You spent months preparing for your birth. You read all the books and wrote a birth plan. You attended prenatal yoga, childbirth Ed class and hired a birth doula. Did you make a plan for your postpartum recovery yet? This is just as important as planning for your birth.
A-Z Guide for Postpartum Wellness
It takes nine months to grow a baby and prepare for birth. You’ve researched pediatricians, strollers and asked your provider dozens of questions about your pregnancy. Soon your baby will be here and planning for your 4th trimester is essential to postpartum recovery.
This A-Z Guide for postpartum recovery includes some of the top tips I share with families as a postpartum doula. Before we leap into the alphabet, I want to share the most important tip of all:
Try to make time for yourself and partner!
If this is your first baby, enjoy these last few weeks; this is the last stretch of time as a couple. Go out on dates, hold hands, stay up late, sleep in, and just enjoy each other.
It’s ok to Ask for and accept help. Friends and family who truly understand will graciously fold your laundry, prepare a meal, clean your house and go grocery shopping for you.
If you plan on Breastfeeding, prepare with a breastfeeding class and find an experienced friend or family member for extra support. I suggest having nipple cream, gel pads, The Ultimate Book of Breast Feeding Answers, thrush cream, cabbage leaves, and coconut oil on hand before baby comes. Buy a few nursing tanks ahead of time, but hold off on buying nursing bras until after the first couple weeks of breastfeeding when your breasts have reached their new size.
Set up a few Changing stations in key rooms around your home with baskets filled with diapers, wipes, burp cloths, diaper rash cream, tissues, hand sanitizer and a few extra outfits or for baby.
Yes, you really do need to make a plan for Diapers! If you use disposables, invest in a quality brand such as the Honest Company to prevent leaks. Plan on having at least one package of the newborn size and at least two packages of size one. You can always fold a bigger diaper to fit a smaller baby but you can’t stretch a small diaper to fit a bigger baby! For cloth diapers, check out the diaper service and compostable diapers from Simple Diaper and Linen. Don’t forget to buy some Snappis to fasten those diapers and don’t forget to buy covers! Simple Diaper and Linen also has a great Diaper Swap & Shop a few times a year.
Eating healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits, protein and whole grains is so important while breastfeeding. Your body needs just as many calories as it did when you were growing your baby on the inside. Say yes to anyone that is offering to make or buy food for you. Better yet, ask a friend to set up a meal train for you. One of my favorite things to do for my postpartum clients is to help prepare easy grab and go meals. I like storing them in mason jars.
Think carefully about what foods you are eating if you are breastfeeding. Most babies are sensitive to gassy foods like broccoli, cabbage, garlic, pineapple (bummer) and anything really spicy, along with the milk proteins in dairy. Baby’s intestines can take time to adjust to new foods, and can result in a very fussy baby.
Be prepared for Growth spurts when your baby will want to constantly nurse or cluster feed. You will be spending a fair amount of time on the couch or in a comfy chair. Having books on tape, movies and your favorite music will help the time pass!
Having Hemorrhoids isn’t fun but taking care of them with a warm herbal sitz bath can do wonders. Enjoy a ten minute (or more!) soak in your tub with hot water and the herbal sitz solution. You can also use a sitz bath spray each time you go to the bathroom instead of wiping. Don’t have time for a sitz bath, then use this awesome rhoid balm, it can help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids.
Make your own vaginal Ice packs ahead of time. Soak the middle section of large pads with witch hazel and freeze in a large ziplock bag.. These can be made as early as a month before your due date. When you come home from the hospital your sore bottom will thank you.
Juicing is a great way to get important nutrients and iron into your body during those first few months.
Kick back and relax! Having a baby is no easy task. The more you rest in the first month postpartum, the faster your body will heal! This is the time to welcome support of family and friends, put your feet up, and get to know your baby.
Have a list of local Lactation consultants or postpartum doulas handy for practical breastfeeding support. Ask for help right away if you notice a painful latch, breast or nipple pain, a swollen read area or blocked milk duct, flu-like symptoms, or if your baby is hard to wake for feedings and is nursing less than 8 times in 24 hours.
Support a healthy milk supply in the first weeks of breastfeeding with regular feedings and limited use of bottles and pacifiers. If you are worried about your milk supply, call a local Lactation Consultant to get help sooner than later.
You will spend a lot of time nursing your new baby, so setting up a few Nursing stations around your home can be a huge help. Find a comfy chair, one that you can imagine spending countless hours in. Have a little table within arms reach with water and snacks (breastfeeding makes you hungry and thirsty!), your phone, paper and a pen, and a good book.
Setting up special playdates for Older siblings can help in the first few weeks. It’s easy for them to feel left out or ignored when there is a newborn needing so much attention. If you don’t have family or friends that live locally, then hiring a postpartum doula might be a good idea.
Have you thought about Placenta encapsulation? Taking your dried placenta as a pill can help reduce bleeding, support good milk supply, speed up recovery, boost energy, replenish depleted iron levels, and relieve postpartum blues. Contact Laura or Tatiana to learn more about their placenta encapsulation services. Prices range from $200-$250.
Questions on preparing for baby, setting up a nursery, or postpartum doula services? I am available to help! I offer a free in home consultation to anyone interested in learning more about my services.
Recovering from a c-section is hard, and you will need extra help the first few weeks. The first few days will be hard to move around and having someone available around the clock to change, burp and hand you the baby will do wonders for your recovery. Set up one room that you can camp out in, preferably on the same floor as the bathroom, and have meals delivered to you. Postpartum doulas are great help with overnight care after a c-section.
Night Sweats are totally normal within 2-5 days postpartum, often waking up in the middle of the night with your clothes and sheets soaked. Be prepared with an extra clean set of sheets and pj’s for a quick middle of the night change.
Vaginal Tears or episiotomies (which are rarely done now) need special attention. Even if you didn’t need stitches, it can still hurt and need time to heal. I recommend having a sitz bath spray on hand to help with a speedy recovery.
Don’t Underestimate the time it takes to heal, even after a relatively smooth birth. Your body, heart and mind are going through some big changes, and allowing yourself rest and support really does help the transition.
Vaginal bleeding after a vaginal or cesarean birth usually lasts anywhere from 1-6 weeks and should gradually diminish over time. The more you rest, the faster you will heal and the sooner your bleeding will stop. Limit going up and down stairs to once a day. Have friends and family or a postpartum doula lined up to help with household tasks, meal prep and errands for at least the first two weeks. Listen to your body. If your bleeding gets heavier or goes back to bright red, then you are doing too much. Stop, rest and take your time getting back into your normal routine.
Drink plenty of Water to support your milk supply. Place extra water bottles in every nursing station, by your bed and in the bathroom.
Not much begins with the letter X, but it is EXTREMELY important to plan ahead. Put as much thought, consideration and preparation into your postpartum wellness as you do your birth.
You will do amazing, including when you make a mistake or two. Parenting always involves a good dose of trial and error!
Get some Zzzzzz’s ………sleep is so important for recovery. Try to nap every time your baby naps in the first few weeks. If you are one who doesn’t manage well without sleep then hiring an overnight doula might be something to look into!