14 Postpartum Tips for Brand New Moms
There are two things I always say about the postpartum phase… it’s hard and we don’t talk about it enough. Because this is my second time around, I had an idea of what to expect, but after my first pregnancy, I was completely clueless. I had no idea what my body was going to do, what my hormones were going to do, or how I was going to feel in those first few weeks as a new mom. There are a lot of articles out there about how to care for a new baby, but not near as many about how to care for a new mom. If I can help just one woman be more knowledgeable about her postpartum experience, then I’ve done my job.
If you want a more in depth guide to the 4th Trimester, check out The Postpartum Handbook. It walks you through what to expect, tips for managing pain and speeding up recovery, postpartum fitness, postpartum sex, your postpartum diet, and more.
Utilize the Hospital Nursery
You’ve waited 40 (give or take) long weeks to meet your new baby so I understand if you want them by your side at all times. Obviously, the choice is yours, but just remember that the nights you spend in the hospital are truly your last chance to get a good night’s sleep for a while. You also need to remember that your mind and body have just been through an extreme workout, so sleep is imperative for postpartum recovery (and sanity). I sent both of my babies to the nursery to sleep during our hospital stays and asked that they be brought back to the room for feedings. I labored through the night with both (fun fact: they were born at 7:39AM and 7:36AM… apparently my body really likes to have babies around 7:30) and knew that I needed to take advantage of the option to sleep. I was so tired, I wouldn’t have known if they were in the room anyway. While this one can be tough to follow through with, it’s one of the best postpartum tips I can give you.
Say Yes to the Stool Softener
If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably already heard a few horror stories about the first postpartum poop. It can be scary to say the least. I’m not sure what makes the first postpartum poo so difficult, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself. Here are my simple tips… stay hydrated and always accept the stool softener.
Take Everything from the Hospital
Okay, you can’t take everything from the hospital, but if It’s disposable, its yours. Take all the mesh panties, maxi pads, peri bottles, diapers, ice packs, hot packs, and anything else you can get your hands on. The truth is, you can’t get enough of these things when you’re postpartum and they’re there for you to take. You’ll see that you’ve more than paid for them when you get your hospital bill.
Make a Postpartum Care Kit
This is one of my favorite postpartum tips! Before you go into labor, or right when you get home, make a postpartum care kit to keep in your bathroom. Stock it up with everything you might need every time you go to the bathroom. You’ll be shocked at how much work goes into taking a trip to the restroom when you’re postpartum. Having everything on hand makes it so much easier. I stocked my postpartum care kit with the following:
- Peri bottle – I love this one from Frida Baby
- Maxi Pads of all sizes
- Dermoplast or this Herbal Perineal Spray
- Extra Mesh panties or postpartum granny panties
- Witch Hazel Pads
- Hemorrhoid Cream (yup… sorry)
- Heat Pack
Put a Bigger Trash Can in the Bathroom
If you’re like me, you probably have one of those tiny trash cans that can hold a few tissues and a disposable razor in your bathroom. It’s time to upgrade (at least for a few weeks). You make a lot of extra trash when you’re postpartum. Between giant maxi-pads, breast pads, and disposable mesh undies, you’re creating a lot more waste than normal. Get a larger trash can to keep in the bathroom and make sure you use a bag with it (I don’t ever put a bag in my mini-trash can). Of course, you want to be sanitary and take the trash out on a regular basis, but I don’t think you want to take it out daily (or more).
Take a Postpartum Sitz Bath
Another great postpartum tip is to take some time for yourself and indulge in a postpartum sitz bath. A postpartum sitz bath is a bath used to help reduce swelling and promote the healing of your lady parts. A true sitz bath only has your hips and bottom submerged, but you can turn it into a full bath if you’d like. My friend Victoria at Modern Homestead Mama just had a baby and shared her favorite recipe for a healing postpartum bath. You can see the full recipe and learn more here!
Update: I love Victoria’s recipe, but if you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive way to get the same benefits of a sitz bath, you have to try these herbal pads from Earth Mama! I didn’t know these existed and I’m so sad I missed out. They’re basically like a sitz bath in a compress form and can be applied directly to your perineum. I love this idea!
When we think about postpartum, we tend to think about “down there”. But, a lot of postpartum issues come from our breasts as well. Engorgement is one of the biggest issues I had to deal with in the early days of postpartum. With Elliott, my milk came within 24 hours of giving birth, and it came it like it was ready to feed triplets. My breasts were full, tender, and sore. I didn’t want to pump for fear of telling my body to make more milk (you know… the whole supply and demand thing). So, the best way I found to manage engorgement was to nurse often and to use a Haakaa on the opposite breast. A Haakaa is a silicone breast pump, but it doesn’t actually “pump”. It suctions on to your breast and catches the letdown (plus a little more in my experience). It’s a great way to relive some of the pressure and also helps you build a little milk stash if and when you ever want to leave the baby.
