So you have confirmed all of the early pregnancy signs and are ready to share the news. It is time to make a pregnancy announcement and tell your partner that you are pregnant. You might be excited. You may be nervous. Or, you may not know how you feel yet. No matter how you feel ,sharing the news with your partner can be a creative and fun time for both of you as you start this new journey.
Personalized “Dad” Gift
Letterboard or Sign
Photo Book with Special Ending
Order a Baby Product Delivery
My Pregnancy Announcements
Admittedly, with my first child I was in such a state of shock that I just walked out, pregnancy test in hand, and stared at my husband. I took a pregnancy test as a precaution. We were about to leave for a holiday trip and had many brewery tours planned. I had been feeling a little “off” and so I took a test to ease my mind. My mind was eased in a much different way than I anticipated. Turns out those brewery tours were postponed a year.
Together, we had a lot of fun making an announcement video for our friends and family. It is almost painfully embarrassing now, but you can find the throwback video here.
The second time, I had fun with it and made it a surprise. I found out I was pregnant a couple of weeks before my husband’s birthday and was able to wrap my pregnancy test up as a gift delivered by our oldest.
With many ideas out there on how to share your pregnancy with your partner, it is easy to get overwhelmed with ideas. I know I did! However, I saved my 5 favorite ideas to share with you.
1. Make a Scavenger Hunt Date
Want to see how many clues it takes for your partner to get the hints? Set up a scavenger hunt with small clue eluding to the big message (the pregnancy announcement!) You can do a scavenger hunt in your own home or out in a favorite public place. One idea is to recount a recent conversation about a baby or dream you share about having a baby. Let the clues add up to the positive pregnancy test at the end.
2. Get a Personalized Dad/Mom Gift
Nothing says “You are going to be a parent” like a personalized gift! Find a favorite item that you can personalize with the word “dad” or “mom” to let your partner know a big change is coming. A few favorite ideas are:
1. Dad Keychain
2. Mom/Dad Mugs
3. Best Dad/Mom Shot Glass
4. Dad Joke T-Shirt
3. Letterboard or Sign
If you have a letterboard or chalkboard in your home, change the message to something like “Skaggs Party of 3.” Create a message that lets your partner know a big addition is coming. See how long it takes for him/her to notice the new sign. You could also hold the sign behind your partner while his back is turned and tell him to turn around towards you to see the message. Make sure to set up a camera nearby to capture the moment!
4. Photo Book with Special Ending
Making a photo book of family pictures is always a fun activity. In order to make a pregnancy announcement to your partner, you can make a book with a special ending. Create a photo book of your favorite memories together. At the end of the book, add a picture of your positive pregnancy test, a drawing of a family of 3, or other picture of your choosing. Order this book and then set a special time to look through it together. Enjoy the surprise at the end!
5. Order a Baby Item Delivery
Maybe your partner is not too surprised with an Amazon or Target delivery comes to your doorstep. However, they will be surprised if this delivery is a box full of newborn diapers, onesies, and other baby items. Surprise your partner by ordering baby items to your doorstep. Once it arrives, ask your partner casually to take care of opening it up. Watch as your partner pulls out all things baby and makes the connection!
There is no right or wrong way to make a pregnancy announcement to your partner. Whether it is surprised and direct (like my first) or it is planned out and captured (like my second), what matters is sharing in this transition with your partner. A baby brings many changes and at Postpartum Together, we are here to support you through them all.
Once you are through the announcement period and are ready to make a postpartum plan, check out our eCoruse. We help you plan for the physical, mental, emotional, logistical, and relational changes that come after baby. We help you be prepared to handle the changes and be a team through it all.
The decision whether to maintain employment after having a baby or resigning from the workplace is a deeply personal one, guided by all manner of individual circumstances. I firmly believe there is no singular right answer for everyone; however, I spent a year after the birth of my son agonizing over what was right for me. My son is likely to be our first and only child and while I have mostly made peace with that, I struggled with a secret desire to leave the workforce and spend some time being “just” a mom to my only baby.
