So, here’s the deal. You just had a baby! After nine long months of preparing for this very moment, you find yourself swept into a whirlwind of excitement, fear, exhaustion, and joy. No matter how many parenting books you read or hours you spent typing questions into the Google search bar, you may still feel an overwhelming sense of, “What do I do now?”
The postpartum stage of pregnancy is often neglected in the intense journey towards your due date, but it is one of the most physically and emotionally challenging periods for a new parent. Much of your focus will be dedicated to your brand new baby as you become acquainted and try to decipher every cry. It’s easy to forget that you just completed a nine-month marathon where your body, mind, and soul were stretched to their absolute limits. Take a moment, breathe, and congratulate yourself! In order to be the best parent you can be, you must first take care of yourself.
Here are 7 essential tips to help new parents power through the postpartum period:
Tis the season of holiday gatherings and events, and we know how stressful the season can be for parents with a newborn. This season is full of love and family togetherness, but it can come at a price for newborns. With the weather getting colder and families spending most of the days inside, colds and flu are a cause for concern for many parents of newborns. Because of this, it’s important for new parents to set boundaries with family and friends during holiday get-togethers. A general rule we believe is important is the ‘No touching’ rule. It seems simple enough, but we all know that there will be at least one person that wants to believe they are the exception to the rule.
The grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., will want to cuddle and kiss on their new addition to the family, and you might be a little more hesitant to tell them ‘no.’ We get it – they’re family! But the little bundle of joy you brought into the world needs you to be the one to protect them from possible exposure to the cold and flu. If you are having trouble thinking of how to lay down the law, here are some helpful tips:
Sick and Breastfeeding
If you or your breastfed baby do become sick, the best thing you could do is continue breastfeeding. The amazing thing about breastmilk is that its composition will change to help baby’s needs. For example, your body will know if you or your baby is sick and will increase the antibodies produced in the breastmilk. So, if the breastfeeding parent stopped breastfeeding they will not only hurt their supply, but they’ll also prevent the baby from obtaining those needed antibodies.
The holidays can be a tad stressful, but don’t let that stop you or your family from enjoying it! Set your ground rules, be sure everyone fully understands, and go have a little fun. If you have any holiday stories about your baby, we’d love to hear about it on our Facebook!
Primary Practitioner, Ob-Gyn, IBCLC, or 24/7 Care?
When it comes to lactation problems, some parents aren’t sure who to see to help alleviate their concerns. Should you schedule with their primary practitioner, Ob-Gyn, IBCLC, or go to a 24/7 medical care center? Everyone is different, but there are some general things you can keep in mind to decided where to turn to when faced with a problem.
When to see a Family Practitioner/ Pediatrician
Your family practitioner/pediatrician will probably have the closest relationship to your family. They are normally the first you will go to with concerns of your baby’s health. If you have general questions or concerns, such as with baby’s weight gain and physical wellness assessment, you will probably go to them first.
When to see an Ob-Gyn
Your Ob-Gyn specializes in reproductive health. If you have any questions or concerns in that area, go to them. For example, if you are wondering about any birth control or fertility options, your Ob-Gyn should be able to give you a specialized plan based on your past medical reproductive history.
When to see an IBCLC
If you have lactation problems you should schedule to see an IBCLC. This can include latching issues, pain while feeding or pumping, and/or supply issues, Your IBCLC will be specialized in the lactation field, and normally general practitioners and Ob-Gyns will refer their patients will lactation issues to an IBCLC. Some general practitioners and Ob-Gyns may also be accredited IBCLCs, so be sure to ask.
When to go to 24/7 care
The medical professionals mentioned above normally operate during normal business hours and through appointment only. If you are having problems outside of regular business hours, cannot get an appointment, or are having an emergency, please go directly to urgent care or the ER (depending on the situation). After your visit with either urgent care or the ER, be sure to schedule a follow up appointment with either your primary practitioner, Ob-Gyn, and/or IBCLC for future care.
You did it – you just became a parent! Not only that, but you’ve decided to breastfeed your little one. You’ve probably already figured out breastfeeding takes some work and personal adjustments. Throughout all of the joyful chaos that comes with parenthood, it is important to learn how to balance breastfeeding, parenting, and your personal life. (What’s a personal life, right?) Remembering who YOU are is so important, but how to balance that during this chapter of your life? How do you balance your hobbies, goals, and confidence through parenthood? Looking back can help you move forward!
Do you enjoy cooking? Drawing? Singing? Exercising at the gym? It might be hard to do everything you enjoyed doing right out the gate, but with a few adjustments you could begin to treat yourself to variations of those hobbies again. For example, if you enjoyed cooking but don’t have time to cook because of your new breastfeeding schedule, there are plenty of different alternatives like cooking games and watching competitive cooking shows.
Once you become more comfortable with your feeding schedule it’ll become easier to get back in the kitchen and start cooking that signature meal your family loves! That goes for any of your hobbies: Draw on a notebook or tablet during your free time until you can get back to your canvas. Try less intense, home-workouts until you can make it to the gym. Sing in the shower until you can get back onstage (heck, have someone watch the baby so you can have a full concert and spa in the shower!). You deserve your interests. You deserve the joy you get from fulfilling them. Don’t forget that! And if you feel like your old hobbies aren’t for you anymore, sites like Pinterest are a great way to start finding other things to enjoy!
