Meeting Your Needs in the Postpartum Period
There are a multitude of things that need to be accomplished when a new baby enters the family. As parents, you are probably busy attending to the new baby, making sure you have all the supplies needed to care for the new baby, getting to know the new baby’s personality and needs, and if you already have kids, time is also being spent attending to their needs and ensuring that they feel loved and included in this transition. With all these things to attend to, what often falls to the bottom of the list is YOUR needs.
When we talk about your needs, this includes not just your physical needs, such as recovery from childbirth, but also your psychosocial needs. Attending to all your needs as a new parent is extremely important for helping you be present and the best parent you can be. So, with all that is going on, how can you prioritize meeting your needs during the postpartum period?
- Ensure your basic needs are being met: This includes sleep and eating. Depending on your new baby, sleep might be hard to come by in the postpartum period. Therefore, it is beneficial to develop a plan for how you are going to accomplish getting at least 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Who are the people that can help you during the day or the night so that you can sleep? In terms of nutrition, what meals can you plan ahead and make and freeze before the baby arrives? What grocery stores offer delivery? Identifying all these resources prior to the arrival of the new baby can alleviate stress. The last thing you want to be trying to think about when you are sleep deprived and surviving off left over crackers in the house is where you can turn to for some help and your next meal.
- Identify what activities help you feel recharged and energized: While it may seem like a no brainer that you will be able to identify what activities would be pleasurable and enjoyable for you, in the postpartum period it can be helpful to be a little more structured in terms of your activities. Identify ahead of time what are some of the activities that you enjoy doing and carve out time to do them.
- Identify what activities help you and your partner feel connected: This will probably look a lot different than before. You may not be able to take a whole day to yourselves to do something or have a quiet, romantic evening at home. However, it is still important to carve out time together where you are able to focus on connecting and sharing with one another. What activities do you and your partner like to do? Which of these do you think you can find time to do even with a new baby? What are some childcare options available to you?
- Identify and mobilize your social support network: It is crucial to perceive that one has social support during this time. Whether you need to draw on or use those supports depends, however it is always a good plan to have identified them. Who are the people you can turn to for advice – often these are people who have young children of their own? Who are the people you can turn to when you need a breather or to do a fun activity? Believe it or not, these small opportunities to recharge and connect with other adults are still extremely important. Who are the people who are available as emotional support through a quick phone call? What new parent support groups operate in the area? While some people may be able to fill multiple of these roles, it is helpful to think of what support each of your friends may be best suited to provide to you so that no matter the circumstance there is someone you feel you can turn to.
Remember, making time for yourself is still important, even with a new baby in the mix. By recharging and ensuring that you are functioning optimally, you not only will feel better but will also be able to be more present with your new baby. Should you find that you need extra support, reach out to one of our therapists today or consider enrolling in our virtual postnatal therapy group.