I remember while pregnant, I was reading up and googling every pregnancy milestone. For postpartum, I did NOTHING. Well no, I listened to old wives’ tales from my mom and MIL of what to expect. But of all the practical advice they gave, it was mostly baby related and nothing like this list or anything to do with the care of ‘ME’. We don’t plan for postpartum like we do birth. So, if you’re an expecting mom or a soon to be mom, here’s my version of what you should know.
Here’s what worked for me:
1. Make sure you have plenty of nourishing foods on hand. If you’re breastfeeding your body will demand more sustenance. I always felt like I was starving after breastfeeding.
2. Have plenty of pads on hand. You’ll be bleeding for a while.
3. If you’ve had a vaginal birth, use a ‘peri’ bottle to squirt warm water on your perineum instead wiping when you use the bathroom.
4. Eat prunes or drink prune juice to soften your first bowel movement. Or you can take a stool softener.
5. If you’ve had a cesarean section, use a heating pad after a few days (not immediately). Give your scar time, it works wonders for your incision and scar tissue.
6. Have a long drink…of water of course with every breastfeeding session.
7. Air or sun dry your breasts, they get tender or sore.
8. Massage your breasts or place a hot/warm cloth on them to ease engorgement. Soothe them with calendula, cold cloths or cabbage leaves. Be careful with cabbage leaves they are also used to stop milk production.
9. There’s lot of contradiction about sleeping with your newborn. If you’re too nervous about it, get a co-sleeper that easily fits on the bed. Otherwise let baby sleep beside you in bed. I found it easier for night time breastfeeding.
10. Hire household help if you can afford it. My mom and MIL were lifesavers.
11. Accept offers or assign chores to friends and family. My mom and MIL came in handy here, too.
12. Accept help if it’s offered. Don’t believe the hype, independence is not synonyms with new motherhood. You have plenty of time to be an independent later.
13. Lastly, the first thing everyone says: ‘rest and heal’. I can’t tell you the countless stories I’ve heard of moms going to the mall or just doing too much moving which caused their incision to open back up. So, YES two words: REST AND HEAL!!!
It’s weird to think of postpartum and caring for yourself in the same sentence. It should be all about the baby, RIGHT!! But how can you care for the baby if you’re not 100%? The more time we spend to self-nurture, the more love we can pass on to our babies.