During your pregnancy, it’s natural to dream about the perfect birth and begin formulating a plan for it, but many women fall short of creating a plan for their recovery and postpartum journey. Keep reading for tips to help you create the plan that is right for you and your family.
Envision what your days look like in the first few days after childbirth. What about a few weeks, and even months out?
When will you be accepting guests? Where do you see your family spending most of your time? How much time are you able to take off work? Do you have childcare established for when you return to work?
Gather the supplies you’ll want or need for postpartum. These can help aid with healing or just make your life a little bit easier:
Overnight pads (can be drizzled with Witch Hazel and stored in the freezer to help with swelling)
Give Yourself Time
Time is distorted during postpartum. Days feel like they can drag on, yet weeks and months can fly by. Embrace going slow and asking for help, even when you don’t really need it. Let your friends and family honor you and your recovery by lending you a helping hand. Practice taking breaks and allowing yourself to just be. Sit down and rest, even during the busy days. Resting is not always easy, and it’s especially difficult when our lives are so fast-paced, but it is necessary.
Take as much time off work as you are able to. If you have to go back to work before you are fully healed, take it easy at work too. Avoid strenuous activity, like heavy lifting, and take breaks as often as you can.
After having a baby nutrition is important, yet often overlooked. Eating nourishing food can replenish your strength and give your body the energy it needs to heal.
Plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about cooking while recovering and taking care of a baby. You can meal prep freezer-safe meals and plop them into the oven when the time comes.
You can also set up a meal train so your friends, family, and neighbors can coordinate meal times. Just be sure to let them know if you have any allergies or preferences. If you’re not accepting guests just yet, you can leave a cooler by your door and ask them to place the food inside for you to grab later.
Rethink what productivity looks like to you. By resting and allowing others to care for you and your new baby, you’re allowing your body to be productive in healing. Sure, there may be dishes in the sink and burp rags everywhere, but your energy was simply put to use elsewhere.
Use this time to connect with yourself as a new mother, with your baby, with your partner, and with your friends and family who are there to support you. Your transition into motherhood is important work.
Make sure you have a good support system in place. Ask your friends and family if they’d be willing to help while you recover. Support can look different depending on the person, but they can help out by washing dishes, doing laundry, taking care of the baby while you sleep, or providing emotional support.
It’s important not to confuse guests with your support system. Guests are people who want to come see you and meet your new baby, but don’t contribute to your healing. Let people know when you will be accepting guests so you don’t get any unexpected visitors you suddenly have to entertain.
If your budget allows, you can also hire a postpartum doula or a mother’s helper to help ease the transition. Mother’s helpers usually provide some light cleaning and help with older children while you are at home. Doula’s can also provide some light cleaning, but with the added benefit of emotional support, postpartum education, and lactation support.
Physical touch can be healing. It can help produce oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” which can encourage bonding and breastfeeding.
Ask your partner for a hand or foot massage. Hold their hand, and ask for cuddles. Snuggle up to your baby, lay them on your chest, and breathe in their newborn smell. Hug your friends and family who come to help you (even if you haven’t showered). Don’t underestimate the power of human connection.
With how slow the days pass by, it’s vital to nourish your mind. Find a nice book, do some meditation, watch films you enjoy, and sit outside if weather permits. Create art or do some writing. Your body needs rest, but you can still work your mind.
Allow Space for Emotions
You may have heard about the baby blues, a common symptom during the postpartum stage. It’s thought to be due to the changing hormones from pregnancy to postpartum. Baby blues can be a sudden onset of sadness, sometimes for no real reason. Thankfully, the baby blues usually only last for 2-3 weeks. If you experience them, just feel what you’re feeling in the moment and wait for the sadness to pass.
While the baby blues may not be totally preventable, you did just go through a major life transition after all, the effects may be lessened if you feel supported emotionally, mentally, and physically.
If you notice feeling sadness, anxiety, anger, or apathy for longer than three weeks, contact your midwife to be evaluated for postpartum depression.
Second + Time Moms
For second + time moms, postpartum transitions can be hard for your older children too. Prepare them for the slow-paced life after having a baby by asking them to take breaks with you while you are pregnant.
After the new baby is born, encourage sibling bonding by inviting them to feel their soft skin, compare hands, and asking them to help pick out the new baby’s clothes.
Keep in mind that while preparing the older children in their new role as big brother/sister will help a great deal, it will not always go smoothly. In fact, some days may be a disaster and you may be counting down the hours and minutes until bedtime. But one bad day, or even a bad week, does not mean you didn’t prepare them well enough, it just means that transitions are hard, and you can get through them together.
It’s common for older siblings to have regressions after big life changes. Regressions may come in the form of frequent accidents, night wakings, or tantrums. Try to stay calm during moments of frustration and stick with your normal routine as best as you can.
Ask your support system to baby sit and entertain the older siblings while you rest. This will help them feel seen and less jealous of the new baby, and allow you to rest and connect with your baby one-on-one.
Mother Warming (Optional)
Mother Warming is a method used in traditional Chinese medicine to replenish Qi and aid in the recovery following childbirth, using Moxibustion. It is typically done 3-4 days postpartum, then weekly as needed.
You can find an acupuncturist to do your Mother Warming, or you can try it at home. Here are the steps to using a moxa stick at-home for Mother Warming:
Buy a moxa stick. You can order them online or find them at your local health goods store.
Lay down on your back and move your shirt up.
Light one end of the moxa, wait for the fire to stop. When the stick is no longer burning, but has a nice glow to it, you are ready to begin.
Starting from just above the pubic bone, hover the moxa stick one inch above the skin and move it up towards the navel.
Ash the moxa stick in a bowl as needed.
Repeat this process up and down for 5-10 minutes or until you feel a warming effect.
If you have a partner to help, you may also turn onto your belly and ask them to make a T-shape starting at your tailbone and connecting to the lower spine.
*Do not use Moxibustion if you have a fever or experience night sweats as this can heighten the effects.
You do not need to be a superwoman. Get comfortable asking for help. When it comes to postpartum, less is more. Enjoy the newborn stage, they grow up faster than you know. For more information on what to expect postpartum, contact us today.
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
Often, people think mothers do all the work during labor and delivery, but we know that fathers provide much more value to their baby’s birth than just their presence. They are there to assist the mother and, in fact, have many jobs throughout the course of labor.