You finished one of the most amazing physical feats you will ever accomplish. You birthed a tiny human. Naturally, much of the focus in your world shifts from you to your baby. This is natural and good, but you also need to heal and allow space for the extreme hormonal shift that takes place postpartum. Here are some practical steps you can take to ease into the next stage of your parenting journey:
Prep meals ahead of time.
In the later weeks of pregnancy, nesting becomes ever-present. You may feel an intense urge to clean, organize or cook. Utilize this energy to prepare and freeze meals. Make easy-to-bake casseroles, burritos and anything you can think of to simply pop in a slow cooker or oven. Trader Joes and Costco have great reasonable pre-made meals that you can pop in the freezer. You should prepare high protein meals because you will need all the energy you can get in the early busy days of new parenthood. Don’t neglect the fiber, because those first few trips to the bathroom post-baby are greatly eased by any dietary help you give yourself.
Allow your community to support you.
The support you have around you after birth significantly decreases your risk of postpartum depression. These individuals will also care for you in your post-delivery days while you are caring for your new baby. Consider hiring a postpartum doula and joining a new moms or parents group. A postpartum doula is a great asset to your support community because she provides non-judgmental help that aligns with your parenting perspective and helps you transition from non-parent to parent. Postpartum doulas provide a wealth of knowledge and can assist you with household duties, feeding questions, and care for you as well as the baby. You also want to prepare to accept help from your social community, allow friends and family to bring in meals and other forms of help. Bringing a new tiny human into your group is a beautiful time and your people want to help and love on you. There is nothing more healing than allowing others to care for you.
Be proactive about reducing your postpartum pain.
Common areas of postpartum pain:
1. Perineal pain (pain in your bottom) One of the best tools to help heal after a vaginal birth is called pad-cicles. Before the birth, you spray unscented high-quality witch hazel on a maxi pad, fold it back up, and place it in the freezer. These are good to have handy once you arrive home in the postpartum phase. When you take out the pad and place it in your underwear, you any want to add a paper towel in between the pad and your tender skin until the pad thaws a bit. Pad-cicles help soothe you and promote healing after baby’s birth. It is a good idea to have extra pads and adult diapers on hand during the postpartum phase of healing, especially if you had any tearing. A doughnut pillow is helpful for sitting on in those first few weeks. Hospitals often also supply a numbing spray you can use before/after using the bathroom. You can purchase this from a drugstore (Derma-Plast is a common brand).
2. Incision pain (pain in your abdomen from a c-section). If you had a c-section, a belly banding or post-surgical girdle can help you be up and around more. Sit with a pillow over your incision for abdominal support from inadvertent laughing or coughing.
3. Uterine cramping (pain in your abdomen from your uterus cramping to return to normal size) is common, especially if this is your second, third or beyond birth, that you will experience postpartum cramping. These cramps can become more severe with each pregnancy. It often occurs when you breastfeed and can last for around two to four weeks. Tinctures that include Yarrow and Motherwort can help ease the pain caused by these cramps. It is best to speak with your practitioner ahead of trying herbs and tinctures to verify their safety for your personal use. Don’t be afraid to try ibuprofen or stronger prescribed pain meds as well. Keeping a balance between rest and movement is essential for your recovery.
Breastfeeding preparation is a must.
Breastfeeding a newborn baby is a full-time job. It is really helpful to prepare mentally for six weeks of doing little else but nursing, eating, sleeping and using the bathroom. Your body needs time to both heal from giving birth and to establish milk supply. There are things you can do to help make it through this time with your sanity intact.
Have your partner or your friends and family help you prepare a basket for breastfeeding and diaper changing. Stock it with quick snacks, a water bottle, breast pads, lanolin nipple cream, diapers, wipes and a change of clothes for the baby. You can take this basket to any area in your home giving yourself a much-needed change of scenery throughout the day. Keep paper towels or cloth diapers handy so you don’t have to look for a way to clean up leakage, spills, and spit-up in the middle of the night. Have a phone/iPad charger and tv remote handy. Save a few television shows or audiobooks to binge watch and listen to in order to take your mind off the time. Breastfeeding is wonderful bonding, but it consumes a lot of time. There is nothing wrong with filling some of the time with other things. TRUST your body. Just like your body knew how to make this tiny human, it knows how to feed it.
The postpartum period can be a challenge, but if you are prepared it can be a lovely time for healing and bonding too. It is key to have your home ready for your recovery when you arrive. A postpartum doula can help you to remember all general tips plus more individualized pointers based on the needs of your family and situation.
If you want to arrange the help of a supportive postpartum doula after your birth click here.