Thursday, January 16, 2014

Your Babymoon - How to Plan Your Postnatal Recovery

A babymoon is the period of time parents spend with their recently born child, bonding and getting to know their baby. Your babymoon is an important occasion where you and baby are getting to know each other on the outside. It is also a time of rest and recovery for the parents.

Somewhere along the way we seem to have lost the art of mothering a new mother. The perception appears to be that you need to be a supermum and back on your feet looking after your family within a week or two after the birth of your baby. Yet in other cultures, a new mother (whether it is her first or fourth child) is looked after by family and friends and her only job is to eat, rest and feed the baby for anywhere up to 40 days. She doesn't have to cook or clean, just enjoy those first precious weeks with her child. So what can you do to give yourself a much deserved babymoon?

Make a plan for your babymoon. Discuss with your partner or support people how you are going to get enough rest, how you will feed the family, who can support you with breastfeeding or looking after older siblings, what is your plan for visitors? I can guarantee it will make a difference. Put as much thought into your babymoon as you do for your birth plan or in decorating baby's room.

Start to build your village of support. New mothers aren't meant to go it alone. Look for friends and family who will come over and pop on a load of washing, bring you a meal, grab a few groceries for you or take an older child to the park for an hour. A few people contributing an hour of support here and there adds up to a well rested mumma. You don't want someone who is going to come over and expect a cup of tea and biscuits while they cuddle your baby. There will be plenty of time for everyone to meet your new family member after your babymoon. You may even want to consider not having visitors for the first week or two, limiting visits to 15 minutes or only having one visitor at a time. It is okay to cocoon your little family for a while!

A postnatal doula is someone trained in the care and support of the mother and her family during that time of transition. She will make sure you are rested, have nutritious food on hand and can help you with breastfeeding or be on the lookout for signs of postnatal depression. Don't ever let cost get in the way of you getting the care you need. Ask family and friends to contribute instead of babyshower gifts or speak to your postnatal doula about a payment plan. Most are happy to work something out.

Make a list of jobs or errands people can help you with to send out with your birth announcement or beforehand. Many friends are willing to help but don't know how or feel awkward asking. There is a great post on Gloria Lemay's blog called "After the birth, what a family needs" Use it as a starting point for your own list

The practice of consuming your placenta has been around for centuries and is beginning to become better known. The benefits include:
• Increased breastmilk supply
• Reduced postnatal depression/baby blues
• Increased energy
• Reduced lochia
• Decrease in mum's stress levels

There are many ways to consume your placenta such as a fruit smoothie, disguised in chocolate truffles or encapsulated. Encapsulation is often seen as the most palatable option for many and has the added bonus of increasing the shelf life. If you don't want to practice placentophagia, perhaps you could honour this amazing organ by planting it under a special tree for your child.

Your babymoon is such a short, wondrous time best spent getting to know your newborn, recovering from birth and gently easing into your new family dynamic. By putting a little thought and planning into your babymoon you are well on your way to eliminating feeling stressed, overwhelmed or isolated after your baby's birth. If you can, spend the first few weeks of your baby's life at home focusing on absolutely nothing but bonding with your child and adjusting to your new family. Plan for plenty of skin-on-skin contact, cuddles and sleep - all the really magical things about having a newborn and getting to know each other

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