1. Spend time around other pregnant women – this can help you feel less alone in your experience and can help you build community for your new life as a mother and family.
2. NURSE program (From Women’s Moods by Sichell, D. & Driscoll, J.)
N. – Nourishment and Needs
U. – Understanding
R. – Rest and Relaxation
S. – Spirituality
E. – Exercise
3. Adjust your expectations around how you should be experiencing your pregnancy and be open to how you are experiencing it.
4. Surround yourself with others who support your talking about all of the various aspects of your experience.
5. Solidify your relationship with your partner. (Solidify the foundation of the new family, talk about your dreams, clarify your expectations, talk about how you can support each other during stressful times, talk about how you will deal with conflict when it comes up, tell your partner what you appreciate about them, ask your partner about their hopes and fears.)
6. Talk together about your expectations around labor and delivery, and the early postpartum period.
7. Speak with one another about your worries or fears regarding your ability to be the kind of parent you want to be, or about your concerns about loosing yourself to motherhood.
8. Bring in support. (Family, doula, friends, dog walker.)
9. Create boundaries. (Discuss together who you want to be with you during or following the birth, and what you want to have happen, as opposed to what others may want. For example, you might decide that you do not want any visitors or family present for the first hours, the first few days, or even the first few weeks, to allow time for you and the baby to bond more deeply, or you might decide that one grandparent will be better able to provide support then another.)
10. Schedule some “lying in” time for you and your baby, and for you, your baby and your partner.
17 Tips for the Postpartum Period
1. NURSE program – (see above).
2. Make sure you get enough sleep.
3. Make sure you have some time for yourself.
4. Make sure you are making time for connecting with your partner.
5. Combat isolation. (Join a mothers group, get together with other new mothers and go on outings, invite another new mom to your house for tea and nursing, schedule friends to call you to check in.)
6. Ask for and accept help.
7. Don’t compare your baby or your situation to someone else’s. (Jennifer’s baby sleeps for 6 hours and her husband works at home.) Everyone’s situation is different and comparing yours to someone else’s only sets you up for painful longing, as opposed to being present with what is.
8. Don’t blame yourself for your experience.
9. Be kind to yourself.
10. Allow yourself some luxuries. This is not indulgent, it is necessary.
11. If you experience yourself as overwhelmed by advice, sit still and turn inward. You are more likely to learn what is right for you and your baby by quieting the outside world and looking inside.
12. Identify and make use of constructive stress relievers. For example: exercising with or without your baby, taking a warm bath, reading a book, meditating, relaxation tapes, deep breathing exercises.
13. Seek professional help if you are feeling low or anxious. It doesn’t need to be a crisis. Better to receive some support before a crisis occurs. You can go in for a “well check” if nothing else.
14. Talk with other mothers and don’t assume that just because they look like they are having an easy time, that they actually are. Sometimes it requires persistence to encourage people to open up. While their automatic response may be “everything’s just great” - the answer they may feel they are supposed to give - if you share deeper details of your own experience, they will be more likely do the same.
15. Make sure that you don’t get into a pattern of “over-functioning.” Help facilitate and encourage a bonding relationship between your baby and your partner. Leave the house for an hour to go for a walk, or meet a friend for tea - and let your partner feed and change the baby. It is important to let them discover how to sooth the baby, and how to do things in their own way. You have had more time to learn about what the baby needs, but if you don’t let your partner learn these things for themselves, their confidence will suffer, and so will you. Caretaking is an important part of the bonding experience for both partners.
16. Prioritize what’s really important. Try and let go of the “mess,” etc. and standards of perfection. Don’t use your baby’s nap time solely to accomplish things. You will never get to the bottom of your list, and you will run yourself ragged. If it’s all getting to be too much, ask for help. It is important to use some of your baby’s nap time for restorative relaxation, whether that involves napping, meditating, taking a bath, or reading a novel.
17. If you don’t take time for yourself, you wont have anything left to give. Taking care of yourself will promote a healthier relationship with your baby and with your partner. Healthy partner relationships help grow healthy children.
7 Tips for the Couples
1. Make it a priority to have time together to talk, to connect, to enjoy things, to be intimate, even if that’s just holding hands or lying in bed while talking or gently caressing one another.
2. Check in with your partner on a regular basis.
3. Speak words of appreciation.
4. Don’t let things fester. Find a quiet time to bring things up in a non-blaming manner.
5. Take responsibility for asking for what you want and need. If you don’t ask for it, your partner may have a very hard time knowing what it is that you actually want and need.
6. Don’t blame your partner for their emotional reactions. Realize that they are under a great deal of stress just as you are, though they may have different ways of handling it. Also realize that you are not responsible for their emotional state. You can be supportive but you cannot control someone else’s emotions.
7. Respect your partner’s different style of coping, and try to find ways to meet in the middle.