There is a lot of focus that goes into preparing for a baby...but what about afterward? Once your new little one has arrived, the postpartum stage gets little attention.
Cultures around the world have different traditions around the first 40 days postpartum, recognizing it as a time to care for the parent and a time of bonding. However, in North America, the focus is often on the baby, and the mother’s health can sometimes be an afterthought.
If you're looking to prepare for how to transition into parenthood following the birth of a child, keep reading for our best tips and tricks on making it through the so-called "fourth trimester."
Postpartum tip #1: Prepare for meals and help ahead of time
After having a baby and heading home from the hospital, it can feel like a very strange moment when you realize now it’s all up to you.
To help simplify the transition period, some people make a ton of freezer meals ahead of time, schedule help to come cook and clean, or even do a meal train with family and friends.
Focus on whole foods like fresh fruit and veggies, high-quality protein and healthy fats, adding in some probiotic rich foods like kefir or sauerkraut. And if you are breastfeeding, don't forget to have a huge water bottle on hand in order to stay hydrated.
Postpartum tip #2: Stock up on post-birth supplies
After birth your body goes through some major changes, particularly following a vaginal or C-section delivery. As such, it's a good idea to stock up on pads or adult diapers — and even puppy pads to protect your bedding while your body recovers.
Some people prefer adult diapers for the healing period, while others complain that they don’t provide enough air flow. It’s always good to have both on hand — just be sure to avoid dry-weave, since the plastic layer can get caught on stitches.
To help with swelling, some people also swear by padsicles, which consist of freezing pads soaked in a mixture of witch hazel and aloe. Some people also suggest using these on your C-section incision.
Postpartum tip #3: Make bathroom breaks easier
With or without stitches after giving birth, the acidity from urine can sting sensitive areas, so a peri bottle that can be used to gently spray water while you pee can help. Those who have given birth via C-section have also found them useful, as sometimes stinging can be caused by catheters.
To help with constipation or harder bowl movements, taking a stool softener can also be helpful for those first postpartum days. To take care of delicate areas or help with a C-section incision, Sitz Bath soaks can also aid in recovery.
Postpartum tip #4: Adjust to the new normal
After having a baby, hormones remain in flux and there is still a lot happening within the body. For instance, the uterus continues to shrink after giving birth until about six weeks postpartum.
Along with the hormonal changes, it's common for emotions and body temperature to feel like they are out of control. Similar to what people describe in menopause, wearing lighter clothes can help keep hot flashes and night sweats at bay.
If you plan on breastfeeding, it's important to remember that it isn't always as easy as it seems. Many new mothers struggle at first, so having some infant formula on hand in case things aren’t going according to plan can help relieve some stress and anxiety. Once you do get the hang of things, using a milk catcher on the side that you aren't breastfeeding is key to catching every last drop of milk.
So what are you waiting for? Get those adult diapers ready, fill up your peri bottle and get better at: postpartum.