It’s a good thing pregnancy takes a full nine months, because expectant parents need that much time to prepare for the big event. But in the rush to paint the nursery, buy baby furniture, and attend to the myriad details of bringing baby home, a mother’s needs can often get pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
This needn’t be the case.
With a bit of advance planning, a corralling of resources, and a determined attitude, pregnant women can take ownership of their at-home postpartum experience in the same way they take charge of their childbirth experience.
Here are our recommendations for how to welcome home Mommy with the same aplomb as her baby:
Don’t Stop with the Nursery
As long as you’ve got that paint and brush out, why not give the whole house the same star treatment as the nursery? Once you’re home with your newborn, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the time, energy, or inclination to bother with home improvements, so you may as well do them before the big event. (Just be sure to check with your physician to see if it is safe for you to paint; or don some good gloves and a ventilator before cracking open the paint cans.)
If you’ve been thinking of repainting the bedroom or updating the knobs on the kitchen cabinets, for instance, before baby’s arrival is the time to do so. When you’re home with a newborn staring at the same four walls, at least you’ll appreciate that those walls are painted the perfect shade of periwinkle.
Use the Home Team Advantage
When choosing your home support team, think quality, not quantity. You don’t want a houseful of needy houseguests; you do want an unobtrusive helpmate who won’t mind whipping up a meal or throwing in a load of laundry.
The baby’s father is often the best choice for this important supporting role, but if he can’t be home full-time that first week it’s a good idea to bring in reinforcements. Parents, in-laws, and other close family members often make good candidates, provided you can tolerate having them around.
Choose carefully. People’s personalities don’t change just because an infant is on the scene. If you have an overbearing mother, you can expect that she will be an overbearing grandmother, too.
So much of your focus will be on feeding the baby (and feeding the baby and feeding the baby!) that it may often seem daunting to get some semblance of dinner on the table. This is where advance planning can be a lifesaver.
Double up on any meals you prepare during your last trimester. It does take a bit of extra effort to make two lasagnas rather than one, but you’ll be grateful you did once your baby arrives. Have at least two week’s worth of meals in the freezer before your due date. If you run out of freezer space, ask a neighbor for a short-term loan. And accept all offers of food from friends and family!
Take Out Your Dinners
Today’s take-out meal options are not limited strictly to restaurants. Many grocery stores and food delivery services now offer high-quality prepared foods. While you may be opposed to paying the higher price, those few extra dollars are well worth the peace of mind of knowing that you and your family are eating nutritionally sound meals. Accept that such luxuries become necessities, at least in the short run, once Baby comes home.
Lose the White Gloves
A tidy house is a contradiction in terms for new parents. With all that needs tending in those early days home with a newborn, there’s simply no sense worrying about the cobwebs accumulating underneath the beds and the mud tracks across your kitchen floor. If you know that a messy house will make you crazy once Baby arrives, plan to call for outside reinforcements. Hire a cleaning service or, better yet, ask your friends and family to pitch in and buy you cleaning help as a shower present. It sure beats another set of spit-up towels.
Don’t Forget the Little Niceties
Scented candles, bubble bath, chocolate that’s too expensive to share . . . Such luxuries will likely be far from your mind when you’re stumbling through those first few weeks home with a baby, which is all the more reason to have them on hand. “An indulged mother is a happy mother,” is not a common expression, but it should be.
These suggestions will free Mom’s time to do what she most wants and needs those first few weeks at home: recuperate and get to know her precious new baby.