Planning for your post-birth or postpartum period with your second baby is just as important as that for your first baby and maybe even more so! This time you are preparing your resting and recovery space to include the needs of a busy toddler who does not ‘get’ the concept of a lie-in! You are so much more aware of the demands that lie ahead with a newborn and a busy toddler. Here is a rundown of what I wish I had known when I was awaiting the birth of my second baby when my toddler was only 18 months old!
This time around, you may be looking for help with your toddler as well as in-home help with your newborn. Unfortunately, due to COVID 19 restrictions, for the moment it is not possible for postpartum doulas to provide in-home help. However, online consults are now available and are proving to be a great way to help parents create a tailor-made postpartum plan for their family. Your postpartum doula will be able to walk you through what you are likely to need and will help you to put in place the supports that are so crucial to your recovery from birth. It will also ensure that you have the time and the space to get to know your baby.
Plan for your rest
There is no getting around it, after having a baby you will need to rest. Have a really clear and open conversation with your partner about the importance of your rest after your baby is born. Talk through how you will make it happen and how you will get around possible barriers. You will not be able to do housework so your partner is going to have to do what is needed to keep the house ticking over. Preparing meals will also be really difficult for both of you (see below for some ideas). You will need to have a supply of meals in your fridge and freezer to avoid having to cook. You will need to figure out in detail how your toddler’s needs will be met while allowing you, mama, to rest and recover.
Plan to cook extra in the weeks before your due date. Stock up on good quality readymade meals for your freezer. It is a good idea to get another small freezer for your shed or utility room for the extra frozen meals! Setting up a meal train for the first few weeks can also be a fantastic way to have fresh homemade meals every day for you and your family.
Plan for Nighttime Sleep
By the time you have your second baby, you know more about what normal newborn sleep looks like. You know that newborns wake and feed frequently during the night and often do not sleep in their Moses baskets for very long. You can anticipate this by setting up your bed for safe sleep and/or having a co-sleeper attached to the side of your bed. These measures may help your newborn settle better and can lead to less disturbed sleep for you because your baby is right beside you. See the safe sleep 7 for guidance on safe bed-sharing with your baby. Your toddler may still be in your room or bed or may be at least a frequent nighttime visitor so getting a super king bed or an extra mattress for the floor can be a good idea too.
Keep an eye on how you are feeling,.
Watch out for postnatal depression signs. There can be a broad range of signs. Persistent feelings of sadness, insomnia, feeling sad anxious and alone, feeling guilty, irritable, and angry can often occur. Symptoms may be most apparent when your baby is around 4 to 6 months of age. Your first port of call is usually your GP who you can talk to about how you are feeling. Your GP can also help you to access counseling and will perhaps prescribe medication to treat your depression.
Plan for helping your toddler to adjust to the baby’s arrival.
Think ahead and discuss with your partner how you can ease the transition for your toddler. You might find it helpful to read one or both of these books, Baby and toddler on board by Val Mullally and the Second baby book by Sarah Ockwell Smith.
While your partner is on leave, they will need to help you rest by taking over quite a lot of the care of your toddler. However, it can be really helpful to keep an activity that is just for you and your toddler. Do bathtime with them while your partner holds the baby. Play their favorite game or read their favourite story with them. Put them in the sling and feel the lovely closeness of it. Remain a part of your toddler’s bedtime by doing their usual bedtime routine with them; PJs, story, tuck into bed before your partner takes over. See this article by Sarah Ockwell Smith for more ideas on how to maintain your connection with your toddler. The most important thing is to consistently show your toddler that you still love them.
Plan for how your partner can support you.
Your partner can do lots to set you up for the next day, especially after they return to work:
Stock the fridge with prepared snacks
Make a batch of salt dough (1 cup flour, half cup water, half cup salt)
Put a wash on.
Prep a meal or take a meal out of the freezer to defrost.
Stock up the changing station.
Check the fridge and cupboard for any food etc that you might need and get it on the way home from work.
Stock up the nappy bag so that you can just grab it as you leave the house.
Get to grips with babywearing!
Slings come into their own when you have a newborn and a toddler. They enable you to be hands-free to do things with your toddler and also keeps your baby safe from your energetic toddler! There are different types of slings. A stretchy sling is great for the newborn phase but needs to be tied on so there is a small learning curve. This Je Porte Mon Bebe video shows how to tie a stretchy wrap. A mei-tai sling is a very simple type of sling and just ties on almost like an apron. Here is a Mei tai tutorial. Unfortunately at the moment with COVID 19 restrictions, there are no Sling meets but you can get lots of support online in babywearing Facebook groups and by watching online videos. It’s also helpful to try your sling with a doll at first and enlist the help of your partner to ‘spot’ you when you try the sling with your baby.
Want to get started on your postpartum plan? Contact me to arrange a Zoom call where I can help you to target all the above issues and more. Let’s get your personalised, tailored postpartum plan up and running!!