When it comes to support in the Postpartum time – there are so many things that are different now. Just a few years ago – our grandparents parented at a time when we were guessing on so many ideas without any factual, science-based evidence for the opinions being shared. Our ideas were shaped by religious culture, Dr. Spock and/or the hippie movement. Our world is much more advanced in the way we study our baby’s brains and patterns and even their gut biome! Supporting a new family in “old school” ways – (and by that I mean ancient traditions from around the world, not the 1960’s) is the best way to give this new family a healthy supported start! Keeping the mom, partner and baby together is #1 in getting them back on their feet. Supporting a new family is not about holding the new baby so they can get stuff done. Allowing them to rest while we do all the tasks keeps this new family together during this precious time that is short! For evidenced based information on why we should preserve and encourage skin to skin and family down time, visit BirthPsychology.com.
So there’s this new baby coming and I know you can’t wait to hold him or her, love, squish, cuddle, lick, mm, all the yummy things. But just holding the baby might not be the best thing to serve these new parents. So let’s talk about postpartum and all things you can do to help this new family get back on their feet. So if it’s been a while since you’ve supported a family postpartum or you’ve never supported a family postpartum, what do you do when they come home with a baby? I think what we see on TV a lot is we just hold the baby and then they sleep, and then they feed the baby and then we just hold the baby. But there’s way more that you can do for this family to get them into a rhythm and a routine and also encourage the bonding and the stuff they need to make new patterns with this new baby. So one thing to know is there are no feeding schedules anymore, like with Dr Spock. It’s just not there. Occasionally with twins and triplets we have to do feeding schedules but with newborns it’s kind of fed-on-demand is best for the baby. So baby should be at the breast a lot, way more than us, the outsiders, holding this baby. And sometimes those new gadgets and gizmos of how to get the baby to sleep and where to put them to sleep and stuff like that aren’t the best either and we have science that backs that up. If the baby is right here on mom or partner, that baby is hearing that heartbeat, which was familiar when they were in the womb. They heard that woosh, woosh, woosh, woosh sound all the time, constantly around them, and it makes them feel safe when they’re on the outside, kind of getting back into the inside in feeling safe and warm and welcome. Keeping that new baby right here on mom helps her see the feeding cues, feel the feeding cues and let them milk supply come down. There’s even a great website called www.birthpsychology.com where you can get the latest information from scientists on what the best way to help this program this new baby’s patterns by holding, touching, cuddling, and encouraging the bonding between those parents. What science has shown is that there’s a beautiful, hormonal blueprint that’s meant just exclusively for mom and baby during those first few weeks, and those hormones and pheromones are meant for them to establish bonding and a rhythm and a routine. And the more they stay together, the better that’s going to be for everybody. So the background for all the things that you’re going to do to help this new family get established and a good routine started is making sure that baby feels love, connected and trust with the family environment around them. So, if you’re coming into town early to help support this new family, you may arrive a week or two before or somewhere around the guess date, the due date, and you may not realize it, but you put pressure on that new family to get this baby out if you have to be back to New Jersey within three weeks. So, maybe when you come into town, get to work. Finish up tasks around the house, get the baby clothes washed, do what will make mom feel relaxed and calm. Let her get a nap every day because she’s baking that baby’s brain at an accelerated rate those last six weeks and she needs way more rest than she did normally. You can also consider staying in a hotel or an Airbnb so that the family has some privacy and some downtime away from entertaining. You’ve heard of a watched pot never boils. That’s the same as a mom baking that last bit of her baby. If she feels like she’s observed and everybody’s waiting on her, it just takes longer. Even if you’ve come into town early to help with this new family and the baby and all the things, you may not have been invited to the labor and you’re kind of offended by that. You may not have been invited to the labor not because you smell or because they don’t want you there, but because they’re trying to protect that birth and labor environment. The hormonal cocktail that’s going on between mom and baby and partner is exclusively for mom, baby and partner. And having what protects that space between those three is what’s gonna help better bond that baby, especially if something didn’t go exactly the way it was supposed to at birth and they really need that time. So wait until you’re asked to come in or possibly just wait and meet them at home. That baby is gonna be exactly the same and it’s gonna smell just as delicious if you wait a few days. So how do we mother this mother? First off, she needs rest, she needs a safe and quiet environment, and she needs a lot of skin-to-skin with this new baby. Keeping those two together while you’re making sure the house is tidy, the food is cooked, the dog is walked, all those extra errands are run so all she has to think about is this. Her main decision should be should I sleep on the couch or in my bed? Main decision. And if she does need a shower, perfect time for you to hold that baby, smell that baby, lick that baby, hold that baby, take tons of pictures of that baby, with permission, of course. But giving mom, baby and partner that downtime to just rest and recover without having to think about all the extra stuff is really gonna accelerate that healing that they all need. The best way to help her recover physically is nutritious, solid food, not fast food, if you can avoid that. The best kind of foods for mom to help her recover and rebuild that blood supply? Slow-cooked meats, lots of vegetables slow-cooked so that nutrients stay inside. What she’s basically doing is using that new iron-rich blood to build a really solid milk supply. And that nutrition that built the baby is now going back into her milk supply to build a baby. Allowing mom to rest and not host is one of the key elements to keeping her down with that baby on for bonding, and also recovery for her whole pelvic floor. When I hear that I mom is vacuuming around her in-laws because they’re holding the baby and they can’t wait to take that baby to the zoo or to the park or to Babies”R”Us I get sick to my stomach. Mom should be down, holding that baby, without any judgment of why she’s not out hosting, and bonding with this new baby. One of the most supportive things you can do is allow mom private time with that baby without having to make any excuse, no judgment. If she needs to sleep or just take some downtime with the baby, let her do it. It’s her baby and these days go by really fast. If she needs a shower and that’s a good time for you to hold that baby, hold the baby. If she gives you the baby because she does need a nap, hold the baby while she takes a nap. But let it be mother-and-partner-guided and they’re gonna feel more supported than ever before. So remember that the background of all of this postpartum support is for the baby first, allowing that baby feel safe, connected, and trusting of their new environment, allowing the mom and partner to rest and recover and figure out these new cocktail of hormones for bonding, and getting nutritious food so she can build up a really good, healthy nourishment for this new baby.