Dedicate an Entire Drawer to Postpartum Wear
I know it’s ridiculous, but after having Weston, I remember really struggling with what to wear. I wasn’t going anywhere special, but I still wanted to feel human when people came over to visit. Everyone had told me to just wear my maternity clothes for the first few weeks, but I loved showing off my bump. All of my maternity clothes were form fitting shirts and leggings. Those didn’t really work on my postpartum body so I found myself wearing a tank top and the only pair of sweat pants that fit. It was awful. The second time around, I went out and bought a few pieces (like four) of clothes that I knew I could be comfortable in after Elliott was born. I dedicated a whole drawer to postpartum panties, nursing bras, and clothes that I thought would make the cut after baby. It made it so much easier to just go to that drawer and pick from a few options rather than trying on everything in my wardrobe only to be disappointed. Even if you think that things like clothes won’t matter to you in the postpartum phase, I really suggest you give this a try. I’m not one who gets worked up about what I look like, but when your body makes such a drastic change in such a short amount of time, you just want to feel presentable. I saw this tip on my friend, Caroline’s blog and it was a game changer the second time around!
Start a Postnatal Vitamin
Did you know there were postnatal vitamins? Continuing to take a vitamin after birth is so important. They help provide your body with the nutrients it needs to create breast milk and help promote postpartum recovery. If you thought it was important to take a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy, consider it just as important to take a postnatal vitamin.
Don’t be Afraid to Call your Provider
Being a postpartum mom can be scary, especially if this is your first time. Our bodies are doing things they’ve never done before and we really don’t know what to expect. After you have your baby, your hospital will send you home with a list of symptoms that require a call to your doctor, but, don’t let that list stop you from calling if you have a concern. If your gut is telling you that somethings not right, don’t be afraid to call your provider. It’s better to be safe than sorry when you’re dealing with your health. And remember, you’re no good to anyone, especially that new baby, if you’re not feeling well.
Know the Difference between PPD, Baby Blues, and PPA
Having a baby can do some crazy things to your hormones. You’ve probably heard of Postpartum Depression, the Baby Blues, and Postpartum Anxiety, but do you know the difference between the three? Do you know the symptoms? Do you know how to tell the difference between being a little hormonal and needing to seek help? I’ll be honest, I’m just a mom who writes from experience. I’m not a mental health expert, and I’m far more comfortable sending you off to an expert to get the full rundown. You can read more about these conditions here and here.
Don’t be Afraid to Say no to Visitors
It’s a known fact that everyone is going to want to come meet your new baby. But, guess what? You’re allowed to say no to visitors. If you don’t want visitors in the hospital, that’s fine. If you don’t want visitors in the first week, that’s fine. If you’re having a rough day and just not feeling up to it, that’s fine too. The postpartum period is rough. Your friends and family should be understanding of your wishes when it comes to having visitors. After having Elliott, my parents and sisters were planning on coming over the day after we got home from the hospital. But after being home for half a day, trying to gauge how Weston was dealing with this major change, and feeling completely exhausted, I called them up and cancelled. There was nothing that I wanted more than to spend the next day getting Weston back on his normal schedule and spending alone time with our family of four, so that’s exactly what we did. My family came over a few days later and the truth of the matter is, they didn’t miss much. Elliott was still a tiny newborn who didn’t want to do anything other than nurse and sleep.
Say Yes to Help (and Food)
On the flip side of saying no to visitors, don’t be afraid of saying yes to help (in whatever form it’s offered). If someone offers to make you dinner, say yes. If someone offers to do your dishes, say yes. If someone offers to pick up some groceries, say yes. Trust me when I say that these offers only last a few weeks, and when they’re gone, you’ll miss them. Brining home a new baby is hard, and many people understand the struggles of a new mother. Your job is to sit on the couch, love on your little one, and heal. So, when someone offers to take something off your plate, just say yes.
Be Kind to Yourself
Last month, I got some head shots of myself taken for the blog. I needed some professional photos and it was a fundraiser for a good cause, so how could I say no? When I got the photos back, it was a little bit of a shock. All I could see was a tired new mom who still had some baby weight to lose and needed to see the sun every once in a while (you can see it below). I didn’t look like myself, but the truth is, that’s okay. I had just had a baby three months ago. I had to take a moment to remind myself that the postpartum phase is just that… it’s a phase. The sleepless nights don’t last forever. The pregnant looking belly doesn’t last forever. The postpartum hair loss doesn’t last forever. The over exhaustion, raging hormones, leaky breasts, and bleeding lady bits don’t last forever. This is just a phase. So be kind to yourself. Accept it. Breathe it in. Because we all have to go through it in order to receive the biggest gift that life has to offer. It’s worth it. And in a few months when your baby is crawling, sleeping longer stretches, and you can squeeze into a few of your pre-baby clothes, all of this will seem like a distant memory. I promise.
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