We’ve now all seen the famous photo of Kate with her new babe, standing preened, pruned and happy on the steps of the hospital in a lovely new dress. First up wonderful news. She looks amazing! She has heels on! She’s standing upright JUST 7 hours after birth. And yet so many of us are crying inside for her and here’s why and here’s ALSO why it might be a good idea to have a post birth plan…
If you’ve seen my latest insta post you’ll know what was happening to me after giving birth. Bleeding. Afterbirth pains that felt crippling. Naked.. for many hours. But in bed and being looked after and most importantly getting that skin to skin with my new baby.
Obviously this doesn’t happen at home for everybody but it can happen for everybody regardless of place of birth. But how can you make sure this happens? Well I’m here to tell you why a plan for AFTER you have given birth is just as important.
The first hours (at the very least) after birth are important for you and baby; They are the hours that allow for skin to skin, which in turn stimulates hormones and starts off a healthy breastfeeding journey (if thats what you are doing). If not the skin to skin regulates babies temperature, heart beat and comforts baby. Baby can hear your familiar heartbeat and learns yours/ your partners smell.
Being looked after is important; You have just run a marathon!! You’re body will be tired (even if you’re running on adrenalin). Don’t be tempted to get up out and about because your body NEEDS recuperation. Yes some women do feel amazing after giving birth and I’m not saying sit in bed and veg out but it’s important to really listen to your body. My midwives in fact told me not to come out of my bedroom for at least 2 days. Yes I had to switch off my mind to what my kitchen and rest of the house might look like but it was so important and looking back I can absolutely see why. Laying flat also when you’ve been bleeding/ are bleeding/ have had considerable blood loss obviously also makes sense. Let your body naturally build it’s blood stores up.
With that in mind, it also needs to be nourished; Think about the calories you’ve burnt off. The sweat and fluids you need to put back in your body. Some women feel famished after birth while others couldn’t face a thing. Either way don’t be tempted to only reach for the crisps and chocolate. Good and delicious healthy snacks and meals will ensure you are fit and healthy to look after your new baby. Trust me after a few days you’ll realise why! Of course treat yourself and celebrate too though!!
You don’t need to see anyone within or even after 7 hours of giving birth; Your baby has been cosy inside just you for months. Why does it then need to be passed around to strangers immediately. Something to bear in mind is that even if other people meet your babe after a WEEK, he/she is still a newborn and will be teeny tiny in their eyes. Savour this precious time with just you, your birth partner, maybe the siblings and your new babe. Learn a bit about each other, drink it all in. Completely undisturbed. There is also evidence that this is important for a good breastfeeding relationship- that baby stays with you as much as possible, has skin to skin/boob access and you can start to learn feeding queues. Ideally for the first few WEEKS!!
You don’t need hair and make up happening (unless that is going to make you feel amazing); Of course at some point it feels lovely to feel like our old selves. A little bit human and like you can tackle the day (or night!!), but bare in mind anything cosmetic that masks your own smell or is a bit too ‘chemically’ for the baby. (My pet hate was giving Hux to people for a cuddle that had really strong perfume and aftershave on and coming back smelling like them).
Things to consider in your after birth plan… (here’s a little checklist for you)
- Where will you be after the birth?
- If going home asap where will you hole up? Bedroom? living room?Have inco pads so if you want to sit and ‘air’ down there you totally can!!
- Perhaps staying overnight in hospital will give you respite from siblings and give you that one night just you and baby?
- Have you got a freezer stash of healthy food/snacks/ or friends/family that will bring round supplies
- Consider sending your washing off for a week to give yourself a break and time to just focus on baby without stressing out about household things.
- If you don’t have family nearby consider a post natal doula who will emotionally and physically support you.
- New PJs and big pants. This is my ULTIMATE birth tip… new Primark pjs feel so good to get into and yet if you bleed on them it’s also not the end of the world.
- Are you keeping your placenta. Is everything planned? Does your birth partner have your placenta encapsulators details? Is the container and label ready?
- If you are not having a placenta smoothie consider having regular smoothie supplies in the freezer- its a great way to get nutrition into you quickly.
- Will you have visitors or not? Maybe just limited? Have you done the dreaded deed of telling people you will be staying indoors until you are ready? Do it! You’ll feel better afterwards!
- If you are considering breastfeeding- will you see a breastfeeding support worker after? I would really recommend finding a local IBCLC before you give birth and connecting with her beforehand!
And remember of course, that if you FEEL like stepping out hours later, hair and make up done and showing baby off to the world then always do what feels right for you! But always listen to mother nature first- she’s a clever one that one…