motherhood

  • Try Focusing on Postpartum|Black Maternal Health Week 2019

    If you are a black woman like me, you might be scared as hell to have a baby in the United States. If you haven’t read the statistics, yet, let these paint a picture for you:

    Black women are three to four times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women (Creanga, Syverson, Seek, Callaghan,2017).

    Black women are more likely to experience preventable maternal death compared with white women.

    Black women’s heightened risk of pregnancy-related death spans income and education levels.

    Yeah. Not looking so great for black women, regardless of how wealthy or educated we might be.

    These stats are definitely scary, but I also want to assure you that while the statistics surrounding black maternal deaths are very real, they are not the norm.

    But something has to change. And fast. We cannot risk losing one more mother. We can not risk one more black mother dying during or after childbirth. #notonmywatch

    The Black Mamas Matter Alliance created Black Maternal Health Week to bring together those working to raise awareness and change to the current situation of birthing for black women in the United States.

    This year they are calling for us to decolonize the research and data and push for policies that are meaningful to Black maternal health. They are making space for deeper conversations on how to make actual change on a higher level. And pushing for more support of black voices in research surrounding maternal health.

    But what can you do as a black mother in the thick of your pregnancy or postpartum. Here are three ways you an hold space for yourself (and any others mothers you know and love) today and everyday.

    RESPECT THE ENTIRE JOURNEY

    We’ve seen an increased focus on prenatal care and improving birth outcomes. But maternal health does not start or end with birth. Maternal related health issues can start during pregnancy and last well into the first year postpartum (and even beyond!)

    You had a gender reveal, pregnancy photography and a lovely baby shower. Keep that same energy after baby is born. Rally your family and friends for support after giving birth. Be intentional and prioritize your physical recovery, emotional adjustments and caring for yourself and baby. And also celebrate this transformative journey you are on!

    HOLD YOUR CARE PROVIDER ACCOUNTABLE

    As I said before there is a lot of focus on improving prenatal care and birth experiences. But what about after your baby is born? Is one check-up, 6 or 8 weeks later going to be enough for you?

    The current state of medical postpartum care is pretty minimal. But changes are coming. The ACOG recently put out new guidelines redefining postpartum care, however many are slow to embrace and implement the changes. Know what kind of postpartum care that you deserve and demand it.

    Listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you feel unsatisfied with the first. You are not at the mercy of your care provider, they are here to serve you.

    KNOW THAT YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE STRONG

    Black women are revered for their strength, perseverance and ability to somehow get it all done, even when we’re doing it on our own. I want you take that “strong black woman” cape off for a moment and really understand these three things:

    It is ok to be scared or feel vulnerable with all of the new things you are experiencing

    it is ok to take the time you need to rest and recover after birth. You deserve it.

    it is ok to ask for and accept help from family, friends, professionals and your community…

    …especially during pregnancy and postpartum when you are literally pushed to your limits.

    You have the strength of your ancestors who endured so much behind you. They lived through hell in hopes of changing the future for future generations. They suffered so that you wouldn’t have to.

    Honor their journey and your own journey but doing things they couldn’t do while pregnant or postpartum.

    Rest.

    Be vulnerable.

    Be selective with your care provider.

    Call on community.

    Because the truth is, even though we did not create this system or situation, we cannot afford to wait for someone to come save us. We must save our selves.

    Reference

    Creanga, A.A., Syverson, C., Seek, K., & Callaghan, W.M. (2017). Pregnancy-Related Mortality in the United States, 2011-2013. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 130(2), 366-373. Retrieved 4 April 2018

  • 4 Life Changing Skills Every Postpartum Woman Should Have

    Oftentimes in the birth world, much of the focus is on the life changing experience that is pregnancy and childbirth and the new baby. And when we talk about the postpartum period, we tend to talk about postpartum depression or breastfeeding.

    But what about your transition from pregnant to parenting, from maiden to mother? What about your recovery from the 9 months of pregnancy and on average 19 hour labor and delivery?

    Medically, your postpartum recovery begins in the hour after your baby’s birth and last 6- 8 weeks as your uterus contracts back down into the pelvis and most of your body systems return to their non pregnant state.

    However, there are many other important events occurring the months after childbirth. You will be navigating your role as a new parent and what that means in your larger family and social networks. You will also be adjusting to physical and mental changes as your body recovers from pregnancy.

