Monday, December 9, 2013

Postpartum Real Life

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Did you know (and most of you reading this are parents so you do) that after you have a baby, your life is different forever? I think a lot of us went into parenting not really having an idea about the completeness of that fact. As I look back on having Brayden, I think I probably expected a slightly exaggerated change of what it is to bring a puppy home. Ha!

Your Pregnancy & Birth states, "Having a baby will change the way you live your daily life...Your old routines may no longer work. If you know this in advance and try to accept these changes rather than fight them, you'll be a lot more relaxed as you start your life with the new baby" (page 201). 

This is true with your first or fourth baby (or any number in between or after). I didn't find the babies after my first to be as much of a shock to the system of our lives since I had a better idea of the reality of what it means to have a baby, but it still changed things. And it changes things for everyone in the family. 

How do you adjust to and deal with these new changes?

One great way is to talk about them. I think as mothers we are so lucky to live in this modern time when we can connect with other mothers going through what we are going through. Sure, moms have always had neighbors, friends, and family to talk to. On top of that, though, we now have social media. We have the ability to get with a group of moms who birthed a baby in a two week time span of us who also have the same parenting philosophies as us and talk about it. I did not have this with my first baby and for the first few months of life with my second baby and let me tell you, it is so valuable! There is something so reassuring to know you aren't the only one going through a particular challenge at the time.

"All new parents reach the end of their rope from time to time. This is even more true if you don't have a lot of support or if your baby is fussy" and might I add or your baby doesn't sleep (page 202). Don't feel bad when you get there--to the end of that rope. You haven't slept well in a long time and you are responsible for taking care of a helpless human who can't communicate with words and you have to get to know. There will be days you reach the end. When you do, turn to help from friends, family, and neighbors. 

You aren't the only one adjusting. Your spouse is also. Many dads don't have a clue what to do to be helpful. It is helpful if you verbalize what you need help with and what he could do for you. With our first couple of babies, my husband threw himself into taking on big huge projects immediately following the birth of a baby. I think he was trying to do something to contribute to the family, but in reality it wasn't very helpful for me to take a couple of days off of work to go outside and build something. So before McKenna was born, I told him what would be helpful to me. Things were better. Then before Brinley was born, we had things completely and frankly laid out. He was very helpful and didn't start up any new projects :)

Allow your spouse to help with the baby. If you are like me, you have a hard time handing your baby over to someone else to take care of them. I often stick around even if someone is changing the diaper for me or something. Part of it is that I feel bad that someone else is doing it and part is I worry the diaper won't be put on just right. I obviously know the baby better than anyone. But my husband needs the chance to get to know the baby also. It is a good idea to have your spouse do some things in helping care for the baby. Diaper changes, dreamfeeds, bathing, holding...let your spouse do things with the baby. Some are nervous--encourage them.

If you have other children, they will obviously experience a big change with a new baby. Some struggle with change more than others. Some get jealous, some are instantly in love. No matter how they adjust to change, you will have less time for them than you did before the baby was here. Some are so in love with the baby they don't care. Some are understanding but still get anxiety about it all. Some get right out mad.

Still have your one-on-one time with your child. Guess what, having a second, third, fourth, etc. baby is challenging because you can't just take a nap any old time the baby is. You have children with needs. Make sure you still have one-on-one time with your other child(ren)--even if it is just reading a story with just you and your child before bed while your spouse holds the baby in another room. 

Have your child help you with baby duties. I like to make it clear the child is helping me and/or serving the baby--I don't want the child to start to think he/she is in charge of the baby. I want the relationship to  be a sibling relationship. That is why I focus on helping me or serving the baby.

Give it time. Your child will soon get used to having a baby around. As will everyone else. You will adjust. Your spouse will adjust. Your children will adjust. You will all learn what your new life is like and what your new normal is. 

You can read more about the postpartum period here:

And for your enjoyment, I am sure many of you have seen this but I can't get enough.

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