Monday, January 9, 2012

“The Arrival Plan”

I remember speaking with a young woman who was about six months along in her pregnancy. She told me all about the countless books she read about pregnancy itself. She knew what was happening each week internally to her body and her baby. She could explain exactly what she could anticipate emotionally and hormonally. This woman could even provide me with the potential weight and size of her baby at each passing week. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow,” this woman is like a walking pregnancy timeline. This is super cool. I then proceeded to ask the woman questions about the days and weeks following her pregnancy. What could she expect when her little one first arrives? Who will be there to help her with the ins and outs other than her spouse? How is she going to handle the sleep deprivation those first few weeks? What could she do to make things easier on herself? The woman no longer had an answer for me. She looked completely stumped. It is completely normal to not have an after birth plan in place. Women are often so excited about the end result, that they often forget to really plan for the baby’s arrival. This blog post is intended to provide my three top suggestions regarding planning for what is to come following the grand entrance of your little one. This is especially the case if this is your first pregnancy.

To begin with, we need to ensure the layette has everything it might possibly need to be fully functional and operational in order to avoid those late night emergencies. That includes a stash of diapers in NB (newborn) and size 1, wipes, A & D ointment, diaper rash cream, bibs, clothes for daily wear, jumpers (pj’s), hooded towels, washcloths, baby wash, sheets, receiving blankets for swaddling, thermometer, Q-tips, blankets, feeding supplies, gripe water, and anything else you might think is a real necessity. If you check online and search for layette musts, you will get an endless supply of ideas. You might even want to check with your pediatrician to see if he or she can make some other recommendations you may have not thought of. In terms of furniture for the baby, it is all about personal preference. Bassinets, cribs, and cradles all work the same. Just make sure they are within the standards in terms of safety recommendations. Oh yes, if you choose to bottle feed or breast pump, make sure you have a supply of feeding tools and parts to last for at least a day’s feeding. Limiting the amount of washing and cleaning can help you out significantly in the short term.

Now let’s move on to cooking. Do you really think you will be cooking elaborate meals the first several weeks? My thought is probably not. My first recommendation is to have freezer foods available for quick and easy meals. If you never heard of freezer cooking, now is the time to do some research. Simply put, freezer meals are meals made in advance, stored in the freezer and used for later quick and easy meals. Freezer meals can include anything from vegetable soups to baked ziti. Don’t forget to label each item you make and include the date of packaging. You wouldn’t want to try to figure out what food you are defrosting when you are completely sleep deprived. A crock pot also can be quite helpful. Crock pot cooking is quite simple. Just add the ingredients, set the temperature gauge, and the meal cooks itself. Now how easy is that?

The next item of discussion is to recruit help and lots of it! If you are fortunate enough to be able to financially afford a baby nurse, go ahead and make the investment. Baby nurses are there to make your recovery easier by taking care of the baby when you need time to rest. This is especially helpful if you end up with a c-section. Remember, not all c-sections are planned. A plan B is always recommended. A baby nurse can also be a great resource in terms of learning how to diaper your baby, bathe him or her, swaddle, and care for the umbilical cord. The recommendation for a baby nurse ranges from 1-3 weeks depending on the mother’s need. If a baby nurse is not an option, try to recruit family and friends. You will be surprised how many people want to help and be around a newborn baby. Remember the first few weeks are the hardest even for a pro. Booking family members and friends throughout the first few weeks can really make a significant difference. Family and friends can help with everything from diapering, cooking, cleaning bottles, rocking the baby, etc. Just ask them what to do, and I am sure they won’t bat an eye. They have been there, too!

On a more serious note, I want to point out some emotional changes that can occur following delivery. This is something not often discussed with a patient until the postpartum appointment. It is extremely normal to feel a little down or what is classified as the “baby blues” the first ten days following delivery. Baby blues are a direct result in the sudden drop of hormones levels. Symptoms of the baby blues may include sadness, crying, irritability and a sense of feeling down. This is a completely normal reaction and stage to go through. However, if your mood continues this way or declines after the initial ten days, you should then reach out to your healthcare provider. It is possible you could be suffering from a more serious issue called “postpartum depression.” Thankfully, this is completely treatable disorder and medication, therapy and/or personal life coaching can be super beneficial. Ten to fifteen percent of all moms report “postpartum depression.” Remember having a baby is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. It is also one the most stressful times as it a major transitional point. Everything as you know it changes. I recommend taking it easy on yourself and your new role. Each day will get easier. Each day will begin to feel more natural and rewarding. Once the little smiles and laughter begin, I guarantee it will all be worth it.

All the best to you and your new family.

Post written by Sabrina Roffman. MS, Certified Coach Practitioner Specializing in Infertility, Pregnancy and Motherhood Expecting Moms
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