As a first-time mother having a support team for after the birth of my son wasn’t something that I thought about. But it is something I quickly learned was important.
My oldest was born via cesarean section. One evening while on a walk around Target, my water broke. A few hours later my husband and I headed for the hospital prepared for a long night of labor, and hopeful for a morning arrival of our firstborn. When we got there though, we found out that our son had flipped into breech position. So, we headed off for a cesarean which did go well, and then home a few days later.
At home I realized how much help I was going to need, I couldn’t sit up from a lying position, I wasn’t supposed to lift anything heavier than my baby, and I was trying to recover from the loss of blood that come with a cesarean section.
I was blessed to have family and friends around me that offered to come over and help with things around the house for the first few weeks, and I am so incredibly grateful that they did that. But many mothers now don’t live close to family, or they don’t have good family relationships, for these mothers it is imperative to create a postpartum support team.
Who to include in your postpartum support team?
You don’t need these on your postpartum support team, but here are some people to consider:
•friend who can listen to you when you need her to
•coworker or friend to set up a meal train
•Postpartum Support International
Let’s consider each one a little more.
Why would you want a lactation consultant on your postpartum support team?
You may have time in the hospital to see a lactation consultant and get some tips before you head home, but it is highly likely that you will have many more questions when you get home. A lactation consultant will be able to aid with latch, breastfeeding positions, low milk supply, oversupply, look for tongue tie, etc. and some will even come to your house to meet you. If your hospital doesn’t have a lactation consultant on staff, or you meet her and don’t really care for her, you can always ask your midwife or OB to give you a different recommendation.
How will a postpartum doula help me?
Have you heard of a birth doula before? Her job is to support the momma during pregnancy and labor, she may also provide a postpartum visit. There are also postpartum doulas. A postpartum doula trains for things that come up specifically during the postpartum time, her job is to offer support to you and help you as you transition to life as a momma. Some postpartum doulas offer light housekeeping, overnight care, breastfeeding support, cooking, running errands, and more.
A friend who has had a baby before and can listen to you whenever you need to talk.
If you have a friend who has had a baby before and who is a good listener, you may want to employ them to be your “talk” person. Someone who can listen to you when you need to vent, or need a shoulder to cry on. This can be a family member, someone from your church, a coworker, etc. You want to make sure that you can trust this person to keep what you say confidential AND that they know the signs of postpartum mood disorders so that they can give you a heads up if they see you are going that direction.
A Meal Train organizer.
This person is in charge of creating a meal train for you. They can take the names of your church members, coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, etc. who are going to be bringing meals over and make sure that your first week isn’t overly crazy, with nothing the second. They can also make sure that your food allergies/sensitivities/preferences are respected and let the eager friends and family know what time is good to drop things off.
During these first weeks postpartum, you shouldn’t need to be worrying about getting the dishes done and the bathroom cleaned. If your budget allows look for a housekeeper who is willing to come in a couple of days a week to take care of the major things and then ask family members to switch your laundry and take those diapers out.
Postpartum Support International
Postpartum Support International is an amazing group that is “dedicated to helping families suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety, or distress”. On their website you can look for a local contact and see if they have any groups near you.
As new mommas, it can be hard to get out of the house. One of the benefits of social media is that we can connect with others without leaving the house. You will be able to find support on birth month groups, specific postpartum groups, groups for your style of mothering, etc. some of these are even area groups, so you may find one near you which can encourage you when you do get out again.
Each of these services provides clinical help that can be essential to your postpartum recovery. Have numbers for these care providers on your support team list, so that you can quickly find them and request help.
It is my belief that a postpartum support team is something that every momma should create. It can bring great peace of mind to you during pregnancy and after birth knowing that you have a team that will help care for you as you recover from birth, and as you grow into your new life as a mother.
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Rebekah Thompson writes at Surviving Toddlerhood. She has been married for nine years and is momma to four little boys ages eight, five, three, and eight months. She is the author of The First Six Weeks: Thriving Naturally On Your Postpartum Journey and a certified birth doula through DONA International. She enjoys good coffee and tea, dark chocolate, running and learning as much as possible about healthy pregnancy/postpartum and fitness. You can check out her blog at www.survivingtoddlerhood.com