    Professionals and parents will agree that these changes can take much longer than 6-8 weeks to be resolved and that the healing time is closer to 12 months.

    The transitions and recovery that characterize your postpartum period will leave you in a vulnerable state which without the right preparation and support system can lead to serious physical and mental issues, including postpartum depression.

    And while there is certainly strength and beauty in vulnerability and asking for the support of those around you, it is normal to fear the unknowns of postpartum.

    You may have heard well-meaning horror stories from family and strangers alike. You might feel discouraged about your parenting, breastfeeding or recovery goals.  You might be hoping to just survive the postpartum period.

    This is totally normal. And the good news is that there are things you can do now to set your self up for a thriving postpartum.

    Becoming a mother will present new challenges in your life, making it is easy for you to your care and needs behind all of the other things you have to focus on.

    With the right tools, you can reach your goals and take hold off your new normal.

    You can do more than just survive postpartum, you can thrive.

    It sounds easy but you may be wondering how exactly you can do this. There are 4 skills that are constantly popping up in maternal health research as necessary to taking charge of your postpartum health, and your baby and family’s health.

    This also has long term effects on your life. More positive energy and confidence as a new mom means a deeper strong bond early on with your baby. And a strong bond with your baby early on has a positive effect on your life and help your child learn to form healthy relationships.

    By focusing on becoming stronger in these 4 areas you will be able to combat the stressors and challenges you may face in the months and years after you give birth.

    1|The ability to mobilize social support

    This is how you give and receive support from others. Support from close friends and professionals have been show to have positive effects on physical, social and mental health of new moms. A combination of emotional support, instrumental support and informational support will help soften how you view the challenging times.

    Get comfortable with asking for help and saying yes to help from others. But also be ready to be really specific about what your needs are and the type of help that you need. You are not a bad parent for needing and asking for help. You are not a burden. You will not hurt someones feelings by saying exactly what you need from others. And you are not alone.

    2|Self-efficacy

    Self efficacy is your belief in your ability to perform a behavior or task successfully. Essentially, it is your self confidence in yourself as a mother. Higher self- efficacy, or confidence in your abilities as mother, means the better you are going to be able to care for your baby, yourself and your family. Higher maternal self -efficacy is also linked to child development.

    Start building up that mom confidence –  momfidence? Is that a word? as early as possible. Practice the skills necessary to care for an infant, spend time with family and friends with infants and ask questions.  Use positive affirmations to keep the positive thoughts flowing. Celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges without becoming discouraged. You will find your self-efficacy or momfidence growing each day.

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    3|Positive coping strategies

    Coping is how you react and deal with a challenging situation or demand. Coping can happen as a reaction to or in anticipation to these demands or problems. Each mother copes differently depending on the situation and her unique personality but there is a connection between positive coping strategies and addressing any issue that arise head on.

    There are three types of coping strategies you can add to your skill set. You can change how you view or think about a problem, redefining or accepting the problem as is.  You can take action to lessen of get rid of the problem completely.  And you can change how your react to the problem, using meditation, relaxation or prayer.

    4|Realistic expectations

    We develop expectations as way to quickly and easily navigate our world. However, when our expectations are out of touch with the reality of a challenge, it can disrupt our lives and those around us. If your expectations are not met, this can have an affect on how you adjust to motherhood. Unmet expectations can also affect your ability to use the above skills when needed.

    Don’t be blindsided by postpartum. Get hands on experiences soothing a fussy baby. Talk to other moms about their experiences. Really listen but don’t let their experiences scare or discourage you. Know that each woman, each pregnancy, each labor, each delivery, each postpartum is unique and special. Use the experiences they share to form realistic ideas about how you see yourself as a mother.

    Start now

    Don’t wait until the postpartum period to start working on these skills. As soon as you learn that you are expecting you can start identifying the family, friends and professionals that make up your support network. By asking for help and learning from their experiences you will begin forming your expectations for your own mothering experience. You can start practicing using affirmations and positive self talk as your progress throughout your pregnancy. You can also plan ahead and identify not only potential challenge but also how you will cope.

    By working on these skills early on, you can set yourself up for postpartum success. I love helping new parents refine these skills in my postpartum planning sessions, where together we pinpoint your goals and create a custom action plan.

