal. It is caused by the drop in hormones such as Estrogen and Progesterone following childbirth and is often most prominent around day 3. Women are often teary, blue, fatigued, and generally feeling emotional or 'off.'
The difference is that with PMAD, symptoms such as depressions, sadness, difficulty bonding, anxiety, or intense emotions, will last for longer than 2 weeks and do not come in waves.
If you have any symptoms of PMAD do not hesitate to contact yoru provider for help.
Taking the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is an excellent tool for help determining when it's time to get help and when it's normal "new mom stuff."
As always, at High Country Doulas, we hope to make your journey into parenthood that best that it can be. Give us a call and discover how we can help your family during this most special time.
Our Welcome Home Package is designed specifically for parents in their first weeks of new babyhood. Add it to your registry and set yourself up for success.