So your baby is here. She is healthy and you’re healthy and you’ve been discharged from the hospital. If you’re like me, you’re super excited to get back to the comfort of your home. However, pretty quickly after you return home, you realize this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There are dirty clothes and dirty dishes. The baby starts to come out of his sleepy “I was just born” phase. And there are visitors who want to come hold the baby and make you feel the need to play host even though you are recovering from giving birth, figuring out how to be a mother, and doing it all while intensely exhausted. The transition from hospital to home is a tough one, and it often takes families by surprise. Here are a few ideas to help that transition be a little smoother and a bit less stressful.
Coming Home from the Hospital: Ideas for a Smoother Transition
1. Minimize the time you or your partner need to spend in the kitchen. Make sure your food needs are taken care of. See this post for more ideas. And if you haven’t done much prep ahead of time, don’t panic. Ask friends and family to bring you food, cook for you, and don’t be afraid of takeout for a while.
2. Ask visitors to help with laundry. Each visitor can either start a load, switch a load, and/or fold and put away a load. You should not be worrying about laundry right now.
3. Make a commitment to get in bed with your baby and stay there for a few days at least. If you are breastfeeding, spending lots of time cuddling with baby will help establish a healthy feeding relationship. Also, if you’ve committed to staying in bed, you’ll be sure to sleep when the baby sleeps. Do your best to resist the urge to run around taking care of things while the baby is sleeping. Your body needs to rest. Honor it.
4. For the ultimate in smooth transitions, arrange to have a super helpful family member or friend, or a postpartum doula, meet you at your house upon your return from the hospital. This extra help can go quite a long way in setting you up for a peaceful transition.
5. Adjust your expectations. You’re not going to come home and resume life as it once was. Pretend you are taking some “sick days” from work or life and focus on nurturing yourself and your baby. It’s OK if it still feels hard. Just resist the urge to put pressure on yourself to accomplish anything more than eating, sleeping, and feeding your baby.
These intense early days will be over before you know it. A good start upon your return from the hospital will help tremendously in your postpartum transition. For more help preparing for this transition, check out our Postpartum Toolkit.