Preparing for Baby: What Do You Need for Postpartum Recovery?
Postpartum is the biggest juxtaposition on earth. You’re thrilled to death over this tiny little miracle, and completely miserable from the “journey” to get them here. You’re crying with joy and for absolutely no reason at all. You just want to get out after being cooped up indoors too long, yet you don’t want to go anywhere. And you suddenly have a new appreciation for muscles that you never knew were so connected to everything that you did. Top that off with the strange new body that you brought home from the hospital with you – that the mirror keeps say is yours – and all the stuff coming from it.
You are a new person – new body, new role, new responsibilities, and new priorities. Life has done a full loop-t-loop and a 180! How do you get ready for that kind of wild and wonderful ride?
Physical Preparations for Postpartum Recovery:
Before you can really take care of the other aspects of postpartum you have to take care of the physical needs.
- Gel pads for nursing – soothies are my favorite but there are a lot of varieties out there.
- Pads – overnight with wings and then some regular. Be sure to ask for more of the cold pack pads to bring home from the hospital especially if you have an episiotomy.
- Nursing pads – there are lots of varieties and you‘ll want to try them all to test which work best for you. If you have reusable cloth nursing pads, still get some disposable ones, you’ll need them until your body regulates itself.
- Donut (if you have an episiotomy for sure) – the sweet kind is great, but I’m talking about the inflatable seat kind. They are great, and a small inner tube actually isn’t the same. You can ask your nurse for one before you leave the hospital.
- Lanolin cream – most hospitals will have this for you already.
- Tissues – with lotion for runny noses from sobbing.
- Boopee/nursing pillow – These are a must have especially for first time nursing mothers. I love mine; although so does my son, so I need to make another one.
- Hooter Hider/nursing cover – some hospitals give them out, but they are easy to find, or make, and are fabulous. Although a light receiving blanket works great too.
- Breast pump – some insurance companies will cover this, and sometimes you can get them through WIC. Either way they are invaluable, both for relief and freedom. How well they work depends on many factors, not all mechanical. Research brands and decide what you feel comfortable paying. I have the cheapest model, “Playtex” I believe, and it works GREAT. For some they swear only one particular brand works. Everybody is different, but relaxing is the key.
- Nursing guide and mentor – having someone that can encourage you through the first few weeks of nursing is the best thing you can do for yourself. The first few weeks are the hardest and having someone who’s been there and knows what to do and understands that it’s worth it and that it will get better will help ease fears, worries, and keep you with it. The hospital usually has a nifty little guide in their pack of stuff and it is by far the BEST manual for nursing you could find. Study it!
- Tucks/witch hazel pads – relief and help with healing, they will become your best friends
- Preparation H Cream – if you didn’t already have hemorrhoids, you probably will after delivery, it’s only logical.
- Cranberry Juice/capsules – this will help prevent yeast and urinary tract infection. Some babies get a little fussy while breastfeeding if you drink cranberry juice, but its still worth it to keep one more issue from that sore area of your body.
Emotional Preparation for Postpartum Recovery
Outside of the craziness of your body, your hormones and new life as a mom will put your emotions through the ringer. Start preparing yourself now by changing what you expect after your baby comes
- This is normal – you’ll be telling yourself this for years to come, so start now. Everything that will happen is pretty much normal, you’re not going crazy and your body is totally different, but ITS NORMAL!
- Accept now that you will not bounce back immediately and maybe ever – You’re life is different why would it ever be the same, and you wouldn’t want it to be. You’re not suddenly going to fit into your old clothes (maybe never), you’re not going to suddenly have the energy to keep the same pace and schedule you had while pregnant (let alone before you were pregnant). You are allowed to take it easy for a few weeks. This is normal and nobody will judge you for this. If they do – who cares!
- Have support people around – if your spouse works, have friends that can check in on you. Make sure they are all aware of the symptoms of postpartum depression so they can keep an eye on you. Knowing you have people to talk to you and love you will make a big difference.
- Warn friends and family (besides your chosen support team above) that you want to lay low for awhile. Too many visitors can be overwhelming and add to the stress, making you even more emotional.
- Have some calming entertainment, an idle mind – and hands, can lead to issues. Be sure that you have something to keep you out of your own head, but that offers some stress relief.
- Spend time with your spouse – talk, cuddle, play games, watch movies, read together. You are each others number #1 fan and support, rely on each other and encourage each other.
What to Do Afterwards to Help Postpartum Recovery
There are only a few things that will help make this recovery period successful and hopefully shorter. They are simple yet profound, as are most of life’s answers.
- Take a shower every day, even if you’re just getting into a new pair of PJ’s
- Spiritual renewal – scripture reading and prayer every day is so vital on a regular basis and even more so when you’re at this unstable period.
- Get plenty of sleep – this is the hardest part, especially if you have other kids. Sleep when the baby sleeps, bribe the kids to let you sleep, or ask someone to watch your kids for you every few days.
- Exercise – naturally wait until you get approval before working out, but a simple walk can still do wonders, especially in fresh air.
- Eat healthy – since your schedule and energy are out of wack this becomes a real stumbling block. Keep fruits and veggies cut, washed and ready so you can eat when you’re hungry instead of falling back on the sweets and quick carb stuff.
- LOTS OF WATER – especially if nursing! Keep your little jug from the hospital and carry it with you everywhere you go. CHUG, CHUG, CHUG! This helps a ton with nursing too.
Hopefully this makes you feel a little more at ease about what’s coming. It’s really a great time and way fun for the whole family. Nothing brings a family together more that the miracle of life. Enjoy the time together, and we wish you the best of luck!
Note: Tyra has recently given birth to her 5th child and they are doing well.
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