The Big Five

Last month on my Facebook page I started a 5-part #DoulaJoyceThoughtfulThursdays series on Postpartum needs. Based on my own postpartum experiences, and seeing my friends' and clients' experiences, I have identified what I call the Big 5 Postpartum Needs. I explore these needs, and how to help yourself and the new moms that you love in your life. All of these Postpartum needs can be met with a Postpartum Doula's services as well.

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Sleep! Moms: Your full-time jobs right now (yes, plural jobs), are healing from childbirth, caring for your baby, and producing milk. Recognize that you are recuperating, and that it is healthy and healing to sleep frequently. When loved ones offer help, accept it. Sleep when your baby is sleeping. Really. Loved ones: Encourage mom to sleep when her baby is sleeping. If other responsibilities are preventing mom from taking a nap, help her meet those competing needs. If mom is breastfeeding, she will need to either breastfeed or pump every time the baby eats to maintain her milk supply, so giving a bottle so mom can sleep longer can be damaging to her breastfeeding goals. Instead, loved ones can soothe, diaper, bathe, and cuddle the baby, bring baby to mom for a feeding, and then care for the baby after nursing so mom can go right back to bed. Remember, dads and partners need help getting more sleep too, so watch those partners to make sure they are taking care of themselves!

Housekeeping! Moms: Until your caregiver gives the green light, moms should not be doing housework, period. Give up control for these precious early weeks with your new baby. Remember, you are recuperating, and need to heal. Figure out what household tasks drive you crazy when they are not done, and ask others to tackle this task for you. I promise, in 6 short weeks you will likely be physically capable of doing this task again yourself, this is temporary! Loved ones: You can help out in this very practical way in the weeks following the birth. Gifting a week or two of cleaning services at her baby shower is a lovely way to help meet this need if you cannot help in person. SOAP Full Service Laundry in Lincoln provides laundry pick-up and delivery services,http://soaplnk.com/services/, as well as drop-off laundry service, a fantastic way to help with the increased laundry needs of new babies! If baby is born in the spring or summer, a lawn service is also a wonderful way to help a new family with housekeeping needs.

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Nutrition! Moms: Simply planning ahead can alleviate some of this need, preparing fruits and vegetables in advance, so they are ready to eat when you grab them from the refrigerator. In your last months of pregnancy, start doubling your recipes and freezing half for postpartum, and continue doing this postpartum as well. Remember to have foods on hand for breakfast, lunch, and snacks too. Loved ones: You can help by setting up a meal train, helping mom prepare freezer meals at the end of pregnancy, and bringing dinner for the family. Be sure to account for any food allergies, intolerances, and other restrictions! Bonus points if it's easily eaten while holding a newborn in one arm!

Companionship! Moms: Getting out and about with all of the baby's gear, the carseat, the stroller, etc, and older children if this is not your first baby, can be daunting and exhausting, but sometimes it is the only practical way to seek meaningful social interaction. Social media can help bridge the gap, but it should not replace face-to-face interaction with other adults. See if there are other moms in your neighborhood who can meet up for daily walks. Seek out postpartum support/ new mommy social groups in your area, and prioritize them. Call your loved ones. Loved ones: You can help by visiting new moms. When you visit, you can help meet her other needs as well! Long-distant loved ones can arrange to talk on the phone regularly and hopefully plan a visit too. Make sure mom is doing well, she is as important as the new baby.

Personal Care! Moms: You cannot pour from an empty cup! This need is much more personal than the other 4, it will be a little different for every person. Some moms feel more human when they get a daily shower. Some feel more human when they can read a book in peace for 30 minutes. Some moms need to exercise to feel refreshed. Some moms need to talk to their best friend or sister or mom on the phone every day to feel their best. Some recharge by watching cheesy television. Figure out what you need to refill, and prioritize it. Take care of yourself so you can care for your newborn. Loved ones: You can help by modeling healthy self-care, and helping new moms find 30 minutes or more to take better care of themselves.

Joyce Dykema