Many people today fill out baby registries for their newborns, especially first-time parents. And while we certainly do well as a society to lavish the baby with everything money can think to buy (hello Penis tent!), we rarely give much thought to what can REALLY help the new parents in the postpartum period.
Yes, clothes and swaddle blankets are amazing and useful and will be used for months, but the postpartum period is far more than just dressing up a new baby and wrapping them tightly in a soft muslin to gush over.
Postpartum is the most important time after the birth of a baby, for both baby and birthing parent, but why are we more concerned with the latest and greatest gadgets for baby when what we should be focusing on is helping the parents bond over the next three months with their new baby?
Why do we make postpartum care a luxury rather than a standard? What if every pregnant person put postpartum doula hours on their registry, how long would it take to become the norm when gifting a new parent something for their new baby?
Instead of the standard baby items that seem to show up at every baby shower, here’s a list of things that ACTUALLY go the distance in helping the new parent heal as they bond with their baby:
Postpartum doula hours (of course) should be something someone is gifting all the new parents. Most doulas require a minimum of 10 or 20 hours of care and even at that low end, those are hours of help that can be LIFE CHANGING to the new parents.
A moveable station/cart that the new birth parent can have easy access to. It should be able to hold everything from diapers, wipes, and butt paste to snacks and an extra water bottle. A body-feeding person can burn more than 500 extra calories a day so making sure they stay hydrated is a must.
Comfy pajamas and maybe even a new, snuggly blanket to go with them. New parents spend a lot of time nursing and snuggling baby, and skin-to-skin is essential for good brain development and it helps to aid in milk production.
After-care products like pull-ups (if that’s what the new parent is wanting to wear for hygiene products; tampons can’t be used for at least 6 weeks and it’s an alternative to big, bulky pads); nipple cream and pads; gadgets to help collect the milk from the side not being eaten from; a sitz bottle; special herbs that can help aid in the healing of the perineum.
Grocery delivery. Trust me, it’s an AMAZING thing to not have to leave the house for anything in those first weeks after bringing baby home and delivery can be pricey. Even paying for a few meals to be delivered is a great gift idea!
Massages for the new birth parent. Birth is hard on our bodies and a good massage can help to aid in that healing process, and show some extra love to the body that not only nourished and grew a fetus for ten months, but then had to birth it through their body.
Let’s redesign the way we gift new parents. Let’s try to focus more on HOW we can truly help during the postpartum period and less on how cute we can make baby for their outings (clothes are ALWAYS a great gift, don’t get me wrong).
Postpartum doula care is one area that we LOVE to help out new parents with, because taking care of the new parents means their main focus can truly be on bonding with the baby, rather than rushing to get back to a new norm. We offer our care by the hour and in a few postpartum, one-time packages. Furthermore, we’ll continue to fight in all the right places, to make it so that postpartum care is available, and paid for (at least in part), to EVERY new birth parent. We are going to continue to fight to make these services the norm in our society, as they should be.