Bringing Home Baby
The doorbell rang. Claudia’s postpartum doula Kaela opened the door to find a basket filled with pastries, gift cards, and teas. “Ohh…what do we have there?” Claudia expressed as she looked up from nursing baby Evyn. “Looks like a congratulations gift basket from Simone, Mike, and their crew.” Kaela spoke. “They’ve included wrapped pastries, gift cards, baby gifts, diapers, and more!” “What a thoughtful gift!” expressed Claudia, “It’s like they knew exactly what a new parent would need when bringing home baby.”
Preparing for Bringing Home Baby
Before welcoming baby earthside and bringing baby home, there are some items that are a necessity, while other items are nice-to-haves. Before you can leave the hospital, a car seat is a must-have. At the hospital, there is a 60-minute respiratory test is conducted. This assessment is to help ensure that the baby will tolerate the angle of the car seat and the ride home. In a home birth, this step is not a requirement.
Baby care items that are generally a must are something for baby to wear, something for baby to eat, someplace for baby to safely sleep, and hands and heart to love and hold the baby. That’s it!
Something for a baby to wear can be as simple as a diaper as one practices skin-to-skin in those postpartum days. Baby gowns are great for keeping the baby warm and allowing access for easy diaper changes. In the beginning days, spit-ups, blowouts, and frequent changes are commonplace. Saving those special outfits for photo ops and outings.
Something for the baby to eat in the form of breastmilk, formula, or a mixture of both. That is all the baby will need for nourishment in the first 6 months of life. Leave the water, cow’s milk, juice, etc for later. The baby’s body is equipped to digest these food forms.
Someplace for the baby to safely sleep in like a bassinet, crib, Moses basket, etc. Be cautious of unsafe sleeping surfaces such as Dock-a-tots, Rock-n-Play’s, and Boppy’s. These devices are advertised by the manufacturers as NOT approved for sleeping surfaces.
The hands and hearts that hold and love the baby are pivotal in the emotional development of the baby. The baby can feel the emotions and energies around them. This is often why the baby appears serene with one individual, and more cautious with another individual. A calm carrier will present a calm baby. An anxious carrier will present an anxious baby.
Feeding & Diapering Station Set-up
One of our favorite things to do as postpartum doulas are to help set up convenient stations for families. In those early days, parents do what they need to get through each day. And oftentimes even one shift can help mold an eye-opening convenience. Think about where most of the days will be spent. Think about the structure of the house. Consider how many changes and feeds go into a 24-hour period.
If one plans to spend much of their postpartum recovering and bonding with baby in bed, having stations set up next to the bed or in the room is perfect. If family life doesn’t allow full days in bed, what areas of the house are the most commonly used, and set up a changing and feeding space there as well.
Is the house a one-story or a multi-level story? Think about setting up multiple stations if there’s more than one level of the house. This can help eliminate the inconvenience of running to grab a diaper or wipe, as well as being confined to one area to tend to the baby’s needs.
It is expected that a baby will eat AT MINIMUM 8 full feeds in a 24-hour period. Diapers are at least 6-8 wet diapers and a solid waste diaper at least once a day for the first 4 weeks. That’s a lot of changes and feeds! Work smarter, not harder.
For feeding stations, have snacks and fluids for the nursing person. Consider breast pads, nipple creams, and any additional wanted items. For pumping parents, have a clean set up parts set up, milk bags, pen, pump bra, etc. making the pumping session more manageable. All feeds should be comfortable for the baby and the individual feeding the baby. Diaper stations and diaper caddys are handy and helpful when stocked with diapers, wipes, diaper creams, an extra outfit, and any extras to aide in quick diaper changes.
Preparing Meals Before Bringing Home Baby
It goes without saying that nourishment during the postpartum is so…So…SO vital for a healthy healing of the mind, body, and soul. Preparing meals ahead of time, setting up meal trains, and having postpartum doula support can help navitate the nuacses of “What am I going to eat today?”.
Preparing meals to pop in the crockpot or oven are great for those full meals without the messy kitchen or work. Pastas, casseroles, soups, and stews can be filled with the vitamins and nutrients to fuels a postpartum body while filling it up. Making batches and freezing them in serving sizes or meals allows for time-saving at meal time.
Meal trains have become both popular and second nature when it comes to a family welcoming a new baby. Websites like Take Them A Meal allow for friends and family near and far to send meals. Social media has also allowed groups of individuals to get together to plan nourishment for new parents. Meal trains are wonderful for providing meals for days, weeks, and even months without muss or fuss to the parents.
Postpartum doulas are known to lift a finger in the kitchen. Whether it be a quick snack or a full meal, doula support can provide that postpartum nourishment that a new family may not be receiving otherwise. Some doulas thrive in the kitchen. Knowing where your needs are best met can help when deciding on what attributes are most important to you in your doula.
Setting Boundaries and Welcoming Visitors
For some, the word ‘boundary’ is a negative word. But it’s actually the opposite! The word ‘boundary’ is a healthy word. Setting bounaries in the early days of postpartum helps to set a foundation of expectations. Proiro to welcoming baby, think about setting a postpartum plan in place. We plan for our births (ie birth plans), but what about the after?
Your home is your domain. Your baby is your baby. It’s okay to say “not today” or “no thanks” or even “no” to visitors or helpers that aren’t watering where you need it most. At the same time, be cautious of not allowing support from those that can and do infact water where you may not be aware that you need. As strong independent individuals, it’s easy to put ourselves on the back burner to children, partners, work, household, society, expectations, etc, etc. However when the foundation of the family (ahem…YOU) is not supported, it may crumble quickly.
Schedule visitors when it suits best for you. Think about the time of day that you most need your cup filled. Write down your needs, especially ones that’s difficult to ask for. Check in with yourself daily. Fresh air, healthy conversation, sunshine are all ways to welcome in a postpartum realm.
While Kaela’s shift ended hours ago, and the impact she left with Claudia lasted long after her shift. Diaper stations nested perfectly throughout the home. A nursing station coined comfortably on Claudia’s favorite spot in the living room, and another one in Evyn’s nursery. Meals had been planned and prepped for the week, creating heat and eat atmosphere. Planning for Evyn’s arrival was easy, preparing for life with a baby was proving to be more than imagined.