Teresa Johnson, owner and doula at Season of Motherhood Services, is dedicated to assisting families in Northeast Wisconsin on their journey of parenthood during pregnancy, labor, and the newborn stages. For more information on how we can best serve your family, please visit www.SeasonOfMotherhoodServices.com.
After the new baby comes home partners tend to not only feel neglected, but can often feel as though they don’t know how to bond with baby. Other than feeding a bottle to the new baby, there are a lot of ways partners can bond.
Here are a few ideas:
Just putting in the effort to bond with them is a big step in establishing your relationship. Don’t feel bad if they seem to prefer mom for a while. They did just spend 9 months getting to know her voice, her smell and the sound of her heartbeat. Before you know it, they grow and change.
A few months ago, I wrote “Creating a Birth Plan,” which is always a great idea to have going in to your birth. Parents love to prepare for the big moment when baby joins the family. It’s an exciting time! However we tend to neglect what happens after baby comes. This is when having a postpartum plan comes in handy. Discuss your postpartum plans with the people in your life so they can best help you. Here is a guide to creating your own postpartum plan.
Meal planning. (All this planning!) Have an idea of what you will eat after you have baby. Most of my clients really love freezer meals. You can take one or two days out of your week (pre-baby) and make up to 30 freezer meals that you can just pull out and throw in a slow cooker for an easy meal after baby. Some churches or groups might even organize a meal train for you for the first week or two after baby. Have snacks stored in the cupboards as well.
Set boundaries. Discuss ahead of time the people you are willing to have visit during the first few weeks after having baby. Keep visitors and baby touching to a minimum as your newborn has a fragile immune system in the first few weeks. Also remember to avoid high stress visitors that could cause more harm than good. Set limits you are comfortable with like “only close family visiting in the hospital” or “please only offer advice if we ask.”
Have a list of people you can call on for help. This is especially important if your partner has to return to work as soon as possible or you are a single parent. Parenting can take a village. Never feel like less of a parent because you have to reach out for help. Babies do not come with an owner’s manual after all.
Hire a postpartum doula. A postpartum doula can be just the thing to help ease you into parenting. Even if this isn’t your first baby, they can help transition the new family dynamic.
Arrange help for chores like laundry, dishes, pet care or any other major chore you normally have. Whether you hire help, ask friends and family, or your partner takes them over. Recovering after baby can take quite some time. Avoid any major work for at least the first six weeks after baby. Longer if possible. If you have other children, arrange for extra childcare should you need it.
Minimize your out of the house visits ahead of time. Avoid planning any major trips out of the home for those first few weeks after baby. Plan to spend up to the first 7 days in bed or a recliner with your baby.
Have a list of numbers for providers you may need, such as a lactation consultant should you choose to breastfeed.
When people ask to help, don’t be afraid to give them a chore. Whether it is bringing groceries or cleaning something at your house. Have a list of things you could use quick help with when a visitor stops by. (Do a chore to hold the baby!)
Plan to “nurse all day long” if you choose to breastfeed. Have a feeding corner set up with a comfy chair, a water bottle, some snacks, and support pillows to rest your arm and baby on while you nurse. If you bottle feed, having a quiet space can still be beneficial for you and baby to avoid interruption and distraction, as well as remind you to stay hydrated by drinking your water bottle when the baby does.
If you find you have other questions about creating a postpartum plan, a doula can help with that!
Imagine you’re traveling somewhere you have never been before. You didn’t read anything about this place. You have no idea where you’re headed or what to do once you’re there. No plans for where to eat, what mode of transportation to use once you’re there or even what language they speak! You would get through, and it would be an adventure of a lifetime, but you might look back wishing you had made a few choices before entering such a wild, new territory. Maybe you’ve already been there, but you know what you want to do for next time.
A birth plan is MUCH like a travel itinerary describing what kind of journey you’re aiming to have. Will everything happen according to plan? Or course not, because life and birth are unexpected! But it will give you and your birth team a general idea of what you’re hoping to experience while you’re there.
Before creating your birth plan, we will assume you have found, and met with, a provider you feel comfortable with. You will want to find out the childbirth ideals of that provider. What does birth typically look like with them? Sometimes providers have strict rules to comply with that might impact your birth plan.
Again, keep in mind that not all labors and deliveries go as planned so you may not be able to stick with your birth plan. Creating a birth plan will, however, give you a guide as you go through the process. You won’t want to be answering questions through your contractions. You might not be able to!
After creating your birth plan, be sure to go over it with your partner so they know your feelings ahead of time, as well as your provider. It would be a good opportunity to discover any other restrictions they have that you might not know about.
When creating your birth plan, keep it as simple as possible. One page is best, since most providers and nurses won’t have time to read through the whole thing as they go in and out. Provide simple detail and highlight the basic and most important things. Like if you plan to have skin to skin contact immediately following birth, or delayed cord clamping, should situations allow it.
If you are still struggling at what to include in your birth plan, contact a labor doula. Trained with a wealth of knowledge on birth in your area, a labor (or birth) doula can help you create and tailor a birth plan to fit your family.