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Preparing Your Home For Your Lying-In, Part 1

August 11, 2012
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Question from reader Noel:  I was wondering if you have some tips for getting prepared for a new baby.

GREAT question!  And yes! We do have some tips!  I have seven kids, so there have been seven post-partums.  Some I prepared for so well; some….well, not so much.  So I can tell you first hand that preparation makes a HUGE difference!  The answer to this question will take two parts.

My family.

 “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven….a time to heal….” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3

In the West (the U.S. and Canada to be sure) we concentrate a lot on the pregnancy.  For the active pregnant woman there are pre-natal yoga classes, prenatal aerobic classes, pre-natal walking and hiking clubs. For the techie, there are pre-natal online forums, email groups, iphone apps and digital counters that take you to the big day. For the earthy-crunchy chick there are belly castings, blessing parties, and belly henna art.

But as soon as you have the baby you’re on your own.  People line up to go with you to hear the baby’s heartbeat when your pregnant. But, no one even seems to notice that you have multiple “well-baby” check-ups to go to, but you haven’t even figured out how to shower yet! In fact, you spent the whole week in the same bathrobe and your hair is so oily you’re considering experimenting with it as alternative fuel.

Because our culture just isn’t wired (yet!) to give a post-partum woman the honor and support that she really needs, as women who are aware, we need to 1) be pro-active in planning for our post-partum time while still pregnant and 2) help to create a positive post-partum culture in our own families, communities, churches, etc. Let’s break these two things down.

Planning for your post-partum lying-in:

I tended to jump back into things (really did so with the first three babies) because I think, deep-down, I had something to prove. I wanted to show people how great natural childbirth was and to prove to people that I was strong and capable. Maybe I was more of a feminist than I could admit at the time.

I think, for me, it has also been a spiritual problem. I suffer from compulsive people pleasing and the pressure to perform. So, allowing myself to appear weak and in need of care is humbling for me. Good for the soul. You might say, that for me, post-partum lying in is a spiritual discipline that I’m striving to learn, the way monks practice silence or fasting.

Like any spiritual or physical discipline, it takes planning! Who will be responsible for the laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling? Usually during pregnancy and after birth people ask, “Can I do anything to help?” and what do we usually say? “Oh, nothing! We are fine. But, thank you!” INSTEAD train yourself to say, “Well, as a matter of fact, I could certainly use help with __________.”

Daddy and our seventh baby.

Cooking:
I have been really blessed in many of my pregnancies to have communities of people (through church and seminary) who have initiated meals.  I’ve had 2-3 weeks of meals brought to us, which was great! I love to cook, but being free from that chore for a few weeks was delightful! If you are not so blessed to have this sort of community, plan ahead! Stock your freezer with easy prep meals that your husband or other children can handle.  Following our plan of freezing an extra two meals a week, will quickly give you a decent supply for the first week or so post-partum.  (Keep track of what you’ve stored with our tools!) Even if you do have people bringing you meals, you will want to freeze some meals, because there will be some days when the baby fusses more than usual or you have to go to the doctor and you don’t want to overdo it!

Easy meals that your family can prepare straight from the freezer are things like casseroles, lasagna, and soup.

If you’re like me, you don’t rely on a lot of pre-prepared or convenience foods.  However, during those first few weeks post-partum I recommend having some on hand; things like pasta and jars of sauce.

Don’t forget to plan for breakfasts and lunches, too! If you have other children you can freeze things like smoothies, PB&J sandwiches and waffles.  Make a lot of granola and store it in zip lock bag in quantities you need for each breakfast.

Another thing I try to stock is dessert, believe it or not!  In those first few weeks when your calorie need is huge (because of recovery and breastfeeding) women can crave extra treats that are sweet!  You do not want to send someone to the store to get candy bars or junky cookies and end up inhaling a whole package.  (True story.)  Here are some things I do:

1. Freeze raw cookie dough.  You can do this in portions that are appropriate, so you don’t end up with a jarful and therefore eat them ALL.  So, when the craving for something chocolate-y hits, you can slice the cookie dough and bake it directly.

2. Zucchini bread, banana bread, cranberry apple bread, etc.  I freeze several loaves of these types of quick breads.  Made with whole grains, they are full of fiber and vitamins.  So, you can nibble of a slice while nursing, keeping up your energy, and not feel a bit guilty.

3. Frozen fruit.  When I am pregnant I buy large quantities of whatever fruit is in season.  This serves two purposes.  In labor I suck on frozen fruit for energy and to combat the dry mouth that can come with all that mouth breathing.  In post-partum, smoothies are a really quick and healthy go-to.  Frozen fruit, yogurt, chia seeds, some greens–yummy!
Laundry:
For the first few weeks use disposable diapers even if your a cloth diapering fanatic like me! It’s just easier!  And it keeps you off your feet and you should stay off your feet as much as possible for the first several weeks.  If someone stops by to see the baby and asks if you need anything, don’t be afraid to say, “Do you mind putting the towels into the dryer and popping the load I have ready into the washer?” If you can afford it hire a laundry service for the first week or two.

Shopping:
This is where I *heart* the internet. Order things online and have them delivered, at least for a little while. Ask your husband or friends to help you out with anything that will require heavy lifting or being on your feet for a long period of time. And again, plan ahead! Stock up your house before you have the baby with toilet paper, soap, non-perishable foods, etc.

Cleaning:
Do what you have to do and save the rest for later! It’s OK to let a few things slide. Hire a homeschooled teenage girl as a mother’s helper for a few weeks or months. She can come by a couple times a week and do the dusting, folding laundry, watering plants, and running the vacuum, maybe even preparing some food.

My grandmother washing our dishes!

Homeschooling:
This is the beauty of homeschooling. Take a month off! Plan ahead with books or projects that your children can do on their own while you rest. Get a stack of movies or books on tapes ahead of time. And forget the formal desk work for a while. Your children will certainly not only survive, but learn a valuable life lesson–taking care of a mommy and baby is important work!

One thing I can’t stress enough is how grateful we are to have several generations supporting one another through life’s happenings!  When we lived in Mongolia we had Gana’s mother close by and my mother and sisters made the big trip to Mongolia just to be with us for the birth of our third baby!  Now that we live in the States we have my mother, grandmother, and sister.  Welcoming new life was meant to be handled in a family environment with multiple generations participating.  If this is not your situation, we pray you find a community of friends (perhaps through your church) that can be that for you.  If this is possible for you, we encourage you to let your mother or grandmother know that you welcome her help and support.  Just think, years from now you’ll be able to pass along this blessing to your children and grandchildren.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.  Proverbs 17:6

(Linked to The Morris Tribe)

(Read PART 2 here.)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2012 9:47 am

    Thank you so much for these wonderful tips! I’m inspired.
    God Bless You!

  2. August 14, 2012 11:21 am

    Ummm…. I have a little request. Would you consider making a little printable e-book out of this and part 2?? It would be fabulous to have this to hand out to my birth class clients.

    • Daja permalink*
      August 14, 2012 2:56 pm

      This is a great idea, Karen! We will work on it ASAP! I have a birth class beginning next week, too, so this is the perfect time to put this together. Look for it soon!

      (You’re always so full of wonderful ideas!)

      • August 14, 2012 3:06 pm

        Yay! Since you have handy, printable PDFs for other things, I thought it might be in the realm of possibility. 🙂 Thank you!!

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  1. Preparing Your Home For Your Lying-In, Part 2 « The Provision Room

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