The anticipation and excitement of the baby's pending birth fills the minds of parents as a family prepares for a new baby. The thoughts of the birth itself brings a joyful thrill and possibly some trepidation.
For good reason, new parents take childbirth classes, practice breathing and positions for labor and learn all they can about birth and how to prepare. Looking for empathy and encouragement, they listen to, read and search out birth stories in anticipation. All of these are positive steps in preparation for birth.
Birth is an unforgettable event in the life of every mother and family surrounding her. It is wise to become informed, to prepare for and plan for the blessed event. Preparation and planning can increase the satisfaction parents experience at the birth of their new baby.
Many families work with a labor doula in preparation for birth.
A labor doula can provide valuable information, insight and support as a family anticipates birth. She is a valuable resource prior to and during labor and birth. Having a labor doula in attendance for the birth has many benefits for the birthing mother and her partner. She will also provide excellent support immediately following birth and can offer important suggestions for getting breastfeeding off to a good start. To find a labor doula near you, check out the Doulas of North America (DONA) Find a doula.
As a family plans for and anticipates the glory of baby's birthday,
birth planning can easily overshadow any planning that extends into the early weeks and months following birth. Beyond the basic layette, stockpiling of diapers and painting the nursery, making a plan for a baby moon (the postpartum period) is often overlooked by new parents.
Thinking past the actual birth and forward into the reality of life with a new baby will help ease parents into their new role, make the transition more manageable and increase breastfeeding success.
Our days with our children will be many beyond that blessed birthday and the luxury of a full and satisfying baby moon can add to the depth and beauty of your mothering relationship with this baby.
Those very first days, weeks and months will be filled with a combination of joy, delight, exhaustion and anxiety unique to each new mother. New motherhood is filled with discoveries, new awareness and the often unanticipated reach for a new set of skills. The feelings of being awestruck and overwhelmed are difficult to imagine prior to experiencing it. Planning and allowing yourself a well planned baby moon will provide you with the opportunity to focus on getting to know and enjoying your new baby, learning new skills, regaining your strength and resting as much as possible.
Although knowing with certainty what your exact wants and needs will be is difficult, considering what you may need in advance, will allow you a more deeply satisfying baby moon. A little fore thought and planning is important preparation for the weeks following birth. Consult with other mothers and ask them what they found most useful in terms of assistance from family and friends during the early days and weeks with a new baby. Find friends and family members who can encourage you in your research and planning.
A postpartum doula can meet with you prior to birth and assist in planning for your own unique baby moon. She can provide important support and hands on assistance with the basics during baby's early days and weeks. Extra assistance allows you to focus on your baby and your own needs for rest and nurturing.
There are a number of doula certifying organizations. These organizations train and certify both labor and postpartum doulas and assist families in finding a doula by listing doula contact information. The oldest and largest doula organization is Doulas of North America (DONA). Labor and postpartum doulas are listed on the Doulas of North America (DONA) website. Find a doula.
The benefits of breastfeeding are well established and expectant parent's awareness of those benefits has generally increased in recent years. Breastfeeding and baby care classes are helping to extend planning into the postpartum period. Breastfeeding success can be increased with planning for birth and the early and extended postpartum period.
Baby care and breastfeeding are learned skills. Breastfeeding is a natural process but is combined with new set of skills learned by a each new mother. In some families those skills have been observed over time by little girls throughout their lives. In some cultures those observations are supported by a group of experienced mothers ready to assist and instruct a new mom following birth.
Important components of a well relaxed babymoon will include a community of reliable family members and/or friends who have agreed to support you in your breastfeeding goals and assist you with practical hands on help. Identify and include breastfeeding supportive friends and family members in your contact list ahead of time so that you can refer to them during your early breastfeeding experience.
Know who your breastfeeding resources are and have their contact information readily available.
These resources may include:
Two highly recommended examples of published information are:
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PHD.,IBCLC
For a more extensive list of suggested reading, see our new parent recommended reading page.
Have basic ingredients on hand for a few simple and easy to prepare meals.
A few favorite meals pre-made and frozen can be a great relief to new tired and hungry parents. Prepare a few of your own favorite meals ahead of time and freeze them for easy prep after the baby arrives.
We are gathering together a collection (a work in progress) of some of our favorite easy to prepare nutritious recipes along with some suggestions of those that freeze well. See our recipes page for what we've included so far.
Let friends and family know that a meal made and delivered will be as or more appreciated than another cute baby outfit.
This can be provided by sending out a request to family and friends for meals delivered following your baby's birth. They can sign up ahead of time or bring things by at your request later. A great online resource for creating scheduled meal drop offs from family and friends in advance is available at mealbaby.com.
A new baby in the family is a big adjustment for older siblings. Their usual routines are disrupted and the expected responses from parents are altered.
Make plans for assistance with older siblings. Grandparents, friends and babysitters can be indispensable during this time. An occasional special outing with a special family member can help keep siblings entertained but don't be too surprised if there is some resistance to leaving you as well.
Snuggling together while reading before and after the new baby's birth helps maintain closeness and reassures siblings that you are still available for them as well as for baby. Reading together can keep an active toddler entertained for a bit while you nurse the baby.
Reading picture books with toddlers about new babies and becoming a big brother or sister can help them anticipate the changes to come. There are many wonderful children's books that describe the experience and address the transition of having a new baby in the family. Reading resources that you may find reassuring and worth reading with your soon to be big brother or sister are included on our recommended reading page.
Pets are affected by the changes in a family, too. Make plans for some assistance with pet care. There are even dog trainers available who specialize in working with the dogs in families with new babies. If you find you need more focused help with the four legged older sibling, check out Family Paws Parent Education for excellent online information or to find a trainer in your locale. They even have a Dog and Baby Support toll-free hotline. 1-877-247-3407.
If you live in my part of the world, the Chicago area, contact Kym at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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