A Christmas baby—or at least a baby born in or around the holiday period—is a particular joy.
The holidays can also be a stressful time, what with parties, guests, family visits and more. If there was ever a time that you could exert a selfish muscle without a backward glance, this is it. It’s also the right time to ask for help. Whether from family members or with the services of a postpartum doula, plan for the help you might need to cope with the holidays with a new baby.
I have a friend whose baby, originally due AFTER the holidays in January, decided to come early. December 23 to be exact. Their plans to host Christmas dinner for the family—an idea they thought was so smart, allowing Mom to be in her own home at the end of her pregnancy—turned out to be a mess! Luckily, family was on hand, free from work obligations for the holiday, and they were able to swoop in and cook the turkey while Mom relaxed on the sofa, recovering from the birth and holding her wee one. A good time was had by all and by some miracle (and a big box store that was open LATE on Christmas Eve), there was even a package under the tree for the baby to celebrate her first Christmas in style!
That was a good outcome for my friend, but in order to ensure that you don’t find yourself making canapes with one hand while feeding your baby with the other, you might want to consider some of these tips:
Minimize the fuss
With a new baby at home, it’s not the time to worry about having the perfect tree or table setting. Even if you want to make the holidays special, so it’s not all about the new baby for the benefit of older children, you need to re-direct your goals to ‘pretty darn good’ instead of ‘perfect’. Stressing about every little thing is not good for you or the baby.
This is a great time to leverage services that make life easier, even if it’s not how you would normally do things. Like what?
•Look into grocery delivery services or options where you can choose your groceries online and simply drive up to pick them up.
•Do your gift shopping online. There’s no shame in sitting on the sofa, feeding baby and clicking through websites to find what you need. Most stores offer gift wrapping. Pay the extra money and cross another thing off your list.
•Order platters done for you at the grocery store. Yes, it’s nice when you can do it all yourself but your new mantra has to be about self-care and caring for the baby.
•Get everyone in on the action. Older kids, spouse, family living nearby.
Minimize the guests
If you know you’ll have a baby in the house, it’s probably not the year you want to host the whole family for a week’s worth of fun and frivolity. Just the laundry alone might be a step too far.
As for parties and gatherings in your home, it’s not realistic to extend these beyond immediate family and closest friends. After all, dashing out of the room to feed the wee one and coming back with spit up on your shoulder is something that only those who love you and the baby will appreciate.
And let’s remember that a baby’s immune system is still building in the weeks after the birth: you don’t want to overexpose them to germs too soon.
Have a plan B
Just in case the baby comes early and your plans for hosting the family festivities are dashed, or some of the group isn’t feeling well during the holiday period—germs that your new baby does NOT need to be exposed to quite yet—have a plan B in place.
Make sure that someone can take over, have plans for hotel rooms or sofas at other people’s houses, or better yet, avoid being the central focus of the holiday period altogether. It’s not going to help you or the baby rest and recover if you’re running about trying to make sure that everyone has a full glass of eggnog.
Enjoy the moments
Sit back by the twinkling lights or a roaring fire and enjoy the moments. Baby’s first Christmas (or Hanukkah or Festivus… insert your holiday celebration of choice here) only comes once. Don’t spend it running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Instead, stop and enjoy the new baby smell. Easier said than done, right? Which brings me to my last point.
Ask for help
That’s why, long before your baby is born or even if baby is arriving sooner rather than later, it’s important to consider bringing on a Postpartum Doula or a Newborn Care Specialist to your family team. Even the most well meaning Aunt or Uncle can suddenly create more problems than they solve in their attempt to help out. Knowing that you have someone you can count on to get you through some of the stressful parts of the holiday season will be an enormous relief.