    4skills4postpartum

    Reference:

    Fahey, J. O. and Shenassa, E. (2013), Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Women in the Postpartum Period: The Perinatal Maternal Health Promotion Model. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 58: 613–621. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12139

  • The Benefits of Hiring a Postpartum Doula

    Postpartum doulas are an invaluable,  lesser known birth professional. As a new mother or father, you can benefit from inviting a professional postpartum doula into your home after giving birth.

    Whether this is your first or fifth child. or if you gave birth vaginally or by C-section, a postpartum doula can help make your time after giving birth a blissful, enjoyable time.

    New parents who have enough practical and emotional support adjust to parenting better than those who do not. A postpartum doula helps take care of the home so that you can focus on bonding, breastfeeding, resting and recovering.

    A postpartum doula is right there to encourage and support you when you need it most.

    New mothers who have a support network including their partner, family members, care providers, doulas, counselors and peer groups have greater breastfeeding success, greater self-confidence and feel less overwhelmed.

    Hiring a postpartum doula can benefit not only you and your baby but also your partner, family and extended family as well. A postpartum doula can teach you and anyone who will be caring for the baby about the newest methods and philosophies in parenting as well as reaffirm methods tried and true.

    The postpartum doula fills in the gaps when you do not have enough support available. This could be because you are separated from loved ones by great distances, work demands or many other circumstances. This could mean that you are ill- prepared or feeling overwhelmed or isolated.

    By hiring a postpartum doula, you will benefit from the wealth of information and experience on what to expect in the days, weeks and months after giving birth.

    The doula does this by educating and supporting the parents hands on with breastfeeding support, newborn care and what a healthy newborn looks like, bonding and attachment, and coping skills.

    The postpartum doula  can also connect you with community resources and local care providers as needed. The doula will also help you access, expand or even create a circle of support within your community.

    Parents who have  the type of support that a postpartum doula can provide, enjoy the following benefits during their postpartum period:

    • Increased chance of breastfeeding success
    • Reduced chance of infant dehydration and hospitalization with health complications due to informed care
    • Less chance of maternal postpartum depression and shorter duration and easier for mother to cope with it if it occurs
    • Less maternal exhaustion, frustration, and apprehension during early weeks.
    • Reduction in unnecessary calls to pediatricians
    • Dad back to work sooner with less anxiety
    • Greater understanding of newborn emotional and physical needs and behavior
    • More independent control of baby’s care in the face of overbearing relatives and advice givers due to education and early positive experience.
    • Earlier bonding due to more confidence
    • Paying for a doula gives relatives a way to give constructive help
  • 8 Tips For Going Back To Work After Baby

    In a perfect world, new parents would be able to take off as much paid time from work as needed after having a baby. But the reality is that often times one or both parents need to go back to work.

    Whether you’re going back at 6 weeks or 6 months, plan ahead to make the most of this time.

    Here are 9 tips to help ease your transition into working parent:

    1. Ease into it.

    Take advantage of your leave and benefits. Stay in communication with your supervisor and HR so that everyone’s expectations are clear.

    If you have some flexibility, try starting out with a 2 or 3 day work week and adding a day each week. Or, try working shortened days for the first couple of weeks and gradually adding on hours until you are at your ideal schedule.

    2. Trust your childcare.

    Remember, you have chosen a competent and caring child care provider for your precious baby. Someone that you expect to care for your baby just like you would. Talk about feedings, routines, and how you will receive daily updates. Trust in your decision,  as a new parent, that your child is in safe, loving hands.

    3. Rally your family for support

    Get the whole family involved. Your transition back to the workplace will affect everyone in your home. Get a family game plan together and give older siblings tasks that will help make things go smoothly. You may also need to rely on support from your network of friends and extended family.

    4. Create new routines.

    I know, I know. more routine adjustments. Yes.

    You may have just gotten into a rhythm with your newborn but as you prepare to go back to work its time to really think about your morning and evening routines. Who will prepare meals and clean up? Who will feed and dress the baby for the day?  If you’re breastfeeding, you may find yourself spending many evening hours nursing your baby, who may be making up for missed time. That’s totally normal, but you may need to adjust accordingly, so that dinner and bedtime can get done.

    5. Plan ahead for pumping at work.

    Talk to you supervisor and HR representative early on about your needs as a working mom who also needs to pump during the work day. Legally, you are allowed a time and space to pump as needed but each workplace has their own set of accommodations for pumping employees.

