7 Tips on Preparing for Postpartum Life With a Newborn

by , 07/19/10

postpartum, postpartum plan, paternity leave, postpartum preparation, tips for successful postpartum recovery, postpartum doula, bringing baby home, lactation consultant, eco-friendly formula, breast pump, newborn preparedness, caring for a newborn, newborn care

1. Can Dad Take Paternity Leave from Work?

The first weeks home with your newborn will no doubt be enchanting and invigorating, but they will also be emotionally and physically demanding and exhausting. If it is at all possible to have your partner along for the ride, it’s an experience that you will both benefit from sharing. Not to mention, you can divide the workload, especially if you have other children at home to care for. Paternity leave rights and allowances vary from state to state, and country to country, and reimbursement will also depend on your husband’s place of employment and insurance carrier. Get the ball rolling on figuring out the details mid-way through your pregnancy, as figuring out a leave requires the company to plan for a temporary replacement, and typically requires a lot of paper work, negotiation and back and forth.

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2. Be Prepared to Care for Baby and Yourself & Stock Your Home with Essentials

Even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, have some organic, eco-friendly formula on hand in the event you aren’t producing enough breast milk in her initial days of life to sustain your newborn. Know who your baby’s pediatrician will be, and have the number to a local lactation consultant in the event you need to make an appointment or a phone call with questions about nursing. Have a breast pump ready to go in the event breastfeeding gets off to a shaky start and you become engorged or need to pump to increase your milk supply. Be well supplied with diapers and all of baby’s essentials so you won’t have to worry about making trips to the store. Also, stock up with things you may need to heal after giving birth, such as this Earth Mama Angel Baby Postpartum Recovery Kit that our Senior Editor Jasmin was happy to have in arm’s reach.

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3. “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps”

As a Type-A personality, this advice, which was given out to me on a daily basis in those first few weeks, always annoyed me. How am I supposed to sleep when I have so much to get accomplished? I need to clean the house, make a deadline, take a shower! But in hindsight, I should have caught some much needed zzz’s. Those were the good ol’ days, because now I’ll have a 3-year-old to look after in tandem with a newborn, and napping isn’t even an option!

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6 Responses to “7 Tips on Preparing for Postpartum Life With a Newborn”

  1. Michele de Jesus says:

    Beth Shea, I love you! What wisdom. This post is so helpful & timely for my pregnant friends. So many parents-to-be focus on the registry & maybe a little on the birth & are clueless and/or in denial about postpartum. Even with everything I’d read & the classes I took I was clueless. I mean really who would believe its as crazy as is it?! Nursing every 2 hours can mean: try to sleep 1 hour while you worry about SIDS or how to cosleep or how to nurse sidelying then awake to crying baby & nurse or troubleshoot latch/rash/unexpected newborn care concern, manage to successfully nurse & satisfy baby, try to get baby to burp, treat nipple pain, eat snack because starving from the nursing, change diaper, change maternity maxi pad, keep track of nursings/wet&dirty diapers/baby’s sleep for the pediatrician & soothe upset baby … all before going back to try to sleep. Not necessarily in that order. Its rough & a steep learning curve. I had intense nesting urges & felt I had to clean & organize the nest when I REALLY should have been napping to catch up on sleep during the day which catches up with you quick.

    I was so grateful to have my husband take a month paternity leave, my mother stay with us for 2 weeks to make food, help with chores & errands, & my birth doula lined up as a postpartum doula. Not to mention thank God I had my homebirth midwife coming over for frequent checkups & a pediatrician that did home visits. I hadn’t realized all that a postpartum doula would do. Mine had equivalent lactation consultant experience & helped with troubleshooting latch/babywearing/newborn care, recommended products & routines, ran errands, discussed & helped me process the birth experience & emotionally supported us new parents in this challenging transition. She helped sort through wives tales type advice from well-meaning relatives & was so comforting & full of expertise & much needed objectivity as far as newborn care. She pointed out that we were keeping the baby awake too much & he really needed more sleep. Is that why he’s so fussy?!

    Other postpartum tips:
    - If cloth diapering consider having an “emergency” package of green disposable or compostable diapers just in case alternative diapering isn’t going as expected. It can be tough to get 8-12 daily diapers laundered with everything else going on in those 1st weeks & unlaundered dirty cloth diapers can get ruined if left too long. You may want to ease into alternative diapering.
    - Consider setting up how you will announce the birth & share photos with family & friends in advance. A simple blog set up with google can be an easy way to keep people updated without having to personally contact everyone. And that way if new parenthood makes you unexpectedly want to cacoon & batten down the hatches then everyone gets the memo. And everyone can send supportive comments without disrupting your naps, or barraging you with a sea of emails.

    Thanks again for this post!

  2. Beth Shea says:

    Hi Michele-

    Thanks so much for your kudos and for passing this post along to your pregnant friends. It’s true that no one will ever really “get it” until they have their newborn in their midst and life is turned upside down. I think I still have a bit of denial going on, and we’re about to welcome our second, so I should know better!

    Thanks for your honest postpartum account, which I am sure readers will benefit from hearing, and for your added tips, which are all great ones! We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and help other moms and dads to be make a successful transition into the adventure of parenting!

    Best,
    Beth

  3. Francia McCormack says:

    Congratulations on such a beautiful new beginning!!! Peace Love and Blessings! What a great article.

  4. Beth Shea says:

    Thanks so much, Francia!

  5. emilyw says:

    Yes – great post with more practical advice for new parents besides just what to have on your registry. So many baby items should be bought little by little and other things are good to have on hand and I think you’ve addressed that here too. Regarding this post – I wanted to add a suggested way to organize friends and family to bring meals. My friend asked me to be in charge of setting up a food tree for her family. She gave me the email addresses of close friends and family she wanted to participate. I looked online and found some great how-to’s with ideas for how to execute. We simply set up 10 people to each make 2 meals and a once a day food delivery (this minimizes the number of people stopping by.) The portions were encouraged to be enough for two meals for them and their toddler. We wrote their dietary restrictions along with likes and dislikes, and even suggested some of their neighborhood favorite takeout places in case people simply wanted to bring them a prepared meal. We sent out a calendar of days based on availability and everyone stuck to it. The new family had 20 days of meals and it was a mix of homemade and takeout goodness. Our friends that we did this for loved it and said not only was it so helpful but a perfect way for them to see people and have them meet the baby and serving an important need. Now, as a follow-up, I am collecting the recipes from people who made food and putting together a food tree cookbook for them. I plan to have friends organize this for me when number two arrives this fall:)

  6. Amy in Oz says:

    “sleep when the baby sleeps” yeah… oops! (Type A personality here too!) The Meal Tree (mentioned by Emilyw) is fantastic. We try to make frozen meals for new families because we know just how valuable they were for us!

    Another tip to prepare for postpartum days is, similar to a birth plan, a breastfeeding plan. The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article on it and a sample plan: http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/bfplan.html

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