Posts Tagged ‘new baby’

Have you written a postnatal care plan yet?

October 10, 2016

You wrote a birth plan, because birth is a big deal. But did you write a postnatal care plan? After your baby is born, your whole body and mind are in transition. Transition can be so tough, it’s even got a psychiatric label attached to it (Adjustment Disorder). Your body is physically transitioning in crazy, magical ways, and you are mentally transforming to get used to being instantly interrupt-able, having strange sleep patterns, putting yourself second, and grieving your lost carefree past. You are learning to know and love your baby. (Honeymoons were designed to help you love your new partner. Babymoons should also be designed to help you love your baby). Your brain is processing the birth. The list goes on and on and on and on. So, don’t just go home and hope for the best. Here is an example of what your postnatal care plan might look like:

“My Postnatal Care Plan

I have written a postnatal care plan because I very much want to enjoy my first few weeks getting to know my baby. I am aware that I have a tendency to do too much, and to feel guilty when I’m not getting stuff done. I want to ensure that this doesn’t happen following the birth of my baby, and so I am planning how to take care of myself in the first two precious weeks with my baby.

Generally, I wish to spend time skin to skin with my baby, I wish to establish breastfeeding, and I would like my husband to be an integral part of this with us.

Immediately upon coming home:

My husband would like to carry me and our baby over the threshold.

I would like a warm bath with rejuvenating bath salts, and then I would like to get into fresh (new) pyjamas and into our king size bed with new fresh sheets, and my baby.

I would like the lights kept low, my phone and my remote control next to me.

I would like to eat a huge, warm, filling meal of cottage pie and peas, washed down with camomile tea and a glass of champagne.

I would like my husband to join us as much as possible in bed.

For the first two weeks after coming home:

I would like visitors to stay away for at least 12 hours, apart from the midwife and my lactation consultant, who I have pre-arranged support with.

In the first three days, I would like very close members of my family only, to visit.

I do not want my baby to be held by anybody else in the first three days, other than her father.

We have arranged for a food delivery of fresh fruit, salads, sandwiches, chocolates and champagne. There are plenty of ready cooked meals in the freezer too.

I have arranged for a cleaner to come in every other day to tidy and clean the house, as per my husband’s requests (she will not clean our bedroom).

I have specific herbal/homeopathic remedies that I will be taking each day.

After the first three days, I have arranged for a postnatal doula to come in and provide emotional and practical support every three days.

My husband will help to ensure that I get plenty of rest, by regularly encouraging me to go to bed, and ensuring that the household and visitors are taken care of.

My husband will take a few hours out of the house each day, to do something to help him to feel refreshed also.

According to how I feel, I plan to spend most of the first two weeks in and out of bed. I might take a walk or potter around the house if I feel restless, but if not, I will stay in bed to recover and adjust, both physically and mentally, and to help me to fall in love with my baby and establish breastfeeding.”

What do you think? If you are thinking “that’s a bit overindulgent” then you are totally not getting how important this time is. If you are thinking “it’s only relevant to rich people” then drop the champagne and the au-pair, but stick with bed and help from family. If you’re thinking “what if I’m a single mum” then think even harder about your postnatal care plan, because support matters, whether its from a husband, a mother, the NHS, a best friend or social services.

It’s my prediction that postnatal care plans will become more and more common. If you’ve ever used one, I’d love to hear from you.

Mia Scotland

Perinatal Clinical Psychologist


Is it normal to be anxious when you have had a baby?

April 25, 2013

ImageThere’s an article about this going into Mother and Baby magazine soon.  They have asked me to comment. If a new mum was confiding in you, and telling you that she feels really anxious, what would you say to her to reassure her? 

Anxiety is normal after having a baby, don’t worry about it, or fight it.  It’s all part of the crazy but amazing journey that is motherhood. Lots is happening to you physically and emotionally, so it would be strange if you didn’t experience some anxiety along the way.

Physically :  your body has gone through childbirth, and continues to go through dramatic changes, as well as coping with disrupted sleep. It will take some time to adjust, and these adjustments can create anxiety.  Go easy on yourself and grab every opportunity to eat, drink, and rest.

Hormonally : When you have a baby, your levels of prolactin are high – especially if you are breastfeeding.  This is your “mothering” hormone, and is designed to make you more protective of your baby.  As well as making you more loving and putting your baby’s needs first, prolactin can also make you more snappy and anxious.  This anxiety is nature’s way of keeping  you on “look out” and making sure nothing happens to your baby.  It can make you feel like you are going a little crazy, but relax.  It’s only natural!

Emotionally:  You have suddenly taken on a twenty four hour job, with little sleep, no previous experience, and a huge amount of responsibility.  Of course you are more anxious.  Who wouldn’t be? Once again, go easy on yourself, and allow yourself to feel anxious or overwhelmed sometimes. 

Socially:  In some cultures, women are told to rest for 6 weeks after they have had a baby.  She doesn’t do any cooking, cleaning, or exercising.  All food is cooked for her, drinks are brought to her. In our society, it is very different. Women go home after they have had their baby, and are expected to carry on regardless.  The house still needs cleaning, visitors need cups of tea made for them, and you are expected to be up and about quickly, regain your shape, your social life, and your sex life, while looking after a little baby who needs all your time.  This adds pressure to women, and can make it a very anxious time.  Go easy on yourself, and accept every little bit of help that comes your way, or “buy” in help, in the form of a cleaner, a  post natal doula or whatever will take the burden off you.   

How to help yourself: Plan in advance, by getting as much support and help as possible, and ensuring that you have time and space to get used to being a mother.  This isn’t just about you any more, you aren’t resting and eating well for yourself, you are doing so for your baby.  In an airplane, you are told to sort out your own oxygen before helping your children with their oxygen.  It is the same when you are a mother.  Don’t feel guilty for prioritising your needs.  You have to take care of yourself, so that you can then take care of your baby.  A relaxed mum helps to create a relaxed baby. If your needs are to talk to friends, join mother and baby groups.  If your needs are to take a bath alone now and again, ask some-one to have the baby for half an hour.  If your needs are to have a clean house, get a cleaner.  Meet your needs as far as you possibly can. You are much more important now than you were before you had a baby. 

When to see your GP: Anxiety is normal, but it is worth seeking help if you, or some-one else, is worried about you.  If you think you are okay, but others tell you that you are not, then listen to them. Often, we don’t know how bad it is until we are recovered, so it is always worth just talking to some-one. If it is disrupting your life, it is also a good idea to talk to some-one about it.  For example, you are too anxious to leave the house, or you can’t let any-one else hold your baby, or if you are scared that you are going to hurt yourself or the baby, or you are cleaning the house obsessively, or it is affecting your relationships, then talk to your health visitor or GP.  There is nothing to be ashamed of, you are being responsible and taking care of yourself, and others are there to help.

What would you have added, if you had been asked to comment?  Please share.  Sharing always helps.