If you haven’t yet had your baby, now is the time to plan beyond a fancy nursery that your baby won’t be moving into just yet anyway and plan for a calm, stress free ‘babymoon’. Think, a babymoon is like a honeymoon for you, your partner and your new baby as you all adjust to this big new world. A huge factor in planning a gentle babymoon for your growing family (whether this is your first baby, or you already have other children), is to create a support team.
A supportive partner is a huge factor in your breastfeeding success so first up, discuss with your partner how they can support you: taking time off work, censoring visitors, allowing you to rest, feeding you and being positive about breastfeeding – never asking ‘are you sure you have enough milk?’
Your support circle
Next, consider your wider support circle: surround yourself with positive people who will encourage you and offer practical help such as meals, laundry and shopping. One way to make this support intentional and predictable is to set up a roster. This way you know who is helping, what is being offered and when, and what other help you may need to call in if extra support is needed. Also, if you set up a roster now, you won’t have to reach out in those early, overwhelming days with your new baby when you will be feeling exhausted and vulnerable.
The Petal Roster
This is a roster of help that is administered by a friend or family member. Imagine a child’s drawing of a flower – a circle in the centre with ‘petals’ around this centre. In the centre of the flower is the friend or family member who has agreed to coordinate the roster, in each petal there is the name of a friend who has a specific role. For example, Kelly might bring a meal, Emily might walk the dog, Alex might pick up your older child from school or each of these friends might bring a meal on a designated day. Whatever you would find most helpful.
I have helped women create petal rosters at various times of stress, whether this has been when a partner was in hospital, an older child was sick, if they had a premature baby or when they were overwhelmed with the intense needs of a newborn. The beauty of this is that it doesn’t create ‘one more thing’ for the person who is desperately in need of help. It also takes away the anxiety of having to ask for help when you are already vulnerable.
And please don’t feel beholden when friends step up to help you – it’s a privilege to be involved with a new family, you are not imposing, and you don’t owe anybody. One day in the future, you can ‘pay it forward’ to another new mother. This may be one of the friends who supported you or not. It doesn’t matter, we need to hold each other up when we can without worrying, how can I repay the kindness.
Pinky McKay is Australia's most recognised and respected breastfeeding expert. She's an IBCLC Lactation Consultant, best-selling author of Sleeping LIke a Baby, Parenting by Heart, 100 Ways to Calm the Crying and Toddler Tactics (Penguin Random House )mum of five and creator of Boobie Foods, all natural and organic foods to nourish you as you breastfeed your baby. If you have concerns about your milk supply, you can download Pinky's FREE Ebook "Making More Mummy Milk,Naturally" HERE