Navigating Postpartum: Rest, Visitors and Getting Out of the House
PĒPI Manawanui Smith
MĀMĀ Catherine Smith
PHOTOGRAPHY Catherine Smith @catherinesmithphotography
Keeping well physically and emotionally while recovering from your birth.
Many people find that when they’re pregnant the attention is on them, but when their baby arrives everyone focuses on the baby. In order to thrive as a postpartum māmā, you need taking care of too.
REST AND RECOVERY
Having a newborn can be exhausting and sleepless. They like to breastfeed frequently and nap in between feeds, day and night. If you can, try to sleep when your baby is sleeping.
Are you feeling nap-trapped? If your baby likes to sleep on you, set yourself up in a comfy spot with everything you need (water, snacks and entertainment) so you can relax while they doze. If you feel comfortable, someone close to you like your partner might like to wear your pēpi in the carrier or baby wrap so you can have a nap on your own.
It can be hard to ask but we promise that your partner, friends and whānau will be happy to help you with the household chores. When they aren’t around to assist, only do what is essential – it’s important to prioritise relaxing and recovering instead. Trust us, the washing can wait.
As lovely as having visitors can be, it can also be very tiring when you’re newly postpartum. Everyone is well-meaning and wants to celebrate your beautiful new baby but your wellbeing is the priority. If you’re not up for seeing people just yet, don’t worry about offending people – they will understand that you need space.
Here are some strategies you might like to consider for managing visitors in the early days and weeks:
- Set boundaries. Ask your partner or support person to keep visits to a time limit. They should be your advocate for telling friends and whānau that it’s time to go when you and the baby need to get some rest.
- Communicate with your loved ones about how you would like visits to work. Let them know that you will offer them a hold or a cuddle with the baby when you are ready and that it’s helpful to have them contribute when they visit by either bringing a meal, making you a cup of tea or helping out around the house.
GETTING OUT AND ABOUT
Staying at home with a new baby can feel isolating for some parents, while others love to retreat and soak up the quiet time – everyone is different. If you’re feeling lonely or overwhelmed with your new baby, it can be helpful to catch up with a friend or attend a coffee group with the mothers and fathers from your antenatal class. Many Well Child Tamariki Ora clinics facilitate mother-and-baby groups that you might like to join to connect with other mothers in your area who have babies that are a similar age to your pēpi. Getting out of the house may take some time as you learn to find your rhythm, but once you get there and share how you’re feeling you’ll appreciate the support – chances are someone else is feeling the exact same way as you.