When we think of 'preparing for baby' we tend to think of all the supplies we need from cribs to carriers, diapers to dispensers.
The truth is, the only thing you REALLY need to prepare for a successful transition from pregnant to Parent, is to prepare for YOUR needs.
You don't need more gadgets and gismos to be successful, what you really need is to ensure that your (the mother's) needs are anticipated and met without having to ask for everything. THAT is a new mother’s key to success.
Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, those early days and weeks at home are always a bit of an adjustment period. As a Postpartum Coach I see so many women fearing overwhelm with all the ways to prepare for a baby – so I’ve simplified it here for you.
Here are the 4 things a woman absolutely needs to emerge from her postpartum period feeling grounded, healthy, strong, capable, and confident:
1. Create a Village
They say, “it takes a village” to raise a family – and it’s true. There’s just one problem: we don’t live in villages anymore, so we have to build our own.
Why? Our support system is one of the primary keys to our success as a new mom. The postpartum experience requires so much of you – body and mind – that you need all the support you can get, so that you can take care of your baby.
Who makes up your village?
This is up to you – this can include your partner, family member(s), friends, hired help, etc.
Choose people to play specific roles and clearly communicate those roles to them (see #2). For example:
Partner: help with baby, help remember when to take which medications, bring food and keep water filled.
Motherly figure (mom, MIL, sister, auntie, grandmother, etc.): support the partner: ensure they’re fed, rested, have supplies/groceries needed. Support the mother: validate her experience and share wisdom without judgement.
Babysitters: if you have older kids, having a sitter on a regular schedule can be a life saver. Even if its just one day a week for a few hours – having scheduled help will support your mental health, rather than waiting until it’s NEEDED to get something scheduled.
Postpartum Coach: Yes, I’m biased – but only because in preparation for my 3rd baby I hired a coach and it saved me! A postpartum coach provides that emotional support that can be hard to get from your partner (who doesn’t understand your experience), and your motherly figure (who will want to fix it). To say it’s ‘helpful’ to have a 3rd party person process the transformation you’re in the midst of is an understatement. Check out Episode #4 of the In the Thick of It podcast to learn more about why this support is so important.
Clearly communicating your anticipated needs and expectations to each person BEFORE baby comes will help create a system for success. Much like running a business, everyone needs to know what they’re responsible for, when, and how to execute.
When someone says, “just let me now if you need anything.” You’re going to wait until things get ROUGH before you call them. BUT if ahead of time you say – okay, if you could come over on Tuesdays from 1-3 to watch the toddler, or to deliver the grocery order, or just give me some time to shower and take a break – you can both plan accordingly, and you’re not having to ask every week for more help.
This is especially true for your partner. BEFORE baby comes, talk about what food to cook or to have on hand for meals, snacks, and smoothies (see #3).
Talk about what your hopes are for your partnership, what your fears are – lay it all out and work through the stuff you can predict ahead of time. Creating clear expectations ahead of time takes the guessing, assuming, and inevitable misunderstanding and frustration off the table.
Foods postpartum should ideally would consist of ingredients that support your immune system, healing, and milk supply.
I provide my clients with a full menu and recipe sheet to take all the guesswork out of meal planning, but here are a few things you can stock up on that will serve you well: bone broth, brewer’s yeast, oatmeal, and protein.
Bone broth is one of my go-to's for any new mom. It nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. You can incorporate other healing and milk supply boosting ingredients like garlic, ginger, turmeric, mushrooms, spinach, kale, and protein like chicken, turkey, or ground beef meatballs.
Brewer’s yeast is fantastic for boosting milk supply and can easily be added to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, or no-bake snacks like these lactation bites.
Like bone broth, warm oatmeal nourishes the body and mind, and it also boost milk supply all on its own. Add to the top some fresh berries, chia seeds, flax seeds, some brewers yeast, and cinnamon and you have a deliciously nutritious meal!
Protein is very important for healing and producing milk. Ingredients like chicken, turkey, beef, and salmon are at the top of the list. If possible, choose as minimally processed meat as possible. Look for brands that don’t use antibiotics, are pasture raised, and/or served organic feed. Grass fed, pasture raised beef and chicken are at the top of my list for anyone, but especially postpartum mamas.
Mental, emotional, and physical support are the top 3 things that you’ll need to set yourself up for a successful postpartum experience. There are also a few supplies that you may want to have on hand to support your healing while having to mom around the clock:
Nursing pillow: This is especially helpful if you end up having a c-section.
Coconut Oil: the BEST nipple ointment for those early nursing days. And the best part, it doesn’t need to be wiped off before baby nurses!
Journal: having a journal bedside is helpful for not only having an outlet for thoughts/feelings that emerge that need to be purged, but also for tracking nursing schedules and when to take medications.
Healing herbs: herbs like chamomile, lavender, rose, and comfrey are wonderfully healing herbs that can support and speed up the healing of the perineum or c-section scar. I suggest making a tea with the herbs and then adding them to a peri bottle or sitz bath to treat the area.
Water bottle with a straw. Most women bring home the large water bottles they get in the hospital (they’re huge with the best straws!), but if you’ve had a particularly traumatic birth, seeing the hospital water bottle might be triggering. Setting yourself up with a new, clean, untainted water bottle with a straw may be a safe bet. Clean it, and have it ready to use, and fill it at least 4 times a day! Water is KEY for producing breastmilk!
If there's one piece of advice (both personally and professionally) that I can give you: don’t wait until you’re desperate to make a plan.
Set these systems up AHEAD OF TIME so your needs are anticipated and provided for before you get desperate and depleted.
Bottom line, If you’re well taken care of, you can take care of everyone else. If you can learn this lesson early on, you'll be creating a solid foundation for motherhood.
These four steps will help you to move through all of the beautiful and challenging moments that come with having a baby, and set you up for a successful transition into motherhood.
My postpartum coaching program is designed to make your life postpartum as easy as possible. Let’s take all the guessing work out of your preparation, and make the transition into motherhood so much simpler, easier, and more empowering for you and your family. To get started visit: robinangela.com/postpartum