The postpartum period, often referred to as the fourth trimester is a huge transition for families. For parents with multiple children, welcoming a new child into the home is full of joy, but can also present challenges. Here are some ways to create support for this tender time.
Call in the village. Mothers get in the habit of doing everything themselves, but it’s important to ask for help. Start having conversations with partners, friends, and family about what specific support might look like after the new baby is born: dropping off a meal, taking the older kids to the park for a few hours, or talking on the phone can all be forms of support. Often, the people around us want to help but aren’t sure how.
The power of preparation. Set the stage for success prior to postpartum time. Consider automating bills and organizing playdates for older children as well as putting in place two layers of care for emotional and practical support for both parents. Make sure there are simple instructions already laid out before birth has happened so it will be a seamless transition to hand off duties.
Add layers of care. Postpartum doulas are a resource for support when there is a newborn as well as older keiki. They act as another set of hands in a busy household and offer specific support for the mother such as bodywork, herbal support, steams, and ceremony. Remember, once you have had a baby, you are considered postpartum, so seek out postpartum support when you need it.
Rest, rest, rest. Rest is an essential part of postpartum care, even when older kids are in the house. Preparing for the fourth trimester during the pregnancy should involve talking to siblings about their new role and making them part of helping mom and the new baby. It can allow siblings to feel like an important part of the ohana and ease the transition into the new family structure.
And finally, breathe easy mama, you’re doing just fine. These precious and often chaotic moments will not last forever. Enjoy the love and magic of your newborn and growing ohana; who cares if the house is messy.
To help navigate the postpartum period, Pacific Birth Collective will be offering “The Fourth Trimester: Postpartum Planning” classes for parents and the whole community this fall. You can find more information on our website, www.pacificbirthcollective.org, and Instagram @pacificbirthcollective.
By Alysha Higgins and Lanata Hoke of Pacific Birth Collective
Read More: Birthing at Home