Creating Your Postpartum Space

You will spend months preparing for a new baby.

Hours upon hours have been put into designing a nursery. Or, maybe you set up a space in your room so the baby would be close by.  You spent time reading up on the must-haves to make life with baby easier. Care has been taken to ensure that the clothes have been washed and organized by size, ready when you are to dress that beautiful babe.

While you are busy getting things ready for the baby, do not forget about yourself. It is all too common for new parents to get swept up in everything baby and they often forget that they will have needs too when the baby arrives. The most important thing that you can do to help yourself is to set up a postpartum space. Getting your space set up before the baby is born will allow you to come home from the hospital or birth center and have everything ready for you. Though, it is never too late to set up a space, just ask for a little help.

What will this space look like?

Although your postpartum space may look different from someone else’s, they will all essentially have the same items. You should choose a place where you can easily rest, like the couch or your bed. You may even want to set this space up in two places so you have the option of being where you want. It isn’t really where you are, but rather not having to leave once you get there. Rest is important in those first few weeks after  the baby is born. Adequate rest will make a world of difference in how your body heals after birth and in your state of mind. Choose a place with easy access to a bathroom, so when you are moving it isn’t very far. Also, take into consideration the fact that you may not want to (or be able to in the case of surgical birth) go up and down stairs.

 

What should I include?

Since you want to limit movement, you should keep all of the necessities within arms reach.

  • Diapers and wipes.
  • Receiving blankets and an extra onesie or layette in case you need to change the baby.
  • Easy snack foods like crackers, granola bars, or dried fruit.
  • An insulated cup with a straw, or bottles of water.
  • Breastfeeding supplies (nipple cream, breast pads, pump accessories, etc.)
  • Phone, charger, favorite book, TV remote, or anything else that you would like.

 

You can totally customize your space to match your needs. As always, it is important to ask for help from your partner when you need it. Family, friends, and a postpartum doula are also good to utilize in those first few weeks. Having this space will allow you to take advantage of not getting up and down for frequent diaper changes or when you need a snack. This is especially important after a c-section.

Rest and bonding with your baby should be the priority for the first few weeks. Now,  go create your space!

 

The Part That No One Talks About

When I got pregnant there was no shortage of women talking to me. Telling me what to do and how to do it. Stories of this and that and what worked for them and what didn’t. Even if I didn’t ask, someone always had something to say about how I was going to have my baby and how I was going to raise him.

As time has passed, I have learned that the well-meaning advice doesn’t always apply. Outdated information has been replaced by current recommendations. Old wives tales have proved to be ineffective. But throughout all of this, one of the least talked about subjects is something that impacted me greatly: Postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is defined as depression that affects a woman after giving birth. It can happen anytime in the year after the child is born. It is due in part to fluctuating hormones, fatigue, and issues adjusting to demands of motherhood. It can include anxiety, extreme changes in sleep patterns (beyond the normal disruption a baby brings), irritability, and appetite changes. These are just a few of the symptoms and sometimes, though rarely, the depression can turn into a more serious condition called Postpartum Psychosis.

I have been a mom for almost eight years. I have been around babies and moms my whole life. And guess what? I don’t know anyone personally, aside from myself that has struggled with postpartum depression. How is that? How am I the only one when the CDC says that on average 15% of women struggle with PPD. 15% may not sound like much, but in reality that 15% translates into more than 600,000 women. Take a minute with that number. 600,000 women EVERY year  in the United States alone. To make it worse, when calculating this number, they only look at live births. They do not take into account the number of miscarriages or stillbirths. This number is tragically high and still, we are NOT talking about it. Why is that!?

I can remember feeling like  my baby would be better off without me. I was withdrawn and couldn’t handle the pressure of being a new mom and being so young. I didn’t feel like I had the support I needed. I parented a lot different that the people who surrounded me and they were quick to let me know. It wasn’t that they were trying to be unsupportive, but their innocent comments wore me down and got to me. My husband said that I should talk to my midwife about it. He saw me struggling, but didn’t know how to help. I was connected with a therapist and began to slowly start the process to recovery. I went for a couple of months in spite of negative comments about why I needed to go. No one around me understood what was going on. No one had a similar story or an understanding ear to listen. I was alone in the journey. I eventually convinced myself that I was better. I stopped seeing the therapist. Before too long, my life came crashing down again and I was too embarrassed to ask for more help. I suffered in silence. I suffered through another pregnancy while dealing with depression because I never got the help I needed when I needed it the most. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. But, I crawled out of that hole. It took years and hard work. A lot of self love and forgiveness. I had a little help from therapists along the way and thankfully never had to have prescription medication.

To this day, I feel the stigma that surrounds PPD as I hesitate to type this out. I can’t control what happened to me or how I felt in those crucial months after having a baby. No one can. I have said many times that motherhood is isolating. Dealing with something like postpartum depression can make it so much worse.

What can you do?

The most important thing we can do is simply talk about it. Make it a topic that we aren’t ashamed of. Learn the symptoms to look for in yourself or someone else. When you suspect it in yourself, a friend, cousin, sister, or whomever, let her know that she is not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Many women go through this and conquer it. There are many resources available, and talking to a care provider may lead you in the right direction.

Let’s get the conversation going. Have you or someone you know dealt with postpartum depression? How did you get through it, or what steps are you taking to get through it?