Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preparing the postpartum nest for recovery time (taking care of mom)

I just had my 8th baby.  Over the years I've come to find that preparing for a peaceful recovery time is just as important (if not more) as preparing for baby.  After birth mama is recovering from the toll that pregnancy has taken on on her body, recovering from birth, getting to know the new baby, building a nursing relationship with baby and dealing with hormonal changes.  Whew!  Thats a lot to deal with all at once.  I've found that the more time that can be dedicated to a quiet recovery the better I do in the following months and year.  There have been times when the recovery time has been virtually non-existent with me needing to jump into life quickly after birth.  While I was able to do this; my health suffered (mastitis several times and various viruses and infections that my body SHOULD have been able to fight off, but did not) and it really took me much longer to get back on my feet as far as caring for my family goes even though it looked like I had been able to just jump back into "life."

Important parts of postpartum recovery-

-Get help!  Can your husband take time off of work?  My husband has almost always taken 2 weeks of leave after our babies were born (we recently found out that he now gets 10 days of paternity leave!).  My mom usually comes for a week when baby is about two weeks.  That gives me 3 weeks to rest and adjust.  If your husband can't take time off and your family can't help look into what other options you have.  Are your friends or church family willing to help out a bit?  We've had young women come and stay with us a couple of times to help out.  Accept any help that is offered and keep a list of things you could use help with so if someone offers you know what needs to be done (laundry, meals, errands, cleaning the house, watching the kids....).  *It can be hard to ask for help, or to take the help offered.  A couple of years ago a dear friend sweetly reminded me that I needed to let others help me the way I love to serve and help others.  By not taking the help offered I was robbing others of the chance to obey God and serve in the way he had put on their hearts.  

-STAY IN BED!!!!  Try to stay in bed for a week.  Your body really does need this rest. Sleep when baby is sleeping.  I wear PJ's for at least that first week to help me remember that I'm supposed to be resting; even if I do feel well. This has the added bonus of not trying to get into real clothes for a while giving your belly a bit more time to shrink. ;)

-TRAIN your children!!!!  This can be so hard in the last weeks when you are not sleeping well and moving around is getting harder and harder.  The temptation to slack off is very real (and I've succumbed to it).  The more time you spend working with your children and training them during this time the better off you (and your whole family) will be.  Inspect the work you expect them to do.  Keep up with school (if you homeschool), too much free time will only lead them to trouble.  Work on any discipline issues (they will only get worse after baby if you don't).  Are any kids ready to step into some jobs you usually do, even if for a short time?  Some of my kids are learning to make some meals that I would normally do.  My youngest is getting used to his big sister putting him down for a nap, while his big brothers are doing his diaper changes as I will not be lifting him for a few weeks after I have baby.

-Prepare your room for an extended stay.  I make sure that everything (other than food and drinks) that I will need in the next week or so are in my room.  Baby's bed, diapers, clothes  etc. are all set up in my room.  I've gathered PJ's and sweats that I know will fit and they are in a nice neat stack with nursing bras and pads right next to them.  I'll keep some books, DVDs and thank you cards next to my bed as well.
This is an old entertainment center that has been repurposed to be used as a dresser/changing table.  Notice the pictures?  They are from the "belly picture" session we had with a dear friend.  I love the joy and anticipation represented in these pictures; as well as the thought of the dear friend behind the camera.

-Have treats planned.  This is a special time, make it feel like it is.  Have some favorite foods ready to go in the house.  Have some extra money set aside to get take out (I'm looking forward to sushi and Thai food as evening "dates" with my husband).  I also have tea and biscotti set aside to be enjoyed as mid-morning snacks.  Make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks as well; nuts, cheese, nut crackers, as well as fruits and veggies are some great ones.  Be sure to have a great water bottle that you enjoy drinking from; getting plenty of water is so important while nursing.
I find that ice cold water from a straw is what I do best with.  This insulated water bottle makes it easy for me to have water with me anywhere I go.

-CLOTHES that will fit after baby should be prepared before baby is born.  Chances are that you either don't own anything that will fit (if this is your first or you have a big space) or that the clothes that will fit have not seen the light of day for well over a year.  I pulled out some of the clothes I think will fit and made sure they were ironed.  Now they will be ready for me when I am ready to venture out of the house; instead of having to dig through my closet/bins to find something that needs to be ironed while trying to get out of the house with the new baby (as I've had to do in the past).

-MEALS should be planned and made ahead.  If you are blessed with meals from others these meals in your freezer will help you ease back into running your home while you continue to adjust.  Even if you don't have a large freezer many meals can be frozen flat in gallon bags.  You would be surprised how much you can get into that freezer above the refrigerator.  As a bonus if you can have a grocery list ready so that one of your helpers can make that run before they leave you will be thankful not to have to take the baby on that sort of trip quite yet.  *We've been so blessed with over two weeks of meals from our church family, friends, and even pizza delivery from family out of town!  This means we will not be getting into our freezer meals until around the time my husband will be going back to work! I'll have nearly two months of not needing to make dinner!

-A clean house (and I mean CLEAN, not just picked up) is a nice bonus.  It will be so much easier for you to enjoy your recovery time knowing your house has been cleaned well.  It seems many pregnant women can hardly help but do this in the last weeks anyways as they nest.  Cleaning out the entry closet, the sewing room, garage and pulling out fall clothes for the kids were on my list this time around.

-Enjoy your baby and your family!  This is a special time for bonding with your baby and getting to know him/her as well as a recovery time.  When all of the above are in order it will be much easier to enjoy this time.  Your family will be better able to enjoy this special time as well when your home is well prepared for baby's arrival.  This should be a special time for all of you!