    If you will be pumping at work, invest in a powerful, electric pump over a hand pump (which you can still keep as a back up, just in case) to get the most out of your pumping breaks. Also think about pump supplies to keep on hand,  how you will store pumped milk at work and how you will get the milk home to your freezer.

    6. Feel all of the feelings.

    You will feel sad. You will miss your baby.  You will cry at your desk…maybe multiple times. It’s okay. Allow yourself to feel all of those feelings. This is a difficult time and it is perfectly fine to be gentle with yourself.

    You might even feel overwhelmed. Did you make the right decision by returning to work?  You might feel guilty about missing out on special moments or milestone. Give yourself time and space to work through those feelings. But also remember that going to work is also a part of caring for your baby.

    7.  You can still create a strong bond with your baby

    Remember those guilty feelings, I mentioned above? First, let yourself feel those emotions and think about why you are feeling that way? Second, take action. Maybe you feel guilty because you want to witness your baby’s major milestones. Talk to your child’s care provider about sharing special moments and milestones with you as they happen.

    Maybe you feel like your baby won’t know you anymore. I can assure you that this will not happen but it is a very real fear that some moms returning to work have. Take actions by prioritizing bonding with your baby. If you have a special song, book, or saying, sing, read or say it regularly with your baby to create little bonding moments while you are with your baby.

    8. Take time for self- care.

    Last, but certainly not least, carve out some time in your schedule just for some “me -time,” even if its just 10 minutes a day.  No matter what kind of mom or parent you are, you need time to recharge your batteries so that you can be at 100% for your loved ones and so you can do your best at work. Take that time, without apologies, and enjoy it.

    By planning ahead for your transition back to work you will set your self up for success. And as a professional postpartum doula, I am here to support your journey.

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  • 9 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Postpartum Doula

    Now that you have asked around and done your internet sleuthing to find a postpartum doula near you, its time to narrow down your search. Depending on where you live there might be 15 potential postpartum doulas or their could be just 1. Either way, its important to make sure that you and the doula are a good match and that you feel a connection with her.

    Though this person will be acting in a professional role for your family, her duties and objectives will require a deep level of trust and understanding.

    She will see you and support you during one of the most vulnerable times. She will see you go through struggles and triumphs.

    She will listen to your fears and worries and hear your birth story many, many times.

    She will help smooth the rough spots and deepen your connect you to your village.

    Because of this it is crucial that you find a postpartum doula that you feel supports you in the ways that are most important to you.

     

    Your first opportunity to get a feel for your prospective postpartum doula comes when you initially contact them. How attentive are they to your request for more information? Does their style of communication work for you?

    The second major opportunity comes at your consultation when you get to meet the postpartum doula face to face. This meeting will have a large effect on how you choose to move forward. Make the most of your no obligation consultation by asking any and all of your pertinent questions.

     

    A great question to start out with is:
    1. WHAT LEAD YOU TO THIS WORK?

    Get a feel for why and how she came to this work. Her motivating forces should resonate with you.

    Next, you can ask about her professional experience as a postpartum doula:
    2. WHAT TYPE OF TRAINING DO YOU HAVE?

    3. WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE?

    In the United States, doula work does not require any sort of training or certification. Nor is there a national certifying body for all doulas. Private companies provide training and certifications, but they are not required for one to work as a postpartum doula. One can simply decide to be a postpartum doula.

    Because of this it is up to you, the consumer, to decide if a prospective doulas education and/or experience are satisfactory for your needs. It may important to you that your postpartum doula be a mother herself  or that she have some formal training even though she is not certified. It might be important for you to have a postpartum doula that has trained and become certified through a specific organization. Or perhaps you would like to hire a doula that also provides certain services like placenta encapsulation.

    Its ok to ask the postpartum doula if she has experience with a particular situation, condition or service.

    After learning about the postpartum doulas experience and educations, you can now learn more about her schedule and how your care will be provided by asking:
    4. HOW MANY FAMILIES DO YOU WORK WITH AT ONE TIME?

    5. IS YOUR SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE? DO YOU HAVE A BACK-UP, AND IF NOT, CAN YOU REFER ME TO ANOTHER DOULA, IF NEEDED?

    6. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE MOTHER GIVES BIRTH EARLIER (OR LATER) THAN EXPECTED?

