I can’t tell you how often I have heard soon-to-be moms taking the time to construct a birth plan.
Typically, these plans often serve as a play-by-play of how they want the labor process to go – it may include all the interventions that a mom doesn’t want on the labor and delivery floor- an IV, Pitocin or an epidural. While I understand the desire to minimize hospital based interventions, I promise that most of what happens on labor and delivery is uncertain at best, and trying to control the delivery process can only disappoint.
I say this as an OBGYN and also as a mother of 2. Trust of your OBGYN, asking questions and having a strong advocate for yourself are the ways you can empower yourself on labor and delivery. The goal of the labor floor is a healthy mother and a healthy baby. This is the measure of success.
A Recovery Plan for New Moms
But, the good news is, after the delivery of your infant there are some things you can plan. I would consider everything you need for yourself and infant. This checklist should consider all the important themes that will prioritize mom, so she can best take care of baby. This may sound selfish but think about new motherhood as taking care of yourself.
Consider how you want to feed the baby. If you want to breastfeed, how you will approach that after baby, i.e., lactation consultant in the hospital, investing in a breast pump, and other items needed to optimize breastfeeding. If breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you – it does not define you, you will still be a fantastic mother!
From the moment the baby is born, sleep will become a luxury. So, think about how to minimize sleep deprivation and how to balance that with feeding your infant. Consider where the baby will sleep and how best you will be able to wake up at night and easily attend to his/her needs. Can you pump and bottle fill so others can help you, can you keep a crib in your room and later move the baby to a separate room?
Your support team
Identify them early. This can be your partner, your mother/father, siblings, friends. Who can you empower to help you? You don’t have to do everything yourself, rely on your village. The sooner you construct one and empower them to help you, the better you’ll feel. Remember that pregnancy and postpartum are limited periods of time, your children are forever. The sooner you create your village, the longer you will benefit from your team.
Your mental health
In addition to sleep you need some time for yourself. Take a daily walk, exercise, leave the house to see friends, etc. Work outside the home is not time for yourself, it’s work. So, consider carving out an hour every other day, you will need it just to process and think. It’s important that your team help you carve out this time for yourself.
Please think about your pregnancy and delivery along the spectrum of your life. Don’t be hard on yourself. As mothers, we all have good days and we have bad – neither defines us. We do the best we can every day, and that’s enough. Our kids need time, support and guidance more than they need perfection. In fact, that’s not setting them up for reality 🙂
Tara is the intrepid mother of two and ob/gyn who founded Mommy Matters. She is a practicing gynecologic surgeon and an Assistant Professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, and is recognized as an international leader in global women’s health and a frequently cited expert in this field. Tara is also an accomplished researcher focused on interventions designed to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality, with work published in such prominent medical journals as the American Journal of Perinatology and ACOG Today.
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