This post is part of the Preparing for Birth Series. Guest Bianca of The Pierogie Mama shares tips on what others can do for you in those couple weeks postpartum and some products that were helpful for her. For more information about Bianca, be sure to check out the bottom of this post and for more posts on postpartum care, check out our week of postpartum care posts here on the blog.
Becoming a mom for the first time is the most beautiful, yet jarring, experience I have been through. For me, I was pretty fortunate with a relatively easy labor which only lasted 8 hours and 40 minutes. It was a natural waterbirth, and luckily I had very little tearing or further bleeding. The greatest part of giving birth naturally was being able to walk out of the birth center on my own (ok I’ll admit it- the husband hovered very close to my elbow!) and the quick recovery time. I have several friends who have had C-sections or more difficult births, who didn’t get off that easy.
So on becoming a mom. You go through X hours of labor and then you have this beautiful little bundle in your arms and if you’re like me, you don’t sleep for the next day just because you are in awe of what it is you’ve accomplished in that short amount of time. My birth and immediate post-partum marathon kept me awake from 12:00A on Saturday and I didn’t sleep again for more than 15 minutes at a time until probably 10:00P Sunday night. Hormones, adrenaline, excitement and don’t forget the ever pressing need to feed the little one every 1-3 hours.
Somehow we make it through it, don’t we? Having a great post-partum support team (PPST) around immediately after the birth was a large part in my speedy recovery. These team members can be your spouse or significant other, sisters, friends, parents, anyone who is able to stick around for a few days to a week or so. I was lucky enough to actually have (and still do, 3 months later!) what I affectionately call my 24 hour wait staff – AKA my parents. About a month before delivering, my husband and I moved back in with my parents because we were in the process of selling our home. I delivered at a birth center in my home town and came straight back to their house – where my very doting family took care of my husband, brand new Penelope and I while we recovered and made sense of our new lives.
I’ll admit – I’m one of those people where it is very difficult for me to ask for help – but hands down the help and support that I received immediately after birth helped ease the transition and allowed me to bond with my baby undisturbed.
Here’s a list of things you can enlist in help from your postpartum support team (PPST), whether they are family or not:
Stay in bed as much as possible! Because I planned to be a stay at home mom and wasn’t on any sort of time schedule, my midwife cautioned for me to stay in bed for two weeks after delivery and to only get out of bed when really necessary. I was able to keep to this for the first 8 days – after that I went a little stir crazy, but slowly increased the time I was out of bed over the following week. I started eating dinner at the table, took short walks with my husband, slowly increasing the amount of time I spent standing up by 10-15 more per day after the first two weeks.
You can ask your PPST to bring you your meals in bed for however long you choose to stay off your feet. My mom would bring very light but nutritious meals to my husband and I (while we were in bed!!) the best were her breakfasts of fresh fruit, yogurt, a bit of toast and a big glass of water. I tried to stay away from heavy, carby foods for the first two weeks to give my digestive system a gentle restart.
Let them know what chores need to be done around the house. Vacuuming, cleaning, laundry, meal prep. An easy way to get taken care of ahead of time is by having your baby shower hostess offer a sign up sheet for the guests. This way they are helping you and also will catch a glimpse of baby.
When you are comfortable, let them take baby for a short amount of time while you catch some ZZZs.
If your significant other has to go back to work before you do, ask for your PPST to prep their lunch or snacks for work. Your SO is also going through some major changes, and not having to worry about their food at work is a huge blessing too.
Ask someone to go with you to your postpartum and baby appointments if your SO can’t make it. Just having another person in the car with you can take away some anxiety about driving around with the little one. If you are close, they can also sit in on appointments with you and hold baby or bring up questions that you might have forgotten.
Now, as much as I’m sure you’d love to borrow my family for your own postpartum recovery, I’m sorry – you can’t have them. But, there were several products that stood out to me that I’d like the share with you:
Sitz Bath: I loved this sitz bath that was recommended to me by my midwife. It was available at my birth center, but you can also get it on Etsy! Check out Deerfoot Herbs for many herbal remedies and body care, they are all locally and organically grown or harvested. The herbs smelled wonderful and were so soothing. Rather than using an actual sitz bath, I used the entire bag and poured a shallow bath and was able to relax while my husband hung out with our newborn with me in the bathroom. I did this for 3 days after the birth.
Nipple Cream: I found Motherlove Nipple Cream to be the most soothing, and I didn’t have to worry about the ingredients being harmful for my little one. This applies very smoothly, so it’s perfect for right after delivery when your nipples are extra sore. Every once in a while I’d apply standard Lansinoh because it felt more “conditioning,” but unless warmed up ahead of time, it is very thick and painful to apply to sore nips. I would keep the tube under my thigh while nursing to warm it up and apply when done, and that helped.
Breast pads: truly the softest breast pads out there are Bamboobies. I was given an assortment of different breast pads at my showers, ranging from washable cotton to disposibles. Unfortunately I suffered from cracked, bleeding, blocked nipples for almost there entire first 9 weeks of breastfeeding and all too often I would feel like I’m ripping a scab off my boobs when removing any of those pads. Not with Bamboobies. Not only are they super soft, but their flagship pad is the thinnest one out there – I’ve never shown those embarrassing lines and once my milk regulated I’ve never leaked through. It is worth it to get multiple sets.
Not feeling stressed out about keeping up with your “regular life” while recovering from birth is an immense gift while taking care of your newborn. Removing chores and other responsibilities temporarily allows you to focus on bonding and recovery. Having others you can call on, for any amount of time, will help with that transition.
Bianca blogs at The Pierogie Mama. She’s a first time mama to her little “pierogie,” better known as Penelope. You can read along as she shares their new life – cloth diapering, attachment parenting, breastfeeding, being mindful of what they eat (with recipes thrown in!), peppered with stories about the rest of her stellar little family; hubs and two dogs.