Changes You May Experience After Having a Baby
How you relate to paid labor may change with the addition of a baby, as you consider:
New motherhood has a way of shifting your sense of self in both anticipated and unexpected ways. Though I had never once considered resigning from a job and leaving paid labor before my son’s arrival, I was not prepared for the identity crisis that motherhood thrust upon me. It took a year of soul searching, job changes, counseling, and frank conversations with my husband to come to terms with the idea that I wanted to stay home. Because I was struggling with my identity, I feared my support system would also have trouble accepting the new me.
Strategies for Clarity Around Resigning Or Continuing to Work After Baby
I’d like to share with you a couple of the strategies I used to achieve some clarity about what I wanted. I hope that they can help you drag your feelings into the light, whether the issue is the conflict you may feel between work and motherhood or some other aspect of your journey that has you feeling stuck. And, I like to think that the takeaways I share below apply to so many facets of new motherhood regardless of your family’s work arrangements.
Holding Space for ALL The Feelings
Because I was feeling completely ambivalent about resigning from my job to stay at home, I felt this gnawing sense of unease and tension loom ever larger as time went on and I still had not made any progress toward a decision.
Firstly, I had to acknowledge the complicated feelings I had about work and my sense of self. Childhood trauma left me with a dogged determination to never be in the position to “depend” on anyone else. Having a career I enjoyed was secondary to my need for financial independence. But after the birth of our son, when I started contemplating opportunities that would give me better work-life balance, I also felt overwhelming guilt and shame.
Would my husband think I pulled a bait and switch? Would people think less of me? How would I measure personal growth and success? Without work, who would I be?
I felt so torn between who I had been before childbirth, who I thought I was supposed to be, and the nagging feeling that I might be wrong about it all.
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No Room for Self-Judgement
Holding space for all the feelings means feeling WITHOUT SELF-JUDGEMENT. In my case there were lingering issues related to an unstable childhood that I needed to work through. I achieved clarity about what was really most important to me, by interrogating these thoughts and feelings that were rooted in trauma and which I had worked really hard to bury for decades. Digging deeper cleared out some of the stuck-ness. Working through those emotional roadblocks led me to deeper healing and peace within myself and with my life circumstances, irrespective of my ultimate decision about work.
Explore Your Foundations
What are your fundamental truths? How have your life experiences molded what you think about motherhood, your sense of who you are, and your work? You may be similarly ambivalent for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re afraid of losing something that gives you a sense of purpose. Maybe you crave the stability that a particular choice provides. Or perhaps you or your spouse have really rigid ideas about your roles in and out of the home. It could be that you just can’t picture what a given scenario will look like. Accepting and exploring all feelings can help uncover self-limiting ideas that no longer serve your purpose, as well as help you affirm those that do.
I am an analyst by trade and an anxious person by nature, so I like to try to quantify, well, everything, but especially risk and uncertainty. I felt torn completely down the middle, so I came up with a compromise: I’d look for part-time or remote work in search of that elusive balance. At six weeks postpartum, I launched a job search; then at 12 weeks postpartum, I returned to my job from maternity leave; at 19 weeks postpartum, I started a new job; and by 25 weeks postpartum, I still couldn’t kick the feeling that I wanted something else.
So every few weeks, I’d draw up a list of the pros and cons of working versus resigning and staying home and I would always end up with a perfect balance of just as many reasons to stay as to go. At the time, I didn’t think it was fair to ask for what I wanted unless I was absolutely certain; I didn’t want to face what my husband would think of me or let my colleagues down. In short, I didn’t want to fail anyone; but in so doing, I was failing to honor myself.
Resigning or Not: There is No Perfect Answer
With hindsight, I can say that it was absolutely the right decision for us; however, when I finally settled on resigning from my job, I was only about 80% sure that it was the “right” decision. But I had spent so long being afraid of making a mistake that I had spent a lot of time really unhappy about NOT making a decision. And truly, I regret the year I spent sitting on the fence waiting for the clarity-fairy to sprinkle decisive dust on my ass.
Are there any areas in your life where you use certainty to avoid having to make a decision at all? I sometimes think that the requirement for certainty, especially among moms, is emblematic of women trying to minimize impact to their families at expense to ourselves. Letting go of 100% is about giving yourself permission to be wrong. In my case, I thought absolute certainty would prevent me from making a mistake.
