Imagine this! Your partner is going back to work and you are going to be alone with your newborn for the first time. What emotional response are you having just thinking of that moment?
Maybe it’s… I will be okay I have a plan in place and people around me that I know are going to be right there with me supporting and helping me. I feel good about this. My posse and I have talked about in what ways, days, and hours they will be coming to love on me. I will miss my partner, but he feels better knowing I will be taken care of and I feel better knowing I won’t be alone.
Or maybe it’s… just thinking about that day gives me anxiety. Your partner has X amount of days or weeks to be with you but when they are done maybe you will be like I was and feel alone, exhausted, lonely, scared, still in pain, isolated, not quite sure how to handle all the emotions.
It is very common for pregnant or new mothers to fear the first day they are alone with their newborn. Here at Omaha Birth & Babies, we want you to thrive this parenting thing. We know you have set high standards for yourself when it comes to your baby and for that reason, we wanted to provide you some topics to think about when preparing for your partner to go back to work.
1. Have your partner go back only part-time at first or do a few trial runs. Maybe he works from 7am -12 pm and then is home for the rest of the day with you. Maybe he works just Friday the first week, next week Monday & Friday, then the third week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday then finally all week. Entering into being alone slowly can allow you to feel less anxiety than doing it all day every day from day 1.
2. Do you have family in town? Are any of them retired or work evening/ weekends? Can any of them take some days off from work to be at home with you during the days and times your partner can’t be there? Have you looked into a postpartum doula? Look for someone that you feel can listen to you, support you with nursing, help you cook, tidy up and run errands for you. Someone who can help you sleep, make sure you’re fed and showered. Someone who you don’t have to change out of your pajamas for or even comb your hair if you don’t want to. Someone who, while they are helping you, you don’t feel you need to get up and help them help you. I’m personally so guilty of this one. My sweet mother in law came to our house every Friday because she loves to help with laundry and cleaning but I never feel like I could just allow her to support me, I always got up and helped because of guilt.
3. Stay off social media. It can be a bit boring to be at home all day nursing every two hours but social media surfing can very quickly solidify the feelings of loneliness. If you see people out and about doing things you used to do, loneliness can appear quickly. Social media also has a tendency to present everything as a ray of sunshine and you may be sitting in Dark Cloud city. It’s easy to start your travel to sadness town when you judge their social media life vs your real life. Instead of surfing social media, read a book or watch a comedy show instead. Laughter helps bring more oxytocin and oxytocin helps with joy and breastmilk. DOUBLE WIN!
4. Celebrate the small wins each day. Every day you are going to grow more and more confident as a mother and you will slowly learn how to be more like who you were pre-baby. Even something as – “Today, I showered” or “Today, I tossed a roast in the crockpot” are small wins that you deserve to high five yourself for!!
5. C-section Mamas! Trust me from personal experience x2 that you deserve time to heal! Girlfriend, if your baby was brought into this world through a major abdominal surgery TAKE AS MUCH TIME AS YOU NEED! If someone had their appendix removed, you know dang well they wouldn’t be expected to get up and start life back up right away. They would allow for healing time. Six to eight weeks is what most cesarean moms need to be completely healed up and yet so many begin trying to do it all at week one. Doing so sets you back in your healing. When your partner is home let them love on you and take care of everything but feeding that baby. When they go back to work, see item number 2. on this list. Get help from people who you feel comfortable with.
6. Sleep! You have a newborn who has zero clues if it’s day or night. Maybe they will sleep four hour stretches from first day home until they begin to sleep through the night (unlikely but possible) or maybe they will be waking up to nurse every two hours for months and months. Regardless, you will need more sleep than a newborn will give. It can be very taxing on one’s body to not get good rest for long periods of time. Your partner can totally help share in the sleeplessness when they are on leave. Once they go back to work however, they will need more sleep so they can do their job well. When you are home alone with baby during the day you can grab naps when the baby sleeps. If you have older kids that can become a bit harder. Best advice, get all kids on the same afternoon nap schedule so you know you can grab one nap each day. Other suggestions point to item number 2 again. When people come over to help, make one of the properties daytime naps for you. After you feed baby, go nap. If the baby is on a eat, play, sleep schedule you may be able to grab about 2-3 hours of a nap. Lastly, if sleep is something you need to function in the world, look into an overnight postpartum doula. These wonderful fairy-like women come in and sprinkle some kind of Disney-like magic around your house. They help with laundry, help with breastfeeding, help support your emotional needs, help tidy up, help baby learn days and nights and learn to sleep longer stretches. Truthfully everyone could benefit from one of these magical women and I bet we would see a lot less postpartum mood disorders because mothers would be better rested and able to function with life and their hormone changes easier. Everything seems harder when you are overly exhausted and way easier after you have slept well!
We want you to succeed, thrive and feel incredibly confident as mothers. We hope this list has helped you start thinking about the day your partner goes back to work and how to be confident and ready. If you are thinking a postpartum doula may be exactly who you need to add to your postpartum support team, we would be honored to walk with you and support you during this life transition.