    Each doula has her own way of scheduling clients. Some doulas schedule multiple families at one and work with a back up doula to ensure. Others may work with only on to two families at a time. Most doulas schedule family strategically based on the baby’s due date, so its important to know when you care will start if your baby comes earlier or later than anticipated. This is the time to learn about how your prospective doula does things.
    Get a feel for the types of resources the prospective doula can connect you to by asking:
    7. HOW DO YOU SUPPORT A PARENT AT RISK FOR A POSTPARTUM MOOD DISORDER?

     

    Your prospective postpartum doula should have a list of a variety of community resources to connect you will after giving birth. One of the main goals of a postpartum doula is to help a new parent find and build their village. This network of support can include family, friends and professionals, like a postpartum doula.

    This one is self-explanatory. You need to know if you can afford to hire this prospective doula:
    8. WHAT IS THE FEE FOR YOUR SERVICES?

    9. DO YOU OFFER A PAYMENT PLAN, SLIDING SCALE OR BARTER FOR SERVICES?

    If your prospective postpartum doula’s fee is more than you anticipated or can afford, its worthwhile to ask about  a payment plan, sliding scare or bartering. Many postpartum doulas are willing to work  with you.

    Lastly, see what other moms like you are saying about your prospective postpartum doula:
    10. CAN YOU PROVIDE REFERENCES FROM OTHER FAMILIES YOU’VE WORKED FOR?

    Ask for references, client reviews and/or testimonials so that you can read/ hear the real experiences of families who have worked with this postpartum doula. If you like the postpartum doula but find that a reference or review raises more questions or concerns, do not hesitated to reach out to the postpartum doula to address them.

    The postpartum doula interview is a chance for you to get to know the postpartum doula before you invite her into your family’s home. Write down your questions in advance, to ensure that you get the best idea of how the postpartum doula will fit into your life.

    10QUESTIONSTOASKPPDBLOG

    What other questions should new moms asks a prospective postpartum doula?

  • How to Find a Postpartum Doula Near You

    As a mother and a postpartum doula, I firmly believe that you and any woman giving birth deserves unbiased, practical postpartum support in the comfort of you home. And I’d be willing to bet that you and any birthing woman would agree.

    Unfortunately, it’s not so simple to just believe that every family should have access to a postpartum doula. You need to know what exactly a postpartum doula does and how to find them near you.

    Where does one even start when looking for a postpartum doula?

    Google Search:

    First you are going to do a google search for postpartum doulas in your city. My favorite search term is “postpartum doula in Bowie Maryland.” Just switch out my city and state for yours. Check the first 3 pages for doulas near your city and write down the information for any doulas that interest you.

    Ask Around:

    Now its time to get some personal referrals.

    Ask family or friends if they have worked with a doula or know anyone else who has.  This is a great way to get uncensored, real-talk, experiences about working with a postpartum doula.

    Ask your OB/GYN if they can recommend professional support for you based on your needs. Your OB/GYN may have more knowledge working with birth doulas who provide labor support but they should be able to point you in the right direction.

    Ask other providers who lead parenting classes, play groups, and provide breastfeeding support. Leaders of national groups like La Leche League and Moms of Multiples might also be able to help. These professionals usually have a large network or family related resources.

    Doula Directories:

    Now, that you’ve asked around and gotten ideas from friends, family and local professionals its time to take our search back to the internet. Online directories are a great way to find local doulas who are available around your due date or who have specializations like experience working with multiples or being LGBTQ friendly.

    Two of my favorite websites for finding local birth and postpartum professionals are:

    • SistaMidwife Productions, LLC.  – search for black midwives, doulas and other birth professionals by State
    • DoulaMatch.net – search for birth doulas, postpartum doulas and childbirth education by due date and zip code. You can also narrow down the search by specialization and other services offered.
    • There are also several other website that list doulas. Check them out here.

    Birth Networks:

    Another great place to find caring birth professionals are area birth networks like the Maryland Birth Network and the DC- based Birth Options Alliance.

    Social Media:

    Last but not least, we take our search to social media. Social media is a great way to find postpartum doulas that are active and to see how they interact with moms like you. Social media is also a great place to find reviews and feedback on a particular postpartum doula. To search for a postpartum doula near you, can try searching hashtags like #marylanddoula or #marylandpostpartumdoula but with your state  (or city) in place of mine

    • Facebook– Hit the search bar and try searching for phrases like “Maryland postpartum doula.” Narrow your search by selecting Pages or Places. There may be a lot to sift through but you can also read reviews to help weed out the doulas who may not be a good fit.
    • Instagram– Search Places and enter your city. Or try searching a hashtag like #marylandpostpartumdoula  but with your state in place of mine. When you find a postpartum doula you think you might connect with scroll through their feed to get a better feel for their style. Check to see if they are on any other social media platforms to get a broader sense of their service offerings.

