Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Figuring out Your Postpartum Schedule

By Heather Pohlabel

It's been six weeks since you've given birth to your new little bundle of joy...now what? Are things going to magically change? Is this all the time you have to get in a schedule and bond with your new baby? Certainly not, but depending on your lifestyle and your family's individual needs, your new lifestyle changes may be different from other new mothers. A good way to transition back in to the swing of things is by trying to work out a schedule that fits your life.

Share Your Baby
After having a new baby, friends and family are eager to see her and share in this experience with you. There is no joy like holding a new baby, even if she is not your own. Try to schedule in at least one visit a week after baby is born to keep your family and friends connected and to get you out of the house for a bit! If you cannot travel, let your friends and family come visit you at home, but schedule the visits so you will have time to shower and feed the baby or make sure that you are comfortable having a visitor. Sharing your baby with others will help you leave her in someone else's care when and if the time comes, and it will show your family and friends that you care enough about them to share your child with them.

Offers of free babysitting usually come from these first few visits, so take those and use them to go to your doctor or the dentist or to get your hair cut - places you cannot take your baby. Accept the offer and make an appointment right away and then get back with the generous helper as to when you will be accepting their offer. If you wait too long, the excitement will wear off and they may not be available.

Eating and Resting
Your baby is going to set her own feeding times, so you will need to learn to work around these. Your body will adjust to your new sleeping and eating times, but take time to rest when your baby is resting, especially the first few weeks she is home. Even as your baby gets a little bit older, it's a good idea to rest when your baby rests because you need your energy to take care of her!

If you are planning on going to work after your maternity leave is up, you may want to try to change your baby's eating pattern by offering a bottle when your day care provider is going to be feeding the babies. Be sure to check and see if they have scheduled feeding times or if they feed on demand. However, your baby may over-eat if you choose to do offer bottles at times other than when she is hungry.

Exercising
If you get to stay at home, take your time working your way back into your pre birth activities, but do get back to them! A complete lifestyle change could bring about postpartum depression, so be sure to keep your family and friends close and connected and set a goal as to what you'd like to get back to doing once you and your baby have scheduled a routine. If, for example, you want to get back into shape, try taking the baby for walks in or outside, depending on your location and weather. It is a good way to get motivated to exercise and will help you transition into either working out at the gym or at home, and still gives you time with your baby. Babies enjoy walking as much as their parents!

If you are going back to work, however, you may want to use your lunch hour to exercise or wait until you get home to take the baby for a walk. Some women will be too tired after a long day at work to do this, so fitting exercise in can be a problem. If you can find something that you can do with your baby at the same time, the exercise will be more enjoyable. If not, try to fit it in on lunch or right after work before you get your baby.

Whatever the challenge, it can be done. Work with friends and family to help you out with babysitting. Take advantage of rest time to rest. Keep in shape and you will be happier and your baby will be happier too. You can have a fully functional schedule as time passes, just utilize what you already have!

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