There’s a lot of emphasis on preparing for a baby… but what about after that? Once your new baby has arrived, little attention is paid to the postpartum period.
Cultures around the world have different traditions around the first 40 days after birth and recognize that it is a time to care for parents and a time to bond. However, in North America, the focus is often on the baby, and maternal health can sometimes be an afterthought.
If you’re preparing to transition into parenthood after having a baby, read on for our top tips and tricks for surviving the so-called “fourth trimester.”
Tip #1 after childbirth: Prepare your meals and help in advance
After having a baby and walking home from the hospital, it can feel like a very strange moment when you realize that it’s all up to you now.
To make the transition easier, some people prepare a lot of frozen meals in advance, schedule help with the cooking and cleaning, or even host a food train with family and friends.
Focus on whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, high-quality protein and healthy fats, and add in some probiotic foods like kefir or sauerkraut. And if you’re breastfeeding, don’t forget to have a large water bottle on hand to stay hydrated.
Tip #2 after childbirth: Stock up on supplies for after the birth
After childbirth, your body goes through some major changes, especially after a vaginal delivery or cesarean section. So it’s a good idea to stock up on adult pads or diapers — and even puppy pads to protect your linens while your body recovers.
Some people prefer adult diapers for the healing period, while others complain that they don’t provide enough airflow. It’s always good to have both on hand – avoid just dry fabrics as the plastic layer can snag 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 with your caesarean section.
Tip #3 after childbirth: Make toilet breaks easier
With or without postpartum stitches, the acidity of urine can irritate sensitive areas, so a peri-bottle to gently spray water while peeing can help. Those who have given birth by cesarean section have also found them useful as sometimes stinging can be caused by catheters.
To help with constipation or harder stool movements, taking a stool softener in the first few days after giving birth may also help. To care for sensitive areas or to help with a cesarean, sitz baths can also aid in recovery.
Postpartum tip no. 4: Adjust to the new normal
After the birth, the hormones remain in flux and a lot is still happening in the body. For example, after childbirth, the uterus continues to shrink for about six weeks after birth.
Along with the hormonal changes, it’s common for emotions and body temperature to feel like they’re out of control. Much like how people going through menopause describe it, wearing lighter clothing can help keep hot flashes and night sweats at bay.
If you plan to breastfeed, it’s important to remember that it’s not always as easy as it seems. Many new moms struggle at first, so having some formula on hand in case things don’t go to plan can help relieve stress and anxiety. Once you get the hang of it, using a milk collector on the side you’re not 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.