You spend 9 months preparing for the arrival of your little one. Finding out all about labor and birth to try and be prepared. Going shopping to make sure you’ve got all the essentials for your newborn.
You’ve probably been given a million pieces of conflicting advice about pregnancy and having a baby, whether you asked for it or not. But you might not have thought too much about the time just after giving birth – the postpartum period.
Here’s the deal:
Having a baby is seriously tough work for your body and it can be emotionally challenging too. It takes time to recover afterwards.
Here are some of the best pieces of postpartum advice from mama’s who’ve been there, to help you enjoy your first moments with your brand new baby, whilst dealing with the postpartum period in all its glory.
Make Sure You Get Some Rest
Probably the most widely shared advice I’ve found is to make sure you get enough rest! Having a newborn baby is probably the most tiring thing you’ll experience.
The exhaustion from giving birth, coupled with the disrupted sleep from having to be up every couple of hours to feed your new baby, mean that any rest you can get is oh so needed!
Related: How to cope with sleep deprivation as a new parent
When you have had a baby make a conscious effort to rest! It can be hard, and often you end up overdoing it, but rest really is the best way to get better. Spend time bonding with your baby and lower your standards of tidiness at home!
Follow your baby’s lead for at least the first 6 weeks, feed on demand, sleep when they sleep, and do virtually nothing else. Set up a feeding station with book, TV remote, water bottle, snacks etc and just relax and enjoy your new baby. Enlist help from your partner and close family friends, but say no to other visitors for the first few weeks. Bonding and recovery time comes first.
Take Your Time
I’ll always remember the time when one of my friends had a baby, a while before I did, and the morning after giving birth she was up cooking her husband a fried breakfast!
I couldn’t even stand up after giving birth (literally – I’d had to have a spinal tap to remove my retained placenta), let alone cook a fry-up!
People are all different, we recover in our own time. Don’t compare yourself to others, and don’t put any pressure on yourself to do anything you’re not ready for.
Take your time.
Don’t push yourself! I was so desperate to get back to ‘normal’ after having a baby I was out shopping two days after he was born. I really struggled as I didn’t just take it day by day I just wanted to get back to life but I wasn’t willing to admit life had changed. Don’t rush, enjoy the squishy newborn cuddles as it whizzes by.
Take everything one step.at a time. It’s ok to worry and advice is great but follow your own instincts. Some people are comfortable leaving their babies in the care of others immediately where as some people don’t. It’s ok to find your feet at your own pace there is no one size fits all.
Do what you want to do , when you want to and don’t do anything to please anyone else ! If you want to sleep , have a visit free day or pick up your baby and cuddle him/her all day ! Do it !
Don’t Be Afraid To Accept Help
If people want to help you out, let them! People that love you are happy to help and support you, so don’t be too proud to let them do it. You can always return the favour later.
The best help we had after having our babies was people bringing around meals for us. Part of me felt like I should have been able to cook for us myself, but honestly, people dropping off food was a huge blessing.
I remember crying once (hormones, eh?) when a friend came over and offered to watch the baby so I could have a shower and wash my hair – such a small thing but saying yes so you can have 10 minutes to look after yourself can make such a difference to how you feel!
Accept help! If you have help then make sure you accept it. Whether it’s an hour so you can sleep or just someone to bring you a food shop. Don’t be too proud to accept help and support from others.
I’d say, accept help from others if they offer it. Don’t feel anxious if they want to hold the baby etc to let you rest! Sleep when the baby sleeps. Try and get a routine with baby from the start – like bed times. Also prep food in advance – make it nutritious, so you can grab your lunch, snacks quickly. so for example batch cook and put in the fridge/freezer
Make guests make their own tea and coffee, don’t accept too many visitors too soon. Online shopping is your friend! Don’t expect to be on top of it all, and the recovery time can take 6-12 months, including mentally
If You’ve Had Stitches/Got A Lot Going On Down There…
Oh my gosh, I still have flashbacks to the doctor standing in front of me with shiny silver scissors in her hands!
The best tip I can offer here is to stay hydrated and try pouring water over yourself as you wee, it helps a little with the stinging!
Soak sanitary towels in witch hazel and freeze for cooling relief whilst healing from any stitches or grazes after!
If you’ve had your lady bits stitched, I’d suggest daily sitz baths (where you just put in enough water to go up to your hips) with a few drops of tea tree oil to help with healing.
Add lavender oil and milk to your bath in the immediate post partum period. Helps soothe and heal. Best advice I had from my midwife
If you’ve had an episiotomy do not get out of bed for at least a week. Treat it like you’ve had a c-section. Accept all the help and if necessary let the house go to pot. I tried doing too much after having one and ended up back in hospital 13 days after giving birth for an emergency repair of my episiotomy. Not idea with a baby who had been exclusively breastfeed up to that point. Hubby and son just about survived. I did very little for a week after that op!
If You’ve Had A C-section…
Take time to look after yourself. Any birth can be hard on the body but if you have c-section extra care and healing are important! If you try to do too much too soon you could end up making things worse and putting more stress on yourself than you need to.
If you’ve had a c section mobilise as soon as possible; I did this both times and I really believe this helped my speedy recoveries. Take things easy and very slow and don’t lift anything other than baby but do mobilise even just a few short walks to/from the bathroom helps!
Look After Yourself Physically…
Remember to eat & drink! I know that sounds ridiculous but I used to completely lose track of time and combined with breastfeeding and a lot of stress when my son was born, I ended up losing so much weight – and it was because I just wasn’t eating as was always thinking of him
Take arnica tablets! They speed up your healing and minimise bruising, especially if you start them just as your labour starts. I took them for 2 weeks after with all of mine and felt amazing! Probably why I got pregnant again so fast…???
‘Everyone feels a little at sea in the days and weeks following the birth. Crazy hormones, sudden massive responsibility for a tiny human, exhaustion – all can conspire to leave you feeling like you’ve been run over. Be honest about how you’re feeling’
Be really aware of the risk of post-natal depression. Ideally read up on it a lot in advance and ensure your partner, friends and family do too. So many experiences of parenting and being parented are so adversely affected by post-natal depression. Seek help and if you cannot say that you are struggling out loud write it down in a letter, email, text of whatever works for you. Always know that although being a mum is important you were, are and always will be more than that as an individual in your own right. Celebrate that individuality, do all you can to remember it so that your children actually know the amazing woman you are as well as who you are as a mum.
Finally and possibly the most useful advice out there…
Invest in good quality granny pants! You’re gonna need and love them for a long while after!