There's a thing about birth that other moms don't tell you about. Recovery can be hard. You're sore and possibly torn in your most sensitive spots, your organs are rearranging themselves after pregnancy, and odds are pretty good that you haven't had more than a few hours sleep at a time for days. Not to mention nursing, trying to maintain your household and take care of any older siblings too. This period can be really hard, and we don't always have family and friends around to help out.
Planning and preparing for post postpartum in the last months of pregnancy can make a huge difference in the time spent resting and healing versus stressing over the to do list.
Here are my favorite tips:
- Stock your freezer with extra meals that can be thrown in the crock pot or oven. (Ask friends to set up a meal train or have people bring freezer meals as a part of your baby shower!)
- Stock snacks that are shelf stable and nutritious. (Trail mix, protein bars, granola bars, muffins.) Bonus points if it can be eaten with one hand.
- Bottles of water or good cups with straws for easy access during nursing. Keep them stashed around the house!
Healing items for mama:
- Rice bag or heating pad for after pains. (And its true what they say, after pains get stronger after each baby!)
- Witch hazel (Add to your Peri bottle to soothe angry tissue and stitches. You can use to make your own cooling pads, or you can purchase Tucks.)
- Lavender essential oil. Add to the Peri bottle when you rinse, and the oil will help to heal any tears and help prevent infection.
- Aloe, straight from an aloe plant! Will help sooth stitches. (Can you tell I've dealt with some nasty tearing?)
- A boppy pillow or hemorrhoid ring, because sitting on your sore bottom can be torture. As often as you can, lay down. Nurse on your side lying down or reclined. If you need to sit up for visits, don't be afraid to keep them short.
- Earth Mama Angel Baby has a great line of products, including Happy Bottom spray, Postpartum Bath Herbs, and nipple cream. I loved them with my second baby! The bottom spray was heaven on stitches, and the bath herbs can pull double duty. Save the liquid for your Peri bottle and use the herbal pack as a warm or cold compress, or use as a typical sitz bath.
- Padsicles! Ice packs feel awesome in those first swollen days and a padsicle can help with both swelling and irritation. Check out this recipe here: http://just-making-noise.com/pregnancy-notes-soothing-postpartum-pads-recipe/
- If you had your placenta encapsulated, break those babies out! They'll start to help with healing and replacing lost nutrients.
- Have extra large granny panties, in dark colors, because leaks are bound to happen. I suggest having a larger size to accommodate the large pads and ice packs in the early days after birth.
- Have super comfy jammies. I had no shame and bought extra large sweat pants. I just needed comfort and room to heal; I really didn't care about being cute. (I may still have some of these in my drawer. A girl has to hold on to some things for a Maryland winter.)
- Have some nursing tanks on hand, but in my humble opinion hold off on buying nursing bras until baby is born and nursing is established. I was shocked by how much my breasts changed. We are talking three cup sizes! Wait and see what your milk does before you go to the trouble of buying bras.
- Have a good breast pump and parts ready to roll. You don't want to be sterilizing parts while engorged. (Ask me how I know.) if you're using a pump from a previous baby, ask for new parts from your hospital. My lactation consultant gave me a bag with new tubing, flanges, etc. for free! This is also a good time to make sure bottles, nipples and pacifiers are cleaned and ready for use.
- This is where all the food prep will come in handy! Eat and a drink a ton, more than you think you might need to. Your body is doing a lot of work in repairing and also making milk for baby.
- Besides all the usual items for baby, I suggest having a carrier or wrap for those newborn days. I love the maya wrap or a ring sling to help keep them snuggled while you keep your hands free.
- Sleeping arrangements for baby to be close by, whether in a co-sleeper, bassinet, or pack n play, keep baby in the room with you. Everyone will sleep easier.
For the home:
- Netflix. If you don't have it already, do it. There will be days where you will be nursing the baby non-stop on the couch. Binge watch and rest!
- Set up baby station baskets around the house. Any where you'll be spending time with baby, but also in places like your bedroom. Include a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, easy open snacks, bottle of water, breast pads, toy/book to entertain an older sibling, and a magazine or book for you. I often found myself, “stuck”, under a nursing and napping baby while starving and thirsty. Having these in reach made things very easy. I felt like I had anything I could need within easy reach, without having to go up and down stairs for items. I seriously just used whatever baskets I had on hand around the house.
What was helpful for your family in the weeks following birth?