Navigating the Early Days of Parenthood with KOMU

Finding out that you’re pregnant for the first time can be very exciting and scary all at the same time. Usually there will be a lot of time and effort that goes into preparing for giving birth, but a lot less thought and care is taken to prepare oneself for when baby has arrived. Needless to say, the early months of parenthood can leave you feeling overwhelmed as you struggle with sleep deprivation, learning how to feed your little one, as well as the uncertainty that you might feel as you question and doubt your ability as a parent. A number of international and national policies highlight the need for support as a woman adapts to motherhood for the sake of both her and her infant’s wellbeing [1,2], and over the centuries and across different cultures and communities, the postpartum period has traditionally been viewed as a time when a new mother is supported by her close community as she rests and heals following childbirth, and is given time to get to know her little on in the quiet of her own home [3].

However, unfortunately the reality is that there is often a lack of support for new parents once they leave the hospital with their newborn. New parents aren’t always offered the level of support that they need after giving birth, and most of us don’t live in ‘tribes’ or ‘villages’ where family and community support is the norm. On top of all this, new mums can even be made to feel like they need to do more, be more, and know exactly what they’re doing from the moment that they meet their newborn. In reality, the most important things to focus on during the postpartum period are to rest often, take things slow, and nourish your body and soul with food and care as you deal with a wide array of emotions and changes [2]. Now I know that there are literally libraries full of books out there that can help prepare you for giving birth. More often than not they will briefly touch on some things that might prepare you for becoming a parent, however these brief glimpses into the postpartum period usually aren’t comprehensive enough to help mentally prepare for what this phase of life might throw at you.

Welcome KOMU, an amazing digital resource that new parents all around the world can tap into to learn more about and prepare for all things postpartum. Over the past few months, I have found a lot of value in the digital guide and toolkit that they have to offer, which I’ll be sharing more about in today’s post. This resource really is an amazing, comprehensive library of wisdom with input from a range of experts, that is incredibly useful for navigating the postpartum period as a new parent.

Just a quick disclaimer, I was gifted the digital guide, toolkit, and opportunity to email Anneke in exchange for feedback as well as sharing more about the services that KOMU has to offer should I find it useful. As always, I wouldn’t share anything here that I haven’t used, haven’t found to be useful, or wouldn’t actually invest my own money in. I have found a lot of value in the KOMU guide and toolkit, and I sure hope that you will too! Make sure to read to the end of the post for a great discount code for the KOMU digital toolkit!

introducing komu

This need for postnatal support is something that Anneke and Sarah, the founders of KOMU, wanted to overcome by offering an amazing digital resource that has been designed to help support new parents throughout the first six months of parenting, as well as digital support from Anneke, a trained midwife. Their heart behind KOMU is to see better support for new parents, from pregnancy to birth, and all the way through to parenthood, and they are on a mission to make postnatal care as great as prenatal care to ensure that becoming a parent can be as positive an experience as possible. Their handbook has been designed in such a way that it is easy to read and can offer the support and reassurance that is so needed during the early days of parenting. This resource covers three main areas, each broken up into useful chapters, namely:

  • First things first - preparing the essentials for baby’s arrival, what to expect on the postnatal ward, and what to expect when you first arrive home with your bundle of joy

  • Settling in - learning about common health issues for both baby and parents, how to care for your baby, and help with sleep and infant feeding

  • Adjusting to your new life - navigating body changes in the postnatal period, getting out of the housewith your baby, and baby proofing your home as your little one becomes more mobile and independent

They have also developed an amazing, comprehensive digital toolkit in the form of a course that includes both video and audio content from 18 experts and covers topics such as:

  • Becoming a parent

  • Baby’s health and wellbeing

  • Infant feeding

  • Sleep

  • Babywearing

  • Mum’s health and wellbeing, including mental health, returning to fitness after having a baby, and post-birth recovery

… and a whole lot more! The content included in this toolkit can be accessed on either a computer or phone, and is constantly being updated with new content (for example, last week Sarah & Anneke added great content on caring for your little one’s teeth).

 
We want to empower new mums and dads with knowledge, in the hope that their postnatal journey won’t be a bumpy one and to let them know that they are not alone and there is support out there should they need it.
— Anneke & Sarah, KOMU founders
 

First things first

Before our little one arrived, I found it really useful to have a list of basic items to consider buying. There is so much noise out there when it comes to working out what a new parent really needs, and what is actually being promoted by mommy Instagrammers for the purpose of making money. I was lucky enough to collate the amazing ‘must-haves’ and ‘don’t bother’ recommendations that close friends and awesome Instagram followers had shared with me throughout my pregnancy, but the KOMU list of baby essentials helped me to narrow things down as I ticked items off of the list. Reading through the ‘On the Ward’ and ‘At Home’ chapters were a great addition to what my husband and I had learnt at the basic antenatal classes that we attended. Quite a bit of the advice is tailored to how things work here in the UK, however the recommendations and information can still be applied in other countries where things might differ slightly. One piece of advice that Sarah and Anneke share in their guide that I would highly recommend all new parents take to heart is:

