Tag Archive for: postpartum

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.

We spend nine months getting ready for baby to arrive–both physically and emotionally. But the actual birth experience portion of your journey is relatively short. After birth, your body continues to change for many months. Here are some of the changes you can expect in the moments, weeks, and months after birth

What will I experience immediately after birth?

Immediately after birth, a care provider may place baby directly on your chest. This skin-to-skin contact helps regulate baby’s body temperature and calms baby. But it can also help your uterus contract to reduce bleeding. Bleeding may still be taking place from where the placenta was attached to the uterus or from any tears. A care provider might provide medication to slow or stop that bleeding, perform a uterine massage, or stitch the perineum. You might also shake, have contractions, feel weak, or be sore (you did just work very hard). 

How long does it take to recover from childbirth?

How long it takes to physically recover from childbirth depends on what happened during birth as well as the birthing person’s activity level. If you had tearing, an episiotomy, excessive blood loss, or a cesarean birth, it may take you longer to recover. In the days and weeks following birth, your body will feel different. You may be exhausted, bloated, and sore. The change in hormones can cause mood swings, sweating or hair loss. Pregnancy and childbirth also stretches ligaments and muscles, so your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles take time to tighten back up. If you had a c-section, remember that it is major surgery. You shouldn’t lift or over-exert yourself. Take the time you need to recover, listen to your body and be gentle with yourself

What are the emotional changes I’ll experience after birth?

Our brains are a part of our bodies, and the physical changes to our brains can alter our emotions. The change in hormones that happens in the postpartum period can make you feel happy, excited, positive, overwhelmed, sad, possessive, or disappointed. These are all normal. Making a plan for how family and friends (link to last blow) can help reduce stress. Prolonged and severe depression can also happen after childbirth, and if you (or your support network) are worried about a Postpartum Mood Disorder (PMDD) or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), talk to your care provider. 

What physical changes are not normal?

If you have any physical or emotional changes that concern you, talk to your care provider. They can help you determine what is normal and what isn’t. You should also talk to your care provider if you have vomiting, flu-like symptoms, fever, heavy bleeding, difficulty urinating, leg pain, vaginal itching, dizziness, shortness of breath, or racing heart. 

Can I recover more quickly after childbirth? 

The most important thing to do after giving birth is listen to your care provider. They can help you understand what you went through and how long it will take to recover. Make sure you prioritize your needs for rest, nutrition, and mental health. Many women feel physically recovered from childbirth around 6 weeks, but for most, it may take longer. 

A postpartum doula can provide education and support, and assist with newborn care, breastfeeding support, or anything else that can help ease the transition when a new baby arrives. 

We know that bringing your newest family member home can be exciting and challenging, even if you prepare for baby’s arrival with childbirth education classes and prenatal support. Our trained and certified postpartum doulas help you with a smooth and manageable transition as you welcome a new member to your family. Through a combination of daytime, evening, and overnight shifts, we are here to support your family’s unique needs. Here are the ways we offer practical, informational, and emotional support at home, when you need it. 

A postpartum doula’s practical support helps you take care of baby, yourself, and your family. 

Many times, people come to us looking for practical support when baby comes home. This can include feeding, caring for baby so you can attend to your needs, or helping prepare meals. During an overnight shift, a postpartum doula might put baby to bed, change diapers, and settle baby back to sleep. During a day shift, our support might allow you to take a shower, cook a meal, or breastfeed in peace. As helpful as the practical support is, many families express deep appreciation for the information and hands-on teaching their doula provided during the postpartum adjustment.

We provide information so you understand the 4th trimester. 

The first weeks and months after baby is born are often called the “4th trimester”, and many parents have just as many questions about what to expect as they did during pregnancy (if not more!). Postpartum doulas can do many specific tasks around the house, but many clients report that our value comes from being childbirth and newborn experts. We provide feeding guidance, offer soothing techniques, answer questions about postpartum and newborn health, and information on sleep habits. 

In the morning after a recent overnight shift, our doula talked to one partner about how the night went, and how to get baby sleeping for longer stretches. She offered advice such as creating sleep associations, keeping baby awake during the day for developmentally appropriate stretches, and nursing demands during the day. We are here to provide the support you want, but your doula will also work with you and your family to create the household, feeding, and sleep routines that work for you so that we are no longer needed! 

Emotional support from a postpartum doula helps your family grow and adjust with confidence. 

In general, our postpartum doulas provide fifty hours of in-person support during the baby’s first five weeks at home. These can be split between daytime, evening, and overnight shifts. However, our job as postpartum doulas is to create a smooth transition and give you and your family the skills and knowledge needed to manage the addition of baby. 

For example, during one daytime shift, our doula spoke to one partner about returning to work. He was looking forward to it, but felt guilty about leaving his partner with the new baby at home. Our doula talked about ways to continue contributing and how he could alternate bedtime duties. We are here to provide steadfast, non-judgemental support so you can feel confident about welcoming a new child into your family. 

Learn more about our postpartum doula offerings or contact DOB today!