Why Is This So Hard?
Two days ago you gave birth to a beautiful baby. The nurses were available night and day to answer all of your questions, swaddled your baby tightly, and guided you as you fed your new baby. Your meals, snacks and any beverage you wanted were delivered to your bedside. There was assistance available as you bathed yourself for the first time after giving birth. Your bed was made for you while you took your daily walk in the hallways and your bedding was changed any time you requested it.
And now you’re home. Home with your new baby.
You were so excited to rest in your own bed, eat food from your own refrigerator, use your own toilet and shower and lounge on your couch while your body healed after childbirth.
But things have glaringly changed. No longer are you able to rest when you want, eat when you want, or sip a beverage unless it’s within arms reach. You are a parent and EVERYTHING has changed. You are trying to figure out why your baby wants to eat all the time, does that cry mean they’re hungry/wet/poopy/tired/all of the above, what does that movement mean, why are they moving more, what are the guidelines for safe sleep again? Your head is spinning all while in a sleep-deprived fog.
Why is this so hard?
Well, because it is! It’s hard to be needed every 1 1/2 - 2 hours for food. Add a diaper change, burping and settling back to sleep to the list and you may be lucky to have 1 hour to take care of your self before your baby needs you again. This is exhausting stuff! Sleeping for one hour is called a “nap” in most households. Not for you. Not now.
I’m not trying to spread gloom and doom about those first few days home with your new baby. Rather, I’m reminding you that it’s a good idea to round up all the support, food, and supplies you will need BEFORE you bring your baby home. The reality is that those first 48 hours home, on your own as new parents can by far be the most difficult. While your baby is experiencing all of their firsts, you’re experiencing your first diaper changes, swaddles without assistance, latching without on-call support, and all the new gear that seemed so cool but now is daunting….all while managing leaky boobs, a bloody crotch, hormonal mood swings and a crying baby. Many of you are also juggling other children, homework, dishes and cooking dinner. And you wonder why you feel overwhelmed!
Prepare, prepare, prepare. Ask for all the help you can gather. Make sure that you also know who to ask ALL the questions. This should be someone who is currently educated on all things postpartum recovery, newborn and infant care like a postpartum doula. Communicate with your partner before your baby arrives so they know exactly what you may need them to do to support you. If you don’t know what you will need, ask a friend or family member who has just had a baby. They know. They haven’t already forgotten because life has moved on. Look away from your Instagram and Facebook feed full of smiling new parents with their babies. THAT is not the real deal. Look in the mirror and realize THIS is how most people look after childbirth.
You have just walked through the front door of the hardest job on earth: parenthood. You CAN do this. It really does take a village.
Sheryl Cooksley is a Certified Postpartum Doula, professionally trained as an Infant Feeding Specialist and the owner of Family Tree Doula Services serving Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. Sheryl provides exceptional, practical and sustainable care and support to parents of newborns and infants through one year old.