The postpartum period, or the months following the birth of a child, is a time of tremendous change, responsibility, and healing. The postpartum care you receive is just as important as your prenatal care. After all, many pregnancy-related complications occur after the baby is born. A strong postpartum support network is one of the keys to success during this time. Consider your network to be a web of family, friends, and health care professionals on whom you can rely and whom you should seek assistance. Some can be there in person when you need them, while others are only a phone or video call away. Any type of assistance, whether virtual or physical, is critical.
Here’s why putting together a support team for the first few months at home is critical.
1. Being a new mother is a demanding experience
Women are physically and emotionally exhausted after giving birth. It can be difficult to consider self-care, let alone make time for it. Whether it’s your first or fifth child, a “village” of support can provide the resources you require. While the postpartum period is typically defined as the first 12 weeks after birth, the entire first year is a high-risk period for new mothers. This is especially true if your pregnancy or delivery was complicated.
2. There are various types of postpartum support
Your postpartum support network begins with your obstetric care team, which includes your ob-gyn, midwife, nurses, and doula. Your child’s pediatrician will soon be involved. Depending on your needs or medical conditions, you may eventually need to see a specialist. Lactation consultants, cardiologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and physical therapists are a few examples of specialists. Also, keep in mind the role your primary care provider can play in this situation. If you had a complication affecting your long-term health, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, he or she may become involved in your postpartum care. Your partner, family, friends, and neighbors can be your support system at home. It’s really anyone you feel at ease with and trust, especially when you’re not feeling well.
3. Being at home does not have to imply being alone
Of course, while the country is dealing with the coronavirus, postpartum support may be more difficult to come by. However, this only emphasizes the importance of planning ahead of time. If you prepare a support team, you can talk with them about how they can be there for you even if they are far away. Perhaps a neighbor could leave food on your doorstep or walk your dog. A doctor could talk on the phone or set up a video call with you to discuss when you might need to see someone in person.
4. Your network can serve as an additional set of eyes and ears
When a new mom is struggling, friends, family, and doctors are often the first to notice. Allow us in and don’t dismiss requests for assistance.
A new mother, for example, may be out of breath or acting strangely. Someone who knows her well can notice this and say, “I’m worried about you. You should be examined.” Sometimes postpartum patients tell me they’re fine, but their blood pressure, level of bleeding, or other symptoms tell a different story. Sometimes a patient will come right out and say, “I’m having trouble breastfeeding.”
5. It is especially important for high-risk mothers and babies
All new mothers require a baseline of support – sleep, healthy food, and time to themselves – and there may be reasons for additional care and attention. Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, heavy bleeding, and cesarean birth are just a few of the risk factors for postpartum complications. You and your ob-gyn can discuss whether you are at a higher risk for complications and what additional care you may require.
The foundation of a strong, community-wide newborn baby support system is postpartum follow-up visits to and from your medical care team. Many communities provide tangible support for new parents, such as diaper drives, visitation services, and even mommy-and-me outings. A variety of activities and resources may be available at your local library or community center. These resources can help you connect with people and programs that can assist you and your new addition. According to the National Institutes of Health, new parents who receive community support are more confident in their care. As a result, they require fewer intervention measures later in life.
Some professional colleagues appear to support their expecting colleague, while others appear to simply tolerate the interruption. You may already have an idea of who is truly helpful at work. Talk to other parents at work about how they handled their leave, and you might find even more company supporters. Ask them to remind everyone about the great work you’ve always done or who they should contact during your absence. Forbes career coaches also recommend meeting with your company’s human resources department to learn about all of the available benefits and resources. While you are the baby’s 24/7 caregiver, a newborn support system is essential to ensure that you are also cared for. Create a support structure for yourself right now.
We’re all in this together
It is impossible to overestimate the value of a support system for newborns and their caregivers. Why? Because when new parents feel supported, they are more likely to provide a caring and healthy environment for their child. Children who grow up in homes like these do better academically and socially, according to experts at the nonprofit Zero to Three. Every woman’s postpartum requirements will be unique. Some mothers may require a large village, while others may only require a small group of people to lean on. In either case, it is acceptable to seek assistance. By the way, you should discuss postpartum support before your baby is born. During the third trimester, I bring up the subject with my patients in a series of conversations. What are your feeding plans for the baby? Who will you have at home? Who is available for a break? This way, we can plan ahead of time for the postpartum support network. We all want happy, healthy mothers and babies, and there are numerous resources available to help. Speak up, express yourself, and tell.