As a birth worker, I talk about labour and birth all the time. I work with clients to create birth plans to help prepare for the big day. Yet, there is little time spent preparing for after baby arrives, when you are healing from birth, tired and sore, all while caring for a brand new human!
So, I thought I would share some tips here on how you can prepare to have a great postpartum period.
1. Fill your Freezer.
I cannot emphasize the importance of delicious nutritious foods in your freezer before your baby arrives enough. Sure, you might be 30 weeks along, and the furthest thing from your mind is cooking extra meals, but once baby gets here, cooking gets even more difficult to do, and we often find ourselves reaching for whatever is quick and easy. These are usually not the foods that are the healthiest for us. You can make it easier on yourself by making double batches of meat sauce, chili
and soups and freezing half for when baby arrives.
2. Stock up on lots of snacks you can eat on the go.
Yes, I've just mentioned that you should fill your freezer with food, but you'll probably want to save the delicious warm meal for dinner to share with your partner. Having easy to eat nutritious food in the house can really help you stay nourished throughout the day. Some great examples include: nuts, granola clusters, dried apricots, raisins, fresh fruits such as apples, bananas or grapes. Also be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated.
3. Consider Placenta Encapsultion.
Placenta Encapsulation has the potential to really have a positive effect on your postpartum healing. Taking your placenta in capsule form can help replace depleted iron stores, and may also increase breastmilk supply, reduce postpartum bleeding and give you an overall sense of well being throughout your postpartum period. This is also a lovely way to honour your placenta for the work it has done to nourish and protect your baby in the womb.
4. Set up help.
Setting up a support team before your baby arrives will help you immensely. You'll spend most of your time nursing, and will most likely have a difficult time getting daily household tasks done such as laundry and basic housekeeping. And lets be honest, you shouldn't be worrying yourself with the mundane day-to-day of running a house, but enjoying as much bonding with your baby as possible. Put a list on your fridge of things that need to be done around the house (laundry, food prep for dinner later, vacuuming, general tidying, hold the baby while you nap/sleep/go for a walk etc.) It's important that whomever comes to help understands what they're there for. Yes or course they will hold the baby, but they are there to support you and your recovery first and foremost. If you don't have friends or family who can fill this role, you can also hire a postpartum doula to do this work for you. Most postpartum doulas are happy to do light housekeeping, meal prep, laundry, breastfeeding support, hold baby while you take care of yourself and also provide companionship.
5. Manage your expectations about sleep.
Take a workshop on infant sleep. You may think that you don't need to learn about infant sleep, but unfortunately, the modern world places unrealistic expectations on mothers and babies when it comes to sleep. There is enormous pressure for babies to sleep through the night well before six months of age, when the majority of babies still wake at least once per night well into their first year of life. Attending the workshop to help you understand infant sleep can go a long way in helping you have a great postpartum period because it will give you great resources for handing your baby's sleep habits, and give you and your new family the best start possible. This will go a long way in reducing your stress, and allowing you to relax into motherhood.
6. Read some good books.
As a book worm myself, I think reading is key. But alas, we don't read very much about postpartum. So here are a few I highly recommend to help you change your perspective about what to expect of yourself, your partner and your new baby:
The First Forty Days by Heng Ou
The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
The Baby Sleep Book by William Sears
Sweet Sleep by La Leche League International
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International
7. Set up your baby-care and self-care station.
Most likely you'll spend the majority of your time nursing wherever your TV (and netflix) are because babies can nurse literally all day. Depending on how you're feeling after giving birth, going upstairs to the nursery 10+ times will be exhausting. Instead, create yourself a postpartum basket in your "nursing area." This cab include diapers, wipes, diaper shirts and pjs, a big bottle of water for yourself, healthy snacks, a favorite book-maybe one I've suggested above, your cell phone, tv remote, and any other comforts you would like to have within arms reach. Because TRUST ME you will not want to wake that sleeping baby!
8. Take care of yourself.
You cannot serve from an empty cup. I consider this to be one of the most important one out of all... find time for yourself.
There's a lot of talk about "self-care" being expensive, but it doesn't have to be. The key to self-care is taking time to do something that brings you joy. It doesn't have to be a "spa day" or manicure. Of course if can be if that brings you joy and its within your means, but it can also be a shower while your partner takes the baby out for a walk, or quiet time to read a book, or your daily skincare ritual. Anything. As long as it brings you joy and helps you feel rejuvenated.
What is your top postpartum tip?