You did it! The baby is born and you're feeling great - for the moment. Postpartum is such an incredible time - a time of high highs with lots of joy and low lows with upheavals, blues, and worries.
Immediate Care is Great -
Immediately after the baby is born you'll have plenty of people around to care for both your needs and those of the baby. If you have the baby in the hospital, then there are nurses to help, or if the baby is born at home, your midwife or doctor will be able to assist in those first hours. All of these people monitor your vital signs and those of your baby. They make sure you deliver the placenta safely. They massage your belly to encourage the uterus to contract and prevent bleeding - although the massage isn't quite what you're thinking. It feels more like rough handling than massage because you're probably going to be pretty sore - especially if you've had a cesarean.
- But Then You Go Home
There was a time when you stayed in the hospital for a couple of days after the baby's birth. These days mothers and babies are going home hours after the birth. Depending upon the time of day the birth took place, a woman can go home as soon as 12 hours after delivery, as long as both mother and baby are doing okay. When you leave the hospital you will have been assessed for pain and prescribed medications to take if necessary. No matter whether you leave the hospital in hours or days, you will still be heading home into the great unknown with your baby in tow.
Although it's joyous, there are often rough places in the road so it's a good idea to be as prepared as possible for them. Things will go a lot smoother with some prior planning. Some ideas gleaned from mothers over time are included here to help you make your transition to home a little smoother and easier.
Job Lists and Schedules Really Help
Some women are shy to ask for help. If that's you, then prepare a list of things that need to be done and have it available for friends and family who visit and want to lend a hand. Errands, tossing in a load of laundry, helping out with meal preparation, or vacuuming the floors are examples of things to put on this list. If you have children, having their schedules written down helps everyone. Trying to keep track of yourself and a new baby are difficult enough - adding other kids to the mix can be a real challenge. A calendar that covers a week or two should be sufficient to get you over the hump. By blocking in the days where there are piano lessons, dance lessons, sports practices and club meetings, you can help ensure the family doesn't miss anything.
Keeping the House Clean
"Let the cleaning go" is usually easier said than done. With the seeming constant flurry of diaper changes and outfit changes due to spit-ups, those first weeks leave little for a new mom to do outside of feeding, changing, burping and praying for sleep. There are a few ways to deal with this issue. A family discussion before the baby's birth is the first step. You may decide to get a cleaning service in for a month, or make a deal with a friend for service exchange.
Make sure you've stocked up adequately on the staples and sundries for the house. Toilet paper, toothpaste, and laundry detergents are good to have in bulk during the first few weeks. The least impressive thing that can happen during postpartum is to run out of toilet paper.
By planning ahead just a little, life after the birth of the baby can be less harrowing than it can get with no planning at all.