The worst advice I have ever heard given to a new mom is to go with the flow. While there are good intentions behind this, I find this type of language leaves parents-to-be with a mentality that we’ll take things as they come and ‘figure it out’.
The problem is, this isn’t some PowerPoint presentation you can bullshit your way through. We’re talking the worst sleep deprivation you’ve ever had mixed with hormones and crying. And while being flexible is critical to your success in those first few weeks, winging it is not.
Division of Tasks
This is something that is not talked about enough and requires realistic expectations. For the first few weeks, your sole responsibility as a mother is to recover, nurture, and tend to your baby. THAT IS IT. So, when looking at your usual responsibilities, who’s going to step in while you’re focused elsewhere? What are you okay with letting go? (I say this because some moms say the laundry can wait and I’m over here like no, Carol, the laundry cannot wait, we need burp cloths!!)
Write out a list of all the weekly and monthly tasks that you take care of and whom you plan to outsource them to. This is a great opportunity for extra help from family or friends (people LOVE when you give them specific tasks, it makes them feel important.) This could also be an opportunity to test out a nanny you’re planning to hire after you go back to work or even a Postpartum Doula.
This is something to discuss when everyone has their listening ears on. Family dynamics are hard. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc are all so excited to meet this newest addition. But at the end of the day, you are the parents and if privacy is something you need or desire at the beginning, that is a boundary you can set! Ty and I decided on two weeks of no overnight visitors. We based this off of Wes’s due date to allow us time to figure out who we were as a family and to work through decisions together in those first few weeks. There will be many opportunities for family members and friends to get to know your little one, prioritizing your new immediate family is the key to setting things off on the right foot.
Self-care is a term that is way overused at this point but it is CRITICAL when it comes to the postpartum period. I tell parents at least one hour for each parent every single day for the first twelve weeks. one uninterrupted hour to do whatever you want, sleep, take a bath, leave the house, WHATEVER! This is not something you can say you’re going to do, it's something you have to set specific times for and write down that it's done, every single day.
I often hear moms say well that sounds like a nice idea but that’s not possible. I would challenge that statement with this - you decide what you will or won't tolerate. If having space and time to be your own person during one of the biggest life transitions is important to you - then make that time.
This is hands down the most important piece to discuss. When it comes to marriage or a partnership there is a certain level of independence you can keep. Sure you need to compromise on things but at the end of the day, you’re in charge of yourself. Parenthood is not the same. You have to make decisions together and it's no longer a ‘well if you want to’ sorta thing. You’ve got a new player in the game and you have equal rights to decide what things look like. This is why it's critical to have an outline and a gameplan before tensions get high. What are your values? How do you feel about breastmilk vs formula? (I use this example because most moms say /sure I’d like to breastfeed’ but if it’s not that important, that’s something to know when things don't go as planned.)
Set aside time to talk with your partner about what things are most important to you. Take time to listen to what is most important to them as well. Find the values you need to compromise on and make sure none of this takes place in the first week when your baby is screaming and you’ve slept for 40 minutes in the last 24 hours.
Notice the theme here? Communication.
It starts way before the baby comes and continues long after he or she arrives. Open communication is the most important skill to develop and can make more break the postpartum time. Take time now to get to know your partner even better, (I recommend knowing their enneagram number and their love language!) and have these conversations when you’ve had a full night's rest and a full belly. Because no one should have a serious conversation when they’re hungry. #postpartumtalk #thingstoknowbeforebaby #pregnancyquestions #thisispostpartum #helpfulpostpartumtips