Guest post by Elizabeth Luke of First Coast Doulas
I want to share some things with you about having realistic expectations after birth. As our “birth” date approaches we dream about our baby cooing, smiling, and grasping our finger in their hand. We excite ourselves with the thought of sliding back into our favorite pre-pregnancy jeans in a few short weeks. With gusto we envision sipping tea or coffee with other mom friends with a newborn and toddler in tow laughing and sharing cute baby stories.
Hold up! It’s about to get real!
Most of what you see on television and social media is at minimum skewed and at most completely unrealistic. We know this! Yet somehow we still manage to come up with unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others after birth.
New mothers need postpartum support!
Raising a child is one of the hardest jobs a woman who bears children will every have. Motherhood is the only job on Earth where a person is routinely expected to work 24/7, 365 days a year without any set breaks or time for ourselves. People says things like, “Well, that’s what you signed up for”, or “Did you think having a baby is easy?”
That is totally unreasonable and sets new moms up for disappointment.
With new life comes new challenges and families need support whether it’s their first or their third. Not because we’re weak or lazy, but because motherhood is one of those times in life where we’re extremely vulnerable and pull strength from those around us who lift us up and extend their hands and hearts in support of our mission; raising our future generation!
The more postpartum support the better!
You may not bounce back right away. In fact it’s normal to need six full weeks or more of recovery before we begin getting back to “normal”. By normal I mean a new normal in every sense of the word. Your mood, your body, your home, and even your lifestyle are affected on some level. Your family’s dynamics change, but you’ll adjust, it just takes time. In the meantime be patient with yourself.
Accept postpartum support. Ask for postpartum support.
Grab a pen or plug this into your calendar for reminders! Hands down the #1 thing that surprises moms and dads alike is the lack of sleep they’ll experience. We hear this day in and day out by phone call and email. Families are hiring us so they can sleep a couple nights a week uninterrupted.
You will be completely exhausted. “Sleep when baby sleeps,” they tell say. How does that work with a toddler and a newborn exactly? Seriously, sleeping when baby sleeps is great… when you can, which isn’t always much.
With all the joys and woes that come with caring for a newborn somehow we can forget about our most important and basic needs; eating and showering. Sleep taunts you like a cruel joke as you feed, change, and burp your newborn through these long, isolating nights. It’s a really good thing they are so darned cute to stare at isn’t it?! They are mesmerizing!
I know what the books, the classes, and people have told you. But I want to stress to you that newborns breastfeed on their own terms. They do what they want! Most nurse all the time, like all of the mother-loving time!
Most breastfed babies nurse all the time!
Feeding every 2-3 hours for the breastfed baby isn’t a realistic expectation after birth, nursing around the clock sometimes every single hour however is. Again, most, not all breastfed babies will want and biologically need to breastfeed ALL…OF…THE…TIME!
New mothers need postpartum support!
One more time for those in the back, new mothers need support!
Here are 10 ways you can support a new family:
- Ask them what they need.
- Respect their choices; you don’t have to understand them.
- Drop off meals.
- Take their trash (and diapers) out.
- Hire a Postpartum Doula, this is our specialty, we are part of your team!
- Clean or hire a cleaning service.
- Walk/play with their animals.
- Play with the older siblings.
- Drive them to appointments.
- Run errands for them.
Authored by Elizabeth Luke, owner of First Coast Doulas serving families in Jacksonville, FL and the surrounding areas!