 
Once home try and limit the number of visitors you have in the first few weeks as you try and settle in together as a new family unit. It is a very special time to snuggle down and relish in your beautiful baby and you will have enough to do with learning to care for your baby and need all the rest you can get in these early days.
— Anneke & Sarah, KOMU Founders
 

This advice proved to be one of the best things that we decided to take on as a family, as it allowed me time to recover after a whirlwind of a birth, allowed my husband and I to find our feet as new parents without too many comments / opinions about how we were doing things, and gave us a chance to really soak in the special first few weeks as a new family of three.

Settling In

There are so many aspects of postpartum life that can come as a shock if you haven’t quite mentally prepared yourself or your partner for beforehand. From engorged breasts a couple of days after giving birth (OUCH!), weeks of bleeding, and healing wounds from either a caesarean section or perineal tear, to the hormone drop that can make you feel very overwhelmed and tearful, aches and pains as your body recovers from birth, and having to do that first poo after having your baby. I found it incredibly helpful and empowering to have read through all of the information included in this section of the KOMU guide before heading to the hospital because it helped me better anticipate what I may experience in the days and weeks after we welcomed our little one into the world. The KOMU resources don’t just cover mum’s health and recovery, but also the wellbeing of baby and dad.

Leaving hospital with a fresh little newborn can be really daunting at first, especially when you’ve never done it before. Although Dr Google is always there when you need it, often the answers out there can be confusing or even make you feel anxious and scared due to their conflicting nature. I am so grateful that we had my mom to visit for the first month of Rylee’s life because she was a great source of wisdom thanks to her lived experience of having raised two children, but the KOMU resources were another great tool that I used in the early days when I wasn’t sure about things like:

  • How often am I supposed to change her nappy?

  • How on earth am I supposed to bath this tiny person?

  • Is she too hot / too cold?

  • How should I dress my baby for bed?

  • What can I do to entertain my little one?

Both the digital toolkit and ebook do a great job of covering the much-anticipated topic of sleep in great detail. As with pretty much every other aspect of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood, this is one of the areas where there are so many conflicting opinions on what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I appreciated being able to prepare our room for Rylee’s arrival and have the confidence to set her down in her Moses basket knowing that we were doing what we could to keep her safe and comfortable (believe it or not, those Insta-worthy images of little newborns in their cots with blankets and toys around them aren’t a reflection of what safe sleep should be). Similarly, feeding baby is also included as part of these resources (this includes breastfeeding, expressing, and formula feeding, as well as a basic introduction to introducing solids once your baby is older).

Adjusting To Your New Life (or what I like to call, your ‘new normal’)

I don’t think you can quite prepare for the impact that giving birth - whether vaginally or via C-section - has on the body, or really understand how valuable taking time to rest is. After experiencing 9 months of pregnancy and then giving birth to a baby, your pelvic floor needs to be taken care of (strengthened and restored to what it was before birth!) and care needs to be taken to recover from the abdominal separation that occurs naturally during pregnancy. The KOMU resources include useful tips on safe exercising and movement that you can do to strengthen your body in the postnatal period.

“Whether you’ve always exercised or want
to take it up post birth, it is important to
understand that many fitness instructors are still
not aware of the dangers of certain exercises
for women following childbirth...”

I also made use of the baby wearing sections of both the digital toolkit and ebook when we first ventured out with Rylee in my Wildling ring sling and when Reuben carried her in the Ergobaby carrier that I managed to find second hand - poor guy kept having me go through the ABCs (airways, body positioning, comfort) and TICKS (tight, in view, close enough to kiss, keep chin on the chest, supported back) rules multiple times whenever we strapped her in haha. We are yet to make use of the baby proofing section of the digital guide, but I am anticipating needing to read through it again in the coming months as Rylee starts to shuffle / crawl / walk and grab things. Thankfully with the information included in these resources I’ll know exactly where to start!

Last, but not least

The KOMU team has been incredibly generous in offering all Taste & See readers 20% off of their digital toolkit. Just head over to this link and use the coupon TASTE&SEE20 to claim your discount. I promise you it’ll be worth it!


References

[1] World Health Organisation (2005) The World Health Report 2005: Make Every Mother and Child Count. World Health Organisation, Geneva.

[2] Warren-Leahy P, McCarthy G, Corcoran P. First‐time mothers: social support, maternal parental self‐efficacy and postnatal depression. J Clin Nursing. 2011;12(3-4):388-97. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03701.x

[3] Cohen EC. Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhooduand Trusting Yourself and Your Body. Chronicle Books; 2017.