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    Finding a postpartum doula can be a confusing process. Keep your search focused by including your city and/ or state in your search terms. If you aren’t having much luck, try searching neighboring cities, your county or you closest metropolitan area.

    And if ALL else fails reach out to a postpartum doula like me and ask if they can help you find someone who works in your area.

  • The January Tea | Newsletter

    January 2018

    Hey, 2018, hey!

    I hope you are having the best new year yet! If you are like me you are low key VERY excited for 2018. I just have a feeling that  this year is going to be a stellar one.

    .WHAT’S NEW WITH THE PRIMA DOULA

    As the holiday season winds down and we say hello to 2018, this is the perfect time to set new intentions and make changes in our lives. I have many goals myself, both professionally and personally and one of them is to stay connected.

    I want to stay connected with you so that I can better serve you and other families like yours.

    Let’s stay in touch!

    Let me know what you need from me as a postpartum doula

    • Tell me about your new goals as a mom or dad

    • Follow me on social media @theprimadoula. I’ll follow you back!

    • Share your moment of #postpartumrealness

    Leave review of your experience working with me

    .NEW SERVICES

    This year, I will be adding several new services to support you after you give birth. I will still be providing in home postpartum care but now I will also offer the following services:

    Mother Blessing Ceremony Planning and Facilitation

    Postpartum Belly Wrapping

    Prenatal Belly Casting

    You might also notice that I have streamlined my services by creating Postpartum Care Packages. These packages combine doula care with Planning and Pampering services to provide wrap around care that meets all of your needs.

    Check them out below:

    .JANUARY AVAILABILITY

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    .FREE CLASSES

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    REGISTER HERE

    .LEAVE SOME LOVE

    Have you worked with Prima Postpartum Services in the past?

    Did you love it or not so much?

    Either way, I want to hear about it!

    Share your experience and give feedback so that I can better serve families like yours.

    CLICK HERE TO SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

    .ONE MORE THING

    Do you know any Maryland or Washington DC area families expecting a new baby in 2018?

    Will you do me and them a favor and forward this email along to them?

    I want to provide 5 hours of doula care FREE and I know you can help connect me to families and new moms who need some extra support.

    Thank you so much for your support and I hope this year is your best one yet!

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  • Reclaim Your Time, Postpartum

    “I’m just so tired of feeling tired” is something I hear many new mothers say in between chats about breastfeeding  and loads of baby laundry.

    It’s no secret that moms are tired. I remember how exhausted I was after giving birth to my first son. I had spent a day and a half in labor facing pitocin contractions and welcomed my little man earth-side around 6 am. I feel like I’ve been trying to shake that I-just-need-two-more-hours-of-sleep feeling ever since. That was 6 years ago.

    Nowadays, its very easy  (and NORMAL) to become overwhelmed with everything related to pregnancy, birth and baby. You want the best for your baby and everyone has their own opinions about what that means. But what does that mean for you and your family?

    I know you absolutely adore your little one. But you also need to reclaim your time.

    As children grow and get older their needs grow and change. Don’t wait to reclaim your time. Don’t wait until the baby is sleeping through the night (what does that even mean really?) Don’t wait until you’ve weaned (that could take forever). Don’t wait until your maternity leave is over.

    Start now.

    Start today.

    As a postpartum doula, I am constantly amazed at all of the products, books and parenting methods directed at new moms and dads. Its no wonder many of you will quickly feel burnt out.

    You want to be the best parent possible, but you are constantly being told that you need to do, say or buy certain things in order to be the best parent you can be.

    You are being told that the key to your parenting success lies outside of you. That you need to buy it or find it in someone else’s words. You are focusing all of your time and energy on other people’s ideas.

    Trust your gut.

    You DO have to power and tools within you to be an amazing parent. I want to help you access the tools. To take control. To reclaim your time.

    I will be realistic here. Of course there are many things that are out of your control. You cannot control your baby’s temperament or how the flow of breastfeeding will progress. You cannot control the speed or ease of your recovery from labor and delivery. But you can control your perception and expectations and doing so can help you find confidence and peace with your journey.