But how often do we find ourselves working on an incomplete model or with faulty data? I don’t know about you, but I have been 100% wrong about things that maybe seemed 100% right in a given moment. And I’m not sure what this all or nothing mentality accomplishes except anguish for being human. Demanding 0% uncertainty isn’t a compassionate or realistic thing to expect from anyone, but most of all, ourselves.
Addressing the Underlying Shame
I felt so much shame around failing to prove that motherhood wouldn’t change me, but it did. To acknowledge that motherhood reconfigures your relationships, your work, your identity, and even your brain isn’t a personal or moral failure. In the end, I decided to give notice after six months at my new job and stay home, right when the pandemic blew up in our faces. There are moments where I do worry about what the job market will be like when I go back to work. And, I am incredibly concerned about the mass exodus of largely working mothers who are leaving the workforce in the face of all the competing demands on their time.
I recognize the layers of privilege that made even being able to consider this decision a possibility. In September 2020, four times as many women left the workforce compared to men (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020). This is a lot of women resigning due to pandemic circumstances. I had the ability to make a choice. But, the current reality leaves many women feeling burnt out after months of pandemic life. Women continue to bear the brunt of childrearing and do a disproportionate amount of rearranging their lives to accommodate this role. Until parents in general and mothers specifically have more social support in place, women will continue to make hard decisions for the sake of their families. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I found the online postpartum community through my struggles with breastfeeding and I stayed for the radical self-love and support I desperately needed during that first year new mama drama. My participation in Postpartum Together has inspired me to speak openly and honestly about motherhood, to pour some of my soul back into the community that was there for me when I had no idea where else to turn.
My background in sociology, where I studied marriage and families, provides context to my lived postpartum experiences. Motherhood brought me to a crossroads, where I chose to put my career on pause, and re-evaluate my professional goals. My time as a stay-at-home mom of one has brought me closer to redefining my life and purpose.
No, You Don’t Need Everything Marketed to You as a New Mom
When you are making your baby registry for a baby shower, it is easy to get excited about all the options out there. When you are thinking about making the transition into mom mode, you will see things you HAVE to have. Here is a spoiler: Half the shit you won’t use. Let’s get down to the real new mom must haves and simplify your life a bit.
On a personal note, I get pretty upset when I see how many things are marketed to new moms in their sleep-deprivation and overwhelm. Oftentimes, less is more. Less to figure out. Less to clean up. More time and space to listen to your intuition and baby. More freedom to be present. Babies need very little. They need you, food, and some kind of covering. That is about it. The rest can be fun, but it can also be unnecessary and burdensome. As a new mom, I needed very little of what was bought and wish I would have invested more in building up my support team.
Your baby does not need much. Many families find they do not even use a nursery room for months after having their baby. No amount of Instagram likes can make it worth splurging on things that will not be needed or used.
New Mom Must Have Recovery for Your Vagina, Butt, and/or Belly
So first of all, you need some tools to help heal your battle wounds. I recommend making a basket to keep in your bathroom just for this. You want to take care of any tears and incisions.
Pillow to help keep baby off incision AND to help with sleep positions
High waisted-leggings, sweatpants or wrap to avoid irritation
Taking care of the Booty:
Feeding Your Baby:
Regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or not, your boobs are going to go through many changes. You want to have some simple items to help take care of that milk coming in, the nipples getting raw, and everything in between.
Whether you are using your boobs, formula, or a combination, your baby needs to eat. Luckily, it does not take many fancy items to make that happen. These new mom must haves will help you feed as you choose with the essentials.
When you see something online or in the stores and it says you MUST HAVE it, think about whether it fills a need you are experiencing or truly think you might experience. While it is nice to have more conveniences available, some things are just expensive fluffy fillers. Oftentimes, motherhood support and service resources can be much more helpful than another late-night Amazon order. These new mom must haves are simple and made to make things easier for you.
As a new mom, asking for help is complex. In this article, we will explore why it is hard for moms to ask for help.
Taboo ABCs of Postpartum: H is for Help
Transcript: Hello, and welcome back to the taboo ABCs of postpartum. Today we are on H is for help. If we haven’t had the chance to meet yet, I’m Chelsea founder of Postpartum Together. We work to normalize all the changes and transitions in life after having a baby and make safe, supportive, empowering spaces for you to grow and really find your voice and your space as a new mom. And for some real raw postpartum talk, check out my interview on the Everything with Ali Levine podcast.
