Planning for Your Newborn
Congratulations! You are going to have a baby, and you have delved into the planning, purchasing and organizing stage of welcoming a newborn. We tend to focus on the tangible things we can control when planning for birth and parenting, including where we will be giving birth, our chosen support team, the car seat, and the type of diapers. Rarely, do we make a strategic plan for the things that we cannot purchase. Yet, they are the most important aspects to our sense of confidence when transitioning to a family.
After birth, babies spend all their time sleeping, eating and in diaper changes. It’s typical to feel like you are in a perpetual state of jet lag, sleeping in two-hour increments, gobbling snacks in between, interspersed with showering and sharing the details of your new addition to family and friends. Prenatal classes fail us by thinking that this transitional time will only be for six weeks, and then our babies will be magically sleeping longer. We have this unspoken finish line in our head as to when sleep will return to normal, somewhat like our baby’s due date. However, our new normal is yet to materialize, with our newborn in the throws of needing night-time feedings, touch, and comfort. The reason that your child continues to wake then shifts to the discomforts of teeth, illnesses and daily over stimulation. Toddler waking evolves into daycare transitions, nursery schools, home moves and other variables in our lives.
To be as fully equipped as possible, consider sitting down for a date night, before your baby is born, with a goal of developing a Postpartum Support Plan to thrive in the early weeks and months of life, with your newborn. Ask your co-parent or family the following list of questions to coordinate a long-term plan based on your answers. Our stamina to deal with sleep interruptions is dependent on incorporating healthy eating, creating positive social support systems, communication and the ability to adapt and be flexible as your variables change.
- Ask each other how much sleep you need to have in order to be a healthy, functioning adult?
- Set up a tentative schedule of when you can sleep in, go to bed early, and nap.
- Identify the no-strings-attached person that you know who would love to come and hold your baby while you have a parenting break.
- Plan to host a freezer baby shower.
- Start double batching meals and freeze half for post birth
- Prep as many snacks that you can eat with one hand (while the baby is in the other)
- List your favourite healthy takeout/delivery options
- Set up a grocery delivery service
- Create a list of online or physical drop-ins where you can meet new parents https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/social-services/childrens-services/early-years
- List every task that you complete to run your household, and re-think how they can be outsourced while you are prioritizing healing from birth, sleeping and eating healthy. Ensure that all the tasks do not become the sole responsibility of one parent, to prevent burn out. In two-parent families, both parents are recovering from birth and learning to parent. In one-parent households, it is essential to identify as many supports as possible.
- If you are a two-parent home, acknowledge that you may find yourselves sleeping apart in order to get the sleep you need.
- Learn the safe sleep recommendations that include safe bed-sharing, should you find alternative safe options to crib sleeping.
- Identify the best time for family members to come and visit, especially if they come from out of town and will be staying with you. This is YOUR postpartum experience.
Remind yourselves that it will not be like this forever but being in control of your supports leaves you feeling more empowered and reduces the feelings of resentment when you are sleep deprived. Finally, set a date six weeks after your baby is born to revisit what is working, what is not, and most importantly how you can fill in the gaps.
- The Mother’s Guide to Self Renewal by Renee Peterson Trudeau
- The Art of Extreme Self Care by Cheryl Richardson