    Try the strategies below help you reclaim your time and control after going through the wild unknown that is childbirth. (or reclaim your time and control over your postpartum recovery?)

    GIVE YOURSELF TIME | This is a big one. It would be great if we could get exactly what we want at the snap of a finger, but the reality is that time is the biggest factor.

    The postpartum period is medically defined as the 6-8 weeks after childbirth that it takes for the body to return to its non-pregnant state.

    This definition is VERY lacking. It only accounts for physical recovery of the reproductive organs. Mental and emotional health are not mentioned at all. Newer research is showing that the postpartum actually has three stages that flow together but their duration varies from parent to parent.

    It will take time for your body to recovery from childbirth and adjust to breastfeeding. It will take time for you process and settle into your new role as a parent. It will take time to build a bond with your baby. It will time to find your new normal. Lots of new parents say it takes much longer than 8 weeks to feel truly out of the postpartum stage. For some its 6 months for other its 12 months or more. There is no definitive time because so many different things can affect your postpartum recovery.

    Allow yourself the time and space to heal, learn and grow. For some this can look like staying in bed with baby for an extended time to promote rest, recovery and breastfeeding. For others, it can be staying in the home and not having visitors or going outside for a specific period of time. It can even look like getting out of the house with baby as long as you feel ready.

    TRY THIS It’s hard to know, beforehand, how much time you will need. If you plan on taking maternity leave you can use this as a starting point. For example, you have 6 weeks of leave. You might decide to stay confined to your home for the first 2 weeks in order to get a good start to breastfeeding. Or perhaps you decide to spend most of the time at home resting and recovering. Whatever feels right for you is the best choice.

    BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF | Its easy to look in the mirror and pinpoint all of the things you are unhappy with. You really don’t need that type of negative talk in your life right now. The postpartum time is a deep period of personal growth. Your body is changing, your brain is rewiring, you are experiencing a momentous shift in your life.

    This is the time to baby yourself, to allow yourself to be care for and pampered. This is the time to ask for and accept help without guilt

    Use kind words with yourself. Don’t compare your recovery to next person’s.

    Thank your body. It is carrying a life. Your body will nourish your baby. Your body protect’s your baby. Show it some love and appreciation. Schedule some some time for self-care daily, even if its only 5-10 minutes. You need that time to yourself.

    TRY THIS Encourage yourself. Tell yourself that you are doing a good job, that you are the perfect parent for your child. Accept compliments and kind words from others. Allow those words to fill your cup with love so that you can then pour that love into your baby and family.

    ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS | If you are like every other parent out there, you have envisioned what your life after your new baby is born would be like. You have daydreamed about how your perfect little angel will fit seamlessly into the life you have now. Maybe you have had visions of your baby rocking contentedly as you carry on your normal routines. Or have played out scenarios in your mind where you partner just knows when you need help and effortlessly steps in without complaint.

    Then you give birth and reality sets in. Your baby doesn’t care that you vacuum on Tuesdays or that you like to work out every morning at 6 am. Your baby just wants to be close to you and suck all of the milk from your body. Your partner isn’t a mind reader or a servant. They are human and trying to figure out this whole thing too.

    Be realistic, accept that A LOT will change. Accept that there is no “back to normal.” Realize that you will now have a new normal for your life. One that includes a little baby with lots of needs.

    Go with the flow. Your baby needs help learning the rhythms of our world. You can help your baby adjust by creating a flexible routine that guides you throughout the day.

    For example, the first few weeks of newborn life might be a rotation of something like this:

    FEED – DIAPER CHANGE – PLAY – SLEEP – REPEAT

    There may not be room for much else at first, but as you and your baby learn each other and get more efficient, you can start to add activities like outings to your schedule (but stay flexible!).

    Be ready to ask for help and say it explicitly. I can promise you one thing, if you don’t ask for exactly what you need postpartum, you will be very frustrated and that can create unnecessary problems.

    Don’t waste time waiting for your partner to figure out what you mean when you say you need support. They don’t know. Tell them exactly what you need.

    TRY THIS “I need you to help keep the kitchen together so that I can focus on breastfeeding”. Or, “I would really feel supported and safe if you took this child birth class with me.” Or, “It would really be helpful if you encouraged my breastfeeding. Please don’t ask me if I just want to give up or tell me to just give the baby formula.”

    RECLAIMING MY TIME

    WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO RECLAIM YOUR TIME, POSTPARTUM?