Tag Archive for: postpartum planning

Welcoming a baby into your family is a joy, but a joy that can come with worry. If you’re expecting baby number two, you might be worried about how your older child will adjust to a new sibling. Jealousy is a natural emotion for kids, especially during the ages when they are particularly attached to their parents. They’ll notice you are taking time to care for baby and that people are excited about baby. But, there are still ways that you can help your older child adjust. 

How can I help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the ways that parents can help older children adjust to a new baby is by involving siblings in newborn care, to the extent that they want to be involved. If they are a little older, they might want to help with feeding or bathing. If they’re younger, you can have them get a pacifier and put it in baby’s mouth (gently) or get a diaper. 

Especially for toddlers, it can be helpful for parents to acknowledge the difference between them and the baby. You might find yourself telling the older child to wait while you feed baby or change a diaper. On occasion, you can tell baby that they have to wait while you do something with your older child. You can also remind your older child that they are a big kid and doing something or have something that baby can’t. Emphasizing that they are special can help with feelings of jealousy. 

How do I keep my older child from feeling overwhelmed when baby comes?

 Having a baby can throw everyone’s schedules off, from sleep to meals. One tip to help your older child adjust to a new baby is by keeping their schedule as consistent as possible. If they go to daycare three days a week, keep them at daycare even if you or your partner are home with baby. 

Babies do need a lot of attention, which can create feelings of jealousy in your older child or that there is a certain level of unpredictability. When you feed your baby and do need to devote attention solely to baby, it can help to find something calm and special that the older child can do. While you are trying to have a calm moment for feeding, you can let your older child watch a special show or read a book. 

How can friends and relatives help my older child adjust to a new baby? 

One of the easiest things friends and relatives can do to help your older child or children adjust to baby is acknowledge the sibling first. When they come over to meet baby, have visitors prioritize the sibling. It is so easy for everyone to get excited about the new baby, and your other child can notice this excitement. Have friends and family ask the older sibling if they want to introduce baby or share something special about their new sibling. 

If you have someone who can help you during the postpartum period–whether it is a doula, a family member or friend–you have a great opportunity to prioritize each child on their own. They can take care of baby so that you have quality time with the older sibling. Or, they can take care of the older sibling so you can either rest or take care of baby. 

We’ll start with the unfortunate truth: the US does not guarantee paid parental leave on a national level, and not all workers qualify for the six weeks of unpaid leave federal law mandates. According to the Washington Post, “Most Americans do not have access to paid family leave through their employer.” 

All of this means that there is no standard for when you return to work after parental leave: it could be six weeks or six months. But regardless, returning to work–for either the birthing person or partner, can be a significant transition. You may be thinking about everything from your energy levels, your schedule, pumping and/or feeding, your partner’s schedule, and how your baby will do without you. Here are 4 things to consider and plan for before you return to work. 

Know what your leave looks like and be open with your employer. 

Long before delivery you may be thinking about your parental leave options–both what your employer offers and what your ideal scenario might be. Be open with your employer and consider asking for something that might make the transition back to work easier. That might include returning part-time at first or working from home. Your employer might also be willing to be flexible in ways that they haven’t shared with you. Ask other employees or your employer directly about how others have returned to work after leave. 

Think about childcare after parental leave, and then come up with a back-up plan. 

You may have come up with the perfect childcare solution: you are returning part-time to work and a friend or family member is baby-sitting on the other days. In 2022, that might be problematic because of changes in school openings due to COVID. Or, the caregiver might have to quarantine after a COVID exposure. Problems could arise simply because they are not as reliable as you would like them to be. Whatever your childcare plan involves after you return to work, come up with a backup plan. If you have a family member caring for baby, what happens if they are sick? 

If you are working from home, remember that you are still working and taking care of baby is also full-time work. Although working from home can make it easier to care of baby, you should still try to have a secondary caregiver available. Some of our clients have utilized our postpartum doulas while working from home to ease that transition. 

Figure out priorities and roles for when return to work after parental leave. 

You partner may have taken little or no time off after baby arrived. But, your transition back to work is still a transition for them as well. Take time to figure out each of your priorities and roles. If you are not a morning person, consider having your partner take care of baby’s or the family’s morning routine. This way, you can get ready for work in the way that you need to. Discuss who will pickup baby or kids from caregivers, daycare, or school. You may have figured out a postpartum plan of who was cooking and cleaning, but you may need to revisit those plans if both partners are back at work. 

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your emotions and ask for help. 

The postpartum period can be difficult: you are adapting to a new family member. If you gave birth, you may be experiencing physical changes in your body as well (link to blog). You are going to have a lot of emotions–from being excited about being back at work to sad that your baby is someone else’s care. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that whole range of emotions and understand that they are all OK. If you being feeling overwhelmed when you return to work after parental leave, ask for help, whether from your partner, family, friends, or other loved ones.

Being pregnant and preparing for birth can feel overwhelming enough without considering what happens when you bring baby home. But postpartum planning before baby arrives can save you a lot of stress when you will want to be resting and recovering from delivery. And, you might have postpartum brain fog that makes thinking about your options (not to mention making decisions) hard. At Doulas of Baltimore, we think of the first three months at home as the fourth trimester. The postpartum period comes with its own challenges and joys. Here are some basic questions to consider before you go into labor that will make your postpartum life easier. 

What will your home look like?

Because nesting is very real, you may have already set up a nursery or room for your baby. But realistically, this isn’t where baby will be spending most of their time. For the first six months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby sleep in your room. But where does baby sleep during daytime naps? Do you want to have a dedicated changing table, setups in different parts of the house, or a moveable station? Where will be the best place to feed baby during the day and at night? Consider the layout of your living space and the setup of cribs, feeding or pumping stations, and changing tables. 

What does everyday at home look like? 

A baby changes things: we know this. And postpartum planning involves thinking about the details of how things have changed. Who will feed baby when they wake up at night? Who will change baby? Who will cook meals? Who will walk the dog? Who will take big sister to school? Who will go to baby’s appointments? Who will clean and tidy the house? 

Who can you go to for extra support? 

While everyone might want to meet your new baby, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can provide the support you need. Consider which friends and family can provide practical support, like buying groceries, cooking meals, walking the dog, or taking care of siblings if you are at the hospital longer than expected. 

Who are the care providers you need?  

With care providers, there are the basic people you need to have planned out, and others that you may want to think about having lined up. While you’ve been dealing with an OB, midwife, and/or doula before birth, afterward you’ll need a pediatrician. You may also want a postpartum doula or lactation consultant. If you are concerned about postpartum depression or emotions after birth, you may want to find a mental health provider before delivery since they can have Before you leave the hospital, you’ll need a carseat installed, and we recommend having it checked by a Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) or “car seat tech”.

What does post-parental leave look like? 

There is unfortunately no standard for parental leave, so consider when parents will be going back to work and what happens then. Do you have a nanny, babysitter, friend, or grandparent who can care for baby? Will you need a daycare? 

 

This is just a short overview of questions that we see new parents considering as they bring their babies home. Over the next months, we will be going more in depth on these questions and providing guidance and advice for the postpartum period.