The postmodyrn Midwife: Your Village
The postmodyrn Midwife series is by Bay Area midwife Ellie Griffinger-Guidi, CNM.
“While it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to raise the child’s family. Take the time to assemble your village.”
- Mara Acel-Green, LICSW
After you have a baby, family and friends want to help you, but don’t always know how. This dynamic can lead to stress for the new mother and even hurt feelings from well-intentioned friends.
At the same time, isolation is not a friend of the postpartum mama. We all know there are certain friends that we don’t have to entertain, and instead can just “veg out” together. These are your postpartum key players.
It can help to give the people around you specific tasks and roles for the weeks after baby. If you are able, it might even help to line up these resources before the baby comes. Here are some ideas to pass along:
- Organize a calendar for family and friends to drop off meals (Meal Train is a wonderful resource, but even a simple shared GoogleCalendar will work).
- Have your best girlfriend bring over some healthy snacks and a movie to watch together.
- Do you know any other new mamas? Arrange to meet up for a neighborhood walk during the 5pm “witching hour”, or just have a friend over to watch the evening news and breastfeed. Just staying in touch with current events will make you feel less isolated and give you something to talk about besides how much you love your new baby!
Line Up Professional Support. Reach out to professional support before your baby arrives, so that when you actually need help, you’ll feel more at ease.
- Lactation Consultant: Plan a prenatal lactation consultation visit and then ask the consultant to come to your house on the first day you’re back from the hospital. Lactation consultants are not just for when problems arise: remember we are trying to avoid crisis mode. In those early weeks, feeding the baby becomes a major focus (as do poops and pees; all related!), and lactation consultants are “key players” in this area. (For more on the myths and truths of breastfeeding, check out our article from lactation specialists at DayOne Baby later this week!)
- Support Groups: Research local groups and write down when and where they meet. Visit them prenatally. No one will wonder why you’re there, even though your baby is still in your belly. Everyone will wish they’d done the same! This is smart planning. Don’t be surprised if you need the support of other women within the first two weeks postpartum. Be prepared. Remember you are not alone. (Not sure where to start on this one? postmodyrn's Brands We Love list includes some incredible support resources for new and expecting mamas.)
Transition Older Siblings. It is never too early to prepare older siblings for baby’s arrival. I'm sorry to bear bad news, but no matter your circumstances, this will be a hard transition. When my second child was born, the jealousy did not hit my firstborn right away. Instead, it hit when the baby was about six months, and began to attract attention with his sweet giggles and smiles. Here are a few tips to help ease siblings’ transition:
- Involve siblings. Talk about being a family and everyone’s important role. Give your older children tasks: hold the bottle, bring diapers, pat the baby as he’s falling asleep.
- Talk about baby before baby is even here. “Mama and baby are going to take a nap. Does brother want to nap with us?”
- Highlight “big sibling” activities that the baby can’t get do. Go to the park, play in the yard, throw the ball, color with crayons, hold a book.
- Bring older siblings to the hospital when mama and baby are ready to come home so that you can all leave together.
- Maintain routines as much as possible, but also keep siblings home during the first week so they can join in the excitement.
Help Your Partner to Support You. This often surprising to my families, but even partners need you to help them prepare for this transition. Talk about what you think your needs might be, once the baby arrives. Every new mother has needs, and even a second or third time mother is a new mother: a new mother to this child.
Ellie Griffinger-Guidi, CNM is a private practice midwife at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland, CA. Ellie works in partnership with clients to create individualized birth experiences where women feel supported, empowered and in charge of their health care. Ellie graduated from University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in 2011 and become a Certified Nurse Midwife. A Bay Area native, she was born at Alta Bates hospital herself. Her practice fulfills a lifelong calling to be an advocate for women’s health.
Photos: Laura Kudritzki Photography
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