You are a new mother – whether it’s your first child or your fifth!
Most mothers put a lot of thought into their birth plan, but very few think about a post-birth plan. Why have a post-birth plan? In our fast-paced, independent lives, we have forgotten the importance of caring for the new mother. Your body needs time to rest and heal from the 9+ months of pregnancy and from giving birth. You and your new family also need time to bond and rediscover each other.
The idea of a “lying-in” period comes from traditional cultures such as Chinese, Indian and Latin American. The American pioneers even had their own version! This is a time when family and friends come together to help the new mother rest, heal and bond with her new child. A healthy mother equals a healthy baby and a healthy family.
Traditional lying-in periods can last anywhere from 7 to 40 days. While they have their nuances, what they have in common is this:
- The mother’s only job is to breastfeed and get to know her baby.
- Warm, nourishing foods are given to the mother such as soups and stews.
- Raw fruits and vegetables are avoided as well as cold drinks.
- Family and friends share the task of caring for the new mother and the household chores.
Research (here and here) has proven that supporting the mother in the postpartum period can greatly reduce her chances of postpartum mood disorders. Is it any wonder that the cultures that have a lying-in period show some of the lowest rates of postpartum depression?
While staying in your home for 40 days may seem unconventional, here are some things that you can do for a simplified post-birth plan.
Questions to ask yourself:
- If you have a partner, will they be taking time off from work? If so, for how long?
- Will your mother, or another family member, be staying with you after the birth? If so, for how long?
- How much time will you be taking off from work?
- What would your ideal stay-cation with your baby look like? Do you like having people around? Or do you prefer quiet and calm?
Things to do:
- Write down who in your circle of family and friends is available to help you.
- Make a list of everything that will need to get done once the baby is home, including your day to day things: paying the bills, walking the dog, changing diapers, cooking, shoveling the driveway, etc.
- Compare both lists and match up people to a chore.
- Ask family and friends for help and set clear expectations. Having a list on the fridge door makes it easily accessible to everyone!
- Which room in the house must be cleaned and organized? The bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom?
- Where are the cleaning supplies?
- How often should the dog be walked? Where is the kitty litter? Where is the mailbox key? Etc.
- Organize a meal train! There are many free apps to choose from such as: Meal Train, Take Them a Meal and Meal Baby. For tips on meal trains, I recommend Little Miss Kate’s blog article.
- Who can drive you to your appointments? If you have a caesarean section, you may not be able to drive for six weeks.
- Make a list of professionals you can contact if you need help: La Leche League group, physiotherapist, pediatrician.
Remember that in the first few weeks, you may want to minimize visitors. This is an important time for you to recover physically and emotionally, to establish your milk supply and to get to know your baby. Having just one person a day in the house may be all you need in the early weeks. If you’re interested in hiring a postpartum doula but the cost is an issue, how about adding a postpartum doula fund to your baby shower registry? Other services that you may want to have on your registry include: lactation consultant or mobile massage therapist.
Why can’t I just depend on my partner? Your partner is also finding their way in becoming a parent. This is a precious time for both parents to bond with the new family unit. Your partner can certainly help with some things, but it really does take a village. If you don’t have family nearby, how about hiring a postpartum doula?