Let’s start at the very beginning: child birth.
To share every helpful perspective possible for a blog about motherhood self-care and postpartum recovery, we have to start at the very beginning, don’t you think? So you know I absolutely jumped at the chance to interview a (female!) delivery doctor.
Because that’s where this whole journey really begins for many mothers, with pregnancy and childbirth. This introduction to motherhood can seem so difficult, and to be honest, early motherhood is no different. But one thing I can promise? You will get through this.
I’ve never met a doctor like Julie Farias before. She’s technically in Family Medicine, but she can also delivers babies. That means not only can she care for women before, during, and after their pregnancies, she can also care for their babies. The obvious benefit to that being, she’s able to have patients schedule checkups for themselves back-to-back with their kids’ well child visits. Mind. Blown.
And we all know the administrative burdens of parenthood, including things like appointment scheduling and keeping up with health care visits, land mostly upon us as mothers. (“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women make 80 percent of health care decisions in the United States.“)
So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that Julie is a mother herself. But, she says, the reason she does things this way really comes from the human part of her. It’s just what’s best and most convenient for her patients.
I asked why all doctors don’t work that way.
The answer actually makes a lot of sense: this approach is outdated because doctors don’t want to be on call 24/7 anymore. She literally carries a pager, so she can personally deliver all of her patient’s babies. But she says has a passion for seeing pregnant women through the whole process. That’s definitely dedication.
Enough about Julie’s unique working style. Without further ado, let’s get to her quick tips on childbirth, breastfeeding, and recovery. These will be especially helpful for first-time parents or if it’s been a couple years since you had your last baby.
BEFORE AND DURING CHILDBIRTH (AKA THE FIRST HURDLES TO GET THROUGH):
- Make sure you’re comfortable with your provider. If you aren’t gelling with their style, it’s not just OK to find a new one, it’s strongly encouraged. Because when women aren’t happy with their birth experience, it can affect their mental health and recovery. Julie suggests getting recommendations from friends who have had good experiences.
- Suffering should not be a part of labor. Prepare yourself with the tools you need to cope with the pain–sit in a rocking chair or on a birth ball, walk around, take a shower, or consider pain medication like an epidural.
- Movement is the biggest thing you can do to help labor. It facilitates the baby moving down in the most efficient way for vaginal birth. Remember, you can’t do that with an early epidural. She says when you’re in early labor “the hospital bed is not for just laying in.”
- She recommends her patients read the Calm Birth Method book which has lots of tools for moms-to-be, significant others, and birth partners.
- Advocate for your own wants and needs, but also prepare to go with the flow and be flexible if you need to adjust that plan. She says, “Be OK with doing what is right for you in the moment.” It’s much more important than following the plan.
ON BREASTFEEDING (IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED):
- Breastfeeding can be a huge source of stress. If you want to do it, take a breastfeeding class beforehand, so you know what to expect physically and mentally, and to get some helpful tips and tricks.
- Talk to a lactation consultant before you deliver. Or definately see one afterward to get answers to questions or if any issues arise.
- Avoid any birth control with estrogen while breastfeeding, as it can dry up your milk supply.
ON YOUR POSTPARTUM RECOVERY:
- Be easy on yourself. Ask for help! Expect that your recovery could take weeks or months.
- You are learning so much during the first two weeks. Be kind and loving toward your significant other. Remember: you’re both tired.
- Be prepared with what you need ahead of time. (Check my handing postpartum recovery must haves list here.)
- Give yourself the intentional time and space you need to recover physically and mentally.
- Don’t put off thinking about birth control if you aren’t ready to have another baby right away. No one wants to be surprised during their 6-week checkup. Some options that are popular with Julie’s patients are the Nexplanon with progesterone implant and the Mirena IUD for both convenience and effectiveness.
FOR SIGNIFICANT OTHERS (THESE ARE DOCTOR’S ORDERS, SO SHARE THIS ARTICLE WITH THEM):
- Be mentally prepared before your partner gives birth, so you can be fully present for them when they need your help. Read the Birth Partner book, go to birth classes, or check out other helpful resources.
- Be extremely supportive after your partner gives birth. You should be doing the household chores she typically does, because she’ll be going through a lot physically, mentally, and with hormones–maybe even experiencing depression or anxiety.
- It may not look like it, but feeding a baby is hard work! Whenever moms are breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you should be doing something helpful to take something off her plate. She won’t be as effective at nursing if she is stressed. And baby will be stressed, too.
The one thing you need to keep in mind? You will get through this.
But maybe even more helpful than all the specific tips Julie lists is this one last overall thing to keep in mind. She says, “The first month of parenthood will be one of the hardest months of your life because your baby will by crying and you won’t know why and you will be sleep deprived. Yes, you may question why you did this, BUT YOU WILL GET THROUGH IT.”
I agree there, I am very glad a friend warned me that was a normal feeling before I experienced it. Because it is so, so real.
When baby is crying and you don’t know why… when you’re crying and you don’t know why… when you look in the mirror and wish you looked and felt more like yourself… when you’re up every 2 hours to feed the baby… or when you face any other low point throughout your journey as a mother, just remember: it’s all temporary. You will get through it. And it will go faster than you think.
If you’re interested in seeing a doctor who’s passionate about ensuring you have a positive birth experience and making your life afterward easier, here’s where you can find Julie.
If you’re interested in the concept, but not local to Minnesota, in the United States, you can find other Family Doctors who deliver babies through a little research. Or at the very least, make sure you like your OBGYN. Remember: you have options, mama!
Wait, one more thing!
While you’re here, feel free to check out my little self care gift shop if you want to treat yourself or pamper a friend with something special today. You deserve it, mama. Your purchases keep this blog running, support mama-owned businesses, and mean more than you will ever know.
Psst… if you enjoyed this article, share it with another current or future mama! You can also save it for future reference on your “Motherhood Inspiration” Pinterest board.