The second Saturday of each month is the free Outside The Mom Box support group for pregnant women and new moms with babies under 1 year. Each session starts with introductions and then goes in our main topic. We leave about 30 minutes at the end for Q&A. Last Saturday we had post partum doula and mom, Suzanne Lee of Eno River Doula talk with us about postpartum planning. Here are a few noteworthy bits of advice from that conversation:
Suzanne started out by asking our group of five new moms and one pregnant woman about postpartum plans were or had been. We heard first from a mom of a five month old who was easily able to share some advice about her experience. "I needed to accept a lot more help than I ever had before," she shared with us. This struck me as not only self-aware but also brave. It's hard to admit that we need help, especially when new moms are often told, (subconsciously or overtly) that they should be able to do it all. I remember feeling like I should be able to do it all, in spite of having a local sister who had already been there before.
Moms talked a lot about the challenges that surfaced that we hadn't anticipated. With unexpected challenges (not being able to produce enough milk for example) then it's often easy to label ourselves as a "bad" mom, a mom who "cannot even feed her own child," as one mom told me once. We are our own worst critic. That must change when we have children. If it doesn't, our negative self-talk will spill over onto our child. Kids miss nothing. They might not have the language yet to talk about what they see but they will. They might not understand the reasoning behind our anxiety yet but they feel it now. Better to start to work on those issues now than later on when your child is way faster at noticing and adapting than the baby he is now.
One new mom reminded us that it is also helpful to be willing to let go of our preconceived ideas about baby raising. That for her was about bedsharing. But this can be true of diapering choices, formula vs. breastmilk, baby wearing or vaccination schedules. When we let go of a set idea because we realize that it is no longer serving us, we not only grow more confident as a mom but we also gain skills in the practice of responding to our baby's needs.
We all know that family can be a blessing or, sometimes, a real curse. So as one new mom pointed out, "try to plan your visitors based on how helpful they are to you." Someone who is not as helpful or who may be higher maintenance, less independent and more needy could be told to come at twelve weeks instead of three weeks. Remember, this is the one time in your life when the world will essentially revolve around you...as long as you make your needs and wants clear!
Lastly, don't put off the inevitable: childcare for example. If you know you're going back to work, make as many arrangements in advance as you can to alleviate worries down the road. Plans can always change (see above!) but it's better to have a plan than to wing it later on when emotions are running high.
Questions? Comments? Share them by visiting my contact page or leaving your thoughts below. Thank you for reading! We will meet again Feb 14 from 2-4. Join us!