I planned, and planned, and planned for when & how we would finally take our first baby home. I bought all the things, and read the car seat installation manual at least three times. I completed all of the checklists. I read all the books, and I took all of the classes. Don’t get me wrong, doing all of those things was incredibly helpful. However, I’m not sure you can ever be totally prepared for becoming a parent. When I reflect back on my postpartum experience, there are four things that I think are the most essential during such a vulnerable time (and they aren’t what you’re thinking).
Here are my 4 postpartum essentials for any mom:
A Support System
The phrase “it takes a village” exists for a reason. Truly, the size of your village doesn’t matter as much as the quality. Whether your support system is your partner, your medical team, a doula, your parents, or your friends – they will be the most wonderful gift you can give yourself and your new baby. The nurse helped me take my first painful steps post C-section. My loving husband comforted me and kept me calm. My mother-in-law brought me ice water while I tried to establish breastfeeding. Our friends checked-in on us. The pediatrician answered all of my panicked questions. Moral of the story – your support system can come in all shapes and sizes.
You’re probably thinking “duh,” but allowing myself rest wasn’t something that came easy to me as a new mom. There is a lot going on during postpartum. After all, you are learning to parent for the first time. At the same time, you are getting to know this new, tiny human that you are responsible for. With all of that on your plate, taking time for rest can easily end up on the back burner. For me, the dreaded “mom guilt” started on day one. I needed to learn to be okay with asking for help, and with delegating some of the duties of taking care of a newborn.
You will be showered with love and attention from family and friends in the early days following your baby’s arrival. Although those people have good intentions, there will be times when you need to focus on yourself and your baby. I wasn’t allowed visitors in the hospital because it was during the pandemic, but I am actually grateful for the alone time that we were able to have. You don’t want Aunt Sue and Cousin Joe walking in the room when you’re trying to establish a latch for the first time. Make sure that these well-meaning family members are respecting your boundaries. That means that they aren’t pressuring you to pass around the baby before you are ready, or keeping you awake when you need to be resting.
As cheesy as it might sound, I think that the most important thing to have during postpartum is confidence. The person who knows what is best for your baby is you. Try to listen to your body and your baby. I became so obsessed with following a time-clock that I wasn’t learning some of my baby’s feeding cues. I had to learn to listen to him and to my intuition. It’s important to remember to have confidence in making those decisions, setting boundaries, and in prioritizing rest in early postpartum.
Tell us, what were some of your postpartum must-haves?
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