Having a healthy and happy baby is one but think more of a past individual goal. Did you want to go back to school? Did you want that promotion at your job? Are you getting overwhelmed thinking about your past goals and trying to fit them into your future? Don’t be! You are human, and humans are known to change with time and experience – what you planned for yourself before you were pregnant may not be close to what you have planned for your family’s future, and that’s okay.
Look more into what those goals meant to you, whether they were fully achieved or not, and try to get to know who you were a little more. It might seem like meeting a whole new person! For example, if you wanted to go back to school to get a degree, then that could mean that you have a hardworking, diligent personality trait, which will come in very handy when creating and following a dedicated breastfeeding/pumping plan. If you wanted that promotion but life had other plans for now, don’t forget that you are still that same persevering person and maybe even more so since you have another tiny person to care for!
Breastfeeding parents can seem like the most confident people in the world to outsiders looking in, and this can be daunting to new breastfeeding parents. But fear not! Many breastfeeding parents will have their confidence shaken with the unfamiliar territory of breastfeeding and any setbacks that might come along with it – some may be better at hiding it! If you’re experiencing a lack of confidence due to problems breastfeeding, lactation consultants, like the ones at our very own Metropolitan Breastfeeding, are available to help encourage and guide you. However, if you’re experiencing lack of personal confidence and self-esteem you may feel that it’s a little harder to regain that confidence.
You’re different; you’ve changed. Looking back at your past confidence can help find a new confidence, though. You were strong, smart, witty and funny as ever, opinionated, compassionate, loved to dance like no one was looking, never held grudges or regret. You still are those things. Through balancing the world on your shoulders, you may have forgotten that you still are you. A different, stronger, funnier, stronger, kinder, more compassionate, and all-around better you.
If your self-esteem does not improve or gets worse, please reach out for professional help and remember you are not alone.
Time to reclaim your new self and personal life! No matter what, always know that you’re going to do great!
I’ve been in medicine for no less than 45 years. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a diversity of families. So, I can confidently say that I am a very experienced medical practitioner. Now with that being said, there was no amount of experience that could have completely prepared me for the birth of my own grandson, H. Throughout the experience I had to keep reminding myself, “This is not about you.” I’m sure that is a common phrase that grandparents/in-laws have to repeat to themselves. The important decisions weren’t mine to make; they were for my daughter and son-in-law.
Asker vs. Guesser
While it can be difficult to take on that mindset, understanding and utilizing the theory of Askers vs. Guessers helped me gain new perspectives of those in my family, as well as my patients. My daughter had shared with me an article underlining a theory that we live in an Ask vs. Guess culture. I think understanding this theory regarding our society can assist parents and grandparents reach a common ground of understanding. Ask vs. Guess culture, as explained by Oliver Burkeman of The Guardian, is where a person is defined as either an Asker, someone who will ask for anything regardless of whether could be no, or a Guesser, someone who will only ask a question in which they know the answer will be yes. Keeping this philosophy in mind, I’ve grown to better understand my daughter, son-in-law, and myself through the arrival of H. I genuinely believe it has helped transform me into a better practitioner.
As I mentioned before, I was not really ready for the text message explaining my daughter was in labor. (I’m not sure if anyone can truly be ready, medical practitioner or not!) I rushed to pack my things, made the 3pm bus to New York City and walked the rest of the way to the hospital. After some time, I finally laid eyes on him and said a quiet prayer for the miracle lying in my daughter’s arms. After all my rushing to see H come into this world, I was brought to a stop. Perched in the corner of the hospital room like a grandma vulture, I was ready to swoop in and do something (anything) to help. I watched as a flurry of doctors, nurses, and doulas came and went; I was impressed, but overwhelmed.
It was the ‘Asker’ in me that wanted to take over and ask to help but, as Burkeman explained, an Asker’s questions may come across as expectations and assertions. I worked hard to be deferential towards my daughter and her decisions. “This is not about you.” Grandparents/In-Laws may want to offer help and advice, but we must be mindful of our language- both verbal and physical- to ensure that the parents don’t feel expected to do anything they aren’t comfortable with. Sometimes we must sacrifice our own comfort and pride for the greater-good of the parents and child.
I was an Asker
My personality trait as an Asker was put to the ultimate test once they began testing H for jaundice. The hospital suspected jaundice and recommended a pediatrician run blood tests at the first office visit. My daughter wanted me to come to the appointment because she valued my experience and expertise. Even so, she needed to build an independent relationship with this provider as well. Once we arrived at the appointment H had his blood taken and his levels came back fine. I knew that the hospital had this done to divert responsibility if H had jaundice and that the pediatrician – who did a great job! – was just following the cascade of clinical decision-making because it is customary to do so with every patient.
Once again, the Asker trait in me was conflicted. I wanted to tell the pediatrician, “I got this.” But, I kept quiet, did nothing and left feeling deflated. It felt like I walked out with my tail between my legs, but I refused to compromise the respectful boundaries for my daughter solely for my pride. It is helpful to understand whether you are more of an Asker or a Guesser, but what is most important is to respect the boundaries set by parents and not impose your own beliefs and methods onto them.
What I Learned
The time I spent with my daughter’s family has undoubtedly made me a better practitioner. I’ve learned to pace myself and avoid cramming in information all into one visit. I’ve also learned to make each visit more palatable and easily integrated into the parent’s daily life. My patients deserve medical professionals that not only treat them but support them and their choices. Becoming aware of my Asker attributes and mannerisms has allowed me to be more mindful of each patients’ specific concerns and needs.