Becoming a parent is quite literally one of the most transformational events you will ever experience. From the moment we know of the tiny life inside of us, we start on a journey of exploring everything that lay ahead. There is no better time to be planning ahead for a positive postnatal period!
We spend so much time learning about our developing baby. Everything from what’s going on at each stage right down to what fruit size our baby is each week! We take time to understand how to look after our own bodies whilst they are busy growing another, we have antenatal visits and take vitamins. Avoiding certain foods and we find ourselves massaging parts we never have before in order to avoid tears during birth! We understand the importance of seeking knowledge and looking after our pregnant selves.
We also spend time thinking about the birth. How will it go? What will it be like? What are my options? Where do I want it to happen? Making birth plans to state our preferences, and trying to prepare for any alternative options. We attend hypnobirthing classes and get informed on what we can do to make it a positive experience. Yet again we understand the importance of investing in this experience. We want to do all we can to help the birth feel positive and like ‘our own’ …….Which is brilliant!
But then it all seems to stop…
The birth is over and we find ourselves left standing with a tiny new human and absolutely no manual – not for the baby, not for being a parent nor for being a couple or being someone who has just given birth! Sure, you have a few postnatal appointments ahead which can definitely be useful to access support. But the truth is that once baby arrives, most service seem to focus purely on them. This leaves new parents feeling in the dark about how to navigate everything else that comes with having a baby in those first days and weeks.
The good news is that there are plenty of things that expecting parents can do to plan ahead. Just like we do for pregnancy and birth, we can also spend some time getting to grips with how things might look once baby arrives. Anything you can think through and consider before it happens really is a bonus! So, to get your started, here are a few ideas for starting to think about life after the birth of your baby:
Learn About Post-Birth YOU
Our bodies go through massive changes as we birth our babies, however it happens for us. And our freshly postpartum bodies can be very different to what we are used to! Of course, on a conscious level we KNOW there will be changes, but do you know exactly what those will be? Really getting to grips with what your body might go through as it recovers from birth can help you to feel more understanding of your own body, be prepared for what you may experience physically and also help you to feel more confident that what you are going through is normal (and spotting signs it may not be!). And of course, the more you understand what is going on for you physically and why, the better you can look after yourself in a way that will support a positive postpartum recovery.
Learn About Your New BABY
Obviously, this has been one massive transition for your baby too! The first 3 months of life are often referred to as ‘The Fourth Trimester’, because just like the first three trimesters in pregnancy, your baby is going through another intense development period as they adjust to life in the outside world. Learning how this period might be from THEIR perspective can help you to understand exactly what your baby is going through. It can help you learn why they behave the way they do and what you can do to best support them as they accustom to this new way of life.
Think About Life As A New FAMILY
Becoming a parent and being born doesn’t just ‘happen’ to the birthing parent and baby – it is something that involves the whole family. Partners and other children will also be very much affected by the arrival of a new baby. Therefore thinking through how you can all support each other in those first weeks and months can be so useful. What support might your partner need in order that they can then be a main support for you? How are you involving older children and supporting them through the growth of your family?
On a practical level, what support might be useful to keep life ticking along whilst you all rest, recover and bond as a family unit? Have you talked through things such as dealing with guests, walking the dog, keeping the kitchen stocked up? There are so many ‘simple’ tasks that you can hand over for a few weeks to make life easier for yourselves at this time. This is much easier done ahead of time, before you are all overtired and don’t know which way is up!
As a society we are generally pretty bad at taking care of ourselves, meeting our needs and asking for help! If there was one time in life that you need to let this go and allow yourselves to rest and be supported, THIS IS IT! You will never get this special time as a new family back, and it is totally ok (note: vital!) to spend at least a few weeks taking things slowly and getting all the support you need to rest, recover and grow together as a brand new family.
Thank you to Kelly from The Positive Postnatal Coach for writing this guest blog for us. If you would like to know more about the postnatal services that they offer, you can visit their website here. We’re also pleased to say that The Positive Postnatal Coach will be joining us at our next baby show on Sunday 19th September 2021 at The Norfolk Showground. See you there!