Today we are talking about help, and why it’s so damn hard for new moms to ask for and accept help. There are a lot of messages out there about how we should act and feel and operate. Messages about what we should or shouldn’t do as new moms. There’s a lot of pressure. There are a lot of places telling us what new motherhood is supposed to look like. And a lot of those messages are skewed on the side of not asking for and accepting help.
Will I Look Weak?
We believe many women believe that the need to ask for help looks weak. We are supposed to be mom. Moms are supposed to be strong, and we’re supposed to take care of it ourselves. Oftentimes as moms we don’t ask for help, because of the belief that it looks weak.
Embarrassed About What We Don’t Know
Another reason we don’t ask for help is because we’re embarrassed of what we don’t know. We’re told that motherhood is natural. Breastfeeding is natural. Going out with a baby is natural, all of these things. And so when we need some support and help we can feel embarrassed like we are supposed to just know everything.
Side note, no, there is no way to just know everything. And even things that are “natural” can be very difficult and can take the help and support of other people.
Another reason I hear mom’s not reaching out for help, is this fear of rejection. Maybe it is from their partner. Or maybe from their own mothers, in-laws, or friends who are or are not already mothers themselves. We have this fear of rejection, this fear of seeming inadequate in front of other people.
Something else that can be really common and difficult for us is not knowing how to communicate your need for help. If someone says “How can I help you?” And you’re like, “Oh, my God, well, I don’t even know how to gather my thoughts. I don’t even know what to tell you. I don’t know how, but I could use help. Like I’m drowning here. But I’m not sure where to even begin and how to vocalize this.”
Write it out
A tip for that specific situation is when you are able, write out ways that someone can very practically and logistically help you. This way, when they ask you don’t have to wrack your brain or make something up. You can tap into this list. Maybe it’s on your fridge. Or it’s saved in your phone. Maybe it’s a picture, and you can just send it off and get the help that you need and deserve.
Who is on Your Team as a New Mom
Now let’s talk about who is part of this help after having a baby. If you have a partner, this is where we start communicating with your partner. The focus is on having honest conversations and connecting in an emotionally and mentally vulnerable way. Vulnerability is not weak. Being vulnerable is not bad. Vulnerability is letting someone into this really sacred space. And you as a new mom, your thoughts, your emotions, your recovery, are a sacred space.
Now also part of that is your professional team. And I’m talking about the built-in places and the people who are part of your hospital support team. This can be your OB, Midwife, or pediatrician. Also, this is the lactation consultant or social worker who comes into visit you after having your baby. When these people enter your life, instead of saying “I’m good. I’m fine. I don’t need anything.” Learn to vocalize. “This is what I need.” “X would help me.” “This is where I need support.” There is nothing wrong with that.
Allow them to do their job of taking care of you and helping you.
Next, family and friends. Consider who you trust in your sacred spaces or inner circle. Who can you really get real with and go deep with? Are there people that you can have the more mental and emotional support from?
And consider the outer circle. Who is kind of in this outer circle of logistics? Meals. Taking care of older siblings. Helping with housework or yard work. Picking up groceries?
Where does that help come in? Who do you want to actually sit in your bubble in your inner circle and be in there having some very important real places to connect? And then what are these other logistical ways people can help you?
Listen, you were not meant to do motherhood on your own. You are not going to take a reward for being supermom who never asked for help. Let these people in.
Hired Help for New Moms
And then lastly, consider where and if hired, help plays a role. Maybe it’s helping with baby sleep. It could be house cleaning. Maybe it’s a postpartum doula. What kind of help can come in and serve you?
These people have these professional jobs. Not because they are a luxury. We are created to have help and support. It is very normal and very natural to tap into that when we moved to a more individualistic society. These services are not built-in for us in the way that they were for our ancestors. Bringing in that support is a wise, honorable way to transition into motherhood.
I’m curious from you, is asking and accepting help natural? Does that feel burdening? Does it feel uncomfortable? What does that bring up for you? And why?
What does it mean to build a team around your motherhood experience?