Taking a long-awaited break
Looking for ways to make life a little less stressful in your post-pregnancy universe? Here are ten things you can do right now to ease some of those postpartum road bumps.
1. Schedule a “babymoon.” While it's widely accepted that newlyweds need a little time to themselves after they say their "I do's", new parents are rarely given that same sort of breather. But according to British childbirth educator Sheila Kitzinger, there's a case to be made for enjoying some time alone as a family during the early days and weeks after the birth.
You probably won't want to "babymoon" alone indefinitely (and you may actually want to include a few low-maintenance friends and family members in your babymooning plans), but it's nice to have a bit of a timeout before the stampede of visitors begins.
2. Squeeze in as much couple time as you can before junior makes his grand entrance. According to Ottawa childbirth educator and doula Joanne Rack, the happy memories that you stockpile right now will give you something to draw upon if, like many couples, you find your relationship going through a bit of a rough patch during the early weeks and months after the birth.
3. Look into hiring a postpartum doula. If you don't have any family members who can pitch in after your baby is born, look into hiring a postpartum doula. Not only can a postpartum doula assist with meals and housework: she can also provide baby care advice and breastfeeding support. (Forget the diamonds: a doula is a new mom's best friend!)
4. Tap into the new parent underground. Find out where the nearest mom and baby support group meets, what hours the local breastfeeding clinic keeps, and who you can call in the middle of the night if you have a question or concern about your baby. Don't wait until your baby arrives to get connected. Tap into the new parent underground right now.
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5. Get organized. Prepay any utility bills that are due around the same time as your baby and pre-address your baby announcements. The more you do before you go into labour, the less there will be to do after the birth. (Of course, you don't want to take this to extremes and exhaust yourself before that first labour contraction kicks in. Don't be afraid to delegate!)
6. Load up on nutritious, breastfeeding-friendly foods. Ideally, you want to stock the freezer and the pantry with healthy foods that can be eaten with one hand. Bagels with cheese are good. Soups and messy casseroles are not so good. (Trust me, babies get quite irate if you drop wet noodles on their heads while you're breastfeeding.)
7. Accept any and all offers of help. According to Ottawa-area doula Julie Keon, you'll never have a better excuse for accepting offers of help, so you might as well take advantage of people's willingness to fold laundry, do housework, or run errands.
8. Lower your housekeeping standards. This skill will serve you well through birth and beyond. No one with a new baby has time to play Martha Stewart. (Except maybe Martha Stewart.)
9. Clear your calendar of all but the essentials for the next few weeks. And, while you're at it, get rid of that smartphone, too. "It's important to remember that you're moving away from 'society time' and into 'baby time,'" says University of British Columbia midwifery programme director Elaine Carty, RN.
10. Get ready to embark on The Mother of All Adventures. While nothing can fully prepare you for the amazing journey that lies ahead, as long as you're fully prepared to feel fully unprepared, you'll do just fine. Bon voyage!
Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, and numerous other books about pregnancy and parenting. You can contact Ann via her website at www.